Monday, March 06, 2017

"counsel with the Herodians against him" - Mark and the Holy Shroud

The Arakawa River between Tokyo and Saitama Prefectures

Mark and the Holy Shroud

The ending of the Gospels according to Mark is controversial.

Scholars have wondered why the Gospel abruptly ended originally:

“Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing (Mark 16:6-8)
What happened in the mind of Mark when he wrote these sentences?

In my theory, the key to understanding this scene is the holy shroud.  If the holy shroud on which the body image of Christ Jesus had been mysteriously copied and left in the tomb, these women must have observed it and got frightened.  And, as a matter of fact, no reports about the holy shroud prevailed among the disciples and the Christian Israelites.  Even no other Gospels according to Luke, Mathew, and John mentioned the holy shroud.

If Mark had known the existence of the holy shroud and the fact that these women had seen it in the tomb, it is natural that he wondered if he should reveal it.  But it looks like that these women, Peter, and other disciples decided to keep the existence of the holy shroud a secret.  It is partly because it was so shocking to them.  And, mostly because they thought that they had to protect the holy shroud from their enemies and priests of the temple of Jerusalem.  Such a shroud could not be regraded as holy by Judaists but as something abhorrent.

If their enemies had know about the holy shroud, they should have surely tried to destroy it and blamed Peter and other disciples for having such a ghastly material related to Christ Jesus.  Judaism at the the time would not allow existence of the holy shroud, since any shrouds were unclean.  And most importantly, at the time, Christianity was still a part of Judaism, or Peter and other disciples thought they were still genuine Judaists.  And the religion Judaism did not respect any shrouds that were used to wrap dead bodies.

However, it is natural that Mark stopped his writing there, wondering if he should reveal the existence of the holy shroud.  It also means or proves that Mark had a close tie with Peter who knew the existence of the holy shroud.  

So, it is reasonable to think that the author of the Gospel according to Mark is Mark who traveled with Peter around the east Mediterranean and to Rome as an interpreter of Peter.

The women, following the instruction of the mysterious young man or an angel, found the holy shroud in the tomb where the dead body of Christ Jesus had been laid.  And, Peter also saw it, hid it, and made a secret of it.  But Peter later revealed it to Mark while they were traveling and preaching.  So, Mark could not simply ignore one the the most drastic episodes of Christ Jesus: the holy shroud.

But Mark could not reveal it, though about 30 years had passed since the incident.  After all, Mark stopped abruptly his writing of the Gospel to imply something grave to readers.

Or, Peter might have told Mark no to reveal it in the Gospel, since Peter probably was with Mark when Mark was writing the Gospel.  Conversely, the abrupt ending means that the Gospel according to Mark was written under supervision of Peter.

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Mar 3:6 And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.
Mar 3:7 But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea,
Mar 3:8 And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.