Gospel of Mark – second lecture
•1) The narrative agon of the gospel
•2) Various ways of manifesting the “Kingdom”.
•3) Who is Jesus, and what is messiahship?
The narrative agon of Mark
• The unfolding (or exploding?) “kingdom of
God vs. established order (Scribes and
Pharisees, others).
• Kingdom (and Jesus) vs. “unclean spirits,”
• Kingdom vs. political order (Saducees,
• But also understanding vs.
• The “inner circle” (Peter, James, and
John) over against readers.
John and Herod: 6: 14-29
• Herod’s opinion: “John, whom I beheaded,
has been raised.”
• Does Jesus replace John?
• Backstory: Herod and Herodias. More
• John’s martyrdom.
• Prolepsis (Prolepsis = narrative
anticipation.): does this forecast Jesus’
• What is John’s relation to Jesus?
Two feedings -- and the question of
the gentiles
• Seemingly doubled story: 6: 34-44 feeding of 5,000; 8: 110: feeding of 4,000.
• The first happens in Galilee, Jewish territory. How many
baskets left over?
• At 7: 24: Jesus to the Syro-phoenician woman: “let the
children be fed first” – don’t give their food to the dogs!
• But she completes Jesus’ trope: even the dogs get the
• And Jesus appreciates this! Her daughter is cured.
• Then the second miraculous feeding in the Decapolis,
gentile country. Seven loaves.
• And how many baskets left over?
• But do the disciples get it? 8: 14-21.
• Ehrman suggests the blind man of 8: 22-26 is Peter, who
sees, but initially only imperfectly. Perhaps analogous to
“Who do men say that I am?”
• John the Baptist? This was Herod’s answer.
• Elijah or another of the prophets? Not a bad
guess: Elijah was to return to herald the
messianic age.
• Peter’s answer: messiah.
• But “immejately” a very strange, dark,
unexpected sort of messiahship: rejection,
suffering, death, and “rising again” after three
• And Peter’s response to this – and rebuke.
• Sayings about losing and saving life.
Transfiguration: Raphael’s
At very center of gospel
• Robinson sees this as originally a postResurrection appearance “retrojected” into the
narrative of Jesus’ career.
• Whatever the case, it’s the very center of Mark’s
• Moses and Elijah may suggest “the Law and the
prophets,” the two portions of the Hebrew
scriptures (as understood in J’s time.)
• What does Peter’s suggestion of “three tents”
mean? Misunderstanding?
• But then the second voice indicating “my Son,
the beloved one” – then only Jesus there.
• Puzzling teaching about Elijah. Is John meant?
Lower half of Raphael’s
Transfiguration: 9: 14-29
The cure of the boy
• Does it coordinate with the episode of Jairus’
daughter? The gesture of v. 27.
• Jesus’ anger at the “faithless generation,”
including the disciples.
• The boy’s spirit -- that makes him rigid, unable to
hear or speak -- sounds symbolic. Who is this
• Again, seeming death becomes life.
• Proleptic?
• Immediate reiteration of prophecy of death and
The darkening of gospel in second
• The reiterated prophecies of death in relation to
messiahship: 8:31, 9:30, 10:32-34.
• The increasing cluelessness of disciples.
• The irony of the request of sons of Zebedee:
• Contrasted to Bar Timaeus, 10: 46ff?
• Messianic entry into Jerusalem: ch. 11.
• Immediately undercut by the allegory of the fig
tree. Strange: do fig trees bear fruit in spring?
• And the pollution, cleansing of the Temple.
• (In all likelihood, this event was the historical
trigger for Jesus’ execution; he had taken a side
in a dispute over Temple authority.)
Teaching in Jerusalem
• Interestingly, it’s Jesus’ cleverness that emerges
• He parries the question about his authority by
the question about John’s authority: 11: 27ff.
• The parable of the vineyard: 12:1-12.
• The response to the question about taxes to
Caesar: 12: 13-17.
• Response to the Saducees over resurrection of
dead: 12: 18-27.
• Response to question of the “greatest
commandment”: 12:28-34
• The issue of specifically Davidic messiahship.
This is very important to Matthew and Luke. But
Mark has Jesus rejecting the necessity. 12: 3537.
• (In Mark Jesus is emphatically a Galilean – no

Gospel of Mark – second lecture