Half of a Scholarly Love Letter to Markus Vinzent; or, Why the Gospel of Mark is Both Early and Late

Vinzent chalks up the development of the canonical Gospels as a response to Marcion, and there is a lot of truth in that view. While most scholars see Vinzent’s work as completely untenable and out of the mainstream, I find it to be enormously valuable as giving us half of the story. My discovery of the First Gospel and reconstruction of the Third Gospel (Early Luke or the Gospel of Marcion) builds on the consensus scholarly view that Mark was the first (or second, if you count Q) Gospel composed and yet still provides the means to reconcile it with Vinzent’s view that the Gospel of Mark reflects a clear, late redactional program that may well be anti-Marcionite.

The nuances of the scholarly discussion are highly technical, and a screenshot is worth a thousand words, so I simply offer below a snapshot of my work this morning as an illustration of how important GMarc / Early Luke (an 80s CE composition) is as a witness to the text of early Mark (70s) and also how we can see Late Mark (140s) picking up and expanding on Late Luke (117-138 CE) redactions. All of this illustrates how vitally important an all-encompassing and scientific signal tracing methodology is to clarify each redactional stratum among the Gospels.

Gospel scholars need to stop approaching these texts as flat, one-off creations by singular, great apostolic authors. That early-orthodox, fideistic bias is absolutely rampant in New Testament studies. It is unscientific and baseless, and it needs to end. Each Gospel has two or three major editorial stages, each one reflecting different priorities, vocabularies, social statuses, educational levels, ecclesiastical organizations, etc. The redactor of Late Mark–whose writing if taken as self-reflective makes him out to be an aristocratic, pedigreed, civic yet rural land-owning ecclesisatical official in Rome in the 140s–really likes to borrow Late Luke redactions and was really into agricultural and priestly authority, which we can see in the extended elaboration of the parable of the sower and in this episode about plucking grain on the sabbath.

We need to start rethinking everything in these multi-stage audio-textual communal performances in terms of discrete signal transmissions.

In every text we examine, our focus, method and challenge must be to find the earliest, simplest version of a signal among all the Gospel strata, then trace its synthetic expansion from point to point across each stratum. Sometimes that means circling back to the same text, such as below where the simplest signal is in the earliest Gospel (Mark), the very same Gospel that simultaneously carries the most synthesized version of that signal.

The more we follow this method, the clearer each stratum will become to us. Right now, in terms of signals detection, scholarship on the Gospels is a big, fuzzy acoustical mess, because we have been foolish enough to adopt the early-orthodox framing of heroic individual apostolic authors instead of thinking like acoustical samplers/detectives, gospel virus DNA sequencers, or textual geologists.

I believe this reveals our first MkMcMtLk3Lm signal. It may not be our last.