Re: Mark (3)
- To: Crosstalk
Cc: GPG, WSW
On: Mark (3)
Perhaps just one line from an interesting private note. After rejecting the
genre of "eyewitness biography" for Mark, there came:
CORRESPONDENT: In contrast to your statement above, I think we can establish
the genre of Mark and that this helps one understand some of the things you
wonder about below. As Mark is a creative fictional work it particularly
belongs to the genre of what I'd call an extended parable (like Jonah or
Job, for example). As Dom Crossan has succinctly put it, "the parabler
became the Parable." The "plot-line" is written right off the ancient story
of Israel from slavery to the glorious return from exile.
BRUCE: It seems to me that there is a lot of room between the options
"eyewitness biography" and "creative fiction." In particular, as I mentioned
in my earlier response to what I am coming to regard as the Watts Theses, I
do not think that OT is determinative for NT. I think that NT writers, while
increasingly prone to clothe their work in OT language, were even more
constrained by historical memory (at least at first) and didactic intent
(throughout). Our problem is that at least some of us are overtrained in
literature, and tend to regard literature as a sufficient end in itself.
Mark is doubtless literature, but I suspect that it is nearer to the
pragmatic than to the pure end of the lit spectrum.
But this is just feeling vs feeling. Is there any way we can frame the above
suggestion so that philology can deal with it? I think perhaps there may be.
Take the Exodus suggestion, which has been made by several, and found favor
with many. There are many lists of OT echoes (citations, references,
allusions, what you will) in Mark. No two coincide, but that merely enlivens
the afternoon's work. There is rough general agreement on a core of them.
Let's isolate the quotes from Exodus, or perhaps more relevantly those which
describe the "ancient story of Israel from slavery to the glorious return
from exile." Now we are ready. Where, we next ask, do those passages occur
in Mark. Is there anything we can learn from their distribution?
There is an interesting pattern of distribution, the horizontal
distribution, over the narrative course of Mark. But perhaps even more
relevant to the present question is their occurrence in layers of the text;
the vertical distribution. It turns out (and those who missed the SBL
Accretional Mark session will have to trust me on this for the moment) that
the Exodus motif, as above defined, tends to predominate in the later rather
than the earlier layers.
If, then, we regard Mark as a Parable of Escape, we may need to add that it
did not reach that status all at once, but crept into it gradually, insight
piled on top of discarded insight, until its character finally became clear
at the end.
Just a suggestion.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst