"Mark the Evangelist vs. the Apostles"
#1
There is a thread in secular biblical studies which posits something along these lines: The Gospel of Mark was written to discredit the Apostles.  Mark specifically uses them as stand-ins for his opponents in a debate in the early Christian community:

Quote:The obtuseness, obduracy, and recalcitrance displayed by the disciples is epitomized in the figure of Peter. The disciples are reprobates. They obstinately hold to a Christology that Jesus has branded as heretical.

In classic secular fashion, "scholars" discard the history and tradition of Christianity in favor of ad hoc, groundless theories of their own:

Quote:They are nothing but failures, “obtuse and wrongheaded” (John Drury’s phrase) in every way. Was the author of the gospel (let’s call him Mark) firing shrapnel at Peter and his associates as part of some sort of ideological battle involving Paul?

In particular:

Quote:Peter’s failings are certainly many:

he denies Jesus three times
he is forgetful and uncomprehending
Jesus calls him Satan

This is all nonsense of course, and anyone who reads the Gospel without an ax to grind against Christians can see Mark is not trying to drive a wedge between Christ and the Apostles, even if the Apostles are... kinda clueless.  Here's another take on Mark that was new to me.  Far from discrediting the Apostles, there is actually a thread in which Peter is a secondary protagonist

Quote:Notice how Mark leads us to sympathize with Peter. Peter may be a foil to Jesus but he is not portrayed as wicked. Mark keeps the readers on Peter’s side by letting the readers see into Peter’s well-meaning nature, his good intentions and genuine bafflement and tearful remorse over his most serious failures.

Mark singles out Peter for special mention throughout his gospel so we naturally take a particular interest in him:

Peter is the first disciple to appear in the gospel and the first to be called, the first to confess Jesus is the Christ (in the middle of the gospel) and the last disciple mentioned in the gospel;
We learn more about Peter than any other disciple: he has a mother-in-law so is or has been married; he has a house in Capernaum that he shares with his brother Andrew;
Peter is the first listed of the apostles and the first to be renamed by Jesus, and his words are used to initiate teachings by Jesus on discipleship;
He appears to be more “rounded” as a character than the others in his arguments with Jesus and his three denials and subsequent tears.

Here one scholar uses his BRILLIANT MIND to come to a set of conclusions that I think most faithful Christians would naturally arrive at, never realizing they could be published authors because of it:

Quote:His tears may be seen as indicating a growing self-knowledge, and the audience may assume that he now sees clearly his own failings and shortcomings. He remembers that Jesus had predicted that he would deny him and that he had himself asserted that even if everyone else would become a deserter, he himself would not (Mark 14:29).

His babbling nonsense at the transfiguration is not motivated by evil but by genuine confusion:

because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid. (Mark 9:6)

Similarly, it is “weakness of the flesh” that leads him to sleep instead of keeping watch with Jesus, but Jesus’ words express sympathy and concern, not unqualified condemnation:

Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:37-38)

And this is followed two verses later by another insight into Peter’s sense of shame:

And when He returned, He found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him. (Mark 14:40)

As Damgaard says,

In both these scenes, however, the omniscient narrator uses an inside view in order to gain the audience’s sympathy for Peter.14 Though Peter fails in his endeavours, the result is not, in my view, that the listeners dissociate themselves from him. On the contrary, it seems to me that they become painfully aware of how difficult it is to be Peter.

Where does Mark leave Peter?

Quote:At the end of the gospel the narrator also shows that there is continuity between the readers’ sympathy for Peter and Jesus’ final assessment of him. In the final reference to Peter the suspense (if there ever was such a thing) concerning his fate is resolved. Peter is not cursed; on the contrary, he is, once more, singled out from among the other disciples (Mark 16:7) and asked to follow Jesus, who is headed for Galilee. The reference to Peter in Mark 16:7 could also be read as a subtle reference to Peter’s function as the first witness to the resurrection (compare 1 Cor 15:5 and Luke 24:34). Though Mark’s portrayal of Peter primarily focuses on his mistakes, the narrator does not turn his readers against Peter, nor does he portray Jesus as someone who parts company with Peter.

So my question then is: How could Mark be writing as a supporter of Paul to supposedly discredit Peter?  If that is his intention, he did not do a very good job.  If these scholars bothered to entertain Christian tradition AT ALL, this would not even be a question because of who Mark is.

Quote:Peter is a character singled out for attention and sympathy. The author has applied the same psychology that Paul used in his letters. Pre-conversion failure is all the stronger testimony to the source of one’s post-conversion authority.

Damgaard accepts the view that Mark may well have been a “Paulinist”, but adds that that did not set him up in opposition to Peter despite Paul’s argument we read about in Galatians. (I am reminded of 2 Peter’s conclusion that had Peter declaring Paul to be his “beloved brother”.) If so, then according to Damgaard Mark is declaring the joint authority of Peter along with Paul, not unlike the plan of the Book of Acts.

If we go this far with our interpretation, then our canonical Gospel of Mark becomes a thoroughly orthodox narrative on a par with the Book of Acts and the later letters claiming to be authored by Peter.

Imagine being a secular historian and spending untold hours of mental gymnastics only to end with a conclusion that Mark's Gospel is "orthodox". 

LOL
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#2
These people discard tradition in order to write nonsense. Traditionally it's held that St. Mark Was a companion of St. Peter. So maybe, just maybe he had primary source information from Peter himself. Peter, being humbled after everything he went through and desiring to help other Christians to see that even the leader of the Apostles had faults and was rebuked by Our Lord for his imperfections and to turn them into teaching moments as Our Lord used them for Peter's benefit.
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#3
(03-10-2018, 11:48 AM)GangGreen Wrote: These people discard tradition in order to write nonsense. Traditionally it's held that St. Mark Was a companion of St. Peter. So maybe, just maybe he had primary source information from Peter himself. Peter, being humbled after everything he went through and desiring to help other Christians to see that even the leader of the Apostles had faults and was rebuked by Our Lord for his imperfections and to turn them into teaching moments as Our Lord used them for Peter's benefit.

You bring up a good point, which exposes even an article that seems sympathetic like the one I posted.  The evidence and conclusion presented in the OP could easily be perceived as evidence supporting the tradition of Mark being a companion of Peter.  But the author does not draw that conclusion.  Why?  Maybe because of his own bias, or maybe because the article would not get published because of editorial bias.  

It's a very reasonable conclusion.  The emphasis on Peter as a secondary protagonist, access to his inner thoughts, and the strain of self-deprecation and growing humility (echoed in the autobiographical aspects of Paul's epistles), it all points to a validation of tradition.

If these academics don't want to acknowledge tradition, then that's on them, but what is grating is turning around and making up a story like Mark was writing to discredit Peter in favor of Paul.  If you're going to pull that out of thin air, the more intellectually honest construction would be the one that has a long tradition and history backing it that ALSO fits the evidence and textual criticism better.
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