Jesus, Judas, and Melanthius
JFAlward at aol.com
JFAlward at aol.com
Thu Mar 1 15:13:57 EST 2001
Steve Black writes:
What evidential reasons are there (if any) to suppose Judas (and the
whole Mount of Olives episode, for that matter) was or was not part
of the tradition that Mark inherited, and which he "creatively"
I may be misunderstanding the thoughts represented on the list, but
it seems assumed that Judas was "created" by Mark, and was not in his
received tradition. Mark's redactional role seems to me to be of
crucial significance in understanding the gospel and Mark's thinking.
How do we is separate "tradition" from Mark's creativity? How can we
verify our results?
Whether the Mark who wrote the gospel created Judas, or someone else did,
doesn't really matter, I think. What matters most is whether the stories are
true, or made up.
Evidence of someone's "creativity" is abundant, whether the creativity is
Mark's, or that of the persons from whom he received the tradition.
The connections between the Old Testament, especially 2 Samuel and Psalms,
and to a lesser extent, 1 Samuel and Zechariah, are numerous. Virtually
every one of the events in Mark's Chapter 14 has an Old Testament
antecedent--a convincing one. Perhaps to sell Jesus to the Hebrews as the
rightful heir to the throne of the house of David, thereby convincing Hebrews
that Jesus was the messiah they've been waiting for, Mark may have decided to
show them that events in the life of David prefigured those in Jesus' life.
He thus used the holy scripture as a blueprint in constructing the story of
Jesus' betrayal and arrest.
I think there is strong evidence that almost all of the betrayal and arrest
story was taken from the Old Testament. Consider this one example: Jesus
went off alone to pray at Gethsemane, leaving the others behind to keep
watch. How did Mark know what Jesus said to the Lord? Mark doesn't tell us
that God told him, nor does he tell us that Jesus told him later what his
private prayers to God were. Is it not fair to assume that Mark "knew" what
Jesus said because he took David's prayer and put in the mouth of Jesus
Readers who are interested in seeing what I think are all of the other
connections between Mark 14 and the Old Testament will find them at
In that article, I also discuss Dennis MacDonald's suggestion that Mark may
have had his Judas imitate Homer's Melanthius.
Joseph F. Alward, Ph.D.
Department of Physics
University of the Pacific
Stockton CA 95211
email: JFAlward at aol.com
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