Another Ancient text which stated that Jesus went to The Mount of Olives and told his followers about the Kingdom of God.

When David Blocker and I wrote the article A Fourteenth Century Text in which Jesus Taught the Kingdom of God During the Night at Bethany: Does It Demonstrate That Secret Mark Is an Ancient Text, and Not a Modern Forgery?, we also had some material which we for different reasons decided not to include. One was a 9th century Old Saxon text called The Heliand, which I primarily rejected because Bethany is never mentioned in the text. But all the same, the text presents Jesus teaching the Kingdom of God in the vicinity of Bethany and it therefore gives some sort of parallel. It should of course anyway be made public, and hence I let David Blocker reveal what is said in the Heliand. Over to David …

Another Ancient text which stated that Jesus went to The Mount of Olives and told his followers about the Kingdom of God.

The Heliand (”Saviour”) is an epic poem in Old Saxon, written in the first half of the 9th century.  The poem is a paraphrase of the Bible that recounts the life of Jesus in the style of a Germanic saga.  The poem is probably derived from the Diatessaron, a Gospel Harmony that was based on early versions of the Canonical Gospels.

The following passage is an excerpt from the English language translation of the Heliand.

There was a great mountain nearby outside the hill fort (Jerusalem). It was broad and high and beautiful.  The Jewish people called it Olivet by name.  Christ the Redeemer went up the mountain then with his followers, and the night surrounded him sothat none of the Jews really knew he had been there, when as light came from the east, he stood at the shrine, the chieftain of the people.  There he stood receiving groups of people and telling them so much in the words of truth that there is not a single person in this world , here in the middle realm so clever- not one of the sons of men- who could ever get to the end of those teachings which the Ruler spoke at the altar in the shrine.  He always told them with his word that they should get themselves ready for the Kingdom of God, every human being should, so that on that great day they will be honored by their Chieftain.” (The Heliand: the Saxon Gospel.  A translation and commentary by G. Ronald Murphy, S.J., Oxford University Press, 1992.  p. 129) (underlining added for emphasis)

In summary: Jesus left the Temple to spend the night on the Mt. of Olives.  He was with his followers.  Early in the morning, he taught about the Kingdom of God.

This text in the Heliand corresponds to Matthew 21:17, and more especially Shem-Tob Hebrew Matthew 21:17, where Jesus taught about or enlightened his hearers about the Kingdom of God.

Three disparate texts in non related languages, Secret or Longer Mark ([i]), Shem-Tob Hebrew Matthew ([ii]) and the Heliand, have Jesus leave the Temple, go to the Mount of Olives (Bethany is located on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives about two miles east of Jerusalem) where he spent the night, and provided instruction about the Kingdom of God.

The Heliand is probably derived from the Diatessaron.  This suggests that research into a possible relationship between Secret Mark and the Diatessaron may be of value.

D. Blocker, August 08, 2011

[i] ) Excerpt from the Secret Gospel of Mark from Clement’s Letter to Theodore: “And they come into Bethany … he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the Kingdom of God.”

[ii] ) “He left and went out to Bethany and (spent the night) there and there he was explaining to them the Kingdom of God.” (George Howard, Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, p. 103)

2 kommentarer

  1. the_cave said,

    13 augusti, 2011 den 02:09

    I am more skeptical of this one–compare, for example, the Matthean version of the Little Apocalypse, which is the only Synoptic version that is specifically set on the Mount of Olives (Mt 24:3) and also brings up the Kingdom of Heaven in Mt 25:1, at the beginning of the Parable of the Ten Virgins. The end of the Lukan version mentions specifically that Jesus spent his nights on the Mount of Olives (Lk 21:37). So in a gospel harmony like the Diatessaron, these could easily have been combined into a single narrative describing Jesus teaching the Kingdom of Heaven by night on the Mount of Olives.

    Still, I certainly think it is worth looking into Secret Mark influences throughout early Christian writings, including the Diatessaron.


  2. 13 augusti, 2011 den 07:26

    Yes you’re right “the Cave”, and to tell them to get ready for the Kingdom of God could not right away be compared to him teaching the Kingdom of God and especially teaching the MYSTERY of the Kingdom of God.



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