Presentation on theme: "Mark’s passion narrative– third lecture Brief overview of essays by Robinson and Kelber Mark’s passion narrative."— Presentation transcript:
Mark’s passion narrative– third lecture Brief overview of essays by Robinson and Kelber Mark’s passion narrative
Robinson, “Gospels as narratives” Much of essay is speculative, but interestingly so. Tends to see a negative element in the scripting of the gospel. The heart of the matter is his contrast of Mark with an itinerant, radical sort of movement, centered on sayings – and possibly open to appearances of the resurrected Jesus. Such appearances would leave a corresponding openness to new sayings (i.e., resurrected Jesus would continue teaching). Sees Mark as reticent about sayings, resurrection appearances. Mark’s scripted character aim to close the tradition of a “living Jesus” who continues to appear, teach. Sees this textual limiting as continuing in Matthew and Luke, who correspondingly “tame” Q by swallowing it up.
Kelber, “Narrative and Disclosure Sees Mark as writing a “disorienting-reorienting narrative which forestalls closure.” Emphasizes the insider/outsider dichotomy seen in the parable of sower (“hina” in Gk. = “so that”). Esoteric secrecy inheres in sayings gospels. Parables, on other hand, foster an open-endedness toward signification, interpretation. Wisdom entrusted to insiders anticipates its eventual openness. The secrecy about his identity that Jesus enjoins in fact exerts pressure toward proclamation. “Nothing hidden, except to be revealed; nothing secret, but that it come to light” (4:22). But “the more the narrative struggles to overcome secrecy and to make disclosure, the more it reveils itself in parabolic mystery.” Readers are challenged to become “new insiders.” How are readers to understand the mysteries of Jesus’ sonship to God in view of his confession of being forsaken by God? The caution of his last paragraph!
Kelber, “Narrative as interpretation and interpretation of narrative” Narrative is such a universal part of our experience that we tend to take it for granted, including gospel narrative. Sees the parable as the oral genre going back to Jesus that gives rise to narrative: “parable joins proclamation.” Follows Robinson in seeing distinction between the portrayal of risen Christ, speaking openly, and the earthly Jesus, speaking in parables. Mark, ironically, “redescribed” the element of parable in his technique of “parabolic reversal” to subvert conventional expectations of transmission of narrative to place burden on hearers/readers. Mark’s narrative partakes of “parable understanding” – need for interpretation, understanding. Manuscript culture doesn’t see texts as fully complete, closed. Scribal hermeneutics was based in the involvement of the reader, on “reader response.” “Narrative as interpretation”: if narrative was born in act of interpreting, then readers must be continuing in the same activity.
Interestingly, it’s Jesus’ cleverness that emerges here. He parries the question about his authority by his question about John’s authority: 11: 27ff. The parable of the vineyard: 12:1-12. The response to the question about taxes to Caesar. Response to the Saducees over resurrection of dead. Response to question of the “greatest commandment.” The issue of Davidic messiahship. This is important to Matthew and Luke. But Mark has Jesus rejecting the necessity: 12: 35-37. (In Mark Jesus is emphatically a Galilean – no connection with Judea, Bethlehem, Jerusalem.) Teaching in Jerusalem
Mark’s passion narrative Mark’s final three chapters may be the single most influential narrative in our tradition, and perhaps the most powerful. Mark’s is the original and source for others – he writes the story first. And this connected narrative is the end point toward which all of the gospel has been driving – a culmination of the paradoxical messiahship Jesus has described. Note that the gospel properly ends at 16:8 – with the empty tomb. Look at the textual note on p. 58. Verses 9-20 appear to have been added in response to Matthew, Luke, and John.
“In remembrance of her...” but -- Passion narrative begins at ch. 14. A woman anoints Jesus with 300 denarii worth of ointment (that’s 300 days salary for a laborer!). Jesus’ interpretation of the act: “she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.” But it’s also a messianic anointing, like Samuel’s secret anointing of Saul (1 Sam. 9-10). Here messiahship is again linked to death; the one will mean the other. Jesus promises remembrance of the woman. But what has happened?
The passover meal – “last supper” Mysteriousness of discovery of the messianic donkey repeated in discovery of the upstairs room. Celebration linked with betrayal: 14: 17-21. Bread of passover and final cup of wine linked with his death – and remembrance. Prophecy from Zechariah points to desertion, denial. Peter’s vow at v. 31. The inability of the inner circle of disciples to stay awake. See J’s admonition at 13: 35-37. “All of them deserted him and fled.” v. 50
Peter, messiahship, denial Peter follows at a distance. High priest puts the question about messiahship. And only this does Jesus answer. Messiahship is judged worthy of humiliation, death. And the gentile question, Pilate’s, is actually a statement. And Jesus responds affirmatively. And sandwiched between these is Peter’s threefold denial. The central insider makes himself an outsider at the most significant moment when J’s identity is proclaimed. Romans mock kingship, chief priests messiahship.
Abandonment, death Darkness of eclipse. Jesus’ final words, given in Aramaic and Greek. Despair? Shock? (Luke will take these words away – simply too shocking. Only Mark – and Matthew following him – will allow these words.) How to understand these them? The “sour wine” may echo psalm 69:21. And paradoxically, the gentile centurion, a complete outsider, speaks the words before spoken by God. Third time spoken in Mark’s gospel (except by those possessed by demons ).
The tomb and the ending of the narrative Same three women who witnessed death come to the tomb. And hear the message of the mysterious young man. And are told to tell Peter and disciples about “going ahead” to Galilee. But they say nothing to anyone. The end! The last word, “gar” (“for”), “postpositive conjunction,” suggests incompletion. The message does not get through. Was it wrong to remain in Jerusalem? Where does leave the reader? And what does it mean in terms of the larger story?
The ending, or is it a non-ending? Narrative ends, or doesn’t end, mysteriously. No sense of narrative resolution. Narrative instead handed over to the reader. Who must now understand what the women and the disciples did not. Is the reader, in a sense, caught inside a parable? The whole gospel a kind of parable, in the Markan sense, that must be opened? A question mark -- ? Mark