March 18, 2009

John Mark's Memory - 1

Assessing the limits of memory - in general - seems to be a big subtopic in debating the authorship of the Gospels. But what about memory in particular? Critical scholarship may doubt that John Mark wrote the second Gospel (ie, publishing Jesus' predictions before their fulfillment) but since church tradition says he did we should at least assume that point long enough to see how far it can be carried. For such an exercise, the central question must be - what was the quality of John Mark's memory? To which the immediate response must be - how can we assess John Mark's memory?!?

Obviously - since John Mark is dead - there's clearly no scientific method for direct assessment of his particular mnemonic abilities as an individual. But even if the question cannot be answered, that does not diminish the significance of asking it. If the young man in the bed sheet at Gethsemane was the author of Mark's Gospel, all question of memory is absolutely particular to him. Perhaps the most we can do, academically, is to acknowledge this leaves an unprovable hypothesis. Or perhaps we can do more.

To be continued...

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