Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Conflict in Mark's Gospel

E.S.Malbon, a narrative critic of Mark's Gospel diagnoses three different layers of conflict, she writes

The conflict between God and Satan is clearly a mismatch in God’s favour in Mark’s Gospel, and the conflict with the authorities, although not without intrigue, lead to a known outcome: the seeming victor of the authorities, Jesus’ crucifixion, is overturned by the victory of God, Jesus’ resurrection. Thus the conflict between the Markan Jesus and the disciples is of the greatest dramatic interest for the implied author and the implied audience. Jesus and the disciples are the only “round” characters in the Markan narrative. The other characters are “flat”: the unclean spirits are always evil; the Pharisees are always conspiring. The disciples change . . . The dynamic portrayal of the disciples in their relation to Jesus is one of the reasons the implied audience is most drawn into their conflict.

Mark's Jesus: Characterisation as Narrative Christology, 2009, p49

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Non-Propositional Gospel

James K.A. Smith in You Are What You Love (2016), writes,

". . . the gospel isn't just information stored in the intellect; it is a way of seeing the world that is the very wallpaper of our imagination. . . Our imaginations are captured poetically, not didactically. We're hooked by stories, not bullet points. The lilt and cadence of poetry have the ability to seep down into our imagination in a way a dissertation never could." (p107)

Which makes you wonder why I'm about to embark on 3 years of dissertation writing, I guess I'll have to make sure I keep writing songs as well.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Early Christian Writing Style

Hengel notes three significant features of early Christian writing

1. Codices were used rather than scrolls
2. Terms like God, Lord, Jesus and Christ are always written as nomina sacra
3. The scribes were not calligraphers but document scribes who worked in their spare time for the community

He writes: "This development of a distinctive Christian scribal tradition which presumably goes back to the beginnings of Christian literature in the first century 'seems to indicate a degree of organisation, of conscious planning and uniformity of practice among the Christian communities which we have hitherto had little reason to suspect, and which throws a new light on the early history of the church.' The circumstances and customs in the church in the second half of the first century do not seem to me to been as diffuse and chaotic as people like to present them today."

Martin Hengel, Studies in the Gospel of Mark, 1985/2003, 79. 
He quotes Roberts and Skeats, Birth of the Codex, 1983, 57.