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Re: [Synoptic-L] Narrative structure of Mark

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  • Mark Matson
    ... I would agree that Mark s gospel falls into a simple two part construction, though I tend to see the break a bit differently. It has always struck me that
    Message 1 of 18 , Jul 8, 1999
      Shawn Kelley <skelley@...> wrote:

      > i) Mark has a general prologue (1:1-13) and can be divided into two
      > large sections (1:14-10:52; 11:1-16:8). That is, there is a rather
      > sudden and dramatic shift in tone, themes, style of writing, once
      > Jesus enters Jerusalem. The story rather naturally divides itself in
      > half.
      >
      I would agree that Mark's gospel falls into a simple two part
      construction, though I tend to see the break a bit differently. It
      has always struck me that the first part of the gospel focuses on
      whether people, especially the disciples, will understand who Jesus
      was. This section, marked especially by the secrecy motif, ends at
      8:30, following Peter's (finally) confession that Jesus was the
      Christ.

      The second half then deals with the passion, and begins in 8:31 with
      the first prediction of the passion.

      As Tolbert noted, these two halves are interpreted by two
      meta-parables: the parable of the sower for the first movement (that
      of believing/following), and the parable of the vineyard for the
      second. It is significant, I think, that these are the only large
      well developed allegory type parables in the gospel.

      Of course the themes of the first half continue in the second -- the
      obtuseness or obduracy of the disciples continues, notwithstanding
      Peter's confession and notwithstanding God's announcement at the
      mount of transfiguration -- and will reemerge as the dominant issue
      following Jesus' death (will the disciples believe that Jesus is
      risen from the dead?).

      At any rate, I agree with Shawn's basic dileneation of the structure,
      only seeing a shift to the second half more clearly at 8:30.

      > viii) Most of the important themes are identified in the parable
      > chapter, especially in the parable of the Sower and its interpretation.
      > Notice how the language and imagery of 4:6, 16-17 reappears in the
      > Passion story (see 14:27). The disciples (led by Peter, the rock)
      > reflect the behavior of the rocky soil of the parable- the very parable
      > that Jesus identifies as the most important off all the parables (4:13).
      > The plot and the teaching material are closely intertwined.
      >
      > There is enough here to suggest to me that Mark is indeed structured,
      > that it does have a plot and themes, and that it is trying to guide the
      > way that we receive and read the story. The Gospel hopes to produce
      > certain effects upon those who read it. Is that so surprising?

      Yes. Indeed this seems to me to be the overriding theme. Put
      simply, the gospel is as much about the disciples' response to Jesus
      as it is about Jesus himself. How will the disciples respond to
      Jesus? as rocky soil, or as good soil?? The ending of the gospel,
      of course, suggests the former response (rocky soil / lack of faith),
      but the abrupt ending leaves the question open, so there is the
      possibility (implied by the very fact that the gospel is told!) that
      some at least became "good soil". And in this overriding question
      about the disciples' response to Jesus, it is existential in that it
      asks the same question indirectly of the reader. In this regard, it
      is very rhetorical and very deftly constructed.

      Mark Matson


      Mark A. Matson, Ph.D.
      Asst. Director, Sanford Institute of Public Policy
      Adjunct Professor of New Testament
      Duke University
      Durham, NC 27713
      (919) 613-7310
    • Mark Goodacre
      Thanks for the interesting contributions on this thread. One more thought on narrative structure. An element that is not often seen is that there is a clear
      Message 2 of 18 , Jul 9, 1999
        Thanks for the interesting contributions on this thread. One more
        thought on narrative structure. An element that is not often seen is that
        there is a clear correspondence between the Caesarea Philippi
        episode in 8 and the Anointing in 14.3-9, as follows:
        
        - Peter confesses Jesus as Anointed
        - Woman enacts Jesus as Anointed

        - Peter fails to connect Anointing with Suffering / Death
        - Woman connects Anointing with Suffering / Death (i.e. anoints him
        for his burial).

        - Peter is rebuked in the harshest possible terms for failing to connect
        Anointing with Suffering
        - Woman is commended in the strongest possible terms for
        connecting Anointing with Suffering.

        The impression one gets from 14.3-9 is "bingo!" or "By George, she's
        got it!", strikingly contrasted with Chapter 8. Each section occurs at a
        key moment in the narrative, 8.27-33 as the mid-point, the moment
        when one turns from the miracle-working ministry of Chapters 1-8
        and begins to look towards the Way leading to Suffering, Death,
        Jerusalem; 14.3-9 is the first incident in the Passion Narrative proper
        and an overture to that section of the Gospel as well as an epitome of
        the whole Gospel's Christology.

        About two years ago I was going to write this up and half-way
        through my research on it found much the same thing in Schuessler
        Fiorenza, _In Memory of Her_ so abandoned the plan. What she
        had also seen was the other element I had hoped to work out, the
        fascinating contrast between the disciples called at the beginning of the
        Gospel and the women following at the end. Named male disciples at
        the beginning are called to follow and later to serve and then fail to do
        both. Named female disciples at the end are said to have succeeded
        in "following" and "serving" Jesus, from Galilee to the cross.

        Mark
        --------------------------------------
        Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
        Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
        University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 6866
        Birmingham B15 2TT United Kingdom

        http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
        New Testament Web Resources
        Mark Without Q
        Aseneth Home Page
      • Mike Parsons
        Reply to: Re: [Synoptic-L] Narrative structure of Mark Mark wrote: Named male disciples at the beginning are called to follow and later to serve and then
        Message 3 of 18 , Jul 9, 1999
                   Reply to:   Re: [Synoptic-L] Narrative structure of Mark
          
          
          Mark wrote:
          Named male disciples at
          >the beginning are called to follow and later to serve and then fail to do
          >both. Named female disciples at the end are said to have succeeded
          >in "following" and "serving" Jesus, from Galilee to the cross.
          >
          . . . but ultimately themselves fail because rather than following the young man's command to "go and tell" they run away in fear and trembling. E.S. Malbon argues in her CBQ piece, "Fallible followers," that in the end EVERYONE fails in their attempt to follow Jesus.

          Mikeal Parsons
        • Stevan Davies
          ... Ahh, I think you have one. Or you can have the other. But you can t have both. If the point of the Anointing woman is that she knows that J must be
          Message 4 of 18 , Jul 9, 1999
            > From: "Mark Goodacre"
            >

            > - Woman is commended in the strongest possible terms for
            > connecting Anointing with Suffering.
            >
            > Named female disciples at the end are said to have succeeded
            > in "following" and "serving" Jesus, from Galilee to the cross.

            Ahh, I think you have one. Or you can have the other. But
            you can't have both.

            If the point of the Anointing woman is that she knows that J
            must be anointed beforehand, good for her. But then the
            women coming to anoint Jesus after he's dead don't get it
            and hence haven't "followed" or whatever in the right way.

            If they, on the other hand, have done the right thing in
            coming to the tomb in blissful ignorance of the problems
            that resurrections cause for anointers, the Anointing woman
            hasn't really done anything special.

            Steve
          • Mark Goodacre
            ... I agree that this is a toughie. I wish I knew why Mark spoils it all by the women failing at the end, when they have done so well in Chapter 15, where
            Message 5 of 18 , Jul 9, 1999
              On 9 Jul 99, at 10:02, Stevan Davies wrote:

              > > From: "Mark Goodacre"
              > >
              > > - Woman is commended in the strongest possible terms for
              > > connecting Anointing with Suffering.
              > >
              > > Named female disciples at the end are said to have succeeded
              > > in "following" and "serving" Jesus, from Galilee to the cross.
              >
              > Ahh, I think you have one. Or you can have the other. But
              > you can't have both.
              >
              > If the point of the Anointing woman is that she knows that J
              > must be anointed beforehand, good for her. But then the
              > women coming to anoint Jesus after he's dead don't get it
              > and hence haven't "followed" or whatever in the right way.

              I agree that this is a toughie. I wish I knew why Mark spoils it all by
              the women failing at the end, when they have done so well in Chapter
              15, where Mark seems to make such a point of following + serving. I
              seem to remember that Shuessler Fiorenza fudges it and doesn't really
              come to terms (to my mind) with the failure at the end of the Gospel.
              >
              > If they, on the other hand, have done the right thing in
              > coming to the tomb in blissful ignorance of the problems
              > that resurrections cause for anointers, the Anointing woman
              > hasn't really done anything special.

              Yes -- I see what you mean. And yet Mark does appear to project a
              future in which the Anointing Woman of Chapter 14 is commended
              (future tense), so the case remains that she has special and has got the
              thing right.

              Perhaps too we should say that it is implied that the women of
              Chapters 15+16 did ultimately do the right thing in that the readers
              know of the news of the resurrection? But that answer never seems
              that satisfactory, and rather lessens the impact of 16.8. As Mike
              Parsons writes:

              > . . . but ultimately themselves fail because rather than following the
              > young man's command to "go and tell" they run away in fear and
              > trembling. E.S. Malbon argues in her CBQ piece, "Fallible followers,"
              > that in the end EVERYONE fails in their attempt to follow Jesus.

              I find myself, in the end, in sympathy with this reading.

              Mark
              --------------------------------------
              Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
              Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
              University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 6866
              Birmingham B15 2TT United Kingdom

              http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
              New Testament Web Resources
              Mark Without Q
              Aseneth Home Page
            • Mark Goodacre
              I meant to refer also to this new, on-line article in my previous message. I came across it earlier this week: Marie Sabin, Women Transformed: The Ending of
              Message 6 of 18 , Jul 9, 1999
                I meant to refer also to this new, on-line article in my previous message. I came
                across it earlier this week:

                Marie Sabin, "Women Transformed: The Ending of Mark is the Beginning of
                Wisdom", _Cross Currents_, Summer 1998, Vol. 48 Issue 2

                http://www.crosscurrents.org/sabin.htm

                It makes as good a case as can be made that 16.8 does represent an up-beat,
                optimistic ending / new beginning, e.g. she translates "they were filled with awe"
                (reverence) rather than "for they were afraid. But she still cannot get away from
                "they said nothing to anyone" in direct contradiction to the command in 16.7.

                Mark
                --------------------------------------
                Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
                Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
                University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 6866
                Birmingham B15 2TT United Kingdom

                http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
                New Testament Web Resources
                Mark Without Q
                Aseneth Home Page
              • Mike Parsons
                Reply to: Re: [Synoptic-L] Narrative structure of Mark but wait a minute, mark. is the annointing woman the exception or but one of a number who get it
                Message 7 of 18 , Jul 9, 1999
                           Reply to:   Re: [Synoptic-L] Narrative structure of Mark
                  
                  
                  but wait a minute, mark. is the annointing woman
                  the exception" or but one of a number who get "it right" (depending on what 'it' is). the friends of the paralytic, the widow with her mite, etc., that is, all those minor characters who display some positive traits and who are commended explicitly or implicitly by Jesus and/or the narrator (the reps of the 'good soil,' so Tolbert, Rhoads/Michie). this of course assumes some gap-filling on the interpreter's part. after all, these characters disappear after their 'fifteen lines of fame" and are very different from those more developed (disciples, women, religious authorities, political authorities)--all of whom do, as malbon points out, seem ultimately to fail. do these minor characters actually undermine malbon's point or rather serve to highlight it? in other words, given what we know about the developed characters in Mark, are we to assume that contrary to them, these minor characters did continue to 'get it' or are we to assume they did not (that is failed in some way)? this is a case of gap-filling, of course, and seems very complex to me. while i understand that to 'project' these characters beyond the text is a treacherous thing to do, it seems to me the positive reading of the annointing woman (and others) depends on this very act. to be sure, the Markan Jesus encourages us to go beyond the text in his claim that this deed will be remembered everytime the gospel is proclaimed, but it is, after all, this particular deed and not the woman herself (or her subsequent actions, about which we know nothing) which will be remembered.
                  mikeal
                  Mark Goodacre wrote:
                  Mark Goodacre wrote:

                  >On 9 Jul 99, at 10:44, Stevan Davies wrote:
                  >
                  >> > From: "Mark Goodacre"
                  >>
                  >> > Mark does appear to project a
                  >> > future in which the Anointing Woman of Chapter 14 is commended
                  >> > (future tense), so the case remains that she has special and has got the
                  >> > thing right.
                  >> >
                  >> > > . . . but ultimately themselves fail because rather than following the
                  >> > > young man's command to "go and tell" they run away in fear and
                  >> > > trembling. E.S. Malbon argues in her CBQ piece, "Fallible followers,"
                  >> > > that in the end EVERYONE fails in their attempt to follow Jesus.
                  >> >
                  >> > I find myself, in the end, in sympathy with this reading.
                  >>
                  >> No you aren't. See above.
                  >
                  >Sorry -- thanks for pointing out my lack of clear thinking. I suppose I
                  >meant that I am in sympathy with the idea that the women in Chapter
                  >16 have failed too. But the woman in 14.3-9 is the exception -- she
                  >has to be: "wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world . . ."
                  >and that has not yet happened. So she stands out. Not everyone fails.
                  >
                  >Mark
                  >--------------------------------------
                  >Dr Mark Goodacre
                  mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
                  > Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
                  > University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 6866
                  > Birmingham B15 2TT United Kingdom
                  >
                  >
                  http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
                  > New Testament Web Resources
                  > Mark Without Q
                  > Aseneth Home Page
                  >
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                  >From: Mark Goodacre <
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                  >Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Narrative structure of Mark
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                • Stevan Davies
                  ... No you aren t. See above. Steve
                  Message 8 of 18 , Jul 9, 1999
                    > From: "Mark Goodacre"

                    > Mark does appear to project a
                    > future in which the Anointing Woman of Chapter 14 is commended
                    > (future tense), so the case remains that she has special and has got the
                    > thing right.
                    >
                    > > . . . but ultimately themselves fail because rather than following the
                    > > young man's command to "go and tell" they run away in fear and
                    > > trembling. E.S. Malbon argues in her CBQ piece, "Fallible followers,"
                    > > that in the end EVERYONE fails in their attempt to follow Jesus.
                    >
                    > I find myself, in the end, in sympathy with this reading.

                    No you aren't. See above.

                    Steve
                  • Mark Goodacre
                    ... Sorry -- thanks for pointing out my lack of clear thinking. I suppose I meant that I am in sympathy with the idea that the women in Chapter 16 have failed
                    Message 9 of 18 , Jul 9, 1999
                      On 9 Jul 99, at 10:44, Stevan Davies wrote:

                      > > From: "Mark Goodacre"
                      >
                      > > Mark does appear to project a
                      > > future in which the Anointing Woman of Chapter 14 is commended
                      > > (future tense), so the case remains that she has special and has got the
                      > > thing right.
                      > >
                      > > > . . . but ultimately themselves fail because rather than following the
                      > > > young man's command to "go and tell" they run away in fear and
                      > > > trembling. E.S. Malbon argues in her CBQ piece, "Fallible followers,"
                      > > > that in the end EVERYONE fails in their attempt to follow Jesus.
                      > >
                      > > I find myself, in the end, in sympathy with this reading.
                      >
                      > No you aren't. See above.

                      Sorry -- thanks for pointing out my lack of clear thinking. I suppose I
                      meant that I am in sympathy with the idea that the women in Chapter
                      16 have failed too. But the woman in 14.3-9 is the exception -- she
                      has to be: "wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world . . ."
                      and that has not yet happened. So she stands out. Not everyone fails.

                      Mark
                      --------------------------------------
                      Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
                      Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
                      University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 6866
                      Birmingham B15 2TT United Kingdom

                      http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre
                      New Testament Web Resources
                      Mark Without Q
                      Aseneth Home Page
                    • Maluflen@aol.com
                      In a message dated 7/9/1999 10:08:11 AM Eastern Daylight Time, miser17@epix.net writes:
                      Message 10 of 18 , Jul 13, 1999
                        In a message dated 7/9/1999 10:08:11 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
                        miser17@... writes:

                        <<
                        Ahh, I think you have one. Or you can have the other. But
                        you can't have both.

                        If the point of the Anointing woman is that she knows that J
                        must be anointed beforehand, good for her. But then the
                        women coming to anoint Jesus after he's dead don't get it
                        and hence haven't "followed" or whatever in the right way.

                        If they, on the other hand, have done the right thing in
                        coming to the tomb in blissful ignorance of the problems
                        that resurrections cause for anointers, the Anointing woman
                        hasn't really done anything special.
                        >>

                        Steve, you do know the real explanation for the above:

                        (1) In Matt, the first Gospel written, the woman in Chapter 26 does the
                        anointing for Jesus' burial, and the women at the tomb come merely to look,
                        not to anoint.

                        (2) Luke, writing second, has transformed the story in Matt 26 into the story
                        of a sinful woman in Lk 7, who washes Jesus' feet with her tears. Thus, Jesus
                        has not been anointed for his burial in Luke, so the women have to bring
                        spices and ointments to the tomb for this purpose.

                        (3) Mark, writing third, has followed Matt in his account of the woman who
                        anoints Jesus for his death in Mk 14, but he then follows Luke more closely
                        for his account of the women at the tomb, without noting the resulting
                        inconcinnity.

                        Leonard Maluf
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