Was Bartimaeus Mark’s Young Man In The Tomb and in the Arrest Scene?

Read these selected passages from Mark. Asterisks indicate present tense changed to past tense.

Over the past few days, I have been closely re-reading the Gospel of Mark, searching for anything not visible at first sight which I might have missed the previous times I have read the gospel. I was especially looking for probable Chehov’s guns. I may have found one such gun.

I shall here point out several details in these passages that make it likely that the Bartimaeus of the first of the above-linked-to passages is the “young man” of the second two passages. It is to be remembered that from the time the disciples abandon Jesus in Mark 14, Mark conscripts a small army of minor characters to fill the place of the do-nothing apostles, including
Anonymous Swordbearer (Mark 14:47)
Anonymous Young Man [Bartimaeus?] (Mark 14:51, Mark 16:5)
Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21)
Anonymous person with sponge (Mark 15:36)
The Centurion (Mark 15:39)
Women, among whom are Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome (Mark 15:40, Mark 15:47, Mark 16:1)
Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:43)

Mark 16:7 shows that Mark’s “young man” was certainly aware of Jesus’s statement about Galilee in Mark 14:28 (the only time Jesus speaks of Galilee in all the Gospel of Mark). Thus, Mark’s “young man” was probably overhearing Jesus from the time Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives in Mark 14:26 to the time Jesus was arrested and spoke his last coherent two contiguous sentences in Mark 14:48-9. It is to be remembered that there were “those about him” other than the Twelve to whom was given “the secret of the Kingdom of God” (Mark 4:10). As Bartimaeus was described in Mark 10:52 as beginning to follow Jesus, it is logical that he was one of those shouting Hosanna in Mark 11.

Firstly, to my knowledge, Bartimaeus is the only person healed by Jesus in the whole Gospel of Mark who is described as beginning to follow him. His healing is also the last baptism with the Holy Spirit (i.e., healing miracle) Jesus performs. Secondly, Bartimaeus being the young man in the tomb fits quite well with Jesus’s statement in Mark 10:31 (in the same chapter as the Bartimaeus story), that “many who are first will be last, and the last, first”. It should also be noted that Jesus alludes to his coming passion in Mark 10:33-4 and warns that disciples’ attempts to climb in rank will lead to their ruin, while during Bartimaeus’s healing, there is no complaint (as in Mark 9:17-29) by Jesus. Fourthly, Bartimaeus displays a clear awareness of Jesus’s status as Messiah, and is the first person in the Gospel of Mark not possessed by evil spirits to point out Jesus’s messianic nature outside Jesus and his group of disciples by calling Jesus “Son of David”. Indeed, Bartimaeus is shown to have so much faith in Jesus, that he even rejects the advice of the crowd in Mark 10:48, as the young man of Mark 14 goes against the crowd’s fleeing and desertion of Jesus before they could be subject to any serious risk.

Sixthly, there is the matter of the cloak, linen sheet, and white robe. Bartimaeus throws off (apoballó) his cloak/outer garment (himation) and jumps/rises up, the young man of Mark 14, reminding us of Joseph, leaves behind his linen sheet (sindona; linen undergarment and/or burial cloth as in Mark 15:46), possibly the same linen sheet as that used to bury Jesus, and leaves it behind (kataleipó) and the young man of Mark 16 is found in a white robe (stolen). Jesus’s cloak is turned white during the Transfiguration (Mark 9:3) and is found to heal those who touch it (Mark 5:30). Besides the cloak of Jesus and the cloaks of those shouting Hosanna in Mark 11, there is, to my knowledge, no mention of anyone’s cloak besides that of Bartimaeus. Thus, I suggest a speculative, but plausible reconstruction: Bartimaeus throws off his cloak (representing his life as a beggar) in Mark 10 and continues wearing a linen sheet until Mark 14. He continues to follow Jesus through Jesus’s visits to the Temple and to the Mount of Olives. He may or may not have been at the Last Supper. After the Last Supper and the time he overhears Jesus’s words regarding his coming apparition in Galilee, he continues to follow Jesus to Gethsemane. Though the crowd with swords and clubs tries to seize him, he escapes naked. His linen sheet then is sold to a local store. Jesus’s clothes are then divided up among the Roman soldiers. Joseph of Arimathea then buys the linen sheet (which covered the nakedness of Bartimaeus) to cover the nakedness of the dead Jesus. Sometime very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the stone covering the entrance of the tomb is rolled away and Jesus’s body and the linen sheet ascends to heaven and Jesus receives new white clothes in Heaven for him to be seated at the right hand of God, while Bartimaeus receives new white clothes for him to be seated at the right side of the place where Jesus was once laid. Edit (10:44 PM EST): As this author argues, Jesus leaves behind the young man for the young man to wear heavenly clothing Jesus left behind, while the young man leaves behind Jesus for Jesus to be buried in the clothing the young man left behind.

Seventh, the young man of Mark 16 is found to be “sitting to the right”. This is reminiscent of Jesus’s claim to sit at the right hand of power in the last coherent Greek sentence spoken by him in Mark (alluding to Psalm 110:1, the only place where “sitting at the right hand” is mentioned in the Old Testament). The only discussion of sitting at hands in Mark occurs just before Bartimaeus is healed by Jesus (Mark 10:35-45).

Thus, there are several indications that Bartimaeus is the young man of Mark 14 and 16: clothing, not succumbing to peer pressure, following Jesus, Bartimaeus’s messianic awareness, sitting at the right hand, and the “many who are first will be last, and the last, first” statement of Jesus.

I don’t know for certain whether Mark intended the reader to understand that the “young man” of Mark 14 and 16 is the Bartimaeus of Mark 10, but it sure seems like it.

Review of “A Biblical History of Israel”, Chapter 3

Review of Chapter 2.

It is in this chapter the trio finally begin to answer the question of how one distinguishes truth from falsehood. The trio begin by stating that they wish to demonstrate the ridiculous (in my eyes) assertion that Biblical history is just as objective, if not more, than non-Biblical history. They continue by claiming TLT’s statement “There is no more ‘ancient Israel’…This we do know” is the logical conclusion of modern Biblical studies, though most Biblical scholars would not accept this statement. The trio then make the claim that, as narrative history has made a comeback among historians, Biblical history should be given the benefit of the doubt. The trio claim the critical thinking present in the historical community is a product of a “closeted environment”. The authors speculate that this is due to present-day critical scholarship being a child of the nineteenth century. The trio blathers on about TLT’s “faith” in “testimony” and his lack of it, this idea of theirs being heavily criticized by me in the review of chapters 1 and 2. The trio alleges TLT has “privileged nonbiblical testimony epistemologically”. I do not know whether or not this is the case, but, either way, this is at best a simplified summary of what critical biblical scholars believe, and, at worst, an utter straw man created entirely by the imaginations of the authors. As another slap to the reader’s intelligence, the trio have the gall to call their maximalist Biblical History of Israel “alternative”. The authors seem to view their (ancient) method of writing Biblical History as an alternative to genuinely recent (and still very much under-written and almost entirely unread) wholly non-Biblical history of Israel. Indeed, I am not aware of any volume on the history of Iron Age Palestine that does not rely at least partially on the Bible (with the possible exception of TLT’s “Early History” and a few others I have forgotten).

The authors again quote some author in a futile attempt to establish the ridiculous notion that ancient historians could write history as critical as that modern historians can write. Refer to my review of Chapter 2 for my dismissal of this idea. Though the authors strangely admit that “[t]o tell us about Israel’s past is certainly not the only purpose of these narratives; it is arguably not even their main purpose”, they neglect to discuss, even briefly, how those other purposes may influence the Biblical authors’ attempts at history-writing. The authors also claim that “[w]hether it were one of their purposes or not, they might still succeed in doing [history-writing]”. Needless to say, people can’t accomplish what they don’t know how to do. The authors then ask the perfectly good question of why scholars have a critical distrust of large portions of the Old Testament.

The authors finally get around to the question of how one distinguishes truth from falsehood by posing what they seem to view as a stumper for critical scholars: when does one provisionally reject a Biblical claim and wait for it to be verified and when does one provisionally accept a Biblical claim and wait for it to be falsified? The answer to this question, of course, can be derived from the dictum that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. When an extraordinary claim supporting the truth of an extraordinary statement, such as that there was a real Noahic flood, is made, that extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence for its support, and, thus, should be subject to the so-called “verification principle”. Likewise, when an ordinary claim supporting the falsehood of an extraordinary statement is made, that ordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence to refute it, and, thus, should be subject to the so-called “falsification principle”. When an extraordinary claim supporting the falsehood of an ordinary statement is made, extraordinary evidence is required for that ordinary claim’s refutation. When an ordinary claim supporting the falsehood of an ordinary statement is made, however, only ordinary evidence is required for the refutation of the first. When that ordinary evidence is not provided, the first ordinary claim supporting the falsehood of the second ordinary statement is strengthened.

Of course, the definitions of “extraordinary” and “ordinary” change over time; what was an ordinary claim in one decade (e.g., a strong United Monarchy) is an extraordinary one in the next; what was an unthinkable claim in one decade (e.g., Chronicles‘ composition in the Hasmonean era) is a well-supported one in the next. But this does not change the answer to the authors’ question, rather, it qualifies it, allowing us to understand that what scholars see now may not be what scholars see later and that our present perspective is necessarily limited. But the fact it is limited does not mean it is nonexistent.

The authors, as we might expect, style themselves the true skeptics; the skeptics of the so-called “verification principle”. Yet, if I say that lemonade cures all cancers, the authors would surely not use the “falsification principle” in response to my claim. They also ask the poor question of what constitutes “verification”; needless to say, the answer is different in each case. They also point to the inevitable appearance of subjectivity of at least some historians’ judgements. Yet, the fact that subjectivity is often to be found in scholarship does not mean we can dispense with evidence. They also laugh at a consistent application of the so-called “verification principle”, failing to understand what I have written in the above two paragraphs. They also imagine that “the delusion that we possess knowledge unmediated by faith” (the authors never define “faith”, though see below) “-is indeed only possible if skepticism is directed at some testimonies about, and interpretations of, the past, and not at others” (emphasis not added). This is an astounding display of the Biblical inerrantist mind at work-it cannot imagine that others do not believe in the concept of the necessary inerrancy of at least some sources. It cannot imagine any sliding scale of textual reliability. It can only accept two judgments about a text, “inerrant” and “not inerrant”. Needless to say, historians should apply skepticism to all texts, not refuse its application for a privileged few.

The authors continue to mock a so-called consistent application of the “verification principle”. The authors imagine that it is not the failure of archaeologists to find the ruins of Joshua’s Jericho, not the lack of Late Bronze finds at et-Tell, not excavations and surveys in the Sinai, the Negev, and Transjordan, not the Tel Aviv University-led surveys of the West Bank, and not the collapse of the Albright paradigm that led to the “end of “ancient Israel””, as they put it, but, rather, “an advance in ignorance as a result of the quasi-consistent application of the verification principle”. While certainly the latter has been partially responsible for the decline of the use of Judges and I Kings for the reconstruction of the history of Iron Age Cisjordan, it is the former that was responsible for the decline of the use of Joshua and the Pentateuch for the reconstruction of the history of Late Bronze Age Cisjordan. The authors conclude this section with their statement that “there is… no reason why any text offering testimony about the past… should be bracketed out of our historical discussions until it has passed some obscure “verification test””, thus cementing themselves as totally uncritical readers of all texts, including email spam, the Daily Mail, and Lucian’s “True History”. They follow up with an irrelevant quote from Wright and an untrue one by Richardson (“no-one believes that historical judgements can be ‘proved’ after the fashion of verification in the natural sciences”, ignoring the fact human prehistory is derived by basically the same methods as non-human prehistory).

The trio then go on to more thoroughly explain their belief that the distance of a historical source from the events it describes does not have any significant influence its reliability. The authors state (not in the words I use here) what they consider to be the most influential rules of history: that historical information is lost over time and space, that bias leads people to be more prone to omit or falsify data, and that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. All these rules seem good ones to me. According to the trio, “[w]hat has changed in recent times is not the rules, but the extent to which the biblical text is seen as unsatisfactory in respect of them”. The authors correctly point out that eyewitnesses are, like secondhand reporters, interpreters of events. They also point out that while secondhand reporters may distort the “testimony” of eyewitnesses, they may also provide that “testimony” with a more proper context. They fail to emphasize, however, that information is lost over time and space. They also neglect to point out that the farther the distance between events and those events’ recording, the fewer corrections can be made to that recording. Though the authors point out that textual transmission chains may be quite secure, it is rare that a later scribe can legitimately correct a much earlier text, and, needless to say, it is common that a later scribe can botch the transcription of an earlier text, leaving even later textual critics much busier than they should be.

The authors speculate, without the tiniest bit of evidence, that the Genesis traditions could “just as possibly” have been “communicated in both written and oral forms from an early stage”. While the authors point out the OT certainly indicates that Moses was literate, they give no evidence of any literacy at either Iron I Bethel or Shiloh, where the Pentateuchal traditions were supposedly (very unlikely actually) preserved. The trio then makes the laughable, ridiculous, and jaw-dropping assertion that the Exodus tradition is an indication of humility on the part of the authors of the Bible. Humble origins, whether real or imaginary, are often used to justify achievements too meager for those of lofty origins. If one needs confirmation of this obvious truth, one need only look at the persecution fantasies of the Christian Right. Also, since when was writing that one’s ethnic group was once a powerless one that was assisted by God an indication of humility? Such a description is guaranteed to give that ethnic group the appearance of the moral high ground.

The trio uses Middle Bronze Age Hebron as an example of a “small and isolated town” with a literate class. Continue reading “Review of “A Biblical History of Israel”, Chapter 3″

Why Theology Shouldn’t Be An Academic Discipline

-I love this video. It demonstrates two things: first, that the fact theology, like the study of comic books, provides no practical knowledge about the world means that it should not be seen in university courses, and, secondly, that as theology is to be found in some university courses, it is a pseudoscience; a hobby masquerading as a science.

Also, note: there is no “Mark 21:12”. Mark only has 16 chapters. Matthew 22:21 is correctly cited. Needless to say, faith is not a good thing. Marx nerds have killed more people than Bible nerds.

Mailbag

I have been sent the below YouTube Personal Message by a person (almost certainly female) that I may (or may not) have known in real life.

prosletyzing

Let us respond to her proselytizing.

After this life is over do you know for sure where you will spend eternity?

-No. I don’t particularly care what happens to my body after my death. Spending my post-life period as ashes is just as acceptable to me as spending it as a rotten body buried beneath the ground. Besides, no human body lasts for eternity. Yes, I do know you are referring to the bizarre (oft-religious) concept of brainless human thinking, something that is, as far as I know, impossible.

The Bible says that there is only 2 choices…

“HEAVEN” or “HELL”

God says that “SAVED” people go to Heaven and lost people go to Hell.

-[citation needed]
The case for a literal Biblical fiery Hell is pretty slim. There’s also a good Biblical case for Universalism (or, at least, no long postmortem punishment).

The “Good News” is that God LOVES us and wants to save you from going to that terrible place called hell. Check this really cool verse out from the Bible…

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have ALL men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

-An omnipotent supernatural being with multiple personality disorder (one personality that wishes all men to be saved and one personality that wishes some to be damned) is hardly believable. I do not think the word “all” means what you think it means. Does this “all” include Zoroastrians?

AJAL…God does not want to send anyone to hell. We CHOOSE where we are going to spend eternity!!

-According to the most commonly accepted Christian theology on this topic, God is all-knowing and all-powerful, thus, he knows our choices before we make them and has determined what our choices would be from the day he created the Universe, and, probably before (what would be the meaning of ‘all-powerful’ if he didn’t?). Determinism makes more sense than free will all the way, in both the secular and religious worldviews.

We all deserve to go to Hell because of SIN.
When we sin we break God’s laws of righteousness!

-So your god is a sadist, too, wishing people to suffer for reasons undetermined (remember, if God is responsible for creating everything, he is responsible for creating sin).

~ God will send every LIAR to hell. That means we all deserve to be there but we do not have to go there!!

Relevant part begins at 0:24

We can’t just tell God that we are “SORRY” for what we have done wrong!

-Why?

You can become righteous in God’s eyes by trusting Him to forgive you!

-Why do we have to trust this god?
Now seems like a good time to trot out this Darkmatter2525 video (warning-impolite language).

You can become righteous in God’s eyes by trusting Him to forgive you! Being saved is a FREE GIFT from God. PLEASE keep reading and I will show you how to be saved OK?!! :)

-What difference does it makes if one admits his/her sin? The sinful act still happened. If the gift is “free”, why does it not guaranteed from birth?

– Jesus Christ was SINLESS. He didn’t have to die. When He died it was to PAY YOUR SIN DEBT in full…

-Depends on the definition of ‘sin’, doesn’t it? Also, Paul never had a video recording of Jesus’s entire life.

– YOU CAN BE SAVED RIGHT NOW!
All you have to do is trust Jesus Christ to save you!

Believe that He shed His blood for you by dying for YOUR SIN, and that He rose from the dead to justify you before God…

-Or should I hedge my bets and make offerings to all the most widely-accepted gods of today? In any case, I go by the evidence, not by simply accepting an old book as inerrant and calling it a day.

We have seen above a typical ‘please accept Jesus before you die’ message. It expresses genuine concern for me, but does not express any understanding of what a Skeptic like me needs to accept the claims of Christianity. This attempt at evangelism fails on a number of counts. Firstly, it does not even try to defend the idea that the Bible is any kind of authority on the process of thought, which modern science has not demonstrated to occur outside the Brain and demonstrated to occur inside the Brain. Secondly, it assumes a Skeptic like me has not heard the Four Spiritual Laws message repeated to him at least three dozen times. I live in America, a nation in which this guy is run unopposed by the other major political party in these United States. Ya think I haven’t heard the Soterian message of the Christians at least three dozen times before in my life? In short, here is Dan Fincke’s list of actions Soterian Evangelicals should avoid doing. The author of the above message really, really needs to read that list.

In the end, it seems a good time to trot out a NonStamp video.

I Debate A Very Credulous McDowellish Christian

A few days ago, I commented on a post by Alan Ralph Millard which clearly displayed his typical double standard regarding the Bible as opposed to every other Ancient Near Eastern text. Some Christian who thinks Christian apologetics has any convincing power whatsoever, who, ironically, has also authored a book called “Arguing With Friends”, linked to that post after I posted my comment, but completely ignored my comment in the post in which he discussed Millard’s post. I, naturally, responded with the comments one sees in that Christian’s blog post right now.

Needless to say, merely by analyzing that Christian’s very McDowellish tone (I own McDowell’s “New Evidence That Demands a Verdict”; a very good-humored, but thoroughly fundamentalist Christian lady gave it to me along with Lee Strobel’s “Case for Christ” back in Summer 2011; I met her in the dead of winter in very late 2009 when I was caught by her discussing Kenneth Kitchen’s OROT with my friends), e.g., “Excuse me?!?! An Atheist who questions the theory of evolution? Did I read that right?” and the faux niceness that the author of “Arguing With Friends” displays when making a case to the general public, his completely uncritical analysis of the claims of Thomas Nagel and A.R. Millard, and his equally McDowellish ignorance of Bronze-Iron Age Palestinian history (seriously; all archaeological authorities McDowell cites flourished between c. 1900-c. 1980 AD-the vast majority are dead today and the majority were dead in 1997), I can safely conclude that the author of “Arguing With Friends” is incapable of being converted to atheism by mere evidence alone (which he is incapable of fully understanding).

In any case, the Christian I last debated with wanted to finish up the argument with me in the comments section sooner than later (something I do very rarely; if I want to avoid points controversial even in my mind and wish to focus on a set of main points, I merely neglect the controversial points and continue to a stage at which I can call the set of main points resolved); thus, I have moved the debate between us to each of our respective blogs.

Evolution With A God, Evolutionary Creationism, and When The Boundary Between Them Blurs

As I have pointed out on the Vridar blog, there has been a trend in recent years to attempt to re-brand “theistic evolutionism” (that is, evolution with divine guidance) as “evolutionary creationism”. Today, Fred Clark wrote a post entitled “Why I am not a theistic evolutionist and why I do not ‘believe in’ evolution”. This post makes the perfectly legitimate point that there is no such term as “theistic chemistry” (or, I might add, a “theistic history of Israel”). I suspect this is due to the idea, commonly held in practice, that God does not influence that which can be explained by science, and that this is due to the traditional practical separation of the ‘divinely explained’ and ‘naturally explainable’.

Few creationists of any stripe would claim that God is directly involved in the process of changing the states of chemicals, but, if they are logically consistent, they will recognize that they believe that God created each and every bit of matter in the Universe in the beginning and has a plan for each and every bit of matter, and that this plan is not necessarily consistent with the laws of chemistry or physics. However, this recognized belief can not be classified as “theistic chemistry” (except if the word is interpreted as below), as divine intervention is the exception in the creationist view of chemistry, not the rule. This is the case for all fields of science that do not deal with the origins of the Universe, Earth, the continents, animals that look similar or a nation said to be divinely-chosen.

Thus, events that are explainable by science, excepting those I have pointed out above, are typically viewed by theists as unconnected with the god they believe in. It appears that Fred Clark views all natural phenomena, including those I have mentioned above, as explainable by science, and views God as being mostly unconnected with the Universe or has a view of God that is equivalent with the above view in practice/terms of observable reality. This would make him not an ‘evolutionary creationist’, but merely and a believer of evolution with a practically unconnected belief in a god.

Let us now analyze, as New/Gnu Atheists, the importance of the distinction between those like my interpretation of Fred Clark and the Evolutionary Creationists.  Those who have seemingly practically unconnected beliefs in evolution and a god still need to be dissuaded from their theism, though at first glance, their beliefs may seem less harmful than those of the evolutionary creationists. However, the god of those such as my interpretation of Fred Clark still may provide an interpretative framework for what happens in nature. While my interpretation of Fred Clark may state that to him, “theistic evolutionism” is as nonsensical as “theistic chemistry”, as long as either chemistry, gravity, or evolution is viewed through the interpretive lens of a plan of a god, this provides ammunition to the accommodationists, who claim that religion is compatible with science. Thus, a museum placard stating that, say, gravity, can be viewed through the lens of a god, quite offensive to us New Atheists, would cause no offense for my reconstruction of Fred Clark. Viewed this way, a “theistic chemistry” does emerge, in practice no different from “atheistic chemistry”, but in theory being very different, indeed.

Fred types:

We might guess that “theistic evolution” refers to the perspective of Christians and many other theists that God is ever-present and that nothing is separate from God’s over-arching providence — that by God “all things consist,” as the Apostle Paul wrote. Perhaps this is all this adjective signifies here.

But I’m afraid that won’t do. If the word is simply meant to express something that all Christians believe to be true of every process and phenomenon, then we must somehow account for the fact that we do not use it in reference to any other such process or phenomenon.

-Yet, I fear that the accomodationists will use it in reference to every other process and phenomenon. Thus, with the help of accomodationism, the line between ‘evolution with a god’ moves much closer to that of ‘evolutionary creationism’.

Noting this, it is clear that those who believe in both a practically passive god and evolution may, while thankfully not believe in a ‘god of the gaps’, still believe in an imaginary omniscient male who lives in outer space. Though they may not support creationism of any stripe, their belief in this imaginary omniscient male may still provide fodder for the creationists (what’s to stop this omniscient male from becoming omnipotent?)

The evolutionary creationists, of course, are the true drivers of conflation of religious doctrine and modern science not just in theory, but in practice, and, thus, they must be opposed. Science combined with Occam’s Razor does not allow for a creator god, or a god of any kind.

Explanation of the Markan Ending

The ending of the Gospel of Mark (at 16:8) is one of the most bizarre pieces of writing in the New Testament. It makes best sense to see it as an indictment of the Apostles; an explanation for the squabbling which took place in the early church, a declaration of ultimate failure and only a small, hidden glimmer of future hope when the Christ would return. The ending is likely intentional in its pessimism, implying within it a regret that the last message of Jesus was never delivered. I have come to this conclusion after reading some exerpts of John Dominic Crossan.