Here’s what I think, where I think Matthew fits in. The early period of development saw a mosaic of different communities. Some of them were organic: they grew up in Jerusalem and Galilee, in places where people had been touched directly by Jesus. The community in Galilee owed a lot to the organization and patronage of Mary the Magdalene. She knew Jesus when the latter was alive, and probably provided some financial support for him and his small crew that included Peter, probably the sons of Zebedee, and maybe James, brother of Jesus. I’ve toyed with the idea that perhaps the Magdalene was married to James, brother of Jesus, but I think that’s unlikely given the way the paths diverged after Jesus’ death. The Magdalene probably followed Jesus into Jerusalem and was there, in some capacity, when Jesus was executed. At which point she returned to Galilee with a significant number of Jesus’ followers. This community was likely responsible for the creation of the Passion Narrative. Perhaps this did not come about immediately, but the tales of being in Jerusalem during the last days of Jesus’ life were told by the group in Galilee, and eventually grew into a story that reached Mark, who probably re-worked it to fit the pro-Roman sympathies of the day. The Galilean community were responsible for the part of the Passion/Resurrection Narrative present in Mark and Matthew that included instructions that the survivors were to return to Galilee. This group did not see Jesus as a divine individual, but he was revered as a wonder-worker who had performed miracles, which was seen as demonstrating Jesus had God’s favour.
Another group grew up in Jerusalem. This, of course, was the community led by James the Just and Peter. If the sons of Zebedee were indeed followers of Jesus, they went back to Galilee with Mary, for they are not part of the landscape for Paul. It’s possible that they did not exist, but their roles are so prominent that I’m loathe to consign them to the dustbin of fiction. But note how they disappear from the scene during the Passion and Resurrection. If these two narratives are the creation of the Galilean community, then chances are that these two were not part of this community. So if they were not part of neither the Galilean nor Jerusalem communities, then where did they fit? Most likely they were part of the community that produced Mark; he features them prominently, and he treats them much better than he treats Peter; so I would suggest that they played an integral part in the foundation of the community to which Mark would subsequently belong, so Mark wrote them into the role of being founding members of Jesus’ inner circle. Note that they do not–most likely, cannot–supplant Peter for pride of place. Peter’s role is apparently too well established to be left out, or even just ignored; he can, however, be slighted, disparaged, and superseded to some degree.
The elevation of Peter comes at the expense of James the Just. Based on Paul’s testimony, I do not think it can be productively argued, or even asserted, that James was not the leader of the Jerusalem Assembly. “The James Gang” as I rather facetiously nicknamed them back when we were reading Galatians. The thing is, Paul’s account is just sufficiently jaundiced to make it highly unlikely that he was making it up. Paul did not particularly like James, and Paul didn’t have a terribly high opinion of Peter, based on the latter’s unwillingness to stand up to James. That James stayed in Jerusalem is one reason I discarded the notion that perhaps it was James who was married to the Magdalene. It’s not impossible that they were married, but parted company, but I would think that such a relationship would have shown up in the Passion Narrative that Mary most likely helped create. At the very least, she prepared the ground for it by telling–and doubtless re-telling–the story of Jesus’ last days. Mark disparages Peter, but he completely omits James the Just, and yet the latter’s reputation persisted to become incorporated into the Gospel of Thomas. Of course, this reputation only “persisted” if the Gospel of Thomas was written later, rather than earlier; but I believe it to date to the second, if not third quarter of the Second Century, based on content and form and other internal evidence.
This puts Mark and James on separate tracks. It has often been pointed out that Mark’s knowledge of the geography of Judea and Galilee & environs is perhaps sketchy at best. I am not qualified to confirm or deny this; I will operate on the belief that there are legitimate reasons for saying this and take the position that the assessment is accurate, largely because I’ve never encountered an argument denying this position. The implication, therefore, is that Mark was most likely separated physically from Jerusalem, and so may not have been aware of the tradition of James. One of the more salient implications of this lack of awareness is that Mark was probably also unaware of Paul. Wherever Mark was–and Rome is not impossible, which some traditions suggest–Paul was not there, and his presence was not known to whatever community it was to which Mark belonged. It was a community that probably owed its origin to the sons of Zebede, who are not mentioned by Paul. In which case, we have to ask–and question–whether these sons were real, or if they were actually close followers of Jesus. It is doubtful that they were disciples ab origine, as Mark and Matthew say, or whether they were participants to any of the great events of Jesus’ career, such as the Transfiguration and the events in Gethsemane. Of course, we have to ask if any of those events actually took place; if we conclude that they didn’t, then of course they did not participate. And Matthew most likely just followed Mark on much of this because he had no reason not to follow Mark.
That takes us back to something said in the commentary to the text. The writing of a gospel by Mark was probably a watershed event for the development of the proto-church for many different reasons. First and maybe foremost–to put this in crass commercial terms of the 21st Century–it was probably a killer app as a marketing tool. Suddenly, you had a complete story of your founder, and you had a consistent story. The fragmentation would slow down considerably; thinking in terms of a river, it’s like being able to keep the main channel strong, thereby preventing the branching into a thousand streams of a delta. This way, someone hearing the story in one town would not go to another and hear a different story. The effect of this would be that the two stories would reinforce each other. Conflicting versions would be reduced, which means that someone new to the story would not find the different versions confusing, leading the potential convert to conclude that the believers simply didn’t know what they were talking about, leading her to return to the worship of Isis. Tied to this, a written story is very portable and so exportable. Yes, manuscripts were time-consuming to produce, but the fact of the matter is that Mark isn’t that long, so it could be copied and then read to many, many new people.
This, in my opinion, is why the gospels took precedence over Paul’s letters. These latter were not really intended for general circulation; they were written to specific groups to address specific circumstances. Mark’s gospel, OTOH, was general and universal. It set the tone and the outlines, digging the primary channel in which the main stream of the river would flow from that point forward. At root, the Jesus of Mark was the wonder-worker who told parables about the kingdom. The latter was neither fully nor effectively explained. Maybe this was to de-emphasize Jesus’ connexion to the Baptist; or maybe it was designed to prove Jesus’ connexion to the Baptist. In this latter case, perhaps Mark, writing from a physical as well as temporal distance, did not really understand what the Baptist had actually meant by the kingdom, thereby causing Mark to leave this part of Jesus teaching rather vague and undeveloped.
With all this, Mark was not a complete story. Far from it. Many details were missing. Being aware of this, Matthew set out to correct these deficiencies. First thing was to give Jesus a father, thereby to reduce the charges that Jesus was a bastard. Mark does not know–indeed, he does not care–who Jesus’ human father was. For Mark, Jesus was a man whom God chose at the moment when he was baptised by John. Then, and only then, he became “my son”, as God declared from the heavens. To compound the problem, Mark later calls Jesus the son of Mary (Ch 6). So Matthew has to set the record straight. So he provides Jesus with an earthly father, but goes further to provide Jesus with that most important of documents of legitimacy: a pedigree. Not only was Jesus given an earthly father, he was given a royal lineage. This provided an enormous boost to Jesus’ credibility. Jesus was not some nobody; he was the descendent of the Judahite king David (who had pretensions, however illegitimate, to the throne of Israel). This was a brilliant stroke, because it gave legitimacy to Jesus’ heritage, but also to the claim of being the Christ, the Anointed, the Messiah. This aspect of Jesus’ identity had become grafted, however imperfectly and incompletely, onto Mark’s story. This was not nearly enough for Matthew.
Aside from making it clear that Jesus was not a bastard, Matthew decided to take this all to a truly cosmic level, to demonstrate that Jesus’ birth was an event of universal significance. We are so inured to the story of the Star of Bethlehem* that I am not sure that we don’t quite grasp the enormity of this concept. Jesus was so important that the stars themselves aligned to announce his birth. That is to say, that his birth was destined from the beginning of time, so that it was written into the course of the heavens. Now, as the descendants and intellectual heirs of a millennium of absolutist philosophical thinking, we are sort of accustomed to this sort of thing, and we don’t get what it all means. To anyone of Matthew’s day, none of this would have been lost. The idea that Jesus had a star, and that it was read and understood by magoi from further east. Just so we’re clear, a magos–plural magoi, in Latin magi–was, at root, an astrologer. They were “wise” because they could read the secret language of the stars. The point to take from the episode of the Magi is that this was written before the idea of God that we take for granted did not permeate the popular conception of God to the degree it does today. God’s response to Job was, “where were you when I laid the foundations of the universe?”; Paul tells us he was selected from the time he was in his mother’s womb, and talks about God laying the foundations of the cosmos, but there is not the sense of God setting out the course of things from The Beginning. This is not a Jewish conception, nor does it fit with the attitude of Free Will that took root in the thinking of the Patristic thinkers. No, what Matthew is describing is, at root, pagan Fatalism. Just as the course of the planets is fixed, so the course of history is fixed. We are allotted our role, our fate is determined, and we play out the string fundamentally unable to do anything about it.
Looking back on this now I see this is as a very big clue about Matthew’s origins. After checking to see what I said at the time, I hadn’t picked up on it then because I had not begun to piece together the bits of evidence that Matthew began life as a pagan, rather than as a Jew. After all, everyone agrees that Matthew is the most Jewish of the evangelists, and it’s widely assumed that Luke was the only pagan among the evangelists. It’s taken on faith. But having picked up on a number of other clues, the whole theme of the Star of Bethlehem is like a big, blinking neon sign that says “PAGAN !!! “. The Jews were anti-astrology, and this attitude carried over to the early Church. Astrology, and its concomitant concept of ineluctable Fate was disparaged by both Jews and strict Christians as pagan, and the latter saw it as inexorably opposed to, and completely incompatible to the idea of Free Will. So the idea of an astrological event announcing the birth of the Christian Saviour is ironic in the extreme. It’s ironic to the point of contradictory. It’s contradictory to the point that it almost seems to be the final piece of evidence necessary to prove definitively that Matthew was not raised as a Jew. Of course, most biblical scholars and clergy will doubtless disagree with me, and vehemently, and vigourously deny that Matthew was a pagan, and vociferously assert that this motif of the Star and the astrologers even suggests such a ridiculous idea, let alone proving it.
A bit of research has turned up various thoughts and interpretations of the star and of the “wise men”. Overall, there is a concerted effort to play down the role of the magoi/magi as astrologers. One recent commentator even puts the word “astrologers” in quotes, as if to sniff away the idea as preposterous. Of course, there are all of the attempts to explain this as a comet, or a supernova, or some such occurrence based on the science of astronomy. Of course, these attempts miss the point, and really need not concern us; at the moment, we are concerned with how the star is explained by biblical scholars, not astronomers. The former want to play down the role of astrology because, even today, good Christians are at least uncomfortable with, if not overtly hostile to, the notion of astrology. But the point remains that this is the base meaning of magos/magus. Like the Nile, the rivers of Mesopotamia flood each year, and being able to predict the timing of the flood was very important for agriculture. The floods are seasonal, and the seasons are related to the movement of the earth around the sun. So the sky provided a very reliable calendar, if one knew how to read it. Here is the birth of both what we call astronomy and astrology; the thinking was that if the sun and stars all determined when the rivers would flood, then of course they have significant influence over mere humans, too. So it’s very important to realize that there was no difference between the two until the later 1500. Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, and other founders of astronomy were really doing what we would call astronomy. Kepler was trying to figure out the length of time the various planets “stayed” in a given constellation of the Zodiac when he discovered his Laws of Planetary Motion.
So, all in all, the use of the Star is, I think, a fairly strong indication that Matthew was a pagan.
to be continued…
* By happenstance or coincidence or divine intervention, I’ve been writing about the Star of Bethlehem on the 24th and 25th of December. Of course, we got Luke and the shepherd who were “sore afraid” (at least in the KJV) rather than Matthew for the gospel.
We have come to the final chapter of Matthew. It’s short, it deals with the Resurrection. Coming into it, I suspect that the main points of discussion will be the changes from Mark.
1Ὀψὲ δὲ σαββάτων, τῇ ἐπιφωσκούσῃ εἰς μίαν σαββάτων, ἦλθεν Μαριὰμ ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ καὶ ἡ ἄλλη Μαρία θεωρῆσαι τὸν τάφον.
After the Sabbath, at daybreak of the first of the week, came Mary the Magdalene and the other Mary to see the tomb.
We need to stop at this moment to consider what I believe is a very significant aspect of the text. The fifth word of the sentence, <<ἐπιφωσκούσῃ>>, is a very, very rare word. In fact, in all of NT Greek, and, in fact, in ALL of Greek literature, this word occurs exactly twice. The first time is here. The second time is in Luke 23, which also deals with the death and burial of Jesus. Twice. That’s it. And people are trying to argue that Luke was not aware of Matthew? Where else did he come up with this very, extremely rare word? In fact, had Luke not used it, the usage here would have been unique in the totality of ancient Greek literature. (Can I coin the term “duoesque? No, it doesn’t really work, does it?) That Luke also used the word in approximately the same context cannot be a coincidence, can it? And this is why I’m so incredulous about people not accepting that Luke knew and used Matthew. Not only do stories overlap, but they very frequently repeat the same vocabulary. The best example is the temptation of Jesus. Yes, yes, they both use the vocabulary they both found in Q. But that means that the temptation story was present in a work that only included sayings of Jesus; and there is no way, no how, to stretch Q to include the Passion Narrative. Adding these two stories to Q is basically to stretch the concept of what Q is supposed to be, and turn it into a full-fledged gospel, which is absolutely not the point of Q at all. So it’s like I said, the point of Q, the reason it was created by scholars and is held so tenaciously is that, without it, we have absolutely nothing written about Jesus’ earthly ministry before Mark, a full thirty years later. And we lose the Good Shepherd (more on that in Luke) and the Sermon on the Mount. I can’t help that.
Just one more word on “the other Mary”. We are told she was the mother of James and Joseph. In Mark 6, we are told Jesus has brothers named James and Joses, among others. Who are these two men? Are they Matthew’s equivalent of Alexander and Rufus, members, or forebears of members of Matthew’s community? Is this James the Lesser? Because, at the crucifixion we were told that these two Marys were accompanied by the mother of the sons of Zebedee; as such, James the brother of Joses does not refer to James, the brother of John, the sons of thunder as well as Zebedee. So at the cross we had the mothers of both of the guys named James, but not the mother of Jesus. So who is this “other” Mary? And who are her sons? And why are they mentioned here? My inclination is to take them as members, or forebears of members of Matthew’s community.
1 Sero autem post sabbatum, cum illucesceret in primam sabbati, venit Maria Magdalene et altera Maria videre sepulcrum.
2 καὶ ἰδοὺ σεισμὸς ἐγένετο μέγας: ἄγγελος γὰρ κυρίου καταβὰς ἐξ οὐρανοῦ καὶ προσελθὼν ἀπεκύλισεν τὸν λίθον καὶ ἐκάθητο ἐπάνω αὐτοῦ.
3 ἦνδὲ ἡ εἰδέα αὐτοῦ ὡς ἀστραπὴ καὶ τὸ ἔνδυμα αὐτοῦ λευκὸν ὡς χιών.
4 ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ φόβου αὐτοῦ ἐσείσθησαν οἱ τηροῦντες καὶ ἐγενήθησανὡς νεκροί.
And behold! There was a great earthquake! For an angel of the lord came down from the sky and coming towards rolled back the stone and sat himself upon it. (3) Indeed, the face of him (was) as lightening, and his garment white as snow. (4) From the fear of him, they shook those guarding and they became as the dead.
This is really interesting. Notice how we jump from the perspective of the women, to that of something like an omniscient narrator who can see all that is happening. This narrator saw the angel come down and roll away the stone, and the narrator saw the reaction of the guards. Remember, in Mark, what we really get is just the women finding the stone rolled away and an empty tomb; or a tomb empty of Jesus, where sits–on the right-hand side, we are told–a young–it is specified–man dressed in white. He was not called an angel. That, apparently, was not sufficient for Matthew, who needed more drama and supernatural occurrences. Recall the holy ones coming out of their tombs when Jesus died. As for the earthquake, the eastern Mediterranean area is prone to earthquakes, although the trouble spot is usually a bit further north, in Turkey. And we had one, again, when Jesus died. This one on Sunday morning could be an aftershock. Or it could be fictitious, the more likely explanation.
I’m trying to remember my HS stories. I know God stopped the sun in the sky so the Israelites could slaughter more of their enemies, and God rained down fire & brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah and did the whole Ten Plagues thing. I bring this up to compare divine manifestations in the HS with this episode, and then ask if this sort of thing seems more Jewish or pagan. Then the follow-up question is whether there’s a difference. My background, default setting is pagan, because that’s what I’ve studied, so this feels pagan, but I’m not sure there is a real difference. If pushed, I’d say this sounded more Greek than Hebrew myth, but there were Syrian myths, and Lydian and Carian myths, and…& c. So in the final analysis, this is about Matthew inserting the divine into the situation. We are reminded of Jesus’ divinity, just in case we’d forgotten.
This just in. One very familiar part of pagan thought were the divine portents that accompanied the death of Julius and then Augustus Caesar. One that I recall off the top of my head is the eagle seen flying out of the funeral pyre of Julius Caesar. I had thought this was in Suetonius, but it appears I’m mistaken. So while some of the events may have Hebrew origins, perhaps the portents that occurred in conjunction with Jesus death, and his raising do have a pagan feel about them.
2 Et ecce terrae motus factus est magnus: angelus enim Domini descendit de caelo et accedens revolvit lapidem et sedebat super eum.
3 Erat autem aspectus eius sicut fulgur, et vestimentum eius candidum sicut nix.
4 Prae timore autem eius exterriti sunt custodes et facti sunt velut mortui.
5 ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν ταῖς γυναιξίν, Μὴ φοβεῖσθε ὑμεῖς, οἶδα γὰρ ὅτι Ἰησοῦν τὸν ἐσταυρωμένον ζητεῖτε:
6 οὐκ ἔστιν ὧδε, ἠγέρθη γὰρ καθὼς εἶπεν: δεῦτε ἴδετε τὸν τόπον ὅπου ἔκειτο.
7 καὶ ταχὺ πορευθεῖσαι εἴπατε τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ὅτι Ἠγέρθη ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν, καὶ ἰδοὺ προάγει ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν, ἐκεῖ αὐτὸν ὄψεσθε: ἰδοὺ εἶπον ὑμῖν.
Answering the herald said to the women, “Do not fear, know that Jesus the one crucified lives. (6) He is not here, he was raised as he said. Come here! you see the place where he lay. (7) And quickly going forth, tell his disciples that ‘I have been raised from the dead’, and look! you go forward to Galilee, where you will see him. Look! I said this to you”.
So we get a great example here of how the story has grown in the time between Mark and Matthew. In the former, yes, Jesus was raised from the dead, but there are no other supernatural events in conjunction with the event. And the man in the tomb was a man. Here, we get much more, complete and replete with earthquakes and an angel*.
I believe it was Ehrman (it might have been Mack?) who suggested that the young man in white presented by Mark was actually one of the junior members of the high priests. They wore garments whitened to an intense degree. He also suggests that the high priests removed his body, and planted the young man to tell the disciples to get out of Dodge and hie themselves back to Galilee. They had two purposes in doing this: the first, to prevent his tomb from becoming a rallying point; the second to get the disciples out of town and back to Galilee where they became Herod’s problem. This has actually struck me as a very good explanation for the events in Mark. Because, there is nothing in any of the other gospels about Jesus being in Galilee port-mortem. And yet, these are the instructions supposedly given to the women to convey to the disciples: get thee to Galilee. That really does seem a bit odd. I suspect the intent was to explain the lack of presence of Jesus’ followers in Judea and Jerusalem. Or something along those lines. Because, as we shall see (Spoiler Alert!) Jesus appears to the disciples in and around Jerusalem. There is no further mention of Galilee. [Update: appears I may be wrong about this…]
This creates a bit of a sticky wicket. Since nothing takes place in Galilee, why has this been left in here? Of course one can say that it’s here because it was in Mark, and there would be some truth to that, but it would not be terribly helpful. The most likely explanation would appear to be a vestige from an earlier, or an alternate, version of the story, perhaps one that originated in the Galilean community. In this vein, let’s notice that these women, who are on their way to the tomb, followed Jesus from Galilee. Does this injunction from the herald of the lord to return to Galilee represent their divine instructions for the founding of the community? That seems plausible, maybe even likely, and it effectively explains the presence of these two elements in the story, and provides a window into how the story was crafted over time. This may be one of the traditions that Mark found, that he incorporated into his mosaic, or tapestry, or whatever unifying metaphor works best.
While this hypothesis may explain some of the pieces, there is one truly serious problem with this whole chain of events and its explanation: there probably was no tomb. As someone crucified, Jesus was probably thrown into a mass grave. I’ve read that in a couple of places, one of them being one of the books of JD Crossan. If there was no tomb, then this story and any alternate versions would have been crafted with the particular perspective of the community that created them, which is why we get the Galilean element. Perhaps we can go deeper into the implications of all this in the chapter summary.
[* Note: I’m reading Xenophon, and there are angels by the score running back and forth between the Greeks and the king. Except they aren’t angels; they are heralds. Here we have another great example of a non-particularly-specific Greek word that has come into English with a very precise and divine meaning. Like dunking. Or baptizing. Remember “Baptizin’ Donuts”? The work in Greek means herald, or messenger, and it was often used of those who negotiated on behalf of another group. In English, the word has come to mean only a messenger from God, and the messenger part is not foremost; it’s a divine creature with a life of its own.]
5 Respondens autem angelus dixit mulieribus: “ Nolite timere vos! Scio enim quod Iesum, qui crucifixus est, quaeritis.
6 Non est hic: surrexit enim, sicut dixit. Venite, videte locum, ubi positus erat.
7 Et cito euntes dicite discipulis eius: “Surrexit a mortuis et ecce praecedit vos in Galilaeam; ibi eum videbitis”. Ecce dixi vobis ”.
8 καὶ ἀπελθοῦσαι ταχὺ ἀπὸ τοῦ μνημείου μετὰ φόβου καὶ χαρᾶς μεγάλης ἔδραμον ἀπαγγεῖλαι τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ.
9 καὶ ἰδοὺ Ἰησοῦς ὑπήντησεν αὐταῖς λέγων, Χαίρετε. αἱ δὲπροσελθοῦσαι ἐκράτησαν αὐτοῦ τοὺς πόδας καὶ προσεκύνησαν αὐτῷ.
10 τότε λέγει αὐταῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Μὴ φοβεῖσθε: ὑπάγετε ἀπαγγείλατε τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς μου ἵνα ἀπέλθωσιν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν, κἀκεῖ με ὄψονται.
And quickly going out from the tomb with great fear and great joy, they ran to announce to his disciples. And look! Jesus met them, saying, “Greetings. They approaching him, the took hold of his feet and prostrated (themselves before) him. (10) Then Jesus said to them, “Do not fear. Get up and announce to my brothers in order to go away to Galilee, and there they will see me”.
We are back to the Galilee injunction, and this time it’s Jesus delivering it. The angel wasn’t enough; the word had to come directly from Jesus. This also represents an escalation of the divine element, and the expansion of Jesus’ post-mortem role. These are both excellent examples of the way legends accumulate material as the progress through time. People “remember” things, or think they do, or hear things and interpret–or misunderstand–them as they repeat the anecdotes. Plus, you get into “if it ain’t true, it ought to be”. This is called myth. Everyone loves a good story. No doubt cultural anthropologists, or mythographers, or experts in folklore and oral tradition have a term for this sort of augmentation. But this simple comparison here shows the process in action. It seems a bit absurd how so many biblical scholars will assert–presumably with a straight face; can’t tell from reading what they say–that Luke and John preserve independent traditions. There is some possibility, outside as it may be, that Matthew has some new material that could be traced back to Jesus, and so just might be historical. For Luke and John, however, and really for most of Matthew, anything “new” is a tradition that was created some time after the fact, most of it after Mark.
It occurs to me that the creation of Mark may have been a turning point in the history of what became Christianity. It is very possible that having a coherent account of Jesus’ life–or at least his ministry in Mark’s case; Matthew and Luke would add the biographical details–really helped the movement gain ground among the pagans. Conversion of Jews was probably more or less moribund even by the time of Paul; which would help explain why he devoted himself to the pagans. By the time of the death of James, brother of Jesus, I would expect that the ministry to convert Jews had pretty well ceased operation. The eventual outcome of this would be the ugly anti-Semitism that has marred so much of Christian history. We did not see it in Mark, at least not explicitly. It’s explicit in Matthew.
But back to Mark. Having a written account doubtless helped tell the story to new groups. This would create new members. One of the results of this would be a desire to fill in some of the many gaps in Mark; and there are very many gaps, the most glaring and gaping being the paucity of Jesus’ teachings. So people started to fill in these gaps: a nativity story, fleshing out the temptation story, adding the Sermon on the Mount and a bunch of parables. Luke will take this further. The result of this is that the focusing of the disparate traditions achieved by Mark was now impossible; the traditions splintered and then splintered again, to the point that we get Gospels of Pilate and Peter and Judas. Elaine Pagels treats this topic of continued revelation very nicely in The Gnostic Gospels, describing how what had become the Church had to suppress these new revelations, eventually setting the number of canonical works and shoving the rest into the dustbin of history. So this process started in earnest, I believe, with Matthew. Luke took it to new lengths, adding a whole appendage about Paul. John did much the same, inventing stories and things Jesus said in order to create a treatment more theological than biographical or historical. And after Luke and John there would be dozens of others; we’ve found a number of them in reasonably complete form, and others in small fragments. Most assuredly there were dozens–hundreds?–more that have been lost irretrievably.
8 Et exeuntes cito de monumento cum timore et magno gaudio cucurrerunt nuntiare discipulis eius.
9 Et ecce Iesus occurrit illis dicens: “Avete”. Illae autem accesserunt et tenuerunt pedes eius et adoraverunt eum.
10 Tunc ait illis Iesus: “Nolite timere; ite, nuntiate fratribus meis, ut eant in Galilaeam et ibi me videbunt”.
This will take us to the end of the chapter, and the end of the gospel! This will have taken (future perfect!) something less than a year to get through. Don’t know if that’s good, bad, or indifferent, but there it is.
12 Μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα δυσὶν ἐξ αὐτῶν περιπατοῦσιν ἐφανερώθη ἐν ἑτέρᾳ μορφῇ πορευομένοις εἰς ἀγρόν:
After those things he (Jesus) appeared to two of them (the disciples; the Eleven?) walking about in another form in the fields (countryside).
How significant is it that we have not yet had Jesus’ name mentioned in this last section, the one after the young man tells the women to go to Galilee? Is this additional evidence that this is a gloss? And incidentally, my hard copy bible is the Revised English Bible; I was using it for quick reference and I noticed that Verse 8 of this chapter is substantially different there than it is in any of the KJV, the NIV, the NASB, or the ESV.
But if we start with Verse 9 and continue with this one, perhaps what we have is something more than just a gloss. I think we may have a full-blown textual addition. More, I would suggest that this textual addition was added by someone who was familiar with at least Luke’s gospel, and likely Matthew’s as well. This would likely put it well into the 2nd Century CE (i.e., after 100 CE). This sounds like a condensed version of the story of Jesus walking with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Of course, one could possibly argue that this was the original, and that Luke elaborated this into the story of the Road to Emmaus. However, this feels more like the attempt to summarize, and to explain why the two disciples hadn’t recognized Jesus.
And note that Jesus was “in another form”. Is this why the two disciples–here and in the road to Emmaus version–did not recognize Jesus? I looked for a reference to a description of a ‘resurrection body’ that I’m sure I read in Paul but can’t find. It would, possibly, explain this, because this does raise all sorts of metaphysical questions.
Stuff like this is fascinating; it’s seemingly a one-off, and that is exactly the problem. It is an indication, I think, of just how…casual the writers of the text were. This, I don’t think, was pre-considered when it was written. I think it was tossed off the top of the writer’s head, and it was stuff like this that caused no end of problems when the early church was trying to systematize all of the disparate threads into a coherent, consistent set of theological principles. Stuff like this explains why this was not easy, if it was even possible.
12 Post haec autem duobus ex eis ambulantibus ostensus est in alia effigie euntibus in villam;
13 κἀκεῖνοι ἀπελθόντες ἀπήγγειλαν τοῖς λοιποῖς: οὐδὲ ἐκείνοις ἐπίστευσαν.
And these (the two disciples) coming up announced to the rest; (but) they didn’t believe.
Someone else didn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. Wow, what a bunch of skeptics. But once again, it’s sort of like the straight man in a comedy routine. Those hearing the story get to set up the payoff.
13 et illi euntes nuntiaverunt ceteris, nec illis crediderunt.
14 Υστερον [δὲ] ἀνακειμένοις αὐτοῖς τοῖς ἕνδεκα ἐφανερώθη, καὶ ὠνείδισεν τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν καὶ σκληροκαρδίαν ὅτι τοῖς θεασαμένοις αὐτὸν ἐγηγερμένον οὐκ ἐπίστευσαν.
Later to the reclining (eating a formal meal) Eleven he appeared, and he reproached their disbelief and hardened hearts that those having seen him having risen they did not believe.
This “marginal gloss” as I described it shows no signs of abating. Maybe I need to rethink that a little. What this sounds more like is a full-blown insertion. More than that, it is an attempt to bring this account into closer agreement with at least Luke’s version of the resurrection story. The editor seems to have felt a very strong need to fill in the blank spots, at least in summary fashion.
14 Novissime recumbentibus illis Undecim apparuit, et exprobravit incredulitatem illorum et duritiam cordis, quia his, qui viderant eum resuscitatum, non crediderant.
15 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Πορευθέντες εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἅπαντα κηρύξατε τὸ εὐαγγέλιον πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει.
And he said to them, “Going out into the whole world preach the good news to every thing having been created.”
Here is another instance in which the focus is taken from Jesus being a Jew preaching to other Jews; now it becomes a matter of preaching to everyone. There was very, very little in the first 8 or 9 chapters about the Gentiles being included in the message, or the intent of the good news. In the latter half of the gospel, however, the Gentiles come to great prominence. This thematic change is one thing leading me to believe that there are at least two–or possibly three–major sections of the gospel, different or variant traditions that Mark wove into his single tapestry.
15 Et dixit eis: “ Euntes in mundum universum praedicate evangelium omni creaturae.
16 ὁ πιστεύσας καὶ βαπτισθεὶς σωθήσεται, ὁ δὲ ἀπιστήσας κατακριθήσεται.
“The one believing and having been baptized will be saved, but the non-believer will be judged adversely.”
This is, I believe, the first time we get a direct connection between baptism and being saved. As such, it’s a very significant moment in Christian history. Or, it would have been if this had actually dated to Mark rather than to a significantly later revision. If you look at the usages of the word ‘baptism’ in Mark, aside from the references to the death of the Baptist, and Jesus’ use of the word when asking the Sons of Zebedee if they can be baptized as Jesus will be, the word is nonexistent between here and Chapter 1.
16 Qui crediderit et baptizatus fuerit, salvus erit; qui vero non crediderit, condemnabitur.
17 σημεῖα δὲ τοῖς πιστεύσασιν ταῦτα παρακολουθήσει: ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου δαιμόνια ἐκβαλοῦσιν, γλώσσαις λαλήσουσινκαιναῖς,
“(There will be) signs to the believers, they shall follow them. In my name they will cast out, they will speak in tongues.
Remember back in Chapter 8, when the Pharisees wanted a sign, and Jesus got peeved with them? Well, now it seems he’s not so opposed to them after all. This has echoes of 1 Corinthians, with the latter text’s list of the various gifts that believers have: prophesy, tongues, & c. The difference, I suppose, is that the Pharisees were looking for something to convince them; these followers– whom it’s probably correct to call ‘Christians’–already believe, so the sign is more of a confirmation after the fact rather than an attempt to convert them before the fact.
But why these two gifts? Why not prophesy and healing? Tongues, again, seems to be a reference to Luke/Acts, and the Pentecost episode. And Paul certainly mentioned this as a gift, or a talent. But why casting out demons? There seems to be something particularly…Christian about this. Particularly, or even peculiarly. As mentioned, this was not a big thing for the Graeco-Roman world. It did not play a large part in the pagan religious experience. and I don’t think it was a big thing for Jews. So why did Jesus cast out a demon more often than some people change socks? I think this is a very important question.
In one of the QHJ books I read (apologies; cannot remember which), the author suggests that this was meant to be taken as evidence of the coming end, that this was a sign of the coming kingdom, that it was wrapped up with the whole eschatological strand, or intent, of Jesus’ teaching. But, if the whole “coming apocalypse” of Chapter 13 wasn’t written until, well, sometime after 70, when the war had already come and gone, is this a legitimate thesis? Probably not. Given the prominence and the emphasis placed on casting out demons throughout the early part of the gospel, I don’t think that the demon stuff was added later. So I think that the demon issue was important to Jesus, and his earlier followers. I’m not sure why, since it doesn’t seem like this was important in the overall thought of the times, but it seems like it was important.
As for the eschatology thing, I am going to have to revisit this in my summary of Mark, or in the Paul/Mark comparison I’m planning to write. It has just occurred to me that we have seen that the idea of Jesus’ return was already something Paul expected. The truly odd thing is that the Parousia just does not seem to square with the early part of Mark’s gospel that portrays Jesus as a wonder-worker. So, we have a bit of a conundrum here.
17 Signa autem eos, qui crediderint, haec sequentur: in nomine meo daemonia eicient, linguis loquentur novis,
18 [καὶ ἐν ταῖς χερσὶν] ὄφεις ἀροῦσιν, κἂν θανάσιμόν τι πίωσιν οὐ μὴ αὐτοὺς βλάψῃ, ἐπὶ ἀρρώστους χεῖρας ἐπιθήσουσιν καὶ καλῶς ἕξουσιν.
“[ And in their hands ] they will handle snakes, and if they drink something deadly (i.e., poisonous) it will not harm them, upon those being sick putting their hands upon them and they will have benefit (= ‘be cured’).”
First of all, the text starts getting really dicey here; there are several places where we have different manuscript traditions.
Second, driving out demons and speaking in tongues are not the only signs. Oops. Should have read the whole thing before running off at the mouth. But the snake handling thing is really interesting. And odd. And there have been times and places where revivalist-types have actually handled snakes as part of the revivalist experience. Then there’s the whole thing with drinking poison. I wonder how many people have died taking this literally.
Now these two activities are not exactly mainstream Christian beliefs or practices. I recall being puzzled when I first heard about snake handling, and I had no clue where the people practicing this got the idea to do this. Part of the reason these practices have been marginalized, I suspect, is because the text here is understood to be fairly marginal in its authenticity. IOW, most serious scholars and mainstream Christians realize that this chapter should not be ascribed to Mark. So snake handling and drinking poison is generally relegated to the fringes; it’s faith-healer stuff.
As for the laying-on of hands as a means of healing, this fulfills the first rule of the Hippocratic Oath: first, do no harm. I’m not sure if this has any bearing on beliefs like Christian Scientists, or other groups that believe in healing through prayer alone.
18 serpentes tollent, et, si mortiferum quid biberint, non eos nocebit, super aegrotos manus imponent, et bene habebunt ”.
19 Ὁ μὲν οὖν κύριος Ἰησοῦς μετὰ τὸ λαλῆσαι αὐτοῖς ἀνελήμφθη εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ ἐκάθισεν ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ θεοῦ.
The lord Jesus, with these sayings to them was taken up to the sky and he is seated at the right (hand) of God.
Again, seems to reflect knowledge of Luke/Acts.
19 Et Dominus quidem Iesus, postquam locutus est eis, assumptus est in caelum et sedit a dextris Dei.
20 ἐκεῖνοι δὲ ἐξελθόντες ἐκήρυξαν πανταχοῦ, τοῦ κυρίου συνεργοῦντος καὶ τὸν λόγον βεβαιοῦντος διὰ τῶν ἐπακολουθούντων σημείων.]]
They, OTOH (= δὲ ) going out preached everywhere. With the Lord working with (them) and the word confirmed through the following signs.
20 Illi autem profecti praedicaverunt ubique, Domino cooperante et sermonem confirmante, sequentibus signis.
This ends most versions of Mark. The NASB, and the Greek bible that I use have the following verse as well.
21 Πάντα δὲ τὰ παρηγγελμένα τοῖς περὶ τὸν Πέτρον συντόμως ἐξήγγειλαν. Μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀπὸ ἀνατολῆς καὶ ἄχρι δύσεως ἐξαπέστειλεν δι’ αὐτῶν τὸ ἱερὸν καὶ ἄφθαρτον κήρυγμα τῆς αἰωνίου σωτηρίας. ἀμήν.
And they promptly reported all these instructions to Peter and his companions. And after that, Jesus Himself sent out through them from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.
OK. this chapter, especially this section, to me, seems like it was added by someone who was summarizing stuff he read in Luke. The text is disjointed, it feels cobbled together without much skill, as if it simply incorporated the marginal glosses of several copyists. Perhaps these were ‘smoothed out’ to some extent, but not all that effectively.
Adding to this is the thematic dissonance. Where does some of this stuff come from? Baptism and being saved were not linked in the main body of the gospel, and yet it shows up here in this chapter. Given that there seems to be a confusion of themes, overall I think we can be safe in assuming the general consensus is correct, and this was added on at a later date.
I feel like I should have something profound to say now that I’ve concluded, but I’ll save that for the general summary to Mark in toto.
Here is the final chapter of the gospel, which contains the resurrection story.
1 Καὶ διαγενομένου τοῦ σαββάτου Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ καὶ Μαρία ἡ [τοῦ]Ἰακώβου καὶ Σαλώμη ἠγόρασαν ἀρώματα ἵνα ἐλθοῦσαι ἀλείψωσιν αὐτόν.
And having gone through the Sabbath, Mary the Magdelenian and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices in order to go (to the tomb) to anoint him.
Several points. The fact that this is nailed down to the day after the Sabbath–Sunday, per the common calendar of the West–so early and so deeply in the tradition makes this quite credible, IMO. It’s exactly the sort of thing that gets embedded into a story and sticks there because it caused just enough inconvenience to make it memorable. It’s like the day you have to get to an important appointment, you can’t find your car keys. Yes, this could be one of those details that accrued, but why?
Second, I’m still half-convinced that the mother of James and Salome was also the mother of Jesus.
Third, I rendered it as “Magdelenian” to get across that this is a designation of her town of origin, and not a surname, whether in the modern or the Roman sense of the term.
Finally, this is petty, but did they buy the spices that morning? That’s one way of reading the text. It’s a minor point, but a point nevertheless. The significance, I think, is that it indicates that the story had not quite been nailed down; the details were starting to attach to the story, but they all hadn’t been smoothed into a consistent narrative.
1 Et cum transisset sabbatum, Maria Magdalene et Maria Iacobi et Salome emerunt aromata, ut venientes ungerent eum.
2 καὶ λίαν πρωῒ τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων ἔρχονται ἐπὶ τὸ μνημεῖον ἀνατείλαντος τοῦ ἡλίου.
And as soon as it was morning the day after the Sabbath they went to the tomb the sun having come up.
2 Et valde mane, prima sabbatorum, veniunt ad monumentum, orto iam sole.
3 καὶ ἔλεγον πρὸς ἑαυτάς, Τίς ἀποκυλίσει ἡμῖν τὸν λίθον ἐκ τῆς θύρας τοῦ μνημείου;
And they said to each other, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?”
3 Et dicebant ad invicem: “ Quis revolvet nobis lapidem ab ostio monumenti? ”.
4 καὶ ἀναβλέψασαι θεωροῦσιν ὅτι ἀποκεκύλισται ὁ λίθος, ἦν γὰρ μέγας σφόδρα.
And looking up they saw that the stone had been rolled away, for it was very large.
It seems like there should be something to say about the actions to this point, but, aside from the obvious that this is stage-directed. Does this carry any sense of credibility? Was it truly intended to carry any? Or was the point simply to get the story across? And what chance is there that any of this even vaguely resembles the actual happenings?
4 Et respicientes vident revolutum lapidem; erat quippe magnus valde.
5 καὶ εἰσελθοῦσαι εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον εἶδον νεανίσκον καθήμενον ἐν τοῖς δεξιοῖς περιβεβλημένον στολὴν λευκήν, καὶ ἐξεθαμβήθησαν.
And they went into the tomb they saw a young man seated on the right, wrapped around in white linen, and they were startled into terror.
Now this is really interesting. I’ll explain after the next verse.
5 Et introeuntes in monumentum viderunt iuvenem sedentem in dextris, coopertum stola candida, et obstupuerunt.
6 ὁ δὲ λέγει αὐταῖς, Μὴ ἐκθαμβεῖσθε: Ἰησοῦν ζητεῖτε τὸν Ναζαρηνὸν τὸν ἐσταυρωμένον: ἠγέρθη, οὐκ ἔστιν ὧδε: ἴδε ὁ τόπος ὅπου ἔθηκαν αὐτόν.
And he said to them, “Do not be afraid. You seek Jesus the Nazarene, the one crucified. Get up. He is not here. Behold the place where they laid him.”
I’m reasonably sure that it was Bart Ehrman who came up with what I think is an ingenious explanation of this verse. The religious authorities were afraid that Jesus’ tomb might become some sort of rallying point for Jesus’ followers. To prevent this, it was the Jewish authorities who moved the body. The detail about the young man in white, he thinks, indicates one of the temple officials who wore garments that were whitened pabove and beyond what was normal. And this then explains the bit about Galilee that we get in the next verse….
7 ἀλλὰ ὑπάγετε εἴπατε τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ καὶ τῷ Πέτρῳ ὅτι Προάγει ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν: ἐκεῖ αὐτὸν ὄψεσθε, καθὼς εἶπεν ὑμῖν.
“But get up, tell his disciples and also Peter that “He has gone ahead of you to Galilee. There you will see him, accordingly as he told you.”
OK, did I miss it? When did Jesus say anything about going ahead to Galilee? Answer, I don’t believe he did. This is the second part of Ehrman’s theory: that the religious authorities had their representative planted in the tomb to tell Jesus’ followers to leave Jerusalem and to go to Galilee where they would be Herod’s problem and not theirs.
I think this theory is ingenious. Whether it’s right or not is another story. Again, it depends pretty much on whether we believe the overall story of Mark that the religious authorities were responsible for Jesus’ execution. If this is true, then it’t not unreasonable to believe that they wanted to get rid of Jesus’ followers because there were so many of them, and they were apt to cause problems. If, as I’ve said, I don’t believe this cover story, then it really doesn’t follow that the religious authorities would have taken the initiative to concoct this scheme. So what, then?
At some level the story of the empty tomb has to be addressed in the historical analysis. Whether it was actually empty or not, this is the story that was propagated, and, as we saw in Paul, believed. Indeed, the Resurrection is the sine qua non of Christianity. Without this, Jesus is just another…whatever, however you conceive him to be, a wonder-worker, a revolutionary zealot, a wise man. He was, in short, a man. So we have to address the belief, if we don’t have to address the likelihood of the event. We have to ask if the tomb was empty. Then we have to ask why it was empty. While a miraculous resurrection is outside the usual course of historical events, and while it’s not possible that it could have occurred in the order of a ‘natural’ course of action, a miracle is always possible–by definition. But, regardless of what did happen, people believed in the phenomenon of the empty tomb, and we have to ask why that belief came about.
Of course, the simplest explanation for the belief is that Jesus did rise from the dead. FIne. But, as historians, we cannot leave it at that. To do so is to leave the realm of historical research and enter the realm of theology, or religious belief, or whatever you want to call it. So are there other possible–plausible–reasons why the tomb might have been empty?
Ehrman’s thesis is actually very attractive, because it solves a lot of problems in a way that is well within the realm of possibility. However, I don’t believe it’s likely since I don’t believe that the religious authorities had any reason to go to the effort. IMO, Jesus wasn’t that popular, he didn’t have a large following that they needed to fear, there was no reason for them to move the body, and to then plant an operative to throw the followers off-track by sending them on a wild goose chase to Galilee.
Another distinct possibility is that they had the wrong tomb. The events of the day of the crucifixion were, no doubt, stressful and confusing. The women were not from Jerusalem; it’s not hard to believe that they got confused, turned around, or that they just got it wrong because they didn’t see exactly where Jesus was placed. They went to a tomb, it was empty, but it wasn’t where Jesus had been laid. That was why the stone was rolled away; it had never been rolled in front of the entrance. A very simple mistake.
So there are plausible explanations, but I think we’re missing something. Mark did not originally include a resurrection story. Why not? That is, or seems, puzzling. But then we notice that Paul doesn’t have a resurrection story, either. IMO, I think the implication here is that the story of the resurrection did not become…necessary until sometime in the 70s, after Mark wrote. (is necessary the right word? It’s one possible word, or conception, but it’s not the only one.) As for why this was true, I think the reasons for this lie someplace in Paul’s writings; I need to address this, but I don’t know that this is the place. I plan to summarize Mark in toto when I finish Chapter 16, and then I plan to do a Mark vs Paul, compare and contrast sort of thing after that. The thing is, Paul’s writings that predate Mark are really the only appropriate NT writings to consider. What happened after Mark cannot concern us here. It’s inadmissible evidence for what Mark wrote, and why.
7 Sed ite, dicite discipulis eius et Petro: “Praecedit vos in Galilaeam. Ibi eum videbitis, sicut dixit vobis” ”.
8 καὶ ἐξελθοῦσαι ἔφυγον ἀπὸ τοῦ μνημείου, εἶχεν γὰρ αὐτὰς τρόμος καὶ ἔκστασις: καὶ οὐδενὶ οὐδὲν εἶπαν, ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ.
And going out, they fled from the tomb, for they had trauma and ecstasy; and they said nothing to no one, for they were afraid.
One of the priests I heard speak on this reading on Easter made a wonderful point. He was very taken with this because he found it so believable. They were terrified, so they didn’t say anything to anyone. How human, how normal a reaction! And I agree. And it’s just this sort of very-human reaction to an extraordinary event that gives the NT, the Bible so much of its power. The authors were people with very keen insight into the human condition; they were very adept at bringing the message home and giving it a very human face, one in which almost anyone could recognize someone they know, if not themselves.
So again, we have a plausible story; does that mean it’s true? Not necessarily. We have to keep in mind that the Resurrection story was not created until at least a full generation had passed since Jesus’ death. That puts us into the 60s, after Paul; it may not have been created until into the 70s. As such, it’s really hard to argue, IMO, that there was any amount of factual accuracy in the story. Given the evidence of Paul, it’s not out of the question that it was made up of whole cloth, from scratch. Now, it’s possible that there were traditions of a Resurrection story local to Jerusalem and Galilee that Paul did not know about; however, given the changes made between Mark and Matthew, I’m not sure it’s easy to argue such a position. Not impossible, but difficult.
8 Et exeuntes fugerunt de monumento; invaserat enim eas tremor et pavor, et nemini quidquam dixerunt, timebant enim.
9 Ἀναστὰς δὲ πρω ῒπρώτῃ σαββάτου ἐφάνη πρῶτον Μαρίᾳ τῇ Μαγδαληνῇ, παρ’ ἧς ἐκβεβλήκει ἑπτὰ δαιμόνια.
(Jesus) having risen early in the morning, the first (day) after the Sabbath, he appeared to Mary of Magdala, from whom he cast out seven demons.
This is really interesting. IMO, this is probably a gloss that got incorporated into the text. Think about it: we get the tale to the point of the previous verse, when the women ran away and told no one, and suddenly we’re back at the beginning, first light on the day after the Sabbath. And we skip over the trip to the tomb, and go right to the apparition to Mary of Magdala. In any linear sense, this makes no sense. If you think about it, though, and think of a copyist writing this a century later, he notices that we aren’t told that Jesus has actually been seen. So he makes a note to ‘correct’ the text. A century after that (and we’re still not up to the time of Constantine) a later copyist isn’t sure about where the margin begins and he (no doubt a ‘he’) just keeps going, adding this into the body of the text.
Another possibility is that the second copyist was the one who added the bit about the seven demons. This is another new bit of information. What is interesting is that it appears in Luke, but not in Matthew. What this suggests to me is that it had become part of the tradition about Mary M, in much the same way that she later became a prostitute, and the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet. But that it skipped Matthew may indicate that this was a much later addition to the tradition. And note that it’s not said of her the first time she’s mentioned, either at the end of the last chapter or here in Chapter 16. So maybe the second copyist decided to ‘clarify’ things by making sure we knew this about her, or because he wanted to affirm to himself that he knew this about her from reading Luke.
The point is, we cannot be very certain about when anything in this chapter was composed, or added.
9 Surgens autem mane, prima sabbati, apparuit primo Mariae Magdalenae, de qua eiecerat septem daemonia.
10 ἐκείνη πορευθεῖσα ἀπήγγειλεν τοῖς μετ’ αὐτοῦ γενομένοις πενθοῦσικαὶ κλαίουσιν:
Then going out she announced this to those who were being with her, being sad and crying,
10 Illa vadens nuntiavit his, qui cum eo fuerant, lugentibus et flentibus;
11 κἀκεῖνοι ἀκούσαντες ὅτι ζῇ καὶ ἐθεάθη ὑπ’ αὐτῆς ἠπίστησαν.
And then hearing that he lived and that he had been seen by her they did not believe.
Another very credible touch, because it’s totally a human reaction not to believe outrageous news.
11 et illi audientes quia viveret et visus esset ab ea, non crediderunt.