When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land[h] until three in the afternoon. 34 At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”[i] 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” 36 And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.”
–Mark 15: 33-36
Gary: What? Why would Jews standing near the cross think that Jesus was calling out for “Elijah” when he had cried out, “My God, my God…”???
Mainstream NT scholar Raymond Brown in The Death of the Messiah:
In all probability, however, Mark was writing for readers who did not know Semitic. After all, he regularly translated Aramaic words for them and in 7:3-4 felt compelled to explain some elementary Jewish customs. If one remains on the level of the Greek, readers would have had little problem understanding Mark’s scene. Having heard in exotic Aramaic Jesus’ word “Eloi…” and having been told that this was misunderstood by hostile Jewish bystanders as an appeal to Elias (Greek transcription for “Elijah”), they would have assumed that the Semitic underlying the Greek form of the prophet’s name was close to the transliterated Aramaic Eloi that Jesus used. That is what hearers of Mark’s Gospel who know no Aramaic have been doing ever since.
Whether Mark himself knew that the Semitic form of the prophet’s name was not like Jesus’ Aramaic for “My God” we do not know, for it is not clear that Mark could read or understand either Aramaic or Hebrew. Therefore Mark may not have realized that to any reader who knew Semitic his Eloi transliteration could not be confused with Elias, the name of the prophet Elijah. Matthew, who seemingly did know the Semitic languages, probably saw the problem and that is why he changed the name of the divinity to (transliterated) Hebrew Eli, which could more easily have been confused.
Gary: Interesting. If we accept that Mark was the first Gospel written and that Matthew plagiarized large sections of Mark’s Gospel into his own, we arrive at the conclusion that this scene is most probably a fictitious invention. There is no way that first century Jews would have confused the Semitic “Eloi” with the Semitic “Elijah”.
For a liberal Christian, the strong possibility that this scene is a fictional invention is not disturbing. It doesn’t change the fact that Jesus was crucified. But for a conservative Christian, this is more devastating evidence that the authors of the Gospels were not eyewitnesses nor the associates of eyewitnesses. Eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels is a necessary requirement for conservative Christian apologists’ oft repeated claim that Christianity possesses verifiable eyewitness testimony to the bodily resurrection of Jesus, from multiple independent sources, of such outstanding quality, as to convincingly prevail in any modern court of law!
I don’t think so.
The evidence above demonstrates that at least for the Gospel of Mark, such is not the case. If the Gospel of Mark had been written by John Mark, carefully recording the memoirs of the Apostle Peter, as conservative Christians claim, how is it possible that Aramaic-speaking Peter could come up with a story about fellow Aramaic-speaking Jews confusing “Eloi” with “Elijah” while standing at the cross???
[Emphasis in quotes, Gary’s]