Mark’s Jesus: Who is the Gospel of Mark about?

I just finished Mark’s Jesus by Elizabeth Malbon and I must say I learned a lot from her study. Her main objective is to find understand “all the ways the narrative employs to disclose its central character, Jesus.” She has four main ways of approaching this objective: Enacted Christology (what Jesus does); Projected Christology (what others say); Deflected Christology (what Jesus says in response); Refracted Christology (what Jesus says instead) and Reflected Christology (what others do). She does a masterful job at not only reaching her goal but teaching those who (like myself) are not knowledgeable in narrative criticism how the science works. Just a couple of gems that I picked up along the way were 1) the narrator is not the same as the “implied author” 2) intercalation― the insertion of one story into another for interpretive purposes 3) oral composition (which parts of the Gospel of Mark may be taken from) works on an echo principle which has future narrative events being previously foreshadowed in some way so as to aid memory.

One of the things that really stuck in my mind was her finding that the Jesus in Mark always deflected credit/glory back to God. Jesus is the servant of God and in proper fashion cannot take any credit. She even makes a strong case for Jesus, even though he did not explicitly saying this, rejecting the title “son of David” as legitimate. In her study she shows that the story is about the in breaking of the rule of God at the expense of the Kingdom of Satan. Jesus is not the center of the story but is the main (although not the only) vehicle through whom the victory of God is accomplished. So the question remains in my mind, “Who is the Gospel of Mark about?”

Anyway for anyone doing Markan Studies or interested in narrative criticism/christology this is a must read.


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