working together for the future of faith
Mark 6:17-29 = Matt 14:3-12a = (!)Luke 3:19-20 & 9:7-9
(2) SecJas 6:1-4
(1) Mark 6:17-29
6:17 For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because Herod had married her. 6:18 For John had been telling Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." 6:19 And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 6:20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. 6:21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. 6:22 When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it." 6:23 And he solemnly swore to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom." 6:24 She went out and said to her mother, "What should I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the baptizer." 6:25 Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter." 6:26 The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. 6:27 Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 6:28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 6:29 When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.
= Matt 14:3-12a
14:3 For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, 14:4 because John had been telling him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." 14:5 Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet. 14:6 But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod 14:7 so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. 14:8 Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter." 14:9 The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; 14:10 he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. 14:11 The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother. 14:12 His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus.
= (!)Luke 3:19-20 & 9:7-9
3:19 But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother's wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done,3:20 added to them all by shutting up John in prison.
9:7 Now Herod the ruler heard about all that had taken place, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, 9:8 by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the ancient prophets had arisen. 9:9 Herod said, "John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?" And he tried to see him.
(2) SecJas 6:1-4
Ch. 6 1 Then I asked him, "Lord, how will we be able to prophesy to those who ask us to prophesy to them? For there are many who inquire of us, and who look to us to hear an oracle from us." 2 The Lord replied, "Don't you realize that the head of prophecy was severed with John?" 3 But I said, "Lord, it's not possible to remove the head of prophecy, is it?" 4 The Lord said to me, "When you comprehend what 'head' means, and that prophecy issues from the head, understand what 'Its head was removed' means. 5 I first spoke with you parabolically, and you did not understand. Now I am speaking with you openly, and you do not perceive. 6 Nevertheless, for me you were a parable among parables, and the disclosure of openness. [Complete Gospels]
Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now when [many] others came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise,) thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it would be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod's suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God's displeasure to him. [Antiquities, 18.116-19]
RCL: Year B, Proper 10
John Dominic Crossan
Stratum: II (60-80 CE)
Crossan [Historical Jesus, 231] cites with approval Morton Smith's assessment of the cultic significance of John's challenge to the Temple:
By John's time the only place in the country where Jews could legally offer sacrifices was Jerusalem, and its services were expensive. To introduce into this situation a new, inexpensive, generally available, divinely authorized rite, effective for the remission of all sins, was John's great invention. His warning of the coming judgment was nothing new; prophets had been predicting that for the past eight centuries. The new thing was the assurance that there was something the average man could easily do to prepare himself for the catastrophic coming of the kingdom. [Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark. Harvard: 1973,208]
Crossan also notes that Josephus has no mention of the most politically explosive aspect of John's new rite:
people cross over into the desert and are baptized in the Jordan as they return to the Promised Land. And that is dangerously close to certain millennial prophets, well known to Josephus ... who, in the period between 44 and 62 C.E., invoked the desert and the Jordan to imagine a new and transcendental conquest of the Promised Land. Whatever John's intentions may have been, Antipas was not paranoid to consider a conjunction of prophet and crowds, desert and Jordan, dangerously volatile. [Historical Jesus, 231f]
Herod Antipas had JBap imprisoned 88 12 0 0 0.96 Red Herod Antipas had JBap executed 92 8 0 0 0.97 Red JBap denounced Herod Antipas 92 8 0 0 0.97 Red JBap criticized Herod Antipas' marriage to Herodias 44 56 0 0 0.81 Red JBap's activities posed a threat to Herod Antipas' ability to maintain peace and stability 72 24 4 0 0.89 Red Herod Antipas had JBap executed for political expediency 76 24 0 0 0.92 Red Machaerus was the site of JBap's execution 44 56 0 0 0.81 Red Herodias requested the execution of JBap 0 23 73 4 0.40 Gray Herodias used her daughter to get JBap executed 0 12 76 12 0.33 Gray Herodias' daughter danced for Herod and his court 0 12 76 12 0.33 Gray Herodias' daughter asked for the head of JBap on a platter 0 4 65 31 0.24 Black Disciples of JBap continued to honor him after his death 63 37 0 0 0.88 Red The movements of JBap and Jesus were rivals during Jesus' lifetime 31 43 22 4 0.67 Pink The movements of JBap and Jesus were rivals after Jesus' death 35 45 15 5 0.70 Pink JBap's movement included hellenistic Jews (like Apollos) 5 43 52 0 0.51 Pink
In commenting on the Seminar's voting, Barnes Tatum [John the Baptist and Jesus, 159] notes the patterns that emerge from this data. Those elements that are attested by both Mark and Josephus have no votes lower than Pink, while the narrative elements found only in Mark are mostly Gray.
Meier [Marginal Jew II,171-76] reviews the material relating to John's execution, before concluding:
When it comes to the imprisonment and death of John, Josephus, not Mark, must serve as our main source. Receiving a folkloric legend already remodeled as a pious account of a martyr's unjust execution, Mark used the story for his own purposes. The tradition he inherited preserved the most basic facts: sometime after Jesus' baptism, John was imprisoned and executed by Antipas. Mark's story also had a vague recollection that Antipas' irregular marriage to Herodias was somehow connected with the Baptist's death, but lively imagination and OT allusions had long since developed the nexus in a different direction from what we read in the Antiquities. Coming as it does from a diverse matrix and being developed in a very disparate fashion, Mark's account supplies valuable independent confirmation of the most basic points of Josephus' report. Beyond those, Josephus is to be preferred for history; Mark is to be mined for tradition history and theological intent. (p. 175)
This poem originated as a contribution to the HODOS online community by Gene Stecher. It is published with Gene's consent but he explicitly retains full rights as the creative author. You welcome to use it for personal study and worship, but it should not be published in any other form without the author's prior consent. Index to Gene Stecher's poems
John called for repentance
dunked for forgiveness
challenged the king's morality
died without his head!
The pressure is on.
No man escaped John, not even the king.
Who can walk the involuntary path to Macherus?
Jesus invited entrance to God's Imperial Rule
Surprised the enemy with love
Congratulated the hungry, sad, and poor
Called for puritan reforms
Let God decide what belongs to Caesar
Gave demons the finger
Healed the sin-ridden
Set fire upon the earth
Who can walk the voluntary path to Jerusalem
wearing the bloody stripes of temple and palace?
After John, did he really have a choice?