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Mark a Unified Narrative

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  • Richard Richmond
    Many times in the course of posting to this list I have encountered opposition to the overall assumption that there is a clearly discernable narrative
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2 8:08 AM
      Many times in the course of posting to this list I
      have encountered opposition to the overall assumption
      that there is a clearly discernable narrative
      structure to the Gospel of Mark. In the early 80’s
      that point was settled for me by the contribution of a
      book called Mark as Story. After reading this work I
      reexamined the entire text of Mark several times in
      the Greek to see if the thesis of this book held up:
      Was Mark in point of fact, a unified narrative. My
      research in this area resulted in a resounding YES IT
      IS A UNIFIED NARRATIVE. The evidence in favor of this
      being a fact is overwhelming and convincing. I believe
      that “Mark as Story” is a landmark contribution to New
      Testament study in that regard. Below I have hand
      typed a section from the book that deals with the
      heart of the matter after this quotation I will make a
      couple of final remarks to this post:

      The purpose of this book is to aid in recovering the
      experience of the Gospel of Mark as a unified
      narrative, to better understand the story as a whole
      and appreciate its impact.
      To do this we have drawn extensively on the work or
      contemporary literary criticism. Literary critics have
      developed methods to analyze the formal features of
      narrative such as the role of the narrator, point of
      view, style , plot , settings and characters. Although
      these methods were developed primarily in the study of
      modern novels and short stories, most ancient
      narratives share the same features, and the use of
      these methods greatly aids students in the study of
      ancient literature such as the Gospel of Mark. We have
      also drawn upon the recent work biblical scholars who
      use literary categories to interpret Mark’s narrative.
      The study of narrative emphasizes the unity of the
      final text. Such a study of the formal features of
      Mark’s Gospel tends to reveal the narrative as a whole
      cloth. The narrator’s point of view in telling the
      story is consistent throughout. The plot is coherent:
      events that are anticipated come to pass; conflicts
      are resolved, predictions are fulfilled. The
      characters are consistent from one scene to the next,
      fulfilling the roles they take on that the tasks they
      adopt. Literary techniques of storytelling, along with
      elements of style and organization, unify the
      narrative at many levels: phrase, sentence, episode,
      and structure. There is also a consistent depiction of
      the human condition, sin faith, Gods rule, ethical
      choices, and the possibilities for human change. Thus
      the unity of the gospel is apparent in the remarkable
      story it tells. Although scholars know little about
      the origin of this gospel a literary study of its
      formal features suggests that the author succeeded in
      creating a unified narrative.

      From Mark as Story by David Rhodes and Donald Michie

      In contrast to Mark, these same features are lacking
      in the other two Synoptics which do not demonstrate
      this same unity except where they follow the pattern
      of Mark. Indicating that the plot if they have one is
      derived from the narrative of Mark and not original or
      from another source. Furthermore I would contend that
      the features described above and common to literature
      in general are the result of the original structure of
      Mark which is that of Greek tragedy of the sort
      presented in the theaters competitively throughout the
      Mediterranean world during the first century. It is
      also easy to see where the unity in Mark suffers at
      the hands of the two reproductions of the plot
      (Matthew and Luke) providing a basis for examining the
      contrasting viewpoints of those responsible for
      compiling Matthew and Luke respectively. These
      observations are inescapably part of any discussion of
      the Synoptic problem. Once we accept the unity of
      Mark’s narrative of fact we cannot look at the Gospels
      in the traditional way. At least I cannot.

      Rick Richmond rickr2889@...

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