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When the "In-Crowd" is not the place to be.

As conservative evangelicals in the States are concentrating on raising the drawbridges and witch hunts, it's worth taking another look at the Gospels and the way Jesus delights in breaking the boundaries. John Donahue writes,

While this debate is still unresolved and resolution of it is not within the scope of this essay, we might remark that both schools agree in locating the focus of Marcan discipleship theology in Mark's picture of the twelve. This, we feel, constitutes a narrowing of Mark's understanding of discipleship. In fact "discipleship" itself is a somewhat infelicitous term since in Mark those who respond to the gospel of God (1:15) are a group wider than the disciples (mathetai) or the twelve and from observation of this group and particular sayings associated with them we can get a more comprehensive picture of what it means "to convert and believe in the gospel" (1:15).

Throughout Mark there are a curious number of places where other people do those very things which the twelve are summoned to do, "to follow Jesus," "to preach" "to do mighty works."73 In 1:45, the healed leper begins to proclaim many things (keryssein polla) and spread the word (ton logon used absolutely almost as equivalent to gospel, cf. 4:13). Many toll collectors and sinners "follow him" (2:15 pkolouthoun) and the Gerasene demoniac begins to proclaim (keryssein 5:20) as do the witnesses to the healing of the deaf and dumb man (7:36). An exorcist who is explicitly designated a non-follower is for Jesus (9:40) and blind Bartimaeus follows Jesus "on the way" after the disciples fail to comprehend the way of suffer- ing (10:52). The scribe who answers rightly is, as we have seen, not far from the kingdom of God and a widow fulfills the true cultic worship. (12:41-44). A woman anoints Jesus before his death and will be heralded wherever the gospel is proclaimed (14:1-9). Women accompany Jesus to the cross (15:41) and a Jewish member of the council who "was waiting for the kingdom of God" (15:43) performs those burial duties which the disciples of John per- formed for him (6:29). A gentile centurion utters the proper Christian confession (15:39) and women are recipients of the paschal message (16:1-8). Clearly Mark does not limit positive response to the gospel nor to the teaching of Jesus to the example of the twelve or those originally called to be with him and to do the things he did.

From "A Neglected Factor in the Theology of Mark" JBL 101, 1982, 563-594

Let me know what you think. :-)

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