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Re: Mark (3)

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Crosstalk Cc: GPG, WSW On: Mark (3) From: Bruce Perhaps just one line from an interesting private note. After rejecting the genre of eyewitness biography
    Message 1 of 4 , Dec 6, 2008
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      To: Crosstalk
      Cc: GPG, WSW
      On: Mark (3)
      From: Bruce

      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.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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