Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 241

library of new testament studies

teaching with authority


Miracles and Christology in the Gospel of Mark

edwin k. broadhead

JOURNAL FOR THE STUDY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT


SUPPLEMENT SERIES

74

Executive Editor
Stanley E. Porter

Editorial Board
Richard Bauckham, David Catchpole, R. Alan Culpepper,
Joanna Dewey, James D.G. Dunn, Robert Fowler, Robert Jewett,
Elizabeth Struthers Malbon, Dan O. Via

JSOT Press
Sheffield

Teaching with Authority


Miracles and Christology
in the Gospel of Mark

Edwin K. Broadhead

Journal for the Study of the New Testament


Supplement Series 74

To Rena and Melton


To Ethyl and John
To Louise and Dempsey
and
To Loretta,
Companion, Minister, Friend

Copyright 1992 Sheffield Academic Press


Published by JSOT Press
JSOT Press is an imprint of
Sheffield Academic Press Ltd
343 Fulwood Road
Sheffield S10 3BP
England

Typeset by Sheffield Academic Press


British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Broadhead, Edwin K.
Teaching with Authority: Miracles and
Christology in the Gospel of Mark.
(JSNT Supplement Series, ISSN 0143-5108;
No. 74)
I. Title II. Series
226.3
EISBN 9781850753667

CONTENTS

Preface
Abbreviations

9
10

Chapter 1
INTRODUCTION
Miracles, Christology, the Nature of the Gospels
Re-evaluating the Role of the Miracle Traditions
Conclusion

13
13
21
24

Chapter 2
A PROPOSAL FOR NARRATIVE ANALYSIS

The Development of Synchronic Analysis


A Program for Synchronic Analysis
Narrative Elements
Narrative Analysis
Conclusion

26

26
32
35
46
55

Chapter 3
MARKl.l-3.7a
Mark 1.21-39: A Paradigmatic Sabbath at Capernaum
Mark 1.39-45: Healing a Leper
Mark 2.1-13: Healing a Paralytic
Mark 3.1-7a: Healing in the Synagogue
Extended Synchronic Analysis
Conclusion

56
56
72
75
79
84
86

Chapter 4
MARK 3.7-6.6
Mark 3.7-13a: Healings and Exorcisms
Mark 4.35-5.1: Driving Back the Chaos
Mark 5.1-21a: The Gerasene Demoniac

88
88
93
97

Teaching with Authority


Mark 5.21-6.la: Healing Two Daughters
Extended Synchronic Analysis
Conclusion

102
112
116

Chapter 5
MARK 6.6b-8.27a
Mark 6.32-46: Feeding Five Thousand
Mark 6.47-53: Crossing the Sea
Mark 6.53-56: Healing Various Diseases
Mark 7.24-31: Cleansing the Syro-Phoenician's Daughter
Mark 7.31-37: Healing a Deaf and Silent Man
Mark 8.1-10: Feeding Four Thousand
Mark 8.22-27a: Healing a Blind Man
Extended Synchronic Analysis
Conclusion

117
117
124
127
129
131
134
137
139
146

Chapter 6
MARK 8.27-10.52
Mark 9.2-14a: The Transfiguration of Jesus
Mark 9.14-30: A Final Exorcism
Mark 10.46-52: The Healing of Bartimaeus
Extended Synchronic Analysis
Conclusion

148
148
154
157
161
166

Chapter 7
MARK 11.1-13.37
Mark 11.12-27a: Cursing the Fig Tree
Extended Synchronic Analysis
Conclusion

168
168
175
178

Chapter 8
THE ABSENCE OF MIRACLE STORIES IN MARK 14.1-16.8

180

Chapter 9
CONCLUSION

The Diachronic History of Miracle Stories in the


Gospel of Mark
A Narrative Morphology of Miracle Stories in the
Gospel of Mark

188

188
191

Contents
A Narrative Syntax of Miracle Stories in the
Gospel of Mark
The Role of Miracle Stories in the Characterization
of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark
Seven Theses
Concluding Thoughts
Bibliography
Index of References
Index of Authors

197
207
215
217
220
227
234

PREFACE

This work is the product of a long personal and academic pilgrimage.


Here I have attempted to bring together a number of academic concerns which have proved a challenge to me: research in the Gospel of
Mark, narrative approaches to the NT, NT Christology. In addition, I
have attempted to define the parameters for future activity: continued
development of narrative approaches to the NT, a more comprehensive description of the portrait of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, foundations for a constructive Christology rooted in the Gospel narratives.
Ultimately, I have attempted here to set forth a personal foundation
for Christian calling and vocation. Through this encounter I have
come to affirm anew the calling of Christ to obedience and to faithful
service.
I am grateful for those who have helped me on my way: R. Alan
Culpepper stirred the initial interest in this area; John Polhill proved a
faithful supporter of each stage of this project; Professor Eduard
Schweizer helped to facilitate my studies in Switzerland. I am grateful
to the Meridian Rotary Club of Meridian, Mississippi, for the research
fellowship which supported my work in Bern, Switzerland. I am
grateful to Professor Ulrich Luz and to Peter Lampe of the University
of Bern, Switzerland, who provided guidance for my work in the
history of research. For the friendship of my Swiss hosts, Robert and
Elizabeth Hirsiger, I am thankful. Werner Kelber provided unusual
insight and encouragement. My colleagues at Furman University have
been constant in their support. Gratitude is extended to the communities of faith who have supported me through this process: Jordan
Baptist Church of Eagle Station, Kentucky, and First Baptist Church
of Marion, Mississippi. More personally, I remain grateful for the
unwavering support of my parents, Dempsey and Louise Broadhead.
Finally, I am grateful to my spouse, Loretta Reynolds. She has shared
both the dark and the bright hours of this journey and continues to
teach me of love, grace and friendship.

ABBREVIATIONS

BDF
BibLeb

BL
BWANT
BZNW
ConNT
CGTC
EKKNT

EvT
HNT
HTR
HTKNT

Int
JBL
JSNT
JSNTSup
JSOT

JTS
LCL
MNTC

NCB
NICNT

RAC
RevExp

RSR
SBB
SBL
SBLDS

SBS
SThU
TDNT
THKNT

TU

F. Blass, A. Debrunner and R.W. Funk, A Greek Grammar of


the New Testament
Bibel und Leben
Bibel-Lexikon
Beitrage zur Wissenschaft vom Alten und Neuen Testament
BeiheftezurZAW
Coniectanea neotestamentica
The Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary
Evangelish-Katholischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament
Evangelische Theologie
Handbuch zum Neuen Testament
Harvard Theological Review
Herders theologischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament
Interpretation
Journal ofBiblical Literature
Journal for the Study of the New Testament
Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Supplement
Series
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
Journal of Theological Studies
Loeb Classical Library
Moffatt NT Commentary
New Century Bible
New International Commentary on the New Testament
Reallexikonfiir Antike und Christentum
Review and Expositor
Recherches de science religieuse
Stuttgarter biblische Beitrage
Society of Biblical Literature
SBL Dissertation Series
Stuttgarter Bibelstudien
Schweizerische theologische Umschau
G. Kittel and G. Friedrich (eds.), Theological Dictionary of the
New Testament
Theologische Handkommentar zum Neuen Testament
Texte und Untersuchungen

Abbreviations
WMANT
ZNW
ZTK

Wissenschaftliche Monographien zum Alten und Neuen


Testament
Zeitschriftfur die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft
Zeitschriftfur Theologie und Kirche

11

Chapter 1
INTRODUCTION

The Gospels of the NT are strategic narratives of proclamation. The


primary focus of these narratives is christological. Miracles stories
play a central role in this narrative process and in its resulting christological portrait. Strategies of interpretation must be consciously
shaped to highlight this narrative strategy and its christological focus.
The first three statements now seem self-evident, yet these conclusions were reached relatively late in the history of research. The
fourth contention lies at the center of recent methodological debate in
Gospel studies. This analysis will re-evaluate the miracle traditions
through a methodology designed to highlight the narrative identity
and the christological focus of the Gospel of Mark. The primary goal
of this analysis is reconsideration of the role played by miracles
stories in the characterization of Jesus. As a secondary goal this
analysis will address the ongoing question of which methodological
approaches best contribute to the aims of NT studies.
Miracles, Christology, the Nature of the Gospels
The quest for the Christology of the miracle traditions has occupied
center stage in modern NT research. The question of the nature of the
Gospels and the proper methods of analysis has provided the necessary
corollary to this quest.
History of Research
William Wrede made the decisive link between miracles, Christology,
and the nature of the Gospels.1 Wrede's investigation of the miracle
stories unveiled the decisive impact of Mark's editing upon the stories
1. W. Wrede, The Messianic Secret (trans. J.C.G. Greig; Cambridge: James
Clark, 1971 [1901]).

14

Teaching with Authority

of Jesus' life. Wrede argued that Mark addressed the widespread


difficulty in recognizing Jesus as the messiah. Mark dealt with this
tendency, particularly among the disciples, by imposing a messianic
secrecy upon the stories of Jesus. This messianic secrecy is most active
in the miracle stories. In Mark's construction the resurrection provides
the key to unlock the secret of Jesus' identity. Through this strategy,
Mark is able to portray Jesus as the true Son of God and messiah, even
if Jesus was not acclaimed as such during his own lifetime.
Wrede's analysis of the miracle traditions moved the focus from the
historicity of these events to their christological impact. Central
importance now belonged to the portrait of Jesus formed by Mark's
recasting of traditional material under the guidance of the messianic
secret. Thus, Wrede forged a crucial link between the function of the
miracle traditions and the christological portrait of Jesus. Wrede's
work also had a decisive impact on the direction of Gospel studies. Of
necessity, Wrede's analysis required re-evaluation of the nature of the
Gospels and of the proper methods of analysis.
Martin Dibelius took up the linkage of miracles and Christology.1
Working from the presuppositions of form criticism, Dibelius saw
two competing lines of thought in the materials Mark inherited. On
the one hand, Mark took over a miracle tradition which portrayed
Jesus as one armed with supernatural authority. For Mark these
stories about Jesus served as epiphanies of the Christ. In contrast to
this line, Mark also inherited the stories of Jesus' rejection and death
at the hands of his own people. For Dibelius, Mark solved this incongruity through the messianic secret. Mark placed the miracles and all
of Jesus' activity under the framework of a 'secret epiphany'. Dibelius
concluded that this strategy provided for Mark 'the decisive standpoint
for the theological understanding of the material of Jesus' life'.2
Dibelius thus clarified the central role of the miracle stories and
their decisive christological focus. In a secondary way his formcritical work was decisive for the question of the nature of the Gospel
narratives and for the question of methods of interpretation.3
1. M. Dibelius, From Tradition to Gospel (trans. B. Woolf; Cambridge: James
Clarke, 1971 [1919]); and Gospel Criticism and Christology (London: Ivor,
Nicholson & Watson, 1935).
2. Dibelius, Gospel Criticism and Christology, p. 97.
3. While Dibelius is remembered for his pioneering work in form-critical

1. Introduction

15

The linkage of miracles, Christology and the nature of the Gospels


is also seen in the form-critical work of Rudolf Bultmann. Bultmann
took up Wrede's portrait of Jesus as the supernatural Son of God and
linked it to the Beios dvr|p concept articulated by Ludwig Bieler.1
Bultmann applied this Geiog dvf|p concept directly to the presentation
of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark.2 Thus, Bultmann reinforced the link
between the miracles and the christological portrait of Jesus. As a
result, questions about the nature of the Gospels and of methodology
resurface in the work of Bultmann.
The relation of miracles, Christology and the identity of the Gospels
is raised anew in the redactional work of Willi Marxsen.3 Marxsen
recognized that a christologizing of Jesus takes place by means of the
miracles. 4 Marxsen then divided the miracles into two types: (1)
implicit christological miracles in which the miracle brings some
aspect of faith to expression, and (2) explicit christological miracles
which are reported to prove that Jesus is the messiah or to show his
power as 9eTo<; dcvr|p.5 Thus, the methodological advance into redactional studies was accompanied by careful analysis of the christological import of the miracle stories.
Several factors are common to the work of Wrede, Dibelius,
Bultmann and Marxsen. Each took a decisive step away from the view
that the Gospel of Mark is a direct historical account of the life of
Jesus. These scholars, in various ways, gave primary attention instead
to the christological focus of the Gospel of Mark. This led each to
consider the central role played by the miracle stories in this christological strategy. Significantly, the work of each scholar in the
Christology of the miracle traditions was decisive for the question of
studies, he considered the focus on Christology and faith more crucial. This is
reflected in the preface to Gospel Criticism and Christology, p. 7.
1. R. Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament (trans. K. Grobel; New York:
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1951 [1948]), I, pp. 130-33. L. Bieler, Theios AnerDas
Bild des 'Gottlichen Menschen' in Spdtantike und Friihchristentum (Darmstadt:
Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1967), I, pp. 73-122.
2. Bultmann, Theology, I, p. 131.
3. W. Marxsen, The Beginnings of Christology, together with the Lord's
Supper as a Christological Problem (trans. P. Achtemeier and L. Nieting;
Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979 [I960]), pp. 57-68.
4. Marxsen, The Beginnings of Christology, p. 60.
5. Marxsen, The Beginnings of Christology, p. 61.

16

Teaching with Authority

the nature of the Gospels and of the proper methods for interpretation. The end of the historical quest, the development of form criticism and the development of redaction criticism were all linked to
significant studies in the relationship of miracles and Christology in
the Gospel of Mark. Thus, the quest for the Christology of the miracle
stories has in many ways charted the direction for NT studies.
Miracle Stories and Christology
The results of this quest are not monolithic. From this study emerge
two contrasting models by which to understand the christological
impact of the miracle stories in the Gospel of Mark.
Jesus as the Divine Man. Various interpreters find in the Gospel of
Mark a radical endorsement of a 0eio<; dvf|p (divine man) portrait of
Jesus: he is the miracle worker without equal. William Wrede argued
that the baptism of Jesus and his designation as Son of God (Mk 1.913) point to 'the supernatural nature of Jesus which has come into
being through his receiving the Spirit'.1 Jesus' ministry confirms this
portrait from his baptism; the supernatural nature is demonstrated in
Jesus' struggle against the devil and against demonic powers. Thus,
for Wrede, 'As the story goes on it corresponds to the basic datum of
Jesus' baptism'.2 Wrede concludes that this concept of Jesus dominates
the Christology of the writer of the Gospel of Mark:
The repeated attempts to attribute to him a distinction between the concepts
of Messiah and Son of God, and I mean a distinction in terms of values,
must be recognised as false in principle.3

Rudolf Bultmann took up Wrede's portrait of Jesus and linked it to


the Geiog dvf|p concept.4 Bultmann employed the Geiog dvf|p designation from the description of the Graeco-Roman and Jewish divine
men by Ludwig Bieler. For Bieler the GeToc; dvrip was characterized
by divine wisdom, amazing teaching and miraculous deeds.5 Bieler
argued that the Gospel writers applied this concept to Jesus to show

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Wrede, The Messianic Secret, p. 73.


Wrede, The Messianic Secret, pp. 73-74.
Wrede, The Messianic Secret, p. 77.
Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, I, pp. 130-33.
Bieler, TheiosAner, I, pp. 73-122.

1. Introduction

17

that Christian faith fulfilled the old Greek religions.1 Bultmann took
over this concept and applied it directly to the presentation of Jesus in
the Gospel of Mark: 'Jesus becomes the Son of God by the Spirit conferred upon him at baptism'. 2 Bultmann concluded that all the
Synoptic Gospels preserve this portrait through their picture of the
Son of God as miracle worker.3
Bultmann's defense of a 0ioq dvfjp understanding of Jesus was
accepted by most of Markan scholarship until the late 1950s. In more
recent times Charles Talbert argues that the writers of the Synoptic
Gospels employed the myth of the immortals to portray Jesus. Talbert
says of Mark's portrait of Jesus: 'Here is a Geiog dvrjp about whom
the claim is made that he became an immortal at the end of his
career'. 4 Dieter Georgi claims that the same 0e!o<; dvf|p outlook
which guides the opponents of Paul in 2 Corinthians also shapes the
christological portrait of the Gospel of Mark.5
Thus, a long tradition of Markan scholarship argues that a GeToc;
dvrip portrait of Jesus dominates the Gospel of Mark. This portrait is
said to center around the title Son of God and the miracle activity of
Jesus.
Corrective Christology. A contrasting line of scholarship views the
miracles not as the foundation of the portrait of Jesus, but rather as
the foil against which the Gospel of Mark constructs a distinct, crossoriented Christology. This thesis has several variations and is held by
numerous scholars.
Martin Dibelius first suggested an alternative to the 0io<; dvfjp
understanding of the miracles. Dibelius distinguished between miracles which were explicitly christological and confirmed the Geioq
dvT|p power of Jesus and those which were only implicitly christological.6 In the latter group the miracle itself stirs a faith in which one
1. Bieler, Theios Aner, II, p. 3.
2. Bultmann, Theology, I, p. 131.
3. Bultmann, Theology, I, p. 131.
4. C.H. Talbert, What is a Gospel? The Genre of the Canonical Gospels
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977), p. 42. Talbert's assessment of the Markan use
of miracle traditions (pp. 120-121) seems to temper this stance.
5. D. Georgi, The Opponents of Paul in Second Corinthians (Philadelphia:
Fortress Press, 1986 [1964]), pp. 164-74.
6. Dibelius, The Beginnings of Christology, p. 61.

18

Teaching with Authority

experiences God concretely. In these stories the encounter with Jesus


awakens a relationship of faith, and this relationship with Jesus
becomes the basis of the relationship to God.1 In this manner Dibelius
opens the door for an alternate understanding of the role of the
miracle stories.
Johannes Schreiber was among the first to argue explicitly for an
alternate to the 0eiO dvf|p understanding of the miracle stories. For
Schreiber Mark takes over a 6eiog dvf|p portrait from the exorcism,
miracle and controversy traditions. Mark employs these traditions in
his Gospel, but transforms them through a theologia crucis.1 For
Eduard Schweizer Mark countered the bare Geioq dvf|p portrait by
linking Jesus' miracles to the more important issues of faith and the
cross.3 In a similar manner Ulrich Luz argues that Mark retains the
integrity of the 9eio<; dvf|p tradition, but interprets this tradition
from the standpoint of the kerygma of the cross.4 Leander Keck
argues that Mark took over a cycle of miracle stories with a Geiog
dvf|p outlook. Mark employed this material to present Jesus' divine
sonship, but he also restricted this understanding of Jesus' life and
work.5 In a similar manner Paul Achtemeier contends that Mark took
over two cycles of miracle stories, but corrected their view of Jesus
by focusing on the cross.6 Ludger Schenke, in a thorough treatment of
the miracle stories, argues that Mark, like his traditions, recognized
Jesus as the Son of God and as the risen Lord. In sharp opposition to
his opponents, Mark finds the epiphany of Jesus' sonship not in the
miracles, but in his death on the cross.7 For Karl Kertelge, Mark has
consciously relativized his miracle traditions through his redactional
activity and through his use of Q. This critical use of the miracle
1. Dibelius, The Beginnings of Christology, p. 67.
2. J. Schreiber, 'Die Christologie des Markusevangeliums', ZTK 58 (1961),
pp. 158-59.
3. E. Schweizer, The Good News according to Mark (trans. D. Madvig;
Atlanta: John Knox, 1970), pp. 380-86.
4. U. Luz, 'Das Geheimnismotiv und die Markinische Christologie', ZNW 56
(1965), pp. 28-30.
5. L. Keck, 'Mark3.7-12 and Mark's Christology',/L 84(1965), pp. 341-48.
6. PJ. Achtemeier, 'Origin and Function of the Pre-Marcan Miracle Catenae',
JBL 91 (1972), pp. 198-221.
7. L. Schenke, Die Wundererzdhlungen des Markusevangeliums (SBB;
Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1974), pp. 373-417, but especially pp. 390-95.

1. Introduction

19

traditions brings Mark into agreement with Paul: faith is not grounded
in miracles, but in the resurrection. Kertelge concludes that Mark
mediates between the miracle traditions, the Pauline preaching and the
sayings traditions to create his Gospel form.1 For Dietrich-Alex Koch,
Mark restricts the miracle traditions under the authority of Jesus'
teaching; this authority leads ultimately to the cross. Mark also limits
the acclamation of Jesus as miracle worker, then has Jesus avoid the
miracle-seeking crowds. In addition, Mark tempers the nature miracles through the disciples' unbelief. Koch concludes that Mark
employs these techniques of interpretation to limit the power of the
miracles as direct revelations of the true identity of Jesus. Despite this
restriction, Koch contends that the miracles also have a positive function in the Gospel of Mark: they confirm that Jesus is Son of God not
only in his passion, but also in his earthly deeds. Thus, Mark employs
the miracles as positive revelations of the Son of God, but revelations
which must be carefully and critically interpreted.2 Gottfried Schille
argues that early Christianity as a whole applied a critical reinterpretation to the miracle traditions.3
Theodore Weeden took the thesis of corrective Christology and
extended it into a comprehensive interpretation of the Gospel of
Mark. Weeden took up Dieter Georgi's suggestion that the opponents
of Paul were typical of that era.4 Weeden then defined the opposing
community and their heresy which necessitated the form and strategy
of the Gospel of Mark. For Weeden, Mark finds himself in the double
bind of opposing a heresy which bears the weight of apostolic tradition. Mark counters this heresy by appealing to the historical Jesus as
confirmation of the Markan kerygma. In the first half of the Gospel,
Mark seemingly embraces the Christology of his opponents; in the
second half, Mark exposes this Christologyand thus its proponents
as false. Thus, Mark posits the strong tradition of his opponents, then

1. K. Kertelge, Die Wunder Jesus im Markusevangelium: Eine redaktionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung (Munich: Kosel, 1970), pp. 208-10.
2. D.-A. Koch, Die Bedeutung der Wundererzdhlungen fiir die Christologie des
Markusevangeliwns (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1975), pp. 180-93.
3. G. Schille, Die urchristliche Wundertradition: Ein Beitrag zur Frage nach dem
irdischen Jesus (Stuttgart: Calwer Verlag, 1967).
4. Georgi, The Opponents of Paul, p. 174.

20

Teaching with Authority

counters it with a tradition and a kerygma based on the earthly life of


Jesus.1
Building on the work of Weeden, Norman Perrin linked corrective
Christology directly to the relationship between two titles: Son of God
and Son of Man. For Perrin Mark employs his resources to combat
the Geioq dvf|p Christology centered around the title Son of God:
Christologically Mark is concerned to combat a false christology, most
probably of the 9eio<; &vr|p type, and this he does particularly by his use
of Son of Man and by his conscious subordination of the story of Jesus to
the passion.2

Several scholars pursued the relationship between corrective


Christology and the use of christological titles. Weeden, Achtemeier
and Petersen find in Mark's use of 'Son of Man' a corrective for other
christological understandings.3 Kelber reverses this proposal, arguing
that Mark finds no fault with 'Son of God', but instead corrects
a false, apocalyptic understanding of 'Son of Man'. 4 Jack Dean
Kingsbury attempts a more balanced relation between the use of the
two titles. He concludes that Mark employs 'Son of Man' as a public
title which emphasizes Jesus' interaction with the world and his suffering at the hands of the world. In contrast Mark uses 'Son of God' in a
royal sense to provide an understanding of Jesus that is more personal
and private, yet also more correct.5 With this understanding,
Kingsbury concludes that these two titles for Jesus 'complementnot
"correct"each other within the plot of Mark's story'.6
While these scholars disagree on what it is that Mark resists, they
1. TJ. Weeden, Mark: Traditions in Conflict (Philadelphia: Fortress Press,
1971), pp. 159-68.
2. N. Perrin, Towards an Interpretation of the Gospel of Mark', in Christology
and a Modern Pilgrimage: A Discussion with Norman Perrin (ed. H.D. Betz;
Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, rev. edn, 1974), p. 38.
3. See Weeden, Mark, p. 67; P J . Achtemeier, Mark (Proclamation
Commentaries; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975), pp. 41-50, but especially
pp. 45-48; N. Petersen, Literary Criticism for New Testament Critics (Philadelphia:
Fortress Press, 1978), pp. 60-68, but especially p. 63.
4. W.H. Kelber, The Kingdom in Mark: A New Place and a New Time
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974), pp. 21-22, 62-65, 84-85, 132-37, 138-47.
5. J.D. Kingsbury, The Christology of Mark's Gospel (Philadelphia: Fortress
Press, 1983), pp. 157-79.
6. Kingsbury, Christology, p. 174.

1. Introduction

21

agree that Mark's real concern is the cross of Jesus. Thus, corrective
or complementary Christology creates a sharp focus on the cross as
the crucial element in the identity of Jesus.
Various scholars have warned against viewing the 0eiog dvfjp as a
widespread, concrete type in the first century. The extant uses of the
divine man idea point not to a concrete type, but rather to a loose
collection of images employed widely in antiquity. The nature of this
evidence weighs heavily against speaking of Geioq ocvfjp as a controlling category, either negatively or positively, upon the NT material.
On the other hand, various NT traditions exhibit the loose influence of
9eio<; dvf|p elements and imagery. NT scholars speak of gnostic
influences apart from an organized Gnosticism. This same logic seems
to apply to the 0eTo<; dvfjp issue. While no concrete Qeloc; dvf|p type
controls the NT, one must nonetheless speak of 0elo<; dvrip imagery
and influence.1
Thus, the quest for the Christology, of the miracle traditions has
occupied a central role both in the formation and in the ongoing
development of Gospel studies. Critical attention to the christological
strategies of the Gospels and to the role of the miracle traditions in
this process has provided decisive advances in methodology and in the
understanding of the basic identity and function of the Gospel narratives. Consequently renewed attention to the relationship between
miracles, Christology and the nature of the Gospels provides the most
likely opening for further advances in Gospel studies.
Re-evaluating the Role of the Miracle Traditions
This chapter began with four theses: (1) the Gospels of the NT are
strategic narratives of proclamation, (2) the primary focus of these
narratives is christological, (3) miracle stories play a central role in
1. For others who take a moderating approach to the Geioq dvr|p question, see
R. Pesch, Das Markusevangelium (HTKNT; Freiburg: Herder, 1980), I, pp. 280-

81; C.H. Holladay, Theios Aner in Hellenistic-Judaism: A Critique of the Use of this
Category in New Testament Christology (SBLDS, 40; Missoula, MT: Scholars
Press, 1977), pp. 240-42; E. Schweizer, 'Neuere Markus-Forschung in USA', EvT
33 (1973), pp. 533-37; Kingsbury, Christology, pp. 33-37. K. Tagawa (Miracles
et ivangile: La pensie de Vivangiliste Marc [Paris: Presses Universitaires de France,
1966]) moves away from history of religions categories to highlight the folkloristic
nature of the miracle stories.

22

Teaching with Authority

this narrative process and in its resulting christological portrait, (4)


strategies of interpretation must be consciously shaped to highlight
this narrative strategy and its christological focus.
Attention to the first three principles has provided a productive
heritage of critical studies in the Gospels. Critical analysis of the
relationship of miracles and Christology required a careful re-evaluation of the nature of the Gospel texts and has spurred the ongoing
search for productive methods of analysis.
While attempts to clarify the relation of miracles, Christology and
the nature of the Gospels have proved productive, these efforts are
limited by the restrictions of their methodological approach. Both
form criticism and redaction criticism ultimately seek an object which
lies behind the Gospel texts. Form criticism seeks to relocate Gospel
traditions in their original form and setting. Redaction criticism seeks
to isolate the redactional and theological intent of the evangelists and
their communities. Because form and redaction studies ultimately seek
an object behind the text, these approaches have failed to give proper
attention to the narrative form and function of the Gospel stories. The
time has come for a renewed methodological focus which highlights
the inherent narrative identity, form and function of the Gospels.
Ironically, key elements for a new, narrative focus on the miracle
traditions may be found in the heritage of form criticism and redaction criticism. Both are literary sciences. Indeed, biblical criticism
first extinguished the historical quest by asserting the literary nature
of the Gospels. Albert Schweitzer and William Wrede provided a
decisive methodological breakthrough when they shifted the primary
interpretive focus from the history of Jesus to the texts of the Gospels.
The Wredestrasse was followed by Dibelius, by Bultmann, then by the
redaction critics. These scholars all endorsed a literary approach over
against the historical quest for Jesus. Form critics analysed the
Gospels in search of pre-literary forms which were related in various
ways to their environment. Redaction critics studied the Gospels as
literary productions of the evangelists. Both methods were inherently
literary in their approach. The historical quest had been replaced with
an initial type of literary criticism.
Significantly, both form criticism and redaction criticism engaged
in a process of re-historicizing the Gospels. Form criticism took its
study of literary genres as the starting point for description of the
pre-literary history behind these traditions. Dibelius employed these

1. Introduction

23

literary units to describe the process of development and transmission


which generated the leap from tradition to Gospel. In doing so he
claimed to have uncovered the life situations of early Christianity.1
Bultmann also employed these literary units as sources for investigation of early Christianity. For Bultmann these formal units of tradition contained an ancient relic: the early Christian kerygma.2
Redaction critics employed the literary narratives to define the situation, intent and theology of the evangelists and their communities.
Thus, both form and redaction criticism saw the Gospels as sources
for the history which lay behind them.
In this manner the same approaches which snatched the Gospels
from the quest for the historical Jesus attempted to re-historicize the
Gospels. Moving quickly through the process of literary analysis,
form and redaction criticism employed the Gospel material in a
second type of historical quest. While form criticism studied the
Christian community through the Gospel literature, it was ultimately
concerned more with the pre-literary community and its kerygma.
While redaction criticism studied the evangelists through the Gospel
literature, it was ultimately concerned with the evangelists and their
theology. These approaches attempted to set the Gospels not within the
historical context of the life of Jesus, but rather within the historical
context of the life of the Church and the evangelists.
This attempt to re-historicize the Gospels has dominated modern
research in the Gospels. Scholars continue to employ the literary texts
of the Gospels to examine every facet of the early Christian community and its evangelists. For Markan studies this approach has reached
a type of impasse. The lack of sources and the overabundance of compositional reconstructions has brought Markan research back to a
crucial juncturethe juncture between the Gospels as history and the
Gospels as literature.

1. Dibelius, From Tradition to Gospel.


2. R. Bultmann, The History of the Synoptic Tradition (trans. J. Marsh; New
York: Harper & Row, rev. edn, 1963 [1921]).

24

Teaching with Authority


Conclusion

This analysis proposes a fourth thesis for properly reading the Gospel
stories: strategies of interpretation must be consciously shaped to
highlight the narrative identity and the christological focus of the
Gospels. Taking up the work of Wrede, Dibelius, Bultmann and
Marxsen, this analysis will re-evaluate the role of the miracle traditions in the NT. In distinction from previous analysis this work will
employ a methodology explicitly narrative in orientation. Thus, this
analysis will renew the quest for the Christology of the miracle stories
and for the impact of these images on the study of the Gospels.
This narrative analysis will work with two basic assumptions. First,
the text is the primary object of investigation. Other goals may be
pursued in support of biblical interpretation (the history of Jesus,
social setting, background material, Christian doctrine), but these are
secondary goals. The name 'Biblical Criticism' implies investigation
of the text, and narrative analysis asserts this explicitly as its major
presupposition. Secondly, the NT is a kerygmatic text. These texts
were readboth then and nowbecause they are kerygmatic in
nature. In distinction from prior uses of this term, the NT will no
longer be seen as a source from which to distill the Christian
kerygma. Instead, narrative analysis recognizes that the texts are
themselves the Christian kerygma. So they have been treated throughout the history of Christian faith, and so they must be treated in critical scholarship. One can investigate the NT without accepting its
claims, but one cannot investigate the NT as anything other than what
it isthe kerygma of the Church.
This narrative analysis provides an extension of earlier methodological proposals, but in a distinct direction. Narrative analysis
attempts to take up the suggestion of Wrede, Dibelius, Bultmann,
Schmidt and others that the Gospels are first of all narrative accounts
of the life and significance of Jesus. Form criticism investigated the
literary units of the Gospels as avenues to pre-literary genres and to
the pre-literary history of the Gospel traditions. Narrative analysis
finds a natural partnership with the literary aspects of form-critical
studies. Narrative analysis properly employs the descriptive categories
of form criticism, since both studies have a common starting point
the literary texts of the Gospels. Narrative analysis attempts to

1. Introduction

25

recover this emphasis on the literary nature of the Gospels, then to


follow this characteristic to its full consequence. This approach does
not reject the influence of the early community or the evangelists upon
the Gospel literature, but its first emphasis is the Gospels which they
produced. Consequently, not only the individual units, but also the
entire Gospel narratives must be analysed in literary terms. In addition, not only is the content of the Gospels literary but the processes
and the results of the Gospels are also literary. Thus, the Gospel
material has its proper context first of all in a literary life situation.
Because the content, the processes and the results of the Gospels are
all literary in nature, a crucial consequence follows: Christology is
characterization. Thus, renewed attention to the literary nature of the
Gospels proves crucial for the question of Christology, as subsequent
analysis will show.
Narrative analysis attempts to recover the emphasis on the Gospels
as narrative literature, then to follow this characteristic to its full consequence. Narrative analysis understands the Gospels as literary strategies which articulate dynamic portraits of Jesus. These christological
portraits have an intimate relationship both to history and to Christian
proclamation. Indeed, the endurance and the relevance of these
christological portraits are direct products of their literary identity.
This approach to the stories of the Christian Church offers a way
around the stalemate often created by historical-critical reconstruction
and provides a distinctly literary analysis of the Gospels. As a result,
the vision of the Christian kerygmata may come into renewed focus.
This alternate focus will not first unveil the kerygma of the Early
Church or the kerygma of the evangelists. Instead, careful narrative
analysis promises a renewed vision of the kerygmata of the Gospels as
we have them, of the Gospels as we read them.

Chapter 2
A PROPOSAL FOR NARRATIVE ANALYSIS

This investigation will analyse the role of miracle stories in the


characterization of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark. This analysis will
employ a methodological approach designed to highlight the narrative
identity and the christological focus of the Gospel of Mark.
The Development of Synchronic Analysis
Synchronic analysis views a text as a systematic whole which is limited
to a single relational axis or plane. The significance of the text is
found in relationships created by organizational patterns within the
common framework. Relationships based on a span between different
genetic, evolutionary or historical phases are excluded. Thus, the text
becomes an autonomous system which creates meaning within a
singular frame of reference. Such synchronic analysis lies at the base
of all formalist and structuralist methodologies.
An overview of the development of synchronic approaches will
highlight the problems involved in application of synchronic analysis
to narrative texts. The advance of synchronic analysis will be
considered through the fields of linguistics, semiotics and literature.
Linguistics
The development of synchronic methods of analysis for narrative
material received its impetus from a Swiss linguist, Ferdinand de
Saussure,1 and from a Russian folklorist, Vladimir Propp.2 Saussure
1. F. de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics (ed. C. Bally and A. Sechehaye
in collaboration with A. Reidlinger; trans. W. Baskin; New York: Philosophical
Library, 1959). Saussure's ideas became known after his death through the publication of his lectures (1916).
2. V. Propp, Morphology of the Folktale (ed. L.A. Wagner; Austin: University

2. A Proposal for Narrative Analysis

27

set his work over against the historically-oriented philology of the


nineteenth century through four oppositions: languelparole, signified/
signifier, synchronic/diachronic, syntagmatic/associative.1 For Saussure
synchronic linguistics was 'concerned with the logical and psychological relations that bind together coexisting terms and form a system
in the collective mind of speakers'.2 He sought to study linguistics as a
'language-state' with a delimited spatial and temporal framework
within which change is minimal.3 While he did not deny the validity
of diachronic analysis, the great contribution of Saussure was his
insistence on a sharp distinction between synchronic analysis and the
study of the historical development of language. Saussure's insistence
that 'language is a form and not a substance'4 provides the ideological
base for formal and structural studies both in linguistics and in
literature.5
Vladimir Propp criticized the tendency among folklorists to define a
tale by its origin. He insisted the question of genetics must be preceded
by a thorough description of what the tale itself represents. In pursuit
of this aim Propp constructed a morphology of a limited group of
folk tales; this morphology appeared in Russian in 1928 and in
English in 1958. Propp defined a morphology as 'a description of the
tale according to its component parts and the relationship of these
components to each other and to the whole'. 6 Propp's morphology
gave attention not only to description of compositional elements of the
tales, but also to the dynamics of their interaction. Propp's formalistic
description of the folk tale and his resulting morphology provided a
of Texas Press, 2nd edn, 1968). Propp's workfirstappeared in English in 1928.
1. Saussure uses langue to refer to the system of language to which the speaker
has access, while parole refers to the parts of the langue actually employed by the
speaker. Synchronic linguistics deals with the systematic relations of terms within the
same temporalframe;diachronic linguistics treats relations between terms that may be
substituted for one another across temporal spans without forming a system.
Syntagmatic relations are based on the linear relations of a term to that which
precedes or follows it; associative relations are based on associations formed in the
brain between a term and elements not linked to the term through linearity.
2. Saussure, Linguistics, pp. 99-100.
3. Saussure, Linguistics, p. 122.
4. E.V. McKnight, Meaning in Texts: The Historical Shaping of a Narrative
Hermeneutics (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978), p. 99.
5. Saussure, Linguistics, pp. 101-102.
6. Propp, Morphology, p. 19.

28

Teaching with Authority

seminal influence for structural analysis of narrative.


Although it would be difficult to trace clear genetic lines from
Saussure to modern narrative structuralism, a number of groups have
advanced synchronic methodologies. Russian formalists were among
the first to extend linguistics into the field of literature. Building on
the presupposition that literature is an autonomous expression which
operates according to intrinsic laws, these formalists viewed the literary work as concrete linguistic communication which could be objectively examined apart from external factors. Formalism investigated
the components of the literary work and the linguistic means by which
the literary work was accomplished.1
A group of linguists who became known as the Prague School
studied the role of phonology in structural linguistics. The major
thrust of the Prague School was a synchronic phonology which
focused on the primary functional unit of linguisticsthe phoneme.2
The structural linguistics of the Copenhagen School, under the
influence of Louis Hjelmslev, sought to establish a deductive system of
formal logic which would describe both a given text and the language
system upon which the text was founded.3 The work of the Prague and
the Copenhagen Schools in structural linguistics served as preliminary
advances toward the structural analysis of narrative material. Their
primary direction was to reduce literature to a language (langue), then
to analyse that language according to linguistic principles.
A Russian member of the Prague School, Roman Jakobson, linked
the Russian, Czechoslovakian and French Schools. Although Jakobson
worked in the field of linguistics and was a formalist in his early
years, the focus of his attention was literature.4 Thus, Jakobson's focus
on the literary function of linguistics provided a crucial advance
toward structural analysis of narrative material.
The work of Jakobson directly influenced the thinking of anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss. Although his work stands directly in the
line of Propp's earlier analysis of Russian folk tales, Levi-Strauss goes
1. McKnight, Meaning, pp. 104-105.
2. G.C. Lepschy, A Survey of Structural Linguistics (London: Andre Deutsch,
1982), pp. 53-64.
3. L. Hjelmslev, Prolegomena to a Theory of Language (trans. FJ. Whitfield;
Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1961), pp. 17-18, 80.
4. McKnight, Meaning, pp. 107-26.

2. A Proposal for Narrative Analysis

29

beyond Propp's formalistic morphology. The meaning which LeviStrauss sought was not in the individual elements of the narrative, but
in the underlying structure which guides the relation of the individual
elements. 1 Moving beyond the formal, syntagmatic relationships
created by the sequential structure of the narrative, Levi-Strauss
sought to describe the paradigmatic pattern which underlies the
creation of myth.2
Linguistic studies made a further advance toward the field of literature in the work of Noam Chomsky, who set forth the basic features
of his 'generative grammar' in 1957 and in 1965. Chomsky sought to
describe the grammar which lies behind a language and serves as the
generative base for all grammatical expressions of that language.3 A
few scholars have attempted to extend Chomsky's work directly into
the field of literature.4
Semiotics
While Chomsky and his followers attempted tc articulate the systematic base that regulates linguistic and even literary production, others
have taken a more indirect route from linguistics to literature.
Building on the work of Ferdinand de Saussure and C.S. Peirce, a
number of scholars have attempted to build from the linguistic base to
a broader theory of semioticsthe study of signs.5 This theory of
semiotics then serves as the means of interpretation of literary texts,
among other things.

1. McKnight, Meaning, pp. 126-38.


2. A. Dundes in Propp, Morphology, pp. xi-xvii.
3. McKnight, Meaning, pp. 158-62; N. Chomsky, Syntactic Structures (The
Hague: Mouton, 1957), pp. 106-108; idem, Aspects of the Theory of Syntax
(Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1965), pp. 135-36.
4. See McKnight, Meaning, p. 165; T.A. van Dijk, 'On the Foundation of
Poetics: Methodological Prolegomena to a Generative Grammar of Texts', Poetics 5
(1972), p. 90, cited in McKnight, Meaning, p. 165; E. Guttgemanns, Candid
Questions Concerning Gospel Form Criticism (trans. W. Doty; Pittsburgh: Pickwick

Press, 1979).
5. See McKnight, Meaning, pp. 145-51; F. Lentricchia, After the New
Criticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), pp. 129-45, 260;
R. Barthes, SIZ (trans. R. Howard; New York: Hill & Wang, 1974), p. 5.

30

Teaching with Authority

Literature
Having advanced through the fields of structural linguistics and
semiotics, synchronic analysis gives birth to a new literary science
narratology. The foremost representatives of this science include
Roland Barthes, AJ. Greimas, Claude Bremond, Tzvetan Todorov,
Gerard Genette and Seymour Chatman.1
In his early writings, Barthes rejected the tradition of an essential
and eternal quality to literature; he saw this as nothing more than the
attempt of bourgeois culture to hide its ideology behind the mask of
reason and nature. Barthes's concern to destroy the illusion of the
natural, history-transcending identity of literature dominated his work
in the 1950s and 1960s.2
Barthes exhibited a growing concern for the role of the reader in
this process: 'criticism is not an homage to the truth of the past or to
the truth of "others"it is a construction of the intelligibility of our
own time'. 3 The latter stages of Barthes's work showed a growing
focus on the text as production rather than product. He sees ideal
textswriterly textsas open-ended modes of production inviting the
freedom of the reader: 'the writerly text is a perpetual present, upon
which no consequent language.. .can be superimposed'.4 Such texts
suspend all signified values and causes through their polysemic effect.
Thus, the writerly text is
a galaxy of signifiers, not a structure of signifieds; it has no beginning; it
is reversible; we gain access to it by several entrances, none of which can
be authoritatively declared to be the main one. .. 5
In the final analysis, only the free and creative reader determines the
production of the literary work.6
Barthes's focus on the freedom of the reader in the production of
open-ended texts stands in sharp contrast to American New Criticism
of the 1930s to 1950s. Like Barthes, the New Critics were concerned
to break the illusion that literature is governed by the intention of the
authorthe intentional fallacy. In contrast to Barthes, New Critics
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Barthes, 5/Z, pp. 103-106.


Lentricchia, After the New Criticism, pp. 129-40.
Lentricchia, After the New Criticism, p. 260.
Barthes, SIZ, p. 5.
Lentricchia, After the New Criticism, pp. 140-45.
Lentricchia, After the New Criticism, pp. 140-45.

2. A Proposal for Narrative Analysis

31

insisted that the response of particular readers was not to be confused


with the meaning of the workthe affective fallacy. For New Critics
meaning was a public and objective matter inherent in the language of
the text itself and available through the process of 'close reading'.1
A.J. Greimas develops a typology of narrative statements, based on
functions and actants, by which texts can be organized into a logical
square of opposition. Greimas employs this deductive logical base to
postulate the laws of a universal grammar which accounts for the
meaning or meaning effect of narratives.2
Claude Bremond accepts the basic aspects of Greimas's constitutional model, but takes exception to its underlying dynamic. In contrast to Greimas's insistence that the narrative grows out of the interplay of non-temporal concepts which transcend the narrative events,
Bremond contends that the logic of the narrative grows out of the
possible choices actualized within the narrative process in order to
continue and to complete the narrative.3
Tzvetan Todorov uses a metalanguage based on the sentence to
develop his model for narrative analysis. Moving forward from basic
classification of noun, verb and adjective, Todorov gives attention to
the causal, chronological and transformational relationships which are
formed between clauses. He identifies three types of narrative organization: mythological, gnoseological4 and ideological. Todorov's use of
this sentence-structured metalanguage allows him to move beyond the
pure logic of Greimas to a more inductive treatment of narratives.5
Gerard Genette emphasizes the narrative distinction of story (what
happened) and plot (how it is told), but especially of narrationthe
act and process of narrating. Genette offers a precise analysis of the
manner in which narratives are told by investigating five narrative
categories: order, duration, frequency, mood and voice.6

1. T. Eagleton, Literary Theory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,


1983), pp. 46-53.
2. McKnight, Meaning, pp. 166-79.
3. McKnight, Meaning, pp. 179-82.
4. In gnoseological narratives the process and degree of perception of an event
take priority over the event itself.
5. McKnight, Meaning, pp. 182-84.
6. G. Genette, Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method (trans. J.E. Lewin;
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1980).

32

Teaching with Authority


A Program for Synchronic Analysis

Having made the journey from structural linguistics through semiotics, synchronic analysis advances in the science of narratology to
direct treatment of narrative texts from a synchronic perspective.
Synchronic analysis of narrative confronts the critic with a broad and
difficult range of methodological options, and the process of methodological development is still in flux. Nonetheless a program for
synchronic analysis of biblical narratives is now in order.
The Ends and Means of Analysis
A coherent methodology must first clarify its teleological intentthat
is, the end which it seeks. A major weakness of the synchronic
approach is its lack of teleological clarityof carefully defined goals
of analysis. When methodological reflection moved beyond formalism
with its emphasis on the text as the ultimate goal, the text became a
stepping stone toward alternate goals. Among linguists the goal was
the linguistic foundations upon which language exists. Linguists
treated literature as the realm of manifestation from which linguistic
foundations could be isolated and structured into a coherent schema.
For these critics, the narrative text provides access to the deductive
logic of the universal linguistic structures which are the generative
base of all language.
Critics have seen texts as avenues to other concerns. Levi-Strauss
finds in his mythical narratives the paradigmatic structures of binary
opposition which reflect the base of all myth and give insight into the
creative functioning of human thought itself. Northrop Frye finds in
literature the reflection of four paradigmatic patterns based on the
mythical structures of nature.1 Barthes finds in writerly texts the
ultimate paradigm for the free and rebellious human spirit.
Such modern approaches share an ironic kinship with the traditional, historical orientation which they so vehemently reject: the text
becomes secondary to the quest for that which is behind, beyond or
beneath the text. The text again becomes a representation or a manifestation of something more ultimate. Modern narrative criticism has
1. N. Frye, Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press,
1957), pp. 131-239.

2. A Proposal for Narrative Analysis

33

replaced the quest for history, sources, communities and authors with
quests for linguistic, natural, psychological and philosophical bases
having ontological status. In each instance the text becomes secondary
and, at times, irrelevant. This utilitarian treatment of the text is
generally unacknowledged, and its classification as narrative criticism
is deceptive.
Because ends determine means, most recent analysis has its base in
deductive logic. Narrative texts are analysed and at times rejected by
the standard of a constructed logical schema. Increasing levels of
abstraction are devised to categorize the particular and peculiar nature
of literature. Deductive analysis concludes where it began, with
literature reduced to a coherent, yet artificial schema.
Authentic narrative criticism requires a different teleological orientation. While critics are certainly correct in applying literature to
philosophical, anthropological, logical and hermeneutical tasks, such
adventures lie beyond the immediate task of the narrative critic.
Importing the hermeneutical task prematurely into the process of narrative analysis corrupts and aborts the task of narrative criticism. The
hermeneutical task, as much as possible, should represent a separate
phase of criticism which exists upon, and not within, the task of narrative criticism. While hermeneutics may decide what to do with texts,
it belongs to narrative criticism to articulate what texts themselves
present and how they present themselves. While hermeneutics may
properly deal with the text as representation or manifestation, narrative criticism begins and ends with the text as presentation. Authentic
narrative criticism must define its borders in such a way that the form
and function of texts is its primary and exclusive task. The end of
literary analysis is literaturewhat it presents and how it presents it.
If the goal of literary analysis is confined to literature itself, the
means of analysis is necessarily inductive, empirical and textual.
Readers inevitably become interpreters, and narrative criticism and
hermeneutics are ultimately inseparable. Nonetheless, narrative analysis and the hermeneutical task must be undertaken, as much as is
possible, as separate stages of inquiry. While the hermeneutical task is
a dialectical one, involving the relationship of literature to a number
of fields, only literature itself, objectively examined, can articulate the
mode and the event of literary production.
Therefore, this methodology will outline a narrative grammar that
is descriptive, not generative. This grammar will be guided not by

34

Teaching with Authority

deductive principles, but rather by descriptive narrative traits arising


from inductive textual analysis.
From Language to Literature
Plato was followed by the Stoic grammarians in the application of
logical principles to the phenomena of the Greek language. Language
was employed in the explication of deductive principles of logic and
philosophy. Only with great difficulty were grammarians able to
counter this deductive approach with principles of historical, comparative and exegetical grammar.1 Hermann Paul articulated this new
direction in 1888: 'Descriptive grammar has to register the grammatical forms and grammatical conditions in use at a given date within a
certain community speaking a common language'.2 This shift in orientation produced the great treatments of NT Greek which appeared in
the early twentieth century.3
The basic syntactical unit treated by inductive grammar is the
sentence. Composed of two basic elementssubstantive and verb
grammarians take the sentence as the basic unit of meaning.
Accidence, inflection and form are united in the composition of the
sentence. The simple sentence also serves as the base for more complex or more elliptical expressions. The expansion of the substantive
or the verb through modifiers, the addition of subordinate clauses or
the creation of compound sentences provide further developments
based on the frame of the simple sentence. In the same way elliptical
expressions can be understood as deviations rooted in the basic pattern
of the simple sentence. Thus, inductive study of grammar isolates the
sentence as the focal point of linguistic components and as the basic
unit of meaning within a language system.
The simple sentence also serves well as the basic interpretive unit in
the composition of narrative. With the increasing complexity of the
compositional pattern of the sentence, an increased flexibility is
obtained for articulation of narrative significance. In the same way
1. A.T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of
Historical Research (Nashville: Broadman Press, 4th edn, 1934), pp. 41, 386.
2. H. Paul, Principles of the History of the Language (trans. H.A. Strong; New
York: Macmillan, 1889), p. 2.
3. In addition to the grammar of A.T. Robertson (1914), the grammar of
F.W. Blass began to appear in 1896, and that of J.H. Moulton in 1906.

2. A Proposal for Narrative Analysis

35

that inductive linguistics moves from smaller linguistic units to the


interpretive level of the sentence, so inductive narrative analysis must
move from the sentence to larger unitsmotifs, thematic genres, narrative systems. While linguistic analysis coheres around the substantive and verb interactions in the simple sentence, narrative analysis
must move from the dynamics of actions and agents to the construction of wider interpretive units. Thus, linguistics and language have
their juncture within the frame of the simple sentence with its
substantive and verb, agent and action.
Narrative Elements
The simple sentence structure provides the transition from the world
of linguistics to the world of literature. Just as linguistic analysis
identifies the various components around which language operates, so
narrative analysis must give attention to various types of narrative
elements.
Actions
Aristotle identified actions as the key structural element in his poetic.
He saw actions as the very object which the imitator attempts to represent in the work. For Aristotle actions are primary and agents are
their necessary corollary.1
Vladimir Propp picked up this approach in his use of 'functions'.
Propp defined a function as 'an act of a character, defined from the
point of view of its significance for the course of the action'.2 He then
analysed the tale according to the functions of its dramatis personae.
In Propp's functions, however, actions are more significant than
agents. This is evident in his first thesis: 'Functions of characters serve
as stable, constant elements in a tale, independent of how and by
whom they are fulfilled. They constitute the fundamental components
of a tale'. 3 Action, not agent, gives coherence to Propp's list of functions, and this is reflected in the terms he chose.4 This is further
1. Aristotle, De Poetica (trans. I. Bywater), in R. McKeon (ed.), Introduction to
Aristotle (New York: The Modern Library, 1947), pp. 624-26.
2. Propp, Morphology, p. 21.
3. Propp, Morphology* p. 21.
4. Propp {Morphology, pp. 25-65) lists the following categories: absentation,

36

Teaching with Authority

demonstrated when Propp articulated seven 'spheres of action' by


which functions are classified.1 Propp was careful to separate the
question of who acts from his more primary concern for the actions
themselves; he was concerned with the functions and not with their
performers or with the objects dependent on them.2
Structuralism has generally accepted this emphasis on action over
agent. Jonathan Culler notes how
[the] stress on the interpersonal and conventional systems which traverse
the individual, which make him a space in which forces and events meet
rather than an individuated essence, leads to a rejection of a prevalent conception of character in the novel: that the most successful and 'living'
characters are richly delineated autonomous wholes, clearly distinguished
from others by physical and psychological characteristics. This notion of
character, structuralists would say, is a myth.3
Thus, synchronic analysis must first investigate the actions by which
the plot of the narrative is constructed. The role of verbs in the composition of the sentence leads to consideration of the role of actions in
the plotting of the narrative. In this way the transition from language
to literature is begun.
The actions of a narrative may be simply catalogued, but further
analysis is also possible. Borrowing from the categories of inductive
grammar, actions may be analysed in terms of their function in the
sentence. This analysis proves significant for both linguistics and
literature. Actions may be analysed in terms of mode (indicative,
subjunctive, imperative, optative), in terms of voice (active, middle,
passive) and in terms of tense. The mode, voice and tense of the narrative actions will reflect the grammatical categories of the particular
language system in which they are constructed. Further grammatical
interdiction, violation, reconnaissance, delivery, trickery, complicity, villainy or
lack, mediation, beginning counteraction, departure, the first function of the donor,
the hero's reaction, provision or receipt of a magical agent, spatial transference
between two kingdoms or guidance, struggle, branding or marking, victory, liquidation or lack, return, pursuit or chase, rescue, unrecognized arrival, unfounded
claims, difficult task, solution, recognition, exposure, transfiguration, punishment,
wedding.
1. Propp, Morphology, pp. 79-83.
2. Propp, Morphology, pp. 79, 87.
3. J. Culler, Structuralist Poetics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1975),
p. 230.

2. A Proposal for Narrative Analysis

37

categories could be applied, but these are the most useful in moving
from sentence to narrative.
Agents
In Aristotle action takes precedence over the agents who perform the
action. He insists that,
the first essential, the life and soul, so to speak, of Tragedy is the Plot;
and that the Characters come second. .. We maintain that Tragedy is
primarily an imitation of action, and that it is mainly for the sake of the
action that it imitates the personal agents.1

O.B. Hardison underlines a further distinction in Aristotle's theory:


Agent (TtpdtTOv) should be carefully distinguished from character
(e0o<;), for agentspeople who perform actionsare necessary to a
drama; but character in the technical Aristotelian sense is something that is
added later and, in fact, is not even essential to successful tragedy. .. 2

Formalists took up Aristotle's insistence that characters are secondary


products of plot. Propp's emphasis was on the action and its relation
to plot. Characters were grouped by the spheres of action in which
they participated, and the plot was controlled by its actions.
B. Tomashevsky articulates this functional approach of formalism:
The presentation of the characters, a sort of living support for the different
motives, is a running process for grouping and connecting them. .. The
story as a system of motifs can entirely dispense with the hero and his
characteristic traits.3

Structuralists have generally insisted that the understanding of


characters as autonomous wholes with sharply distinguished physical
and psychological characteristics is a mythical convention no longer
applicable to modern texts. As a rule, structuralists have advanced
Propp's emphasis on actions. Although Propp claimed validity for his
seven roles within a limited corpus, Greimas attempts to show six
universal roles or actants which, when set in a relational model, form
1. Aristotle, De Poetica, p. 633.
2. Aristotle's Poetics (trans. L. Golden; commentary by D.B. Hardison, Jr;
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall [1968]), pp. 4, 82.
3. B. Tomashevsky, Thematique', in T. Todorov (ed.), Theorie de la littirature,
(Paris, 1966), p. 293, cited in S. Chatman, Story and Discourse (Ithaca, NY:
Cornell University Press, 1978), pp. 111-12.

38

Teaching with Authority

the basis of any sentence or story. From this model Greimas constructs a typology of stories.1
A number of structuralists have developed a more open understanding of character. Todorov employed the model of Greimas, but he
moved beyond it to recognize that narratives may be either plotcentered or character-centered. Taking the sentence as his basic
model, Todorov argued that the grammatical subject, through its
momentary conjunction with a predicate, acquires certain qualities.
For Todorov, characters are not manifestations of universal roles, but
they are the sum of the group of predicates to which the narrative
makes them subject.2
While Greimas saw characters as manifestations of universal roles
and Todorov saw them as the collection of narrative qualities assigned
them, Northrop Frye argued that characters develop from stock types.
For Frye these stock types originate in the four generic H-CGoi of
spring, summer, autumn and winter. These models arise from the
literary universe in which the reader has long existed. Frye concludes
that these stock models guide the perception and the creation of
individual characters.3
Although Roland Barthes's early treatment of character was a functional one, his later writings reveal a more dynamic understanding.
Barthes noted that some of the qualities of character carry a connotation which exceeds the stock roles. For Barthes the process of collecting these connotations and casting them into some interpretive
framesuch as cultural or psychological stereotypesis crucial to the
process of reading.4 Barthes contended that 'to read is to struggle to
name; it is to make sentences undergo a semantic transformation'.5
Seymour Chatman argues for a more open-ended approach to
characters. He contends there is a proper place for the reader and the
'code of traits' of personality which readers bring to the story.
Although characters never cease to be narrative constructs existing
only in narratives, a reader's interpretation of character is a structured

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Culler, Structuralist Poetics,


Culler, Structuralist Poetics,
Culler, Structuralist Poetics,
Culler, Structuralist Poetics,
Barthes, S/Z, pp. 98-99.

pp. 230-35.
p. 235.
pp. 236-37.
pp. 236-37.

2. A Proposal for Narrative Analysis

39

one, and characters may be properly described in the vocabulary of


human experience.1
In reality, literature confronts the reader with both types of narrative. Some texts are action-oriented and will not submit to a characteroriented ideal. Other texts present deep, well-rounded characters who
take prominence over the action of the narrative. Such texts are not
limited to modern literature. A more flexible analysis of characterization must allow the narrative itself to define the nature and the function of its narrative actions and narrative agents. Two types of narrative agents will be considered: roles and characters.
Roles. No text is written on a blank page, no text is read by an empty
mind. Because the reader brings to the text a literary, psychological
and cultural history, narrative agents tend to be gathered into stereotypes. Likewise, authors also bring their histories to the act of
writing. In the process of reading what is written there emerges a
constant interplay of images and types. Active in both the creation and
the consumption of the text is a loosely-defined group of collective
imageshero, god, villain, friend and others. The presence of these
stock images is more important than their source or origin. However
one describes the process, readers tend to group narrative agents into
stock images, or to create stock images to account for narrative
agents. Thus, narrative criticism must speak of narrative 'roles'
stock images or types which are filled by agents in the narrative.
Characters. The model of agents as a limited group of actants functional to the plot does not account for the depth and diversity displayed by many narrative agents. The concept of agents as 'roles' must
be complemented by the concept of agents as 'characters'dynamic
and multi-dimensional narrative personalities. This category is necessary for a number of reasons. While some agents obviously fill a stock
role, they often do so in a manner that is excessive. This overabundance of quality is not requisite to the role itself and must be designated as qualities of individual character. Secondly, some characters
serve in multiple roles. This implies that the role does not wholly
define the agent. Thirdly, some agents do not function in a distinct
role. Finally, narrative agents partake not only in the reinforcement
1. Chatman, Story and Discourse, pp. 119-38.

40

Teaching with Authority

of narrative roles, but also in their formation and in their reformation. Roles may create characters, and characters may create roles.1
Some narrative agents cannot be defined wholly in terms of their
actions, but require a more character-oriented analysis. Most narratives present a creative interplay in which agents constantly slide along
the spectrum between role and character. Ultimately the narrative and
its strategy must articulate the place of its agents. Narrative criticism
must highlight this articulation, not supress it into rigid or abstract
categories.
Agents may be further analysed in terms of grammatical categories.
Particular attention should be given to the case system employed, and
at times gender and number may prove significant. When these
grammatical categories are supplemented by the narrative categories
of role and character, a coherent analysis of narrative agents may be
presented. Such analysis must give attention to both the narrative form
of agents (morphology) and to their function as narrative elements
(syntax).
Motifs
Actions and agents are interdependent, correlative elements of a narrative. Actions imply an agent who acts or is acted upon, and agents
imply some mode of their existence. Overemphasis on one or the
other tends to blur the dynamics of the coexistence of agents and
actions within a narrative. In the same manner that substantive and
verb compose the simple sentence, so the dynamic interplay of agent
and action forms the basis for narrative structures. Narrative
sentences, based on the interplay of agent and action, orient themselves first into narrative motifs.
Form criticism and narrative criticism cross at the point of motifs.
The term was applied by Finnish folklorists to the analysis of tales.2
Vladimir Propp, following the pattern of Veselovskij and Bedier,3
employed the concept in his morphology. The folk tale was the focus
1. 'We soon discovered that Bob was a Judas, a real Benedict Arnold.' This
sentence presents Bob as the fulfillment of a role, but the role has been defined by the
characterization of two narrative agents.
2. A. Aarne and S. Thompson, The Types of the Folktale: Annti Aarne's
Verzeichnis der Mdrchentypen Translated and Enlarged (Folklore Fellows Communications, 72; Helsinki; 1928 [1910]).
3. Propp, Morphology, p. 20.

2. A Proposal for Narrative Analysis

41

of several German studies,1 and Motiv appears in the form-critical


work of Hermann Gunkel, Sigmund Mowinckel, Rudolf Bultmann,
Martin Dibelius and Gerd Theissen.2
Vladimir Propp chose to replace Veselovskij's 'motifs' and Bedier's
'elements' with his own term'functions'. For Propp the emphasis
was on the action done, regardless of how and by whom it was done.
Propp saw functions as the basic components of the tale, and he set
forth two principles for definition of functions: (1) functions are to be
defined without respect to character, and (2) functions are to be
defined in view of their place in the course of the narrative.3
The articulation of narrative agents in terms of roles and characters
renders Propp's first principle invalid in the definition of motifs.
While the function of role and character is a variable one, a valid concept of motif requires both agent and action. Though the agent may be
implicit and its role may be filled in diverse ways by various characters, the concept of motif connotes both agent and action.
Propp's second principle remains valid. Motifs do not exist within
themselves, but are defined by their participation in a plotted
sequence. Alan Dundes has urged this distinction upon modern folklorists. 4 Dundes also proposes a new name for Propp's concept of
functions operating within plotted sequence'motifernes'. This distinguishes them from 'motifs', which are abstract and are not plotrelated.5 Dundes's emphasis on the plot-related nature of motifs is a
necessary correction for most of modern criticism with its tendency to
abstraction. For early formalism and for modem inductive approaches
1. See A. Aarne, Verzeichnis der Mdrchentypen (Folklore Fellows Communications, 3; Helsinki: 1910) and J. Bolte and G. Polivka, Anmerkungen zu den
Kinder- und Hausmarchen der Bruder Grimm (Leipzig, 1913-22), I (1913), II
(1915), III (1918), cited in Propp, Morphology, pp. 16-17.
2. H. Gunkel, Einleitung in die Psalmen: Die Gattungen der religiosen Lyrik
Israels (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1933); S. Mowinckel, The Psalms in
Israel's Worship (trans. D.R. Ap-Thomas; Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962);
Bultmann, History, pp. 218-26; Dibelius, Tradition, pp. 70-103; G. Theissen, The
Miracle Stories of the Early Christian Tradition (ed. J. Riches; trans. F. McDonagh;
Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983 [1974]), pp. 5-7, 47-80.
3. Propp, Morphology, pp. 19-24.
4. A. Dundes, 'From Etic to Emic Units in the Structural Study of Folktales',
Journal of American Folklore 75 (1962), pp. 95-99.
5. Dundes, 'From Etic to Emic Units', pp. 95-104.

42

Teaching with Authority

which limit themselves to the parameters of the text, the correction is


unnecessary. For inductive synchronic analysis of narrative, motifs
find their definition and existence only within carefully defined systems. In the same manner that Propp's morphology and its categories
applied to a limited corpus of tales, so the categories of inductive,
text-oriented synchronic analysis are operative within a defined narrative system. With this understanding, the term 'motif is retained.
Motifs will be analysed in terms of their morphology and in terms
of their syntactical operation. The morphological analysis will investigate both the internal composition of the motif and the inclusion or
exclusion of the motif from particular genres or narratives. Those
motifs which always appear in a particular genre will be designated
constant motifs for that genre. Motifs which sometimes appear in a
particular genre will be designated as variable motifs for that genre.
Motifs will also be analysed in terms of their syntactical function
within a particular genre. The syntactical operations of motifs will
be considered under four categories of narrative syntax: plot,
characterization, setting and narration.
Thematic Genres
Motifs within a narrative structure tend to orientate themselves into
thematic clusters. Veselovskij defined a theme as a complex of motifs
and gave early attention to the role of themes in analysis of the tale.
Veselovskij saw that motifs developed into themes, that various motifs
move in and out of a theme, and that a particular motif could function
in a number of different themes. For Veselovskij, the theme was the
creative, unifying act of the narrative.1
Although literary critics sometimes speak of motif and theme interchangably, a distinction of terms is helpful.2 I.M. Greverus articulates
this distinction with his definition of theme as:
the underlying idea out of which a narrative grows and which holds the
narrative together. This underlying idea is realised in the material. The
material is composed of the smallest material units, the motifs, and the socalled 'epic additions'.3
1. A.N. Veselovskij, 'Poetika sjuzetov', cited in Propp, Morphology, p. 12.
2. M.H. Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms (New York: Holt, Rinehart &
Winston, 3rd edn, 1971), pp. 101-102.
3. I.M. Greverus, 'Thema, Typus, und Motiv: Zur Determination in der

2. A Proposal for Narrative Analysis

43

Such themes may be articulated by a single motif, by a linear sequence


of motifs or by a cluster of motifs.
Narrative analysis must give particular attention to the relation
between themes and genre units. Propp saw this, and he proposed that
fairy tales be examined as a chain of variants on one theme.1 Thus,
fairy tales become a narrative genre which is built on a common base.
The fairy tale genre might then be analysed and classified according to
the various ways in which the unifying plot structure is realized. In a
similar way Levi-Straus argued that apparently different myths were
variations on a number of basic themes. Beneath the heterogeneity of
myths, Levi-Strauss saw universal thematic structures to which any
particular myth could be reduced. Levi-Strauss termed these thematic
units 'motifemes'.2
Thus, inductive, synchronic narrative analysis must investigate the
thematic use of genres within a narrative system. In this manner, a
system of sub-genres can be articulated along the various thematic
lines. Such analysis will provide useful categories of description, but it
will also focus the process by which the basic motif units generate
narrative concepts. Narrative significance comes to expression at the
genre level through the thematic manipulation of motifs. This process
and the thematic genres which result provide the proper focus of
narrative analysis.
Narrative Systems
Units such as Propp's tales and Levi-Strauss's myths terminate in the
genre form. When such tales or myths are brought together for
analysis, the result is a collection and not a narrative system. These
are exceptions, however, for most thematic genres exist within larger
narrative structures.
Erzahlforschung', in Vergleichende Sagenforschung (ed. L. Petzoldt; Darmstadt,
1969), p. 397, cited in Theissen, Miracle Stories, p. 7.
1. Propp, Morphology, pp. 113-15. Modern literary critics generally translate
Propp's sujet as 'plot' rather than as 'theme'. This distinction reflects the more
structural basis of genres in Formalism. Through inductive analysis of the Wundergeschichten in the Gospel of Mark, I expect to show that Propp's reductionistic consistency does not apply to the Gospel of Mark. On the distinction between fabula and
sujet, see M. Sternberg, Expositional Modes and Temporal Ordering in Fiction
(Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978), pp. 8-14.
2. Eagleton, Literary Theory, pp. 103-104.

44

Teaching with Authority

Attention to genres and to the manner in which traditional units


were collected and edited into narrative units lies at the heart of formcritical analysis of biblical material. For the early form critics, however, the focus was not the narrative whole, but its parts. Ultimately,
the goal of form criticism was historical and pre-literary. In particular, form critics sought 'to determine the original form of a piece
[emphasis not in original] of narrative'1 and then to articulate the
subsequent history of the tradition. Linked to this was the sociological
concern to identify the Sitz im Leben of the tradition within the life of
an early community.2 Bultmann articulated his program in this manner:
It was inevitable that the analysis of the Synoptics into literary sources
should give way to an attempt to apply to them the methods of formcriticism which H. Gunkel and his disciples had already applied to the Old
Testament. This involved discovering what the original units of the
Synoptics were, both sayings and stories, to try to establish what their
historical setting was, whether they belonged to a primary or secondary
tradition or whether they were the product of editorial activity. Looked at
like this, it is a matter of indifference in what source any particular unit
happens to be found.3

Form criticism and narrative criticism differ sharply in their application of the categories of genre. For form critics genres lead to investigation of sociological systems. Dibelius asserted:
The method of Form-criticism would be completely misjudged if it were
regarded as originating in aflirtationwith aesthetic standards. In so doing
we should be going back to a way of looking at things which has its
justification only in literature proper, where individual ability and inclination shape the style, i.e., where the result requires an aesthetic judgment
of a personal and creative character. But the popular writings with which
we are concerned have no such an individual source. The style which it is
our part to observe is 'a sociological result'.(sic)4

Bultmann concurs: 'the literary "category", (sic) or "form" through


which a particular item is classified is a sociological concept and not
an aesthetic one... ' 5
1. Bultmann, History, pp. 1-7.
2. Bultmann, History, p. 6.
3. Bultmann, History, pp. 2-3.
4. Dibelius, Tradition, p. 7.
5. Bultmann, History, p. 4.

2. A Proposal for Narrative Analysis

45

Narrative criticism most sharply distinguishes itself from traditional


form criticism at this point. While form criticism dealt with genres in
their original (pre-literary) form as elements in a sociological system,
narrative analysis treats genres in their present (literary) form as
dynamic components of a narrative system. Through a process of
creative reciprocity genres are both the product and the source of
their narrative environment. Genres must be treated as living components existing in a symbiotic relation to their narrative hostthey
both sustain their narrative and they are sustained by it. Though
genres and traditions certainly have histories, their ultimate expression within literary frames provides the focus for narrative criticism.
Narrative criticism must investigate plotted meaning, giving attention to the manner in which compositional elements impose upon and
are imposed upon by a narrative system. William Beardslee contends
that 'the approach of literary criticism is to accept the form of the
work, and the reader's participation in the form, as an intrinsic part
of entry into the imaginative world of the work'.1 Narrative criticism
insists that the significance of the text does not lie in historical, sociological or redactional elements as they are represented in the text, but
in the literary image created and presented by the text itself. R. Alan
Culpepper says of Gospel narratives:
Meaning is produced in the experience of reading the text as a whole and
making the mental moves the text calls for its reader to make, quite apart
from questions concerning its sources and origin. As one reads the
gospel, the voice of the narrator introduces the narrative world of the text,
its characters, values, norms, conflicts, and the events which constitute
the plot of the story.2

Synchronic analysis of narrative texts ultimately investigates plotted


significance. Narrative systems present a narrative world with its own
codes, its own strategies. The components and the dynamics of this
organizational entity are the seedbed of narrative significance. The
plotting of compositional and transformational elements generates a
narrative conceptual system. To this narrative system and its articulation of significance narrative analysis gives ultimate attention.
1. W. Beardslee, Literary Criticism of the New Testament (Philadelphia:
Fortress Press, 1970), p. 13.
2. R.A. Culpepper, Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel (Philadelphia: Fortress
Press, 1983), p. 4.

46

Teaching with Authority

Beginning with the form and the dynamics of a simple sentence


model, linguistic transactions are analysed in terms of inductive grammatical categories from the host language. The sentence model also
serves as the beginning point of narrative analysis. Substantives and
verbs are considered in light of their participation as narrative agents
and narrative actions. Narrative analysis investigates the use of agents
and actions to articulate narrative motifs. Motifs are then considered
in terms of their coherence into thematic genres. Ultimately, narrative
elements are analysed in terms of their participation in narrative
systems. These systems form a type of narrative world and serve as
the source and means for articulation of narrative significance.
Narrative Analysis
The narrative system provides the key to analysis of texts. Narrative
criticism must not stop short of its goal by giving overdue attention to
isolated elements of the narrative. Though each element has its own
history of development and use, the presence of the unit within a
narrative structure provides its true identity. The joining of narrative
units into a narrative system brings them under the control of a new
and distinct environment which defines its own codes. This relationship is reciprocal: the system shapes the units and the units shape the
system. Thus, narrative criticism interprets neither the isolated components nor the historical author, but the resulting literary creation.
On the other hand, narrative criticism must not overstep the bounds
of its methodology. The goal of narrative criticism is a literary one
analysis of the process by which narrative significance is articulated.
Questions of ultimate essence, of ontology, of generative bases are a
part of the separate task of hermeneutical inquiry. The formal operations of the text generate narrative significance; it remains for the
interpreter of the narrative to decide what this formal narrative
significance 'means'. While narrative analysis cannot be wholly
isolated from the question of narrative 'meaning', the hermeneutical
task lies beyond the immediate scope of narrative criticism. The aim
of valid narrative criticism is nothing more and nothing less than the
narrative system with its elements, its interactions, its own internal
strategy.

2. A Proposal for Narrative Analysis

47

Significance and Meaning


The fundamental presupposition of narrative analysis is this: narratives articulate a field of signification to which readers may assign
meaning.1 Attention may be given to units smaller than the narrative
or to more universal terms, but to do so departs from the realm of
narrative criticism. The field of narrative significance articulated in
and by the narrative system marks the proper concern of the narrative
critic.
The thesis that narratives articulate a field of significance or
signification to which a reader may assign meaning is based on the
Saussurian distinction between signifier and signified. Saussure defines
this distinction at the level of linguistics. The signifier is a soundimagethe sensory, psychological imprint of the sound. The signified
is a concept. These two elements are held together through an associative bond in which each recalls the other. This relationship of the
signifier and the signified creates a linguistic sign. For Saussure the
linguistic sign has two crucial characteristics: it is arbitrary and it is
linear. By arbitrary Saussure means that the associative bond between
the signifier and the signified is unmotivatedthere is nothing
inherent in the term which requires this linkage. By linear Saussure
means that the sign operates across a single, linear span.2
The implications of Saussure's distinction between signifier/signified
prove crucial not only for linguistics, but also for narrative analysis.
The grammar of a narrative creates an associative bond between its
compositional elements and the concepts which it articulates. The narrative signifiers are the elements of the narrative with their patterns of
morphology and syntax. The narrative signified is the concept with
which these elements are associatedthe narrative signification or
narrative significance. Through this association of narrative signifiers
and narrative significance, the narrative itself becomes the sign. In
Saussurian terms the narrative elements are signifiers, narrative concepts are the signified, the narrative is the sign. As with linguistic
1. This distinction between significance and meaning stands in direct contrast to
the proposal of E.D. Hirsch. For Hirsch (Validity in Interpretation [New Haven:
Yale University Press, 1967], pp. 24-67, and The Aims of Interpretation [Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1976], pp. 1-13) 'meaning' is the whole of the
intrinsic verbal meaning of the text. 'Significance' is this textual meaning as related to
some context beyond itself.
2. Saussure, Linguistics, pp. 65-70.

48

Teaching with Authority

signs, narrative signs are arbitrarynothing in the genre or the mind


of the redactor needs to explain their motivation. Likewise, narrative
signs are linearthey operate across the synchronic plane of their
narrative world.
Delineation of narrative significance involves an objective and
formalistic processas objective and formalistic as delineation of
linguistic signs. The formal operation of the elements of a narrative
and the manner in which they generate narrative concepts may be
stated in descriptive and programmatic language. Descriptive narrative grammars may be written as clearly as descriptive linguistic
grammars. Narrative significance is the inherent, formal conceptual
pattern of a narrative text. Thus, delineation of the inherent
significance of a narrative text is an objective, formalistic process. In
contrast, the 'meaning' of a text is an external, subjective association.
To interpret the sign and then to assign meaning to it involves a
process external to the world of the text. Narratives articulate fields of
significance to which a reader may variously assign meaning.1
Humanity is an organizing species. Gestalt psychology has demonstrated that the tendency to delineate experience into meaningful
wholes is characteristic of the human mental process. Frank Kermode
shows that the tendency to create meaningful wholes also characterizes
literary interpretation.2 Aristotle understood that plotted narrative
1. Such a programmatic statement raises the issue of the origin of meaning. Is
meaning found inherently within narrative structures in a formalistic and mechanical
way, or is meaning altogether the creation of the human mind? Literary criticism,
philosophy, psychology and anthropology answer the question in a number of ways.
In the context of this methodology, meaning is best understood to emerge from the
interaction of reader and narrative in the performance of the text. Neither reader nor
text is ultimately determinative of meaning, and neither is dispensable to the process.
Codes engrained in the reader clash with codes inherent to the text, and the negotiation of meaning is begun. While description of that process may be pursued, it is
sufficient in this context to contend that humans dofindmeaning in the confrontation
of reader and text. Formalistic narrative analysis seeks to demonstrate not meaning,
but the formal significance of a text. This is accomplished by investigating both the
form and the function of the textual elements in order to demonstrate what the text
presents and how the text presents it. The reader's assignment of 'meaning' to this
formal narrative significance may take a variety of forms and belongs to another field
of inquiry.
2. F. Kermode, The Genesis of Secrecy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Press, 1979), p. 65.

2. A Proposal for Narrative Analysis

49

was the seat of meaning: 'We maintain, therefore, that the first essential, the life and soul, so to speak, of Tragedy is the Plot... '* Cultural
anthropology investigates myth not only as entertaining stories, but as
the vehicle through which the world view of a people is preserved and
communicated. It is no accident that ancient philosophers and modern
anthropologists employ the same term (UA)9O<;) to acknowledge that
plotted structures are the vehicles for human meaning. To plot is to
create a narrative whole and to delineate a potential field of
significance. This plotted field of significance forms the object of
narrative-critical investigation.
Morphosis and Metamorphosis
Narrative analysis must give attention to the manner in which significance is created, preserved and transmitted within the operations of
the narrative. The narrative system provides the host environment in
which agent, action, motif and genre collaborate to create a world.
This creative process involves not only compositional patterns, but
also the series of transformations and interactions orchestrated
between narrative elements. This dynamic process of structuration
generates new forms, new relations, new significance. This selfgenerative process which occurs within the narrative system shall be
labeled 'morphosis', the process of literary formation.
Narrative analysis must also give attention to the manner in which
old elements, old processes, old meanings are employed within a new
narrative framework. It is entirely possible that there is no such thing
as a wholly original textthat all texts are composed from other
texts. Readers soon notice the repetition of motifs, themes, patterns
borrowed from diverse sources. Biblical form critics especially gave
attention to the manner in which a few literary forms were re-created
in numerous ways and in numerous settings. To its discredit, however,
form criticism has failed to recognize the distinctive quality of old
forms in new structures. In contrast, the principles of anthropology
insist that an element cannot be defined apart from its system of use,
and that elements can be redefined within a different system of use.2
In the same manner no literary form can be understood apart from its
1. Aristotle, De Poetica, p. 633.
2. That is why oil drums can become an orchestra in the Caribbean and why the
trash of one generation is the heirloom of another.

50

Teaching with Authority

system of use, and traditional literary forms may be redefined by a


different system of use.1 Likewise, the change in systems has a crucial
effect on narrative operations such as characterization. Narrative
analysis must give close attention to the process in which traditional
material is re-employed in new narrative settings. This promises to be
a most productive direction for research, offering hope of clarifying
the orientation of a Gospel over against, or in sympathy with, its
sources, parallels and descendants. Using diachronic analysis to provide a comparative base, the movement of elements into a particular
system can be studied.2 This process shall be labeled 'metamorphosis',
the process of literary transformation.
Local and Extended Analysis
The relation of narrative elements to their system provides the key to
narrative analysis, particularly when set against comparative material.
This process of morphosis and metamorphosis is best approached by
first considering local narrative segments, then the extended narrative
system. Wide sweeps of morphosis and metamorphosis can be more
precisely demonstrated when local patterns are first observed. The
major thematic divisions of plot may serve as general guides for analysis of local units. These divisions may be chapters, acts or major
1. The sayings of Jesus, for example, are one thing in a collection of sayings
such as Q, but quite another in a Gospel. In a similar vein, Dibelius, Tradition,
pp. 278-79, contends that non-mythological traditions are employed to create a
mythological portrait of Jesus:
in the last analysis the Gospel of Mark is certainly a mythological book, although
what is true of the Form into which it was thrown is not true of the material itself.
Only to the smallest extent is the tradition assembled in the Gospel of a mythological
character and this is confined to the epiphany narratives and to a few Tales. In the
majority of its sections Jesus does not appear as a mythological person.

2. Narrative criticism will employ the methods and the results of historical-critical investigation, but for a different purpose. Diachronic analysis will be used not to
reconstruct the genealogy of a tradition and to recover the pristine original form. The
goal of diachronic analysis is not genetic, but comparative. A comparative look at the
operation of other systems provides a helpful backdrop against which to highlight the
distinctiveness of the text at hand. A miracle story may operate in an entirely different
manner within the framework of the Gospel of Mark than it does in a different framework. Thus, diachronic analysis can define a precise literary context within which to
interpret the present text, highlighting both its similarities and its uniqueness.

2. A Proposal for Narrative Analysis

51

points of a structural outline. In each instance the divisions must be plotoriented and not arbitrary. Local units may be properly treated as subsystems of the larger narrative system. This division is helpful because
literature borrows from literature at a number of levelswords,
sentences, motifs, genresand larger units of comparison may emerge.
Narrative Grammar
The ultimate goal of this methodological proposal is the construction
of a descriptive narrative grammar for NT material. This grammar is
initially limited to the role of miracle stories in the Gospel of Mark.
The aim of the grammar is descriptiveto focus what the narrative
does and how it does itso the approach is necessarily inductive.
Moving from the inductive grammar of the koine Greek of the NT, a
descriptive narrative grammar will be constructed on the base of the
sentence model. Agents and actions will be analysed, and motifs will
be defined. The thematic manipulation of motifs into genre units will
be observed. Ultimately, the various elements will be considered in
terms of their operation within a meaningful narrative system. This
narrative grammar will give attention to both narrative form
(morphology) and to the narrative interaction of form units (syntax).
The ultimate goal of the grammar is description of the formal narrative strategy by which a particular text operates. Figure 1 outlines the
parameters of this narrative grammar.
Application
The proposed methodology will be employed to analyse the role of
miracle stories in the Gospel of Mark.1 Twenty-one units of the
Gospel of Mark will be designated as miracle stories. Two descriptive
traitsone thematic and one formalcontrol this classification: (1)
the presence of a miracle element, and (2) the embedding of this
element in episodic or story form. For the purposes of this investigation, these narrative traits will define a miracle story within the
Gospel of Mark. At each stage of analysis particular attention will be
given to the narrative role of the miracle stories in the characterization
of Jesus.
1. Mk 1.1-16.8 will be considered as an inclusive narrative system. The 26th
edition of the Nestle-Aland text will be taken as the standard text unless otherwise
noted.

51

2. A Proposal for Narrative Analysis

53

The synchronic analysis will investigate each miracle story in order


to understand the manner in which narrative motifs cohere into
thematic genres. As a result the miracle story genre will be subdivided
along thematic lines.
This use of synchronic analysis is built upon the model of Ferdinand
de Saussure. Following Saussure's principles synchronic analysis will
treat the syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations of elements which coexist within the same system. In this approach the narrative itself
forms the synchronic system within which grammatical units operate.1
Within each story the analysis will give particular attention to the
manner in which agent and action combine into motifs, motifs into
thematic genres, and genres into narrative systems. The analysis will
focus not only the compositional elements, but also the relationships
that emerge from the syntagmatic arrangement of narrative units.
Thus, the analysis will investigate both the structure and the dynamics
of the individual miracle stories. This dual focus will employ the
categories of 'Narrative Morphology' and 'Narrative Syntax'.
Narrative Morphology. Narrative morphology will investigate the
formal characteristics of the miracle stories in the Gospel of Mark.
This analysis identifies the stages of compositional development which
generate the miracle stories.
Miracles stories in the Gospel of Mark employ these actions:
coming

responding

teaching

presented (passive)

intruding
commanding
distributing

healing
questioning
cleansing

departing

overcome (passive)
revealed (passive)

These actions are linked to nine role slots:


miracle worker
opponent
representative

crowd
victim
witness (heavenly)

narrator
disciple
God

1. See Saussure, Linguistics, pp. 79-95, 99-100, 101-102, 122-27. Note particularly the manner in which Saussure treats syntagmatic and associative relations as
elements of synchronic analysis (pp. 122-27). These relations are absent from
Saussure's diachronic linguistics (pp. 140-90), which are evolutionary. For analysis
of Saussure, see Lepschy, Structural Linguistics, pp. 44-47; McKnight, Meaning,
pp. 97-99; Culler, Structuralist Poetics, pp. 10-13. Culler (p. 13) confirms that
syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations are applicable only within a synchronic system.

Teaching with Authority

54

From these role slots, the narrative develops a limited number of


characters.
The narrative grammar combines these agents and actions to create
the following narrative motifs:
Miracle worker:

Narrator:
Disciples:

comes
teaches
heals
commands
questions
responds
distributes
revealed
cleanses
departs
intrudes
question
respond
distribute

Crowd:

Opponent:

Victim:
Need:
Representative:
Witnesses:
God:

comes
responds
departs
presented
responds
departs
presented
responds
presented
overcome
responds
revealed
commands

The grammar of the narrative manipulates these various motifs to


generate thematic genres. The miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark
employ five distinct thematic categories: exorcism, healing, epiphany,
curse and combination stories.
The morphological analysis will highlight the manner in which the
narrative grammar employs these various elements to compose the
miracle stories. At the same time this analysis will provide a descriptive morphological base for the miracle stories in the Gospel of Mark.
Narrative Syntax. Narrative syntax investigates the patterns of distribution and interaction of the formal elements of a narrative text. The
analysis of the narrative syntax of the miracle stories of the Gospel of
Mark will highlight four syntactical elements: syntactical functions,
syntactical divisions, syntactical patterns and syntactical foci. The narrative syntax will be understood as the energizing force which
controls narrative production.1
1. This formalistic understanding of syntax as the dynamic which controls textual production has a solid history. A.T. Robertson, in his descriptive grammar of
New Testament Greek, employed syntax as a flexible category which covered almost
every pattern of construction in the New Testament. Only a few elements were separated from grammar and treated as elements of rhetoric. See Robertson, A Grammar

2. A Proposal for Narrative Analysis

55

Conclusion
Strategies of interpretation must be consciously shaped to highlight the
narrative strategy and the christological focus of the Gospels. The
narrative analysis outlined in this chapter provides such a strategy of
interpretation.
The foundational inquiries into the relationship of miracles and
Christology by Wrede, Dibelius, Bultmann and Marxsen guided a
productive half-century of critical research. In addition, their work
raised crucial issues concerning the nature of the Gospels and the
proper methods of interpretation. This analysis seeks to move forward
from their research. The chapters that follow will employ a consistently narrative strategy of interpretation in order to re-evaluate the
relation of miracles and Christology in the Gospel of Mark.

of the Greek New Testament, pp. xxxi-lxi. For the subjectless, self-contained
dynamism of literature, see Culler, Structuralist Poetics, pp. 28-31.

Chapter 3
MARK l.l-3.7a

The first major section of the Gospel of Mark extends from l.l-3.7a
and contains six miracle stories. Although this section is usually
understood to end at 3.6, Mk 3.7a provides the proper narrative conclusion and is important for the transition to the following section.
Therefore, Mk 1.1-3.7a will be analysed as a coherent narrative unit.
Mark 121-39: A Paradigmatic Sabbath at Capernaum
The three miracle stories of Mk 1.21-39 present a trilogy; thus, the
analysis will consider the section as a whole. Each of the three miracle
stories will be considered, then attention will be given to the
significance of the extended unit which they compose.
Mark 1.21-29: An Exorcism in the Synagogue
The motifs of Mk 1.21-29 may be plotted in the following manner:
Introduction
Miracle worker comes
Miracle worker teaches
Crowd responds
Narrator intrudes

1.21-22
1.21a, b
1.21c
1.22a
1.22b

Body
Opponent presented
Miracle worker heals
Opponent departs
Crowd responds

1.23-28
1.23-24
1.25
1.26
1.27-28

Conclusion
Miracle worker departs

1.29a
1.29a

3. Mark 1.1-3 Ja

57

The initial use of the methodology requires closer explanation. The


parameters of the miracle stories will be delineated strictly on narrative terms. The analysis will include the full narrative introduction
and conclusion to each of the miracle stories. At many points traditional divisions will be abandoned in favor of a more coherent division along narrative lines. In other instances transitional verses will
participate equally in two distinct narrative units.
In the miracle stories in the Gospel of Mark the story line divides
into three segments: introduction, body and conclusion. These
divisions represent distinct narrative regions within which narrative
sentences and motifs fulfill grammatical operations. The analysis will
transpose narrative sentences into narrative motifs consisting of agent
plus action.1 In this way the story line is expressed as a series of motif
sentences. These motif sentences prove useful for analysis of the narrative; they may be organized, and their grammatical composition and
function may be analysed.
The proposed methodology will first analyse the language employed
in the formulation of the story. Agents and actions will then be viewed
in terms of the motifs they create. Motifs will be analysed in terms of
their formal construction and in terms of their syntactical operation.
The syntactical function of motifs will be considered under four
narrative categories: plot, characterization, setting and narration.
Analysis will then be extended to the level of genre. The operation of
the narrative elements creates a thematic orientation. This thematic
orientation will be used to classify the miracle stories genre into subcategories: exorcism, healing, gift miracle, epiphany, curse and
combination miracles. Finally, this analysis will be extended to the
level of the narrative system.2 In particular, the analysis will
investigate the role of miracle stories in the characterization of Jesus
within the Gospel of Mark.
Narrative Morphology. Synchronic analysis of Mk 1.21-29 will first
investigate the narrative morphology. Attention will be given to which
1. For example, the narrative sentence 'And they come into Capernaum. .. '
(1.21a, b) may be expressed as the motif sentence 'the miracle worker comes'.
2. Both R. Funk ('The Form of the New Testament Healing Miracle Story',
Semeia 12 [1978], pp. 57-96) and Theissen (Miracle Stories) demonstrate the
tendency of form criticism to terminate analysis at the level of the genre.

58

Teaching with Authority

motifs are employed in this miracle story and to the shape and order
of their arrangement
The introduction of the story (1.21-22) begins with the narrative
motif 'the miracle worker comes' (1.21a, b). This motif initiates the
plot movement of the story, and it provides the geographical and temporal setting. The act of entering (eiOTtopeuovTCti) is a plural, implying that the disciples called in 1.16-20 are accompanying Jesus. The
entrance is also conveyed in the present tense. While most grammars
would identify this as a historical present, with some suggesting it be
rendered as a past action, it is more properly a dramatic present
which makes the reader a contemporary of the story. Both verbs of
entrance are compounded by eiq; this * coming into' contrasts with the
'going away' (anr\XQov) of 1.20 and gives a narrative sense of
transition and movement. A spatial notice (Capernaum) and an action
qualifier (immediately) refine the action. 'On the sabbath' and 'in the
synagogue' provide temporal and spatial setting, but they are pregnant
terms. Sabbath and synagogue draw upon a depth of meaning within
the religious system of Israel, and they become metaphorical images.
Thus, 'the miracle worker comes' (1.21a, b) serves as an initiating
motif.
The second motif, 'the miracle worker teaches' (1.21c), is built on
an inceptive imperfect (e8(8aaKev) and is best translated 'he began to
teach'. This instruction serves an initiating function within the plot
line. At the same time this motif initiates the characterization of Jesus
as teacher. In this manner the teaching of Jesus is thrust forward as
the central plot element of the story.
'The crowd responds' (1.22a) is likewise an initiating motif built on
an inceptive imperfect (e^erc^riGaovTo). The response of the crowd
initiates their characterization. More significantly, the thematic importance of the teaching of Jesus is confirmed by a second motif.
The narrator's intrusion (1.22b)1 clarifies the motivation for the
1. The motif 'the narrator intrudes' requires further clarification. Spatial, temporal, descriptive or informational notices as well as inside views of a narrative agent
are difficult to classify. This is particularly true when they are crucial to the story, yet
not intrinsic to recognizable agents and actions. In these instances modern literary
analysis has attempted to expose the hand of the narrator. While most critics would
limit even the most intrusive narrators to the telling of the story and not to the story
itself, there is just cause for speaking of the intrusive narrator as a narrative agent
who partakes in the story. The intrusive narrator acts within the story by describing,

3. Mark 1.1-3.7a

59

crowd's amazement and further develops the characterization of Jesus


as teacher.1 His teaching is distinguished from the scribal tradition by
its authority. This intrusion provides a personal qualifierauthority is
here ascribed directly to Jesus rather than to the content of his
message. The attribute is a personal one, and it must be considered as
a narrative character trait. This qualification takes on a sense of linear
duration through the use of the periphrastic construction (TJV yap
8i8daKG)v); authority is a durative narrative trait which serves to
characterize Jesus. The narrator's intrusion also initiates the
characterization of the scribes as opponents of Jesus, and it
foreshadows their later plot involvement.
The body of the story (1.23-28) begins with the motif 'the opponent
is presented' (1.23-24). This motif provides the initial portrait of
those who oppose Jesus, and it initiates the violent plot action at the
center of the story. As in many exorcisms the roles of opponent and
victim are hopelessly intertwined. Although introduced as a man, he
acts as a demon. The speech of the demon is a part of its self-presentation, and the language is broken and violent. Jesus' opponent serves
here as a mirror in which the character image of Jesus is intensified
and reflected to the implied reader. The demonic speech further
specifies the character qualities of Jesus ('the holy one of God'), and it
is a demon who first names Jesus in the story (1.24). In this manner
the functions of plot action and of characterization are linked. While
the plot development focuses on the opponent and his actions, the
resulting portrait of Jesus most impacts the reader of the narrative.
The nucleus of the story is reached with 'the miracle worker heals'
(1.25). Here the plot action and the authority image of Jesus reach a
common apex. The speech of Jesus corresponds to that of the
by explaining, by informing and in other ways. The act of such an agent formulates a
new motifThe narrator intrudes'. For extensive treatment of the role of the narrator in the Gospel of Mark, see D. Rhoads and D. Michie, Mark as Story: An
Introduction to the Narrative of a Gospel (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982),

pp. 35-43.
1. V.K. Robbins (Jesus the Teacher: A Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation of Mark
[Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984]) has attempted to locate the narrative focus on
Jesus as teacher within a sociological mind set. Robbins concludes that this
characterization of Jesus as teacher draws upon both Greek and Jewish culture and
provides the key by which the early Christian community adapted to its cultural
setting.

60

Teaching with Authority

demonit is harsh and terse. The command to silence and the


command to depart are both imperatives. The command to silence
((pijicoBrixi) has reference to muzzling an animal. Here the exorcism is
accomplished by command alone. This simplicity serves to intensify
the thematic characterization of Jesus as 'one having authority'.
'The opponent departs' (1.26) completes the central plot action. The
description is brief and violent: convulsion, screaming,, departing. The
response of the opponent involves unwilling obedience. The story
intensifies the evil characterization of Jesus' opponents. At the same
time the story demonstrates the miracle worker's power, thus heightening the authority image.
The crowd again plays an antiphonal role in the motif 'the crowd
responds' (1.27-28). The display of authority leads to universal
amazement and questioning. Dual themes are focused anew: teaching
and authority. This provides summarization of the character portrait
of Jesus. The display of authority is expressed in dramatic and durative terms through the use of the present tensehe is commanding
(7cvcdaai) and they are obeying (vnaKovovaxv). Thus, the display
of authority becomes a durative trait which characterizes the entire
ministry of Jesus. This report 'about him' goes out immediately and
everywhere, not only within the narrative but also to the implied
reader of the narrative.
The conclusion of the story is almost non-existent. Mk 1.29 serves
in a joint role as conclusion of one unit and introduction for another;
this bears witness to the unity of the two stories. 'The miracle worker
departs' (1.29a) is brief and pragmatic, and it acts alone to bring
closure to the story.
Narrative Syntax. The narrative syntax of Mk 1.21-29 proves to be
crucial. This analysis focuses on the syntactical interaction of the
motifs and on the unique narrative orientation which this syntax
generates.
The motifs of the introduction (1.21-22) operate in all four
syntactical fields, but particular focus is given to initiation of plot and
to characterization. The function of introduction is not primary to the
unit. Jesus is not named, nor are the disciples; their identity is carried
over into the unit from 1.9-20. The crowd is not introduced into the
narrative, but assumed. The unit serves rather to initiate the ministry
of Jesus with his disciples and to show the response to that ministry.

3. Mark 1.1-3.7a

61

This unit also initiates the description of the character of Jesus. Even
before his presentation in the role of miracle worker, the story
characterizes Jesus as teacher with authority. This portrait of Jesus
carries a powerful primacy effect which exerts extensive influence
over the material that follows.
The motifs which compose the body of the unit (1.23-28) operate
primarily within two syntactical fields: plot and characterization. The
body further develops the plot line which was initiated in the introduction. The unit initiates, then intensifies the characterization of
Jesus' opponents. While the plot action focuses on the opponent and
his actions, this plot development is linked in a crucial way to the
identity of Jesus. Plot action is thus linked to the function of
characterization, and the unique portrait of Jesus initiated in the
introduction (1.21-22) is developed, intensified and summarized in the
body of the story (1.23-28). Jesus is the powerful teacher who
overcomes the evil forces which threaten human life.
The conclusion of the story (1.29a) is bare. It functions not so much
to conclude the plot of the story as it does to provide a plot transition
to the following unit.
Conclusion. This synchronic analysis reveals in Mk 1.21-29 an
example of the miracle story genre whose thematic orientation'Jesus
overcomes demons'places it in the sub-class of exorcism.1 Beyond
this formal description of the account as a miracle story, the syntactical operation of the motifs creates a distinct focus for the story. The
plot structure exhibits a simple form: introduction, body, conclusion.
The introduction (1.21-22) is composed of four motifs whose primary
syntactical functions are plot initiation (of Jesus' ministry) and characterization (of Jesus). This introductory portrait of Jesus as powerful
teacher exerts a strong primacy effect over the wider narrative. The
body (1.23-28) employs four motifs and operates syntactically to link
the central plot action to the characterization of Jesus. Thus, the body
intensifies the portrait of Jesus as powerful teacher. The conclusion
(1.29a) is a bare unit, composed of a single motif, and its syntactical
function is that of plot transition.
1. Bultmann {History, pp. 209-10) calls the story a miracle of healing
(exorcism). Dibelius {Tradition, p. 43) calls the story a paradigm of the less pure
type. Theissen {Miracle Stories, p. 321) calls the story an exorcism.

62

Teaching with Authority

In Mk 1.21-29, the narrative role of miracle worker is filled by


Jesus in a way that already converts the role into a character slot. In a
more preliminary manner, the role of Jesus' opponents takes on
character traits.
Two traits of the story deserve preliminary notice. First, the story
initiates a concerted focus on the characterization of Jesus. Particular
attention is directed to the character traits of Jesus through two narrative devices: crowd response (1.22a) and intrusion by the narrator
(1.22b). Secondly, the miracle act undergoes a narrative subordination
to the more idiosyncratic characterization of Jesus as 'teacher with
authority'. This strategy refracts the central plot action into an intense
portrait of Jesus. Jesus is the powerful teacher sent from God; miracles provide a functional demonstration of Jesus' power. While these
two narrative orientations are preliminary, the primacy effect of
initial stories is powerful. These tendencies warrant further
observation.
Mark 1.29-31: Healing the Mother-in-Law of Peter
The motifs of Mk 1.29-31 may be plotted in the following manner:
Introduction

Miracle worker comes

129
1.29

Body
Opponent presented
Miracle worker heals
Opponent departs
Victim responds

1.30-31
1.30
1.31a
1.31b
1.31c

Conclusion

Narrative Morphology. The introduction (1.29) links the story to the


previous unit. Its single motif, 'the miracle worker comes' (1.29),
provides the necessary transition in plot and in setting. The departure
from the synagogue also provides the entrance into the house of
Simon and Andrew. The four disciples again accompany Jesus, and
here they are named. In addition to naming the four, the introduction
sets the stage for the following actionthe healing of the mother-inlaw.
The body (1.30-31) employs four motifs and serves as the focus of

3. Mark 1.1-3.7a

63

the story. 'The opponent is presented' (1.30) initiates the plot action.
The roles of victim and possessing power are again entwined. The
story presents the crisis indirectly through messengers who tell of the
need. 'The miracle worker heals' (1.31a) employs Jesus' touch, and no
command is given. This motif demonstrates anew the authority image
of Jesus which was initiated in Mk 1.21-22. 'The opponent departs'
(1.31b) involves the departure of the fever, but the victim remains
present. 'The victim responds' (1.31c) involves an act of service.1
This motif completes the plot action and initiates the development of
the victim role. At the same time, the victim's action presents the
implied reader with an ideal model for response to Jesus. This early
image of discipleship carries a powerful primacy effect and extends its
influence widely over the narrative (Mk 10.42-45; 15.40-41).
The conclusion is completely missing from the story. With no
further transition the story blends directly into the next unit.
Narrative Syntax. Mk 1.29-31 employs a distinct narrative syntax.
The introductory motif (1.29) generates a smooth transition from the
synagogue scene to the healing story. Thus, its function is more that of
transition than of introduction. At the same time 1.29 intimately links
the four disciples to the healing event.
The body of the story (1.30-31) again links the action of the plot to
the characterization of Jesus. The healing action at the center of this
story concretely demonstrates the earlier characterization of Jesus as
one having authority. Once again plot action is subordinated and
refocused toward the characterization of Jesus.
The absence of any conclusion is significant. Because of this the
healing story immediately merges into the following unit. The
transitional nature of 1.29 and the absence of a transition between
1.31 and 1.32 shapes the three stories into a coherent trilogy.

1. The term describing her service (8iaicoveG)) is commonly used to speak of


table service, but it takes on extraordinary meaning in Mark. The destiny of the Son
of Man is to serve (10.45), and followers of Jesus can accomplish greatness only
through service (10.43-44). Thus, service becomes the most crucial character trait of
the narrative. Only three characters are called servants in the Gospel of Mark: the Son
of Man (10.45), angels (1.13) and women (1.31; 15.40-41).

64

Teaching with Authority

Conclusion. Synchronic analysis of Mk 1.29-31 reveals an example of


the miracle story genre whose thematic orientation'Jesus overcomes
disease'places it into the sub-class of healing story.1 Nonetheless,
close affinities with exorcism stories should be noted. The introduction of Mk 1.29-31 is composed of a single motif (1.29), and it serves
the syntactical function of plot transition. The body (1.30-31) is composed of four motifs and links the healing to the developing portrait
of Jesus' authority. Mk 1.29-31 breaks the expected plot structure by
its complete absence of a conclusion. In this manner the story extends
the characterization of Jesus: he is the mighty teacher who exercises
authority over both demons and disease.
Mark 1.32-39: Healings and Exorcisms in Capernaum
The motifs of Mk 1.32-39 exhibit the following pattern:
Introduction

Body
Opponents presented
Crowd responds
Miracle worker heals
Narrator intrudes

1.32-34
1.32
1.33
1.34a, b, c
1.34d

Conclusion
Miracle worker departs

1.35-39
1.35-39

Narrative Morphology. The introduction to Mk 1.32-39 is missing


entirely. Geographical and temporal settings are taken over from the
previous stories, as are the agents. This supports the contention that
Mk 1.21-39 forms a coherent trilogy.
The body of the story (1.32-34) employs three motifs, two of which
have undergone compression. 'The opponents presented' (1.32) initiates the plot development, and it provides the setting through a temporal description. By combining sickness and demon-possession this
motif serves as a generic presentation of need. 'The crowd responds'
1. Bultmann (History, p. 212) labels the account a healing miracle edited under
the influence of Mk 1.16-20. Dibelius (Tradition, pp. 43-44) includes the story as a
part of the paradigm of the healing in the synagogue. Theissen (Miracle Stories,
p. 321) calls the story a healing.

3. Mark 1.1-3.7a

65

(1.33) is sandwiched between the presentation of need and the healing.


This motif further specifies the setting through a geographical description ('before the door'). The response of the crowd precedes the
miracles, and this response is motivated by the previous stories. This
technique intensifies the linkage to the two previous units (1.21-31).
The presentation of the opponents is answered by 'the miracle
worker heals' (1.34a, b, c). This motif also presents a combination:
sickness is met by healing, possession by the exorcism command and
the command to silence. Thus, the generic presentation of need (1.32)
is met by a generic portrait of healing/exorcism (1.34a, b, c). The
healing motif serves in this manner as a summarization and a generalization of the previous plot and character developments. The intrusion
of the narrator (1.34d) addresses the implied reader and reveals the
motivation behind Jesus' commands to silence.
The conclusion (1.35-39) employs a single motif, but it is a welldeveloped one. 'The miracle worker departs' (1.35-39) employs a
series of movements and locations which provides temporal and
geographical transition in the setting of the story. First, Jesus arises
from the house and goes 'out' (1.35a). Then he goes 'away' and 'into'
a desert place (1.35b). In the desert place Jesus prays (1.35c). This
presents a preliminary departure. A second line of movement involves
the disciples: they pursue, they find and they speak (1.36-37a). The
third line of movement involves the crowd: they are seeking the
miracle worker (1.37b). The ultimate departure unites the movement
of Jesus and the disciples (1.38-39). In doing so the story avoids the
movement of the crowd and generates a new development in characterization: Jesus avoids the miracle-seeking crowd in order to
accomplish his mission of proclamation. Jesus himself states the motivation for the departure: they must go elsewhere and preach there
also.1 This motivation also provides an instance of plot recollection in
which the activity at Capernaum is (re)defined retrospectively as
preaching. In this manner teaching and preaching become narrative
synonyms. The narrative employs this complex series of operations to
portray Jesus' departure in its ultimate sense: it is an exodus in which

1. W.H. Kelber (Mark's Story of Jesus [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983],


p. 22) sees in 1.37-38 *a first and very subtle indication of a disagreement between
Jesus and his disciples'.

66

Teaching with Authority

he has been sent out to preach the gospel of God. This recalls and
confirms the preaching keynote of Mk 1.14-15.
Narrative Syntax. The motifs of Mk 1.32-39 are controlled by the
narrative syntax. The absence of an introduction creates an immediate
link to the previous stories (1.21-31). Although the body of the story
(1.32-34) operates in all four syntactical fields, its primary contribution is in plot and in characterization. Particularly, the body presents
summary portraits of Jesus' activity and of his identity: Jesus is the
teacher/preacher whose power overcomes all types of evil. In this
manner a durative, generic portrait is created. This generalizing technique bolsters the narrative image of Jesus as preacher/teacher with
authority from two directions: through repetition and through
extension. Here the authority of Jesus is demonstrated a third time and
given a durative sense of extension across the larger narrative.
The conclusion of the story (1.35-39) serves a crucial narrative
function. The complex staging of Jesus' departure initiates a sweeping
plot movement which will extend through the entire Gospel: Jesus
begins an itinerant ministry of proclamation. In addition, this movement demonstrates a crucial character trait of Jesus: he withdraws
from miracle-seeking crowds in order to proclaim the gospel of God.
In this manner the activity at Capernaum is defined as preaching/
teaching and is made, proleptically, the central focus of Jesus'
ministry. Mk 1.35-39 takes up and extends the keynote of 1.14-15:
Jesus is the one sent to proclaim the gospel of God. Thus, 1.35-39 not
only summarizes the local ministry of Jesus, it also recovers the keynote of 1.14-15 and extends it forward as a durative portrait of Jesus'
mission and identity.
Conclusion. This synchronic analysis leads to the conclusion that
Mk 1.32-39 is an example of the miracle story genre whose thematic
orientation'Jesus overcomes disease and demons'places it into
the sub-class of healing/exorcism.1 The unit serves as a generic
1. Bultmann (History, p. 341) calls 1.32-34 an editorial formulation describing
the healing activity of Jesus. He calls 1.35-39 an editorial section which describes the
motive and general character of the ministry of Jesus. Dibelius (Tradition, p. 44)
calls the account 'general healings'. Theissen (Miracle Stories, p. 322) calls the story
a summary.

67

3. Mark 1.1-3.7a

presentation of the power of Jesus, and it projects a durative portrait


of Jesus upon the extended narrative.
Mk 1.32-39 breaks the plot structure with its complete omission of
an introduction. The body continues the practice of subverting plot
action into the service of characterization. Through this technique the
characterization of Jesus as authoritative teacher/preacher is deepened
and given durative extension across the narrative.
The conclusion (1.35-39) is a complex one, and it tends to be the
focus of the story. The departure of Jesus characterizes him in terms
of prayer and preaching. His going out to preach with his disciples
orients the narrative portrait of Jesus away from crowds and miracles
and toward his more ultimate destiny. This theme, confirming the
keynote in 1.14-15, is picked up and carried forward in Mk 1.39.
Thus, Mk 1.32-39 employs a formal miracle story to portray Jesus as
the mighty preacher/teacher in whom the powerful work of God has
begun.
Extended Synchronic Analysis
Synchronic analysis of the extended unit of Mk 1.21-39 proves most
fruitful. The plotted structures of the three miracle stories present the
following schema:
FORM

Mk 1.21-29

Mk 1.29-31

Mk 1.32-39

Introduction (1.21-22)
Introduction (1.29)
Miracle worker instructs
Miracle worker comes
Miracle worker comes
Crowd responds
Narrator explains

Introduction

Body (1.23-28)
Opponent presented
Miracle worker heals
Opponent departs
Crowd responds

Body (1.30-31)
Opponent presented
Miracle worker heals
Opponent departs
Victim responds

Body (1.32-34)
Opponent presented
Miracle worker heals

Conclusion (1.29)
Miracle worker departs

Conclusion

Conclusion (1.35-39)
Miracle worker departs

68

Teaching with Authority


FUNCTION

Mk L21-29

Mk 1.29-31

Mk 1.32-39

Introduction (121-22)
Setting (transition)
Plot (initiation)
Characterization

Introduction (1.29)
Setting (transition)
Plot (transition)

Introduction

Body (1.23-28)
Plot (development)
Characterization

Body (1.30-31)
Plot (development)
Characterization

Body (1.32-34)
Plot (summarization)
Characterization

Conclusion (1.29)
Plot (transition)

Conclusion

Conclusion (1.35-39)
Plot (conclusion)
Characterization
Setting (transition)

Narrative Morphology. The comparative charts give clearer focus to


the synchronic operation of the narrative units. The morphological
arrangement of the three stories is significant. In Mk 1.21-29 the
extended introduction stands out. The introduction to the second story
is weak in comparison, and the introduction to the third story is
missing entirely. Unique to the introduction of 1.21-29 is the emphasis
on teaching by the miracle worker and on the response of the crowd
to that teaching. In addition, the narrator's intrusive comment characterizes Jesus as a teacher who has authority. Significantly, this characterization precedes all miracle activity. In this manner the image of
Jesus as teacher with authority is projected across the entire trilogy
(1.21-39).
In Mk 1.29-31 the introduction is simplified and the conclusion is
omitted. The emphasis of the story falls entirely on the body. The
action of the body is typical, but the response of the victim proves
noteworthy, especially in Markan terms. The service of the victim is
presented to the implied reader as the ideal response to the activity
and the person of Jesus.
Mk 1.32-39 has no introduction, and the body is expressed in
generic terms. The conclusion is complex, serving as the focus of the
story. This conclusion is developed through a series of transitions in
setting. The highlight of the conclusion is a saying of Jesus which
defines the purpose and direction of his ministry. The conclusion of

3. Mark 1.1-3.7a

69

this third unit (1.35-39) serves the same function as the introduction
of the first unit (1.21-22): miracle activity is subverted into the
characterization of Jesus as preacher/teacher with authority.
The stories of Mk 1.21-39 thus form a synchronic narrative whole.
The first story is significant for its introduction, the second for its
body and the third for its conclusion. In this manner the three stories
together duplicate the plot structure of individual stories. In addition,
the unit demonstrates the ability of miracle stories to focus alternately
on introduction, body or conclusion.1
Narrative Syntax. In addition to their formal unity, the three stories
also display a syntactical coherence. This is particularly evidenced in
the development of the plot line. The introduction of the first unit is
marked by plot initiation. Plot development and transition mark the
first two stories. In the third story the plot line is marked by summarization and conclusion. In this manner the stories form a coherent
trilogy.
As a synchronic unit Mk 1.21-39 represents a paradigmatic Sabbath
at Capernaum. Set on the first day of his public ministry, the story
serves as a type for Jesus' entire ministry.2 The three miracle units
which form the backbone of the plot line stand under the control of a
complex introduction which imposes a thematic focus on teaching.
The miracle worker is first presented as teacher with authority. Jesus'
teaching first evokes the response of the crowd, and the narrator
intrudes to portray Jesus' power in teaching. This narrative invocation
of the portrait of Jesus as teacher with authority casts its interpretive
shadow over the three miracle units that follow.
In the same way the conclusion holds significant sway over the
larger unit. Jesus' activity is here defined as preaching. Jesus' intent to
go and to preach elsewhere also understands the activity at Capernaum
as preaching. Preaching and teaching are thus defined as narrative
synonyms. Jesus' departure with his disciples provides a clear reorientation away from the crowds of the final miracle story and toward
an itinerant ministry of proclamation. The conclusion casts this
1. This contradicts the implication of Funk ('Miracle Story', p. 61) that the NT
miracle stories all have their nucleus in the body of the story.
2. The story may allude to the great Sabbath of God awaited in Israel and to its
fulfillment in Jesus.

70

Teaching with Authority

understanding of Jesus' mission and identity retrospectively upon the


three miracle units.
Thus, Mk 1.21-39 creates a synchronic portrait of a programmatic
day of ministry at Capernaum. While the formal units of the section
are miracle stories, the composition of the units and their syntactical
distribution create a narrative orientation which is distinct. While
miracle activity provides the plot line of the units, the miracle focus
has been subverted and refocused. Miracle stories carry no inherent
orientation toward preaching/teaching; only through narrative manipulation do they focus on proclamation. Mk 1.21-39 reveals a narrative
strategy which refocuses miracle stories toward a distinct portrait of
Jesus and his proclamation. While miracle stories are the foundational
elements, Mk 1.21-39 characterizes Jesus as preacher/teacher with
authority. In this manner Mk 1.21-39 employs formal miracle stories
to confirm and to demonstrate the keynote of Mk 1.14-15: Jesus is the
mighty proclaimer sent from God.
Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 1.21-39 reveals a narrative strategy which
employs miracle stories to characterize Jesus as teacher/preacher with
authority. The morphology of the three units defines all as miracle
stories, as form critics have observed. At the same time the common
formal characteristics shared by the NT miracle stories are misleading. Form criticism was mistaken in its presumption that the common
formal base of the miracle stories pointed to a common functional
base within a clear sociological framework. Form criticism ceased its
literary analysis at the point of description of the formal characteristics of a particular genre. In contrast, this methodological approach
moves beyond the morphological composition of the genre units to
give attention to the syntactical operation of the genre across various
narrative systems. Such investigation leads to the preliminary conclusion that: (1) formal literary units such as genres function first and
foremost within narrative, not sociological, frameworks, and (2) the
functional range of the miracle story genre is not monolithic, but is
marked by extreme flexibility and diversity.
While the miracle stories of Mk 1.21-39 participate in a morphological base common to the entire genre of NT miracle stories, their
syntactical operation within the narrative framework of the Gospel of
Mark is unique. This functional uniqueness is demonstrated from two

3. Mark 1.1-3.7a

71

directions. First, use of the three units in Mk 1.21-39 is based on a


narrative logic that is intrinsic to the Gospel of Mark. The function of
the units is not linked to a historical understanding of miracle activity,
to an extrinsic deductive logic nor even to a logic inherent to the
miracle story genre. Instead, the function of the miracle stories in Mk
1.21-39 grows out of the formal, intrinsic narrative strategy of the
Gospel of Mark. In this manner the miracle stories of Mk 1.21-39
confirm and develop the central theme set forth in Mk 1.14-15 and
subsequently developed throughout the Gospel: Jesus is the powerful
teacher/preacher sent to announce the Kingdom of God.
The Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke provide the second
demonstration of the unique function of Mk 1.21-39. While employing the form of the three miracle stories almost verbatim, Matthew
and Luke do not accept the role of the stories in the Gospel of Mark.
Both replace the linkage of teaching and wonder found in the Gospel
of Mark with a word-oriented portrait of Jesus' teaching. This wordoriented portrait is more logically consistent, more historically probable and more consistent with the characteristics of the miracle story
genre. Thus, the role of the miracle stories of Mk 1.21-39 in the characterization of Jesus proves distinctive. This unique operation of the
common miracle stories elements does not originate in the genre itself
or from a particular sociological setting. Instead, the distinct portrait
of Mk 1.21-39 originates in the formal narrative grammar of the
Gospel of Mark.
Thus, Mk 1.21-39 employs three miracle stories to develop a coherent christological portrait of Jesus as the powerful teacher/preacher.
This strategy stands in sharp contrast to the use of miracle stories as
isolated units or as elements in aretalogical collections. This strategy is
blurred when analysis stops at the level of genres. By setting this synchronic portrait over against its diachronic dimensions, the distinct
narrative form and function of Mk 1.21-39 emerges. This analysis
demonstrates clearly the presence of morphosis (the process of literary formation) and of metamorphosis (the process of literary transformation).

72

Teaching with Authority


Mark 139-45: Healing a Leper

Mk 1.39 is a transitional verse which participates in two distinct


stories. Therefore, 1.39 is also considered as part of the healing story
in Mk 1.39-45.
Introduction
Miracle worker comes

1.39
1.39

Body
Opponent presented
Miracle worker heals
Opponent departs
Miracle worker commands
Victim responds

1.40-45 a
1.40
1.41
1.42
1.43-44
1.45a

Conclusion
Miracle worker departs
Crowd responds

1.45b, c, d
1.45b, c
1.45d

Narrative Morphology
The introduction of Mk 1.39-45 employs a single motif'the miracle
worker comes' (1.39). This motif prepares for the healing story by
summarizing previous developments in plot, characterization and
setting. The inceptive verbs of ministry in 1.21-22 have given way to
more constative present active participles: KripucacQV and
eicpdMcov. Jesus' coming is presented as a compressed summary of
his activity throughout Galilee.
The body of the unit (1.40-45a) is complex, being composed of six
motifs. 'The opponent presented' (1.40) provides an aggressive selfpresentation by the leper. This motif initiates the central plot action of
the unit, and it continues to develop the role of the victim. 'The
miracle worker heals' (1.41) develops the plot action through both
touch and command. The significance of the touch is intensified by the
medical and religious prohibitions concerning leprosy.1 The description of Jesus' compassion (or anger) serves as an intensifying character trait. 'The opponent departs' (1.42) is accomplished by the departure of the leprosy, and it concludes the central plot action. 'The
miracle worker commands' (1.43-44) stands in an unusual position
1.

See the disease code in Lev. 1415.

3. Mark LI-3.7a

73

and is fulfilled in a strange manner. These unusual words of Jesus serve


to intensify his character image. The language and response of Jesus are
more typical of exorcism than of healing. The use of |LiPpi^r|ad^vo<;
points to a harsh expression of anger and is paralleled by the response
of Jesus' opponents in Mk 14.5.1 In addition, the word of dismissal
(Kp&M/o) belongs to the terminology of exorcisms.
The command to the leper is further specified by the instruction to
silence and the instruction to present himself to the priests. The leper's
healing provides a condemnation of the religious institutions which
had declared the leper unclean. Thus, the witness is not to the authorities, but against them. This use of amoxc, is wholly within the operative range of the dative case, and similar use may be found in Mk
6.11, 13.9 and in Lk. 4.22. Such a reading may clarify in part the
empassioned commands of Jesus; it also sparks the controversy
between Jesus and the religious authorities.
These commands intensify the character portrait of Jesus, and they
produce significant plot movement. The focus of the unit is shifted
from the healing act to the act of witness. The command also asserts
the Jewish context and background of the story by its reference to the
Mosaic law and to the priesthood of Israel. Ultimately, this relocation
of plot action and this focus on the Jewish environment of the story
foreshadow the controversy between Jesus and the religious authorities of Israel. This plot foreshadowing links the miracle activity of
Jesus to the growing opposition and ultimately to his death.
"The victim responds' (1.45a) shows total oblivion to the command
of Jesus. The victim goes out to preach and to proclaim 'the word'.
Like the victim of 1.31, the cleansed leper embodies the ideal of
discipleship for the implied reader. The narrative result of this
proclamation, however, is a limitation on the movement of Jesus.
The conclusion (1.45b, c, d) is built on the expected motif of 'the
miracle worker departs' (1.45b, c). This motif concludes the immediate plot action, but it also foreshadows future plot developments. The
continued withdrawal of Jesus from cities and crowds is foreshadowed
in his wilderness stay (1.45c). The geographical transition in the setting (from city to desert) enhances this imagery. The motif 'the crowd
responds' (1.45d) stands in an unusual final position and provides the
1. On the harshness of the expression, see M. Black, An Aramaic Approach to
the Gospels and Acts (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1946), pp. 240-43.

74

Teaching with Authority

conclusion of the plot activity. The response of the crowd links to the
prior response in 1.28. There the report went out * everywhere' and
here the crowds come to Jesus from 'every place'. The conclusion is
open-ended, and it sets the stage for the continuing response of the
crowds (negative and positive) in the development of the plot.
Narrative Syntax
Beyond their role as compositional elements in a formal miracle
story, the syntactical operation of the motifs of Mk 1.39-45 is
significant. The introductory motif (1.39) presents a summary portrait
of Jesus' ministry. Jesus now practices a durative ministry of proclamation and exorcism in the synagogues throughout Galilee. The portrait of Jesus as one who proclaims with authority is taken up from
Mk 1.21-39 and projected forward over the healing story of 1.39-45.
In this manner Mk 1.39 prepares for the healing story by providing
summarization in three syntactical fields: plot, characterization and
setting.
The body of the story (1.40-45) also plays a crucial syntactical role.
The role of the victim is developed into a model for discipleship.
Beyond this the body demonstrates the power of Jesus anew, not only
against the limitations of the disease but also against the religious institutions of Israel. By declaring the leper clean (1.41), Jesus fulfills the
duty of the priest. Through the witness of the healed leper Jesus'
action becomes a condemnation of the religious leaders. This portrait
of the authority of Jesus creates a dramatic shift in the focus of the
story and foreshadows the growing tension between Jesus and the
religious leaders. Through these various operations the body (1.4045a) serves the syntactical functions of plot (initiation, development,
recollection, foreshadowing) and of characterization (development).
The conclusion (1.45b, c, d) brings closure to the story events. It
also points ahead to the continued withdrawal of Jesus and to the
continuing role of the crowds in the ministry of Jesus.
Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 1.39-45 reveals an example of the miracle
story genre whose thematic orientation, 'Jesus overcomes sickness',
places it in the sub-class of healing story. Jesus' priestly function and
the witness of the leper create a mixed form: controversy/healing

3. Mark 1.1-3.7a

75

story.1 Beyond this classification of the story as a formal miracle


story, the syntactical operation of the unit is crucial. Mk 1.39-45 takes
over the portrait of Jesus as preacher/teacher with authority from
1.21-39. Jesus' identity is demonstrated anew in the healing of the
leper. Most significantly, the authoritative teaching of Jesus creates a
sharp conflict with the religious authorities of Israel. Thus, Mk 1.3945 employs a fonnal miracle story to advance the characterization of
Jesus: he is the powerful and controversial preacher/teacher in whom
the cleansing mercy of God is at work.
Mark 2.1-13: Healing a Paralytic
While most interpreters end this story at Mk 2.12, the departure of
the miracle worker in 2.13 provides the proper narrative conclusion
to the account. The motifs of Mk 2.1-13 present the following pattern:
Introduction
Miracle worker comes
Crowd comes
Miracle worker teaches

2.1-2
2.1
2.2a
2.2b

Body
Victim presented
Miracle worker heals
Opponents presented
Narrator intrudes
Miracle worker questions
Miracle worker heals
Victim responds
Crowd responds

23-12

Conclusion
Miracle worker departs

2.13
2.13

2.3-4
2.5
2.6
2.7-8a
2.8b-9
2.10-11
2.12a
2.12b

Narrative Morphology
The introduction (2.1-2) opens with the expected motif 'the miracle
worker comes' (2.1). This motif provides geographical and temporal
settings for the unit (a house in Capernaum, a few days later). In
1. Bultmann (History, pp. 212, 240) labels the unit a healing story from the
Palestinian church. Dibelius (Tradition, p. 71) calls the story a Novelle. Theissen
(Miracle Stories, p. 321) labels the unit as a healing story.

76

Teaching with Authority

addition this motif recalls the previous plot activity in Capernaum


(1.21-39) and initiates the plot action of 2.1-13. Two additional motifs
specify the introduction. The coming of the crowd (2.2a) provides the
occasion for plot action. 'The miracle worker teaches' (2.2b) recalls
the previous teaching activity (1.21-39) and projects the teaching
theme forward upon Mk 2.1-13.
The body of the unit (2.3-12) is complex, and it carries the major
thrust of the story. The presentation of the victim (2.3-4) initiates the
central action around which the unit develops. The presentation of the
victim is complicated, intriguing, almost comic. The persistence of the
four helpers is described by the narrative as faith. Once again the role
of the victim confronts the implied reader with the ideals of discipleship. 'The miracle worker heals' (2.5) advances the central plot
action, and it deepens the intensity and the complexity of the characterization of Jesus. Here the authoritative proclaimer is presented as
one who offers God's forgiveness of sins.1
The expected plot line is interrupted at the very point of the
healing, and a new opponent is introduced. The motif 'the opponent
presented' (2.6) creates plot transition, and it foreshadows the increasing tension between Jesus and the religious authorities. The scribes
here occupy a narrative role previously reserved for disease or
demons, and their rebuke of Jesus is similar to that by demons. This
subtle transition alerts the implied reader to the deep chasm which is
drawn between Jesus and the religious authorities in the Gospel of
Mark. 'The narrator intrudes' (2.7-8a) unveils the motivation of the
scribes, and the narrator informs the reader of the thoughts of both
the opponents and of Jesus. 'The miracle worker questions' (2.8b-9)
provides Jesus' direct address to the scribes. The words of Jesus move
from crowd (2.2) to victim (2.5) to opponents (2.8-9), then back to
victim (2.11). In this way the scribes become the central focus of
Jesus' teaching.
At this point the story returns to the expected plot line, and the
words of healing are continued (2.10). The motif 'the miracle worker
heals' (2.10-11) recovers from the plot transition of 2.6-9 and returns
to the central plot action. 'The victim responds' (2.12a) demonstrates
1. The use of dquevxai is crucial. This form is best seen as a divine passive;
thus, 'Your sins are forgiven (by God)'. For use of the divine passive, see Pesch,
Markusevangelium I, pp. 155-56; BDF, p. 72.

3. Mark 1.1-3.7a

11

the healing through the public carrying of the bed, producing further
plot advancement.
The motif 'the crowd responds' (2.12b) intensifies the characterization of Jesus and further develops the characterization of the crowd.
The crowd responds with amazement, with worship of God and with
confession. At this point the crowd begins to take on defining character traits, thus fulfilling not only a narrative role, but also a specific
character slot within the narrative. Further, the crowd's actions stand
in contrast to the response of the scribes. This characterization of the
crowds over against the religious leaders is deepened in 2.13 when the
crowd follows Jesus beside the sea; there they are taught by himan
image of discipleship that recalls 1.16-20 and introduces the call of
Levi. Thus, the crowds embody a trait of discipleship that stands in
sharp contrast to the rejection by the scribes.
The conclusion employs a single motif, 'the miracle worker departs'
(2.13). This ending is stark, and it operates in the syntactical function
of plot conclusion.
Narrative Syntax
The syntactical operation of the motifs of Mk 2.1-13 proves vital. The
introduction of the story (2.1-2) creates a strong link to the trilogy in
Mk 1.21-39. The entrance assumes the prior activity in Capernaum
(rc&^iv). The references to Capernaum and the house serve as
geographical focalizers; they also recall the previous activity there.
The crowds of 1.32-39 reappear, their curiosity unabated. The teaching ministry of 1.21-39 continues in this story. The term describing
Jesus' teachingxov ^oyovis used in an absolute sense; it assumes
prior definition and understanding. Thus, the introductory unit is a
recollection which reactivates the themes and concerns of 1.21-39.
The temporal focalizer (8i r\\iepG)v) gives the plot sensation of the
passage of time. The continuance of the itinerant teaching ministry of
Jesus provides the setting for the drama that follows. Thus, the introduction serves primarily in the syntactical functions of plot
(recollection, initiation, development) and of setting.
The body of the story focuses the distinct authority of Jesus. This
characterization of Jesus is intensified when he offers God's forgiveness of sins. In contrast, the story characterizes the opponents of Jesus
in images of the demonic and the diseased. This contrast in character
is acted out in the ongoing conflict between Jesus and the religious

78

Teaching with Authority

leaders. This conflict initiates the charge of blasphemy which will


eventually lead to Jesus' death (14.64). In this manner the miracle
story of 2.1-13 provides a proleptic view of the ultimate destiny of
Jesus.
The conclusion (2.13) provides closure to the story. In addition, the
seashore setting invokes the calling to discipleship in Mk 1.16-20.
Beyond this the demonstration of the divine authority present in Jesus
is set within the context of Jesus' teaching ministry. Thus, a crucial
link is again forged between the authority of Jesus and his identity as
teacher.
Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 2.1-13 reveals an example of the miracle
story genre with a thematic orientation * Jesus overcomes sickness'.
The plot digression which occurs in the body of the unit subordinates
this theme, however, and makes the controversy with the scribes the
focus of the story. Thus, a mixed form is created, placing Mk 2.1-13
in the sub-class of healing/controversy.1 Beyond this classification of
the story as a formal miracle story, the narrative syntax of the story is
important.
Mk 2.1-13 employs a healing story as the platform from which to
launch a crucial transition in plot and in character development. This
narrative manipulation has two important effects. On the one side, a
basic healing story is reoriented toward the question of forgiveness of
sinsa crucial theological, christological and ecclesiological issue. On
the other hand, the controversy between Jesus and religious leaders
intensifies beyond the level of words. The linkage of miracle and
controversy raises the question of authority and identity. The controversy is not ultimately over technical nuances of the law, but over the
identity and the authority of both Jesus and the religious institutions of
Israel. The healing story provides the power base upon which this
controversy is presented.
Mk 2.1-13 presents a unified synchronic portrait. The introduction
of the unit (2.1-2) employs various techniques of plot and setting to
1. Bultmann (History, p. 212) disregards the controversy in 2.5b-10a and
treats the remainder of the unit as a healing miracle. Dibelius (Tradition, p. 43) calls
the story a paradigm. Theissen (Miracle Stories, p. 322) calls the story a rule miracle
(Normenwunder).

3. Mark 1.1-3.7a

79

prepare for the development of the story. A strong link is created


with Mk 1.21-39 through the emphasis on Jesus' public ministry of
proclamation, particularly in Capernaum. The body of the unit (2.312) provides a crucial advance in the developing plot and in the characterization of Jesus and his opponents. Jesus is now presented as one
who offers not only words and power, but even proclaims God's
forgiveness. The human opponents of Jesus are portrayed with the
imagery of demonic powers and disease. The conflict between Jesus
and the religious authorities is escalated to a deadly struggle. Thus,
2.1-13 employs a formal miracle story to set the stage for the lifeand-death conflict which occupies the remainder of the narrative.
The christological portrait generated by Mk 2.1-13 is decisive. The
authority of Jesus is demonstrated anew in the healing of the paralytic.
This authority is raised to its highest level when Jesus pronounces
God's forgiveness. In this manner a formal miracle story is given a
distinct christological function: it demonstrates the identity of Jesus as
the one endued with divine authority. Through the conclusion in 2.13,
this ultimate display of divine authority is linked to the teaching
ministry of Jesus. In this manner the formal miracle story in Mk 2.113 plays a crucial role in the characterization of Jesus: he is the
mighty teacher who has authority to heal and to proclaim God's
forgiveness.
Mark 3.1-7a: Healing in the Synagogue
The story in Mk 3.1-6 finds its conclusion with the departure of Jesus
in 3.7a. Thus, the traditional limits of the unit are extended, and Mk
3.1-7a is considered as a narrative unit. The narrative motifs of Mk
3.1-7a may be plotted in the following manner:
Introduction
Miracle worker comes

3.1a
3.1a

Body

3.1b-6
3.1b-2a
3.2b, c
3.3
3.4a
3.4b
3.5a, b

Opponents presented
Narrator intrudes
Miracle worker commands
Miracle worker questions
Opponents respond
Narrator intrudes

80

Teaching with Authority


Miracle worker commands
Opponents depart

3.5c
3.5d-6

Conclusion
Miracle worker departs

3.7a
3.7a

Narrative Morphology
The introduction of the unit employs a single motif, 'the miracle
worker comes' (3.1a). This motif places the story within the developing plot line of the narrative and initiates the plot action of 3.1-7a.
The motif is brief and stark, with only nakxv not directly necessary.
The nearest reference for naXxv is the preaching in the synagogues of
1.39. The introduction relates no specific synagogue experience, but
instead casts the story in a general way within the ongoing plot line of
Jesus' activity.
The body of the unit (3.1b-6) is complex, and it carries the focus of
the story. Through the motif 'the opponents presented' (3.1b-2a), two
opponents are introduced into the story linedisease and critics. Once
again the close linkage of the human opponents of Jesus with disease
and demons reinforces the dark narrative portrait of Jesus' critics.
The critics are here unnamed, assuming a known antecedent. The
nearest possibility would seem to be the Pharisees of 2.24, and 3.6
seems to confirm this.
At this point the motif 'the narrator intrudes' (3.2b, c) informs the
reader that it is the Sabbath, that the critics are watching for healing
activity and that their purpose is to condemn Jesus. This intrusive
comment defines the ideological context of the unit for the implied
reader. As a result the implied reader learns that the focus of the unit
is not the healing itself, but the controversy and condemnation which
accompany the activity of Jesus. Thus, the intrusion by the narrator
serves as an interpretive guide for reading the account.
The unit returns to the expected plot development with 'the miracle
worker commands' (3.3), but an immediate digression from the
healing follows (3.4-5b). Following the command to the victim, Jesus'
attention is turned instead to his critics, who are again unnamed.
While Jesus' question poses verbally the legal issue of the Sabbath, it
serves a more crucial function within the unit. Jesus' question poses
two options for Sabbath activitydoing good/saving life as opposed to
doing evil/taking life (3.4). Jesus' question thus foreshadows and initiates the supreme irony within which the critics entrap themselves

3. Mark Ll-3.7a

81

they who oppose activity on the Sabbath use the Sabbath as an occasion
for plotting evil and for taking life (3.6). In this manner Jesus'
question plays an important role in the development of the wider
narrative plot.
The critics' initial response to Jesus is that of silence (3.4b). Again
the narrator intrudes to explain that the hardness of their hearts is the
cause of Jesus' anger. This intrusion clarifies and intensifies the
characterization of both Jesus and his opponents.
At this point the story returns to the expected plot development, reintroducing the motif 'the miracle worker commands' (3.5c) with the
repetition of Xeyei T S avOpcorccp. This command reverses the plot
transition created by 3.4-5b and leads to the actual healing. The motif
'the opponents depart' (3.5d~6) accomplishes the healing act. At the
same time it develops and foreshadows the plot movement around the
controversy between Jesus and his opponents. In addition, the evil
portrait of Jesus' opponents is intensified when they conspire to
murder Jesus. This motif again links Jesus' critics with the forces of
disease. In response to the command both opponents depart (3.5d-6).
The departure of the disease means restoration; the departure of the
Pharisees means the beginning of the death pact against Jesus.
The conclusion of the story (3.7a) is also unique. 'The miracle
worker departs' (3.7a) provides an initial plot conclusion. The
mention of the disciples and the sea advances the concern with
discipleship and instruction. At the same time the retreat to the sea
heightens the ideological distance and withdrawal from the synagogue
and the Jewish leaders. The subsequent response of the crowd in 3.7b8 creates a sharp contrast to the tension and hostility of the synagogue
scene. The emphasis within the body upon the response of the
opponents dislocates the response of the crowds. Only after the departure of Jesus from the scene of hostility does the plot provide room
for the crowd. The going out of Jesus' opponents is matched by the
coming forth of the crowd. They have heard of Jesus' activity, and
they come from every region to 'follow' Jesus.
Narrative Syntax
The syntactical distribution of the motifs of Mk 3.1-7a creates a
distinct narrative orientation. The introductory motif (3.1a) employs
plot recollection to recall the preaching of 1.39. At the same time the
introductory motif initiates a new line of plot action.

82

Teaching with Authority

The complex presentation of the body (3.1b-6) fulfills a number of


syntactical functions. In addition to the plot advancement provided by
the basic healing story, other significant plot contributions will prove
increasingly important in later developments. The plot transition
created in 3.4-5b gives the controversy a central role in the story. In
particular, the controversy between Jesus and his opponents is raised
to the level of a life-and-death struggle which will occupy the
remainder of the narrative.
The body of the unit also provides a crucial advance in characterization. Jesus continues to fill the role of miracle worker, but the
characterization grows increasingly personal, colorful and intense.
The portrait of Jesus in this story includes his aggressive questioning
and commanding, his anger and his popularity. Likewise the role of
Jesus' opponents is further qualified. Linked again with the forces of
evil, Jesus' opponents are now shown as hypocrites and murderers.
This development in characterization has crucial implications for the
remainder of the narrative. Early in the plot line, embedded within a
healing unit, the death struggle between Jesus and his opponents has
been foreshadowed and initiated. Significantly, this scene in the synagogue will be repeated in Jerusalem during the passion week (11.1227a). In this manner the crucial passion focus invades the miracle
stories at an early point in the story line.
The conclusion of the story (3.7a) confirms this narrative focus on
the opposition of the religious leaders. Jesus' withdrawal with his disciples further symbolizes this controversy. The response of the crowd
is expected within the body, but it has been dislocated by the controversy. Finding no place among religious leaders in the synagogue,
Jesus is welcomed by the crowds along the seashore, the place of
calling and discipleship. In this manner the conclusion casts the
controversy across the narrative as an ongoing event.
Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 3.1-7a reveals a miracle story with the
theme 'Jesus overcomes sickness'. As in Mk 2.1-13a the healing theme
is subordinated to the controversy at the center of the story.
Mk 3.1-7a thus belongs to the sub-class of healing/controversy.1 The
1. Bultmann (History, p. 12) sees here a controversy dialogue occasioned by
Jesus' healing activity. For Bultmann, the saying cannot be separated from the healing.

3. Mark 1.1-3.7a

83

introduction (3.1a) creates the environment for the story through use
of plot recollection and plot initiation. The body of the story (3.1b-6)
employs a digression from the healing to provide developments in plot
and in characterization that will prove important to the larger narrative. Here the tension between Jesus and his opponents is crystallized
as an element central to the entire Gospel of Mark. Mk 3.1-7a initiates
a primary image of Jesus; he is the mighty teacher who dies at the
hands of his opponents.
The effect of this synchronic arrangement is similar to that of Mk
2.1-13. Both the miracle and the controversy are refocused by the
narrative strategy. The healing is no longer an internally focused unit,
but points rather to the conflict between Jesus and his opponents and to
its results. At the same time the controversy is deepened beyond the
proportions of a legal debate over technicalities of the Sabbath law.
Empowered by its linkage to the miracle account, the controversy
story deals now with the issue of human life itself. The story becomes
an ultimate power struggle between Jesus and the powers of death,
between Jesus and the religious authorities of Israel. On one side
stands one who possesses the power and the will to save life, even at
the expense of Sabbath laws. On the other side are critics who possess
the power and the will to defend Sabbath laws, even at the cost of
human life. Mk 3.1-7a intensifies this issue and projects it forward
upon the remainder of the Gospel of Mark.
The miracle story in Mk 3.1-7a plays a decisive role in the larger
characterization of Jesus. The image of Jesus as authoritative
teacher/preacher was initiated in Mk 1.14-15 and given graphic
development throughout the first major section (1.1-3.7a). In the
miracle story of 3.1-7a this authority of Jesus is brought into sharp
conflict with the religious leadership of Israel. Jesus was first accused
of blasphemy (2.7), and now becomes the object of a death plot (3.6).
Both the accusation and the death plot are repeated in Jerusalem near
the end of Jesus' life (14.64; 11.18).
Significantly, both the accusation and the death plot originate in
miracle stories. Because of this miracle stories are inseparably linked
to the passion of Jesus. Thus, the potential dichotomy between the
Instead, this story is an 'organically complete apophthegm'. Dibelius (Tradition,
p. 43) calls the unit a paradigm. Theissen (Miracle Stories, p. 322) calls the story a
rule miracle (Normenwunder).

84

Teaching with Authority

Christ of the miracles and the Christ of the cross is addressed at an


early point in the narrative. As Mk 3.1-7a shows, Jesus' authoritative
teaching is demonstrated in miracle stories, and it is these demonstrations which lead to Jesus' death in Jerusalem.
Extended Synchronic Analysis
The miracle stories of the first major section of the Gospel of Mark
(l.l-3.7a) participate in a coherent and systematic narrative unit.
Synchronic analysis of miracle stories within this extended narrative
unit focuses not only the internal form and function of the stories, but
particularly their interaction within a wider narrative setting. This
movement beyond the form of the isolated genre provides the interpretive key for narrative analysis and sharply distinguishes it from
classic form-critical studies.
The three miracle stories of Mk 1.21-39 create a narrative unity
with a distinct orientation. No layer or combination of layers from the
tradition can account for the ultimate significance of this unit. The
significance of Mk 1.21-39 is ultimately a narrative significance.
Picking up the theme of Mk 1.14-15, the story in Mk 1.21-39 portrays the teaching/preaching of Jesus through demonstrations of
power. The teaching of Jesus brings wonder and amazement from the
crowds, but Jesus' preaching mission exceeds the miracles and the
amazement. At the same time the authority of Jesus' teaching/
preaching is set over against the teaching of the religious leaders.
Thus, the plot line of the narrative is focused from the outset on the
characterization of Jesus as teacher with authority (1.22). Significantly, this focus precedes all miracle activity. This understanding of
Jesus then projects itself upon the three miracle stories which follow.
Thus, the miracle stories of Mk 1.21-39 are no longer self-focused
wonders, but now serve as narrative demonstrations of the portrait of
Jesus set forth in 1.14-15 and in 1.22. Correspondingly, the plot
functions are immediately re-employed toward the primary aim of the
unit: characterization of Jesus as powerful teacher/preacher. At the
same time the plot produces an initial ideal of the discipleship role:
service in response to the ministry of Jesus (1.31).
Within the plotted structures four disciples serve as witnesses to this
crucial interpretation of Jesus and his ministry. Outside of the plotted
structures the implied reader is the key witness to the narrative

3. Mark 1.1-3.7a

85

message of who Jesus is and of what it means to follow Jesus.


The cleansing of the leper in Mk 1.39-45 takes up this portrait of
Jesus' authority and intensifies it. At the same time the tension between
Jesus and the religious authorities surfaces. Jesus takes upon himself
the priestly function of pronouncing the leper clean (1.41), then sends
the leper as a living testimony against the leaders of Israel (1.44). This
story demonstrates the authority of Jesus in direct conflict with those
who keep the altar of Israel. Again, this portrait is a narrative product
generated from the interaction of synchronic narrative elements.
The authority of Jesus and the controversy with Israel are demonstrated with renewed intensity in Mk 2.1-13. Jesus again performs a
priestly function by announcing God's forgiveness of sin. In this
manner the character portrait of Jesus is radically deepened: Jesus has
authority to proclaim God's forgiveness. At the same time the controversy with the religious leaders reaches a new level: Jesus is charged
with blasphemy. Thus, Mk 2.1-13 employs a formal miracle story to
set forth the harsh controversy between Jesus and the religious
authorities. This narrative portrait is confirmed by three controversy
units that follow (Mk 2.13-17, 18-22, 23-28).
This dual movement of plot and characterization reaches a new
level in Mk 3.1-7a. The characterization of Jesus as authoritative
teacher/preacher is intensified in the cleansing of the leper (2.1-13),
and this portrait is demonstrated anew in 3.1-7a. The controversy
with the religious leaders is intensified through 2.1-13, and it climaxes
in 3.1-7a. Jesus performs a third priestly function by ministering on
the Sabbath. Thus, the portrait of Jesus as authoritative proclaimer
reaches full intensity in 3.1-7a, as does the portrait of Jesus' opponents. The response of Jesus' opponents creates a dramatic irony. Jesus
observes the Sabbath by giving life; they observe the Sabbath by
plotting to take life. In this manner the story creates a distinct portrait
of Jesus and his opponents, and it provides a crucial juncture in the
plot of the narrative: the authoritative proclaimer is destined to die at
the hands of his opponents.1

1. J. Dewey ('The Literary Structure of the Controversy Stories in Mark 2 . 1 3.6', JBL 92 [1973], pp. 394-401), argues for a concentric or chiastic structure:
ABCB'A' (Mk 2.1-12, 13-17, 18-22, 23-28; 3.1-6). Dewey sees here a tightlyconstructed unit:

86

Teaching with Authority

Thus, the miracle stories of Mk l.l-3.7a form a coherent


synchronic unity. The preaching keynote of Mk 1.14 is taken up and
developed by the stories of Mk 1.1-3.7a. Jesus' preaching is made
synonymous with his teaching (1.22, 39), and it is demonstrated
through acts of power. Thus, Jesus' preaching is characterized both by
its quality (authority) and by its result (opposition). In l.l-3.7a the
increasing demonstration of Jesus' power is met by a corresponding
increase of opposition.
Conclusion
Mk l.l-3.7a contains six formal miracle stories. While attention to
the morphology of the units reveals a formal base common to all NT
miracle stories, the syntactical operation of these stories produces a
unique narrative portrait. Synchronic analysis unveils the manner in
which these formal miracle stories have undergone a process of narrative transformation which brings them into the service of a coherent
narrative strategy. Central to this strategy are three concerns: (1) the
portrait of Jesus as the mighty proclaimer sent from God, (2) the
growing opposition which leads to Jesus' death, and (3) the ideal for
Christian discipleship. This narrative strategy is an open secret for the
implied reader of the Gospel of Mark. In this manner Mk 1.14 casts
its preaching theme over the entirety of Mk l.l-3.7a. At the same
time l.l-3.7a operates as a whole to define the depth, the direction
and the result of the preaching of Jesus. Thus, the formal miracle

the first two stories have to do with sin; the last two deal with the sabbath law; the
first and last stories deal with resurrection-type healings; the second and fourth with
eating; and the middle one with fasting and crucifixion. This pattern is seen not only in
content, but in details of structure, form, and language (pp. 398-99).

Dewey argues that an allusion to the crucifixion in 2.20 is the center of the middle
story (2.18-22) and of the entire controversy section. In this manner, the conflict is
linked to the death of Jesus. Dewey concludes that:
Mark employed the conflict stories theologically to place Jesus' life in the context of
his death, and he used them in his narrative construction to show how Jesus' death
historically was to come about (p. 400).

Dewey's attempt to place this structure in the conscious intent of Mark is misdirected. In addition, Dewey's focus on crucifixion in 2.20 is excessive. In contrast, a
climactic focus on the death of Jesus is found in 3.6 in a miracle story.

3. Mark 1.1-3.7a

87

stories of l.l-3.7a play a decisive role in the characterization of Jesus.


Through the strategic use of miracle stories the characterization of
Jesus as the wondrous, powerful proclaimer who dies at the hands of
his opponents becomes the central focus of the narrative.
In this manner the miracle stories of Mk l.l-3.7a create a
synchronic, narrative portrait with an immense primacy effect. The
character and plot lines initiated by this unit will play an increasingly
significant role in the remainder of the narrative.

Chapter 4
MARK 3.7-6.6
The second major unit of the Gospel of Mark extends from 3.7-6.6
and contains four miracle stories. Synchronic analysis will be undertaken for each of these miracle stories, then their role within the
extended unit of Mk 3.7-6.6 will be considered. Particular attention
will be given to the role of the miracle stories in the characterization
of Jesus.
Mark 3.7-13a: Healings and Exorcisms
While Mk 3.7-12 is generally taken as the limits of this story, the
proper narrative conclusion is provided by the departure of the
miracle worker in 3.13a. Thus, Mk 3.7-13a is analysed as a narrative
whole and may be plotted in the following manner:
Introduction
Miracle worker comes
Crowd comes

3.7-8
3.7a
3.7b-8

Body
Miracle worker commands
Miracle worker heals
Victims respond
Miracle worker commands

3.9-12
3.9
3.10a
3.10b-11
3.12

Conclusion
Miracle worker departs

3.13a
3.13a

Narrative Morphology
The introduction of the unit (3.7-8) employs two motifs. 'The miracle
worker comes' (3.7a) again presents the four disciples as witnesses to
Jesus' ministry. Their presence provides a strong narrative link to
previous mention of the disciples (1.16-20, 29, 36). Further, this

4. Mark 3.7-6.6

89

motif provides a transition in the narrative settingfrom synagogue


to seashore.
The second motif of the introduction is 'the crowd comes' (3.7b-8).
This motif initiates the local plot action of 3.7-13a, but it also provides a portrait of the growing popularity of Jesus. The response of
the crowd is built on the report which they have heard of Jesus' deeds.
This report went out in Mk 1.28 and 1.45, and the people respond
from everywhere in Mk 3.7-8. Thus, the coming of the crowd to Jesus
links the local plot action of 3.7-13a to the previous activity of Jesus
inMkl.l-3.7a.
The body of the story (3.9-12) employs four motifs. The initial
motif, 'the miracle worker commands' (3.9), is an unusual preface to
the plot action of a miracle story. Here the command portrays Jesus'
precaution against the crowds lest they crush him. Thus, the plot
action is prefaced by a cautionary distancing motif.
The second motif of the body, 'the miracle worker heals' (3.10a),
presents a summary of the healing activity of Jesus'he healed many'.
This truncated presentation assumes an awareness of the full description of miracle activity provided in l.l-3.7a. The primary focus falls
instead on the motif 'the victims respond' (3.10b-ll). In 3.10a, the
emphasis falls not on the healing activity but on its result. In response
to Jesus' healing, many sick ones press upon him to be touched by
him. In this manner the precaution of the boat (3.9) proves justified.
The healing story now serves as a source of confusion and dangera
danger foreseen by Jesus.
The exorcisms are treated in a similar manner, with the focus
entirely upon the response of the possessed. Even as the sick 'fall
upon' Jesus (7U7U7iTiv) in 3.10, so the possessed 'fall before' Jesus
(rcpoaeTUTCTOv) in 3.11. In addition, they scream out a new description of Jesus: 'you are the Son of God' (3.11). The disciples and the
implied reader are witnesses to this proclamation of Jesus' identity.
Again the miracle activity creates a state of confusion which justifies
the preparation of the boat in 3.9.
The central plot action closes as it beganwith a command from
Jesus which distances him from the miracle activity. The motif 'the
miracle worker commands' (3.12) provides a narrative suppression of
the exorcisms and the resulting proclamation. What is suppressed is
not the proclamation itself, since disciples and the implied reader witness the outcry and the narrator proleptically confirms the validity of

90

Teaching with Authority

the title Son of God (1.1). What is unacceptable to the narrative strategy of the Gospel of Mark is not the description of Jesus as Son of
God (1.1; 15.39), but the linkage of the title to miracle activity. The
title is consistently suppressed within the narrative until it may be
properly linked to the death of Jesus on the cross (15.39). The validity
of 'Son of God' remains intact to the implied reader, for the title is
able to reveal who Jesus is (avxbv (potvepov in 3.12). At the same
time the implied reader and the disciples are led to understand that
miracle activity does not reveal the full identity of the Son of God.
This narrative guide to interpretation originates in the command of
Jesus (3.12), thus magnifying the voice of the narrator.
The conclusion of the story employs a single motif, 'the miracle
worker departs' (3.13a). This motif provides a new direction through
its shift in geographical setting (from seashore to mountainside).
Narrative Syntax
Beyond their role as compositional elements in a formal miracle story
the syntactical operation of the motifs of Mk 3.7-13a is noteworthy.
The introduction (3.7-8) links the story to previous mention of the
disciples. The transition from synagogue to seashore is also crucial.
Beyond its local function in plot orientation the seashore setting provides strong links to the previous narrative. In 1.16-20 the seashore is
the place of calling to discipleship. The seashore imagery is the place
of instruction in 2.13, and it serves as a preface to the calling of Levi
(2.13-17). Thus, the seashore setting in the Gospel of Mark consistently evokes narrative images of calling and discipleship (1.16-20;
2.13-14; 3.7-8; 4.1-2; 5.21). This imagery originates in the distinct
narrative strategy of the Gospel of Mark. Most attempts at narrative
analysis fail to understand this function of the seaside setting. Rhoads
and Michie present only the negative, chaotic function of the sea.1 For
Kelber the sea represents the stormy barrier that separates Jews and
Gentiles. 2 Robert Fowler discusses the role of the sea calming as a
backdrop for further stories in the Gospel of Mark.3
The mention of the seaside in Mk 3.7 invokes the imagery of
1. Rhoads and Michie, Mark as Story, p. 66.
2. Kelber, Mark's Story of Jesus. Kelber allows a more positive role for the
seashore on p. 25.
3. R. Fowler, Loaves and Fishes: The Function of the Feeding Stories in the
Gospel of Mark (SBLDS, 54; Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1981), pp. 170-79.

4. Mark 3.7-6.6

91

discipleship and creates the expectation of a calling story. The naming


of the Twelve in 3.13-19 fulfills this expectation. Thus, 'the miracle
worker comes' plays an important role in the orientation of the story.
As in Mk l.l-3.7a the new section in Mk 3.7-6.6a opens with a concerted focus on the issue of discipleship. Beyond its local role in providing transition in setting and in plot, the opening motif provides the
thematic orientation for the material which follows: Jesus the miracle
worker is first of all the mighty teacher who calls disciples to follow
in his way.
In this manner the introduction of the story (3.7-8) establishes
important links to the first section of the Gospel of Mark (1.1-3.7a),
then it casts the theme of discipleship forward upon the new section
(3.7-6.6). At the same time Jesus is presented in terms of a new,
increased level of popularity with the crowds.
The syntactical operation of the body of the story (3.9-12) is also
important for the reading of the narrative. While the unit is more than
a summary, the miracle activity is presented in an unfocused manner.
Instead, the confusion and danger which result from the miracle
activity are stressed. Further, two commands from Jesus bracket this
unusual presentation of miracle activity. In the first (3.9) Jesus
prepares to withdraw from the confusion and threat which the miracle
activity creates. In the second command (3.12) Jesus attempts to
minimize the result of the miracle activity. Thus, the miracle element
of the story is bracketed by two commands from Jesus which distance
the results of miracle activity. This technique provides an interpretive
guide by which the disciples as well as the implied reader are to
understand the wonders of Jesus.
The conclusion (3.13a) also serves a vital syntactical role. The
geographical shiftfrom seashore to mountainsideprovides a new
direction for the story line. Surprisingly, the boat is not employed in
the withdrawal. Instead Jesus ascends into the mountains. This transition not only alters the setting of the story, but also provides a sharp
ideological reorientation.1 The onrush, danger and confusion of the
miracle story is replaced by the solitude of the mountainside calling to
discipleship. Following close upon the suppression of the hysteria of
miracle activity is a new focus: the call to be with Jesus and to go out
in service (3.14-15). Here the themes of preaching and authority
1. Rhoads and Michie (Mark as Story, pp. 66-67) point to the narrative
function of the mountain as a setting of both refuge and of revelation.

92

Teaching with Authority

which dominated the portrait of Jesus in Mk 1.1-3.7a are transferred


to the disciples (3.14-15). The implied reader is witness to this
narrative reorientation.
Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 3.7-13a reveals an example of the miracle
story genre whose dual thematic orientation'Jesus overcomes sickness and demons'places the unit in the sub-class of healing/
exorcism.1 While the formal elements of Mk 3.7-13a are common to
the miracle story genre, the syntactical operation of the motifs creates
a distinct orientation. The miracle activity which provides the central
plot action of the story becomes the source of confusion and threat
(3.10-11). Further, this miracle activity is bracketed by two commands from Jesus which suppress the results of the miracles. In addition, the departure to the mountainside provides a sharply contrasting
reorientation toward the calling to discipleship (3.13-19). Thus,
miracle activity is again refocused by the strategy of the narrative.
Synchronic analysis of Mk 3.7-13a reveals a clear narrative strategy
focused around the characterization of Jesus. While miracles are
employed to construct this portrait, the focus of the miracle activity
has been redirected. These mighty deeds become demonstrations of
the divine power present in Jesus' teaching. This mighty teacher calls
disciples to follow him, the Son of God. The unit is preceded and
1. Form critics are almost unanimous in their evaluation of this unit as a
summary. Bultmann (History, p. 341) sees this as a summarizing description of the
healing activity of Jesus. Dibelius (Tradition, p. 224) finds here a collective note
which generalizes a number of cases. For V. Taylor (The Gospel according to St
Mark [New York: St Martin's Press, 2nd edn, 1966], pp. 225-26) the unit is an
editorial summary compiled from primitive testimony. For Theissen (Miracle Stories,
p. 48) this is an independent summary built through expansion of the variant motif
of attracting the public. While the summarizing function of the unit must not be overlooked, neither must the narrative context in which the material operates. In Mk 3.713a, the description has specific temporal and geographical location. In addition, the
unit employs a sequence of events, and not simply a reference to typical events.
Thus, the generalizing description operates within the Gospel of Mark as a miracle
story and not simply as a miracle summary. Significantly, the blurring tendency of
the description now functions within the narrative to limit the event of the miracles
and to highlight the response which they create. This provides a further example of
the process of metamorphosis in the function of a literary unit when placed within a
new literary setting.

4. Mark 3.7-6.6

93

followed by the imagery of discipleship, the miracles are discretely


narrated, and the result of the miracles is reduced. In this manner the
miracles demonstrate the power of Jesus' teaching, but they are not
allowed to give the definitive portrait of his identity. This balanced
narrative strategy has proved to be a consistent one that operates
widely upon the miracle stories in the Gospel of Mark.
Mark 4.35-5 J: Driving Back the Chaos
While Mk 4.35-41 provides the traditional limits of the story, the
proper narrative conclusion is accomplished by the departure of the
miracle worker in 5.1. Thus, Mk 4.35-5.1 will be treated as a
coherent narrative unit.
Introduction
Miracle worker comes

435-36

Body

437-41

Opponent presented
Miracle worker commands
Opponent departs
Miracle worker questions
Disciples respond

4.37-38
4.39a
4.39b
4.40
4.41

Conclusion
Miracle worker departs

5.7
5.1

4.35-36

Narrative Morphology
The introduction of the unit employs a single motif, 'the miracle
worker comes' (4.35-36). This motif provides transition in the
temporal and geographical setting (from a day on the seashore in 4.12 to a night on the sea). A change in audience is also provided (from
crowds to disciples). In addition, this transition provides a narrative
sense of movement: Jesus 'leaves' the crowds and is 'received' into the
boat in order that they may 'cross over' to the other side. Thus, the
introduction links the story to the prior teaching activity (4.1-34), and
it prepares for the action that follows in the body the story.
The body of the story (4.37-41) employs five motifs and contains
the central plot action. 'The opponent presented' (4.37-38) is unusual.
Here the opponent is the chaos of the sea rather than demons, sickness

94

Teaching with Authority

or religious authorities. Significantly, this sea story employs the


imagery of an exorcism.
The story takes on further characteristics of an exorcism in
the motif 'the miracle worker commands' (4.39a). Jesus rebukes
(e7tiTi(xdco) the wind and commands the sea to be muzzled (cpi^ioco).
Both words were employed against the demon in Mk 1.21-29a. Thus,
the command of Jesus accomplishes an exorcism of the sea storm with
its forces of chaos, fear and death. 'The opponent departs' (4.39b)
demonstrates the success of Jesus' command to the sea. The calm
which follows again evokes the imagery of an exorcism through the
calming of the victim, as in Mk 5.15.
The motif 'the miracle worker questions' (4.40) is addressed
directly to the disciples. Previously Jesus' questions within miracle
stories were addressed to his opponents (2.8b-9; 3.4a); here a similar
tension is narrated between Jesus and his disciples. The cowardice
(SeiAoq) of the disciples is taken as a sign that they do not yet have
faith. Thus, the central plot actionthe calming of the storm
produces an unexpected result: it reveals the lack of faith of the
disciples, creating a level of opposition between Jesus and his closest
followers.
The motif 'the disciples respond' (4.41) is marked by a different
type of fear ((poPoq). While this term may continue the negative
image of the disciples, it possibly presents the fear which marks those
who experience the power or presence of God.1 The verbal response
of the disciples seems to confirm that this is an epiphanic fear: they
discuss the identity and the power of Jesus. Thus, the ultimate focus of
the story is on the identity of Jesus.
The conclusion of the story employs a single motif: 'The miracle
worker departs' (5.1). This motif provides simple closure to the unit,
1. For an extensive treatment of this issue, see W. Stacy, 'Fear in the Gospel of
Mark' (unpublished PhD dissertation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,
1979). For Stacy (pp. 194-97) the fear of 4.41 is a Markan attempt to demonstrate
the failure of the disciples to grasp the true identity of Jesus on the basis of miracles
alone. In a similar manner Kelber (Mark's Story, p. 31) understands the fear to
signify panic-stricken failure on the part of the disciples. The evaluation of Rhoads
and Michie (Mark as Story, p. 90) is more sympathetic. In contrast to these views,
the fear of Mk 4.41 may be seen in terms of the imagery of OT epiphanies. For this
view, see E. Lohmeyer, Das Evangelium nach Markus (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck &
Ruprecht, 1953), p. 105, and J. Gnilka, Das Evangelium nach Markus (EKKNT;
Zurich: Benzinger Verlag, 1978), I, p. 217.

4. Mark 3.7-6.6

95

but it also links the story to the exorcism which follows in the Gentile
region of Geresa (5.1-21a). Here the creative power of Jesus to call
forth a new community will be fully demonstrated.
Narrative Syntax
The motifs of Mk 4.35-5.1 participate in a distinct narrative syntax.
The introductory motif (4.35-36) links the story to Jesus' teaching
(4.1-34) and prepares for the central plot action in the body of the
story.
The body of the story (4.37-41) employs the sea crossing to
generate a distinct character focus on Jesus and on the disciples.
Significantly, the opponent is the chaotic sea rather than demons, sickness or religious authorities. The sea is a pregnant term which evokes
a wealth of metaphorical imagery. In particular, the sea embodies the
chaos which was driven back in the creation account (Gen. 1). Within
a Jewish world-view the sea is also the home of great, unknown
powers of evil and destruction (Job 41). Thus, the sea is for Jewish
thought a place of fear and dread.1 The storm upon the sea in Mk
4.35-5.1 evokes these various images from the world of Jewish
thought. The darkness which accompanies the journey intensifies this
portrait. 2 Here the imagery is almost demonic: a great wind which
beats (eKifiaXXco) upon the boat and threatens to submerge it (4.37).
In this manner the sea storm presents itself as the opponent to be
overcome in the story.3 At the same time the disciples present the
storm to Jesus as a death threat upon their lives (4.38). Thus, this
double presentation of the opponent evokes a number of images of
opposition: chaos, beastly power, fear and death.
Significantly, the term by which the disciples address Jesus in their
fear is 'teacher' (8t5daKccXe in 4.38). This direct address (vocative)
recalls the extensive portrait of Jesus in Mk l.l-3.7a as one who
teaches with authority. At the same time the title evokes the teaching
activity of 4.1-34. Thus, the miracle activity is preceded by the
1. For extensive references, see Kertelge, Die Wunder Jesu, p. 95 n. 340;
Schenke, Wundererzdhlungen, pp. 66-67; Pesch, Markusevangelium, I, p. 272
n. 72.
2. Pesch, Markusevangelium, I, p. 268, sees the darkness as part of the
creation imagery.
3. On sea demons in the ancient world, see Schenke, W under erzdhlungen,
p. 65 n. 213.

96

Teaching with Authority

naming of Jesus as teacher, and it is as teacher that the disciples ask


Jesus to save them.
In this manner the narrative concern for characterization of Jesus
emerges once again. The story portrays Jesus here in terms of the
amazing power of Yahweh. The sea story recalls two mighty works of
God: rolling back the chaotic waters of creation and rolling back the
seas of the Exodus to create the community of Israel. This creative
power is now displayed in the activity of Jesus, the one who calms the
sea (4.35-5.1) and calls forth a new community (5.1-20, 21-43; 6.6b8.30). 1 Thus, the story infuses the character portrait of Jesus the
teacher with a new level of authority: Jesus is the one in whom the
creative power of Yahweh is now at work. Through this power Jesus
will call forth the new community of faith.
In this manner the motifs of the body (4.37-41) combine to create a
concerted focus on Christology and on discipleship. The wonder is
one of revelation: it reveals the true identity and power of Jesus, and
it reveals the lack of faith of those who accompany Jesus.
The concluding motif (5.1) provides closure, but also links the
crossing to the exorcism story which follows (5.1-21a). Here the
creative power demonstrated in the crossing is used to call forth a new
community.
Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 4.35-5.1 reveals an example of the miracle
story genre whose thematic orientation'Jesus overcomes the
chaos'is extraordinary. The calming of the sea is narrated throughout with the terms and images of an exorcism. This combination of a
non-human opponent and the exorcism pattern classifies the unit as a
special form of exorcism story.2
1. Kelber (Mark's Story, pp. 30-42) particularly emphasizes the narrative function of the sea stories in Jesus' creation of a new community of faith.
2. Bultmann (History, pp. 215-16) identifies the story as a nature miracle. This
description is based on a distinction between human and non-human forces that
originates in modern psychology. Ironically, this distinction has become a form-critical canon: nature miracles are less likely to be historical because they deal with natural forces. This canon collapses under the weight of its own presuppositions. Within
the narrative strategyand likely within the mind of the implied readerno distinction is made between the forces that possess a human and the forces that possess the
sea. This is demonstrated further in 5.1-21a, where the same demonic forces occupy
a man, a herd of swine and, symbolically, an entire geographical region. Dibelius

4. Mark 3.7-6.6

97

Significantly, the story is built around an understanding of Jesus as


teacher (4.1-34; 4.38), and extensive imagery is employed from the
OT. At the same time the miracle points beyond itself to focus two
issues which are crucial to the narrativewho Jesus is and what it
means to follow Jesus. The miracle activity results in a new level of
revelation for the implied reader: Jesus is now revealed as one in
whom the creative power of God is at work. Likewise, the story
reveals the lack of faith among the disciples. In this manner the
miracle account of 4.35-5.1 is subsumed as a functional element in a
larger narrative strategy that focuses on the identity of Jesus and on
the demands of discipleship.
The literary portrait which results involves an ongoing negotiation
among tradition, redactor, narrative world and reader. Though constructed from various stages of the history of the tradition, the
portrait which emerges is ultimately a literary portrait generated by a
distinct narrative strategy. Thus, Mk 4.35-5.1 employs a formal
miracle story to portray Jesus as the mighty teacher in whom the
creative power of Yahweh is at work. At the same time the story
portrays Jesus' followers as fearful and faithless.
Mark 5.1-2la: The Gerasene Demoniac
Mk 5.1-20 is generally taken as the parameters of this story, yet the
proper narrative conclusion is provided by the departure of the
miracle worker in 5.21a. Synchronic analysis will investigate this
miracle story, giving particular attention to its role in the characterization of Jesus. The motifs of Mk 5.1-21 a present the following
pattern:
Introduction

Miracle worker comes

5.7
5.1

Body
Opponent presented
Miracle worker questions
Opponent responds
Miracle worker responds

5.2-20
5.2-8
5.9a
5.9b-12
5.13a

(Tradition, p. 71, 81) sees the unit as a Novelle which focuses on the identity of
Jesus as a thaumaturge. Theissen (Miracle Stories, p. 321) labels the story as a
rescue miracle.

98

Teaching with Authority


Opponent responds
Crowd responds
Victim responds
Miracle worker commands
Victim responds

5.13b
5.14-17
5.18
5.19
5.20

Conclusion
Miracle worker departs

521a
5.21a

Narrative Morphology
The introduction of the story employs a single motif, 'the miracle
worker comes' (5.1). This motif completes the journey begun in 4.1-2
and continued in 4.35. Beyond providing the transition necessary for
continued plot development, the introductory motif places Jesus in the
land of the Gentiles. This is the first venture of Jesus outside of Jewish
domain, and his activity among the Gentiles in Gerasa will prove
crucial to the narrative. The entrance employs a plural verb (f|A,0ov),
thus bringing forward the disciples from 4.35-40 to serve as
witnesses.
The body of the story (5.2-20) is complex, employing ten motifs.
The initial motif of the body is 'the opponent presented' (5.2-7). This
detailed presentation of the opponent is crucial to the orientation of
the unit. As in other exorcisms victim and opponent are intertwined.
Here the opponent is presented as a man, but a man possessed (5.2).
The description of the victim/opponent is graphic: he is unclean; he
lives in the tombs; he is bound hand and foot, but breaks the chains; he
cannot be tamed; he cries day and night in the tombs and in the hills;
he cuts himself with stones (5.2-7). This narrative description is
followed by the self-presentation of the victim/opponent (5.6-8).
Seeing Jesus from a distance he runs and bows before him. In
response to Jesus' command to exit the demonic voice cries out for
relief from torment (5.7). In doing so Jesus is named as the Son of
God (5.7). This graphic presentation of the victim/opponent provides
the ideological setting for the story. To the Jewish observer no
sharper portrait of desolation could be narrated. The uncleanness of
the Gentile land is compounded by the presence of the deranged, tormented tomb-dweller shrieking through the darkness. It is against this
narrative backdrop that Jesus is proclaimed Son of God and here that
his power will be tested to the utmost.
The presentation of the victim/opponent is followed by a series of

4. Mark 3.7-6.6

99

dialogues in which Jesus confronts various respondents. In the first of


the dialogues, 'the miracle worker responds' (5.9a), Jesus asks the
name of the victim/opponent. While implying a note of mercy, the
naming of an opponent also brings power over that opponent in
ancient thought. The motif 'the opponent responds' (5.9b-12)
intensifies the darkness of the character portrait of the victim/
opponent: Jesus is confronted not by a single demon, but by a host or
mob of possessing powers. This portrait is further intensified for the
Jewish mind when the demons request a new home in the grazing
swine. The desire of the demons to dwell in tombs and in swine
magnifies the unclean, desperate, tormented image which they present.
The presence of the grazing swine is noted (5.11), then the request is
placed in the form of direct speech (5.12). 'The miracle worker
responds' (5.13a) is brief and direct'and he permitted them'. The
subsequent response of the opponent (5.13b) is the ultimate revelation
of the violent, deranged, unclean madness which occupies the victim.
The swine are possessed by the demons, then cast headlong into the
sea. The depth of their evil and the depth of their destruction is
unsurpassed: unclean spirits flee into unclean swine and the demonic
mob is swallowed into the depths of the mysterious, chaotic sea. This
is a mass exorcism unsurpassed in its depth and its intensity.
Through the motif 'the crowd responds' (5.14-17), the impact of
the exorcism is spread to the surrounding community. Through word
of mouth (5.14a), then through personal contact (5.14b-15), the
Gerasenes become witnesses to the event. The scene they witness provides a sharp contrast to the deranged demoniac: the possessed man
sits clothed and in his right mind. Two significant elements result
from the experience of the witnesses: they fear (5.15) and they request
Jesus to leave (5.17). Thus, the communal experience of the exorcism
creates a communal response. While the fear may have a positive,
epiphanic sense, the request for Jesus to depart makes the response of
the crowd a negative one.1
The dialogues then narrow to the conversation between Jesus and
the healed demoniac. In 'the victim responds' (5.18), the victim
responds to his healing by requesting to accompany Jesus on his
journey. He asks Jesus that he might 'be with him' (ivcc jLtex* CCOTOO) f|
in 5.18). In Mk 3.14 Jesus appoints twelve who are to 'be with him'
1.

So also Stacy, 'Fear', p. 136.

100

Teaching with Authority

(iva coaiv \i&z' auTou). This is the first task of discipleship. Thus, the
healed demoniac in 5.18 is asking to follow Jesus as his disciple. Jesus
answers this request in 'the miracle worker commands' (5.19). The
request to go with Jesus is replaced by Jesus' command that the victim
go instead to his own house and to his own people. There he is to
announce to them what the Lord had done and how he had received
mercy. While the victim is denied the first task given to disciples in
3.14, he is commanded to fulfill the second taskbeing sent out by
Jesus (3.14). In the final motif of the dialogues the victim responds by
going out to 'preach' (KT|p\iaaeiv in 5.20) in the region of the
Decapolis. People respond to the victim's preaching as they did to the
preaching of Jesusthey are amazed (0an.peoM.oci in 1.27; Qav\ia^to
in 5.20). Thus, the victim embodies the role of disciple to Jesus.
Though his being with Jesus is limited to a brief encounter, he is then
sent by Jesus to preach to his community. The itinerant proclamation
of this victim-become-disciple extends the reach of the story; the
exorcism of unsurpassed magnitude is now spread to the entire
region.1
This detailed portrait of the healed demoniac in Mk 5.1-21a
presents a vital new image of the ministry of Jesus. Formerly limited
to activity among the Jews, Jesus now encounters the darkest side of
evil on Gentile soil. Jesus not only overcomes this demonic host; he
then calls the healed victim into the service of discipleship. Thus, the
exorcism is extended to an ultimate depth. At the same time the local
people witness the events and the entire region hears the preaching of
the victim, extending the outward reach of the story. Thus, this
compact story is magnified into a crucial, pivotal narrative event with
vital significance for the ideological orientation of the entire Gospel.
The conclusion of the story employs a single motif, 'the miracle
worker departs' (5.21a). The geographical and ideological transition
to the Jewish side of the lake is accomplished, providing the setting
for the following story.
Narrative Syntax
In addition to their role as compositional elements in a formal miracle
story, the motifs of Mk 5.1-21 a one shaped by the narrative syntax.
1. So also Kelber (Mark's Story, pp. 31-32) who understands the exorcism in
Mk 5.1-21a to be of programmatic significance: 'Gentile territory is cleansed as a
matter of principle, and Gentiles are acceptable in the Kingdom of God'.

4. Mark 3.7-6.6

101

The introduction (5.1) links the story to the prior material by taking
up the concept of the journey (4.1-2, 35; 5.1). At the same time the
introduction places Jesus within a new environmentthe unclean
region of the Gentiles.
The body of the story (5.2-20) is built on a complex of ten motifs.
Following the presentation of the unsurpassed evil which inhabits the
region (5.2-7), Jesus is occupied by a series of dialogues. These
dialogues center around the words of Jesus. Jesus questions and the
demoniac responds (5.9-12). When Jesus rebukes (5.13a), the demons
depart (5.13b), the crowd responds (5.14-17) and the victim responds
(5.18). Jesus commands and the victim obeys (5.19-20). The absence
of a healing action places the words of Jesus at the center of the
healing story. This series of dialogues confirms the authority of Jesus'
proclamation. At his command demons are cast out, crowds are astonished and healed demoniacs proclaim the mercy of God.
The narrative syntax extends this exorcism into a communal event
which occupies the entire region. Through the response of the crowd
(5.14-17) the inhabitants of the region are called to witness the healing. In addition, the healed victim obeys the command of Jesus and
preaches throughout the region (5.19-20). In this manner the exorcism becomes a paradigmatic event which is witnessed and experienced by the entire population. Thus, the body of the unit completes
the conversion of the hostile environmentthe land of unspeakable
evil experiences the power and the proclamation of Jesus.
The story concludes with a single motif (5.21a). This completes the
plot action and returns the narrative to the Jewish environment.
Mk 5.1-2la also plays a decisive role in the orientation of the larger
narrative. Significantly the story moves Jesus across the sea, into the
land of the Gentiles. There he is confronted by the most dramatic
presentation of evil and unclean madness. There Jesus is also proclaimed Son of God (5.7). Jesus' ability to overcome this unsurpassed
evil raises his characterization to a new level of authority. At the same
time the report of Jesus breaks out not simply within a Gentile region,
but throughout that region. Further, the evil one is transformed into a
disciple. This demonstrates the incredible power of Jesus, but it also
presents a new understanding of discipleship. The disciple mold is
broken and recast by the story in Mk 5.1-21a.
In this manner Mk 5.1-21a demonstrates the portrait of Jesus shown
in 4.35-5.la. When Jesus calms the chaotic sea (4.35-5.la), he is

102

Teaching with Authority

shown to be the one in whom the overwhelming, creative power of


Yahweh is at work. In 5.1-21a, the creative power of God works in
Jesus to drive forth the evil from the land and to create a new
environmentan environment of mercy (5.19) and of discipleship
(5.18-20). The entire region is witness to this powerful and creative
act (5.14-17, 20). Thus, the power of God is demonstrated anew when
Jesus drives back the forces of evil and chaos to create a new
environment in which faith may dwell.
Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 5.1-21a reveals an example of the miracle
story genre whose thematic orientation* Jesus overcomes demons'
places it in the sub-class of exorcism.1 Beyond its formal characteristics the syntactical operation of the unit is of supreme importance for
the narrative constructions of the Gospel of Mark. Jesus' journey is
extended to the Gentile environment. Jesus' awesome power demonstrated in the crossing now casts out the evil from a Gentile land. A
new, intensified focus is given to the characterization of Jesus: he is
the one in whom the power of Yahweh is at work. In him the barrier
between Jews and Gentiles is crossed and a Gentile region is cleansed.
Jesus creates a new community of faith. From this event emerges a
new model for discipleship. In this manner the formal miracle story
in Mk 5.1-21a creates a powerful demonstration of the mission and
identity of Jesus.
Mark 5.21-6.1 a: Healing Two Daughters
While Mark 5.21-43 is usually taken as the limits of this story, the
proper narrative conclusion is provided by the departure of the
miracle worker in 6.1a. The motifs of Mk 5.21-6.1a may be plotted
in the following manner:

1. Bultmann (History, pp. 210-11) labels this unit a healing miracle. Dibelius
(History, p. 71) classifies the story as a Novelle. Theissen (Miracle Stones, p. 321)
calls the story an exorcism.

103

4. Mark 3.7-6.6
Introduction
Miracle worker comes

521a

Body

521b-43

5.21a

Crowd comes
Opponent presented
Miracle worker departs
Crowd departs
Opponent presented
Miracle worker heals
Miracle worker questions
Disciples respond
Miracle worker questions
Victim responds
Miracle worker responds
Opponent presented
Miracle worker responds
Crowd responds
Miracle worker comes
Miracle worker heals
Narrator intrudes
Victim responds
Narrator intrudes
Crowd responds
Miracle worker commands

5.21b, c
5.22-23
5.24a
5.24b
5.25-28
5.29
5.30
5.31
5.32
5.33
5.34
5.35
5.36-39
5.40a
5.40b, c
5.41a
5.41b
5.42a
5.42b
5.42c
5.43

Conclusion
Miracle worker departs

6.1a
6.1a

Narrative Morphology
Synchronic analysis of Mk 5.21-6.la reveals a complex intermingling
of two miracle stories. The two units exert significant influence upon
each other, creating a unique narrative portrait of Jesus and his
ministry.
The introduction of the story (5.21a) employs a single motif, 'the
miracle worker comes'. This motif links the story to prior activity in
Gerasa (5.1-20), giving continuity to the plot action. More important,
the boat trip returns Jesus to the Jewish side of the sea. This provides
both the geographical and the ideological setting for the story which
follows.1
1. Kelber {Mark's Story, pp. 32-33) emphasizes that the narrative world of the
story is highly Jewish.

104

Teaching with Authority

The coming of the crowd (5.21b, c) initiates the body of the story
(5.21b-43). This motif adds little to the plot action, but it proves
important for the ideological orientation of the story. This is a Jewish
group, recalling the curiosity of the crowds which have previously
attended Jesus. In addition, Jesus confronts the crowd beside the sea.
Previous narrative developments make the seaside the place of teaching and of calling to discipleship (1.16-20; 2.13-14; 3.7-8; 4.1-2).
This pattern of repetition is significant for the ideological setting of
the narrative, and the implied reader learns to read its meaning. Prior
to the miracle activity of the unit, the story is cast within the interpretive context of teaching and of discipleship. This ideological setting
links the unit to the understanding of Jesus presented in prior material, and it provides the proper orientation from which to understand
the two miracles.
The second motif of the body is 'the opponent presented' (5.22-23).
This complex presentation of the victim further defines the ideological
context of the story. The victim is a 'daughter' who needs to be
'saved' (5.23). Here the opponent is sickness and the threat of death
(5.23). This daughter has one who serves as an advocatea Jewish
father of power (ruler of the synagogue) and reputation (known by
name). This advocate falls at the feet of Jesus to present his daughter's
need and to plead for her life. This presentation of the opponent initiates the first line of plot action, and it defines the parameters of the
story: this is the presentation of a thoroughly Jewish need and of
Jesus' response to that need.
Unlike other stories the opponent or victim is not present and Jesus
must go to the place of need; this results in the unusual location of the
motif 'the miracle worker departs' (5.24a). The early insertion of this
motif develops the first line of plot action (healing Jairus' daughter),
but it also provides the opportunity for the introduction of the second
line of plot action (the healing of the woman). This transitional motif
is accompanied by a complementary motif'the crowd departs'
(5.24b). This motif transports the entire audience to the scene of the
healing of the woman with the issue of blood; there they serve as witnesses. The crowd also serves as a necessary plot element in the presentation of the second line of action (5.31): they press upon Jesus
(5.24b), and this provides the occasion for the response of the
disciples (5.31).

4. Mark 3.7-6.6

105

The departure of Jesus and the crowd occasions the second line of
plot actionthe healing of the woman with the issue of blood (5.2534). While they journey the woman approaches Jesus with the hope of
being healed. "The opponent presented' (5.25-28) provides a graphic
portrait of the woman in her need. The woman is portrayed in terms
of her desperation: her sickness is described by its duration (twelve
years) and by its degree (incurable) in 5.25-26. The woman is also
portrayed in terms of her hope: her approach to Jesus is motivated by
the hope that in touching his garment she will be 'saved' (5.27-28).
This discrete self-presentation of the woman results in her healing
(5.29). The healing motif in 5.29 is most unusual because it is
inadvertent. Jesus is unaware of the need and he responds only to the
result of the healing. Because of this narrative twist the focus falls not
on a healing act but on the faith which produced the healing.
This inadvertent healing is followed by 'the miracle worker questions' (5.30). Here the question is addressed to the crowd, and it
implies anger or rebuke. Within the narrative grammar of the Gospel
of Mark, anger is implied by Jesus 'turning' (ejciaxpecpco in 5.30; 8.33)
and by his 'looking about' (7cepiP?le7co|xai in 3.5; 5.32). The disciples
respond to Jesus' question with amazement, noting the press of the
crowd (5.24, 5.31). The story ignores the response of the disciples
and repeats the motif 'the miracle worker questions' (5.32). Here the
verbal question is replaced by a visual probe.
The questioning of Jesus leads at last to the open self-presentation of
the woman in the motif 'the victim responds' (5.33). With fear and
trembling the woman falls before Jesus and tells him the whole truth.
The expected rebuke from Jesus does not materialize. In its place Jesus
responds with a pronouncement of acceptance and healing (5.34). The
woman is addressed as a daughter whose faith has brought salvation
and wholeness. She is sent on her way in peace.
At this point the second line of plot action concludes, and the story
returns to the initial line of action (the daughter of Jairus). Again the
journey links the two stories. The initial line of action is recovered by
the second presentation of the initial opponent (5.35). This second
presentation also involves an intensification. While the opponent was
sickness and the threat of death in 5.22-23, in 5.35 the opponent is the
reality of death. Significantly Jesus is addressed in the face of death as
8iSacncata), 'teacher' (5.35). This renews and reinforces the presentation of Jesus as teacher with authority, especially from 4.1-34 and

106

Teaching with Authority

4.38, and this portrait impacts the presentation of Jesus as miracle


worker in 5.21-6.1a.
'The miracle worker responds' (5.36-39) is a complex motif which
completes the journey and its activity in order to bring Jesus at last to
the daughter. Jesus' command to Jairus picks up two crucial themes
from the healing of the woman with the issue of blood: fear (5.33, 36)
and faith (5.34, 36). Jesus also responds by leaving the crowd behind;
only Peter, James and John are allowed to follow.1 The third mode of
response by Jesus is to the weeping and mourning at the house of
Jairus. Jesus rebukes the mourners, proclaiming that the daughter only
sleeps. This activity brings Jesus as far as the house of the dead
daughter.
The crowd at Jairus' housea different one from the crowd who
journeyed with Jesusresponds with a rebuke of its own (5.40a).
They laugh at Jesus' suggestion that the daughter merely sleeps. This
interaction between Jesus and the new crowd brings the power and the
sanity of the miracle worker into question, thus deepening the tension
of the story and delaying the healing act.
The motif 'the miracle worker comes' (5.40b, c) appears unusually
late within the story. In this motif Jesus completes the journey and
enters at last into the presence of the dead daughter. First, however,
Jesus further reduces his audience. The initial crowd is left behind in
5.37, and the new crowd is abandoned in 5.40b. With only the parents
and the closest disciples Jesus enters the presence of the dead daughter.
After extensive narrative wandering and delay the healing act is
reached in 5.41. The event itself is related in the barest of terms: the
singular act of raising the child by the hand and the simple formula
'talitha coum'. In view of the intense preparation which has preceded,
the healing act is simple and unadorned.
At this point the narrator intrudes to translate the words of Jesus
for the implied reader, who is a Greek speaker. This is the most direct
address of the narrator to the implied reader thus far, and it tends to
break the spell of the story. Nonetheless, this intrusion creates intimacy between the implied reader and the story worldno term is left
undefined for the implied reader. At the same time the intrusion
delays the response of the victim to the healing act.
1. Kelber (Mark's Story, p. 33) links the reduction to the inner three to his
theory of the disciples as privileged witnesses who ought to understand Jesus* true
identity.

4. Mark 3.7-6.6

107

The motif 'the victim responds' is presented at last in 5.42a. The


daughter is raised and she walks. Her walking gives narrative
confirmation and demonstration of the raising.
The response is followed immediately by a second intrusion of the
narrator (5.42b). This intrusion seems more awkward than the first
and only distantly related, if at all, to the plot action. Indeed the mention of the twelve years of the daughter serves no direct function in
the action of the plot but operates only as a verbal link to the story of
the woman with the issue of blood (5.25).1
The motif 'the crowd responds' is presented again in 5.42c.
However, this is a different crowd from 5.21 and from 5.40: here the
crowd is composed only of the three disciples and the parents. Thus,
the story has effectively created three levels of audience for the activity of the unit. Here the response is epiphanic: they are 'amazed with
great amazement' (5.42c) at the raising of the dead daughter.2
The body of the story ends with the motif 'the miracle worker
commands' (5.43). The command is twofold: they are to remain silent
about the miracle, and they are to feed the child. The command thus
presents a strange combination of character traits for Jesus: stern
rebuke and gentle compassion.
The conclusion is terse, built on a single motif. 'The miracle
worker departs' (6.1a) is narrated in the most economic of terms: KGC!
EKeiGev, 'and he left that place'.
Narrative Syntax
The formal construction of this miracle story is unique. The syntactical operation of its narrative motifs is even more complex and
extraordinary. The introduction (5.21a) employs a single motif, 'the
miracle worker comes'. This motif links the story to the prior activity
in Gerasa, and it places Jesus once again within the Jewish world and
its needs.
The body of the story is extensive and complex, involving twentyone motifs and supporting two different lines of plot action. The
narrative manipulation of these two story lines creates numerous
interactions which prove significant for interpretation of the unit.
The linkage of the stories creates a bond between the two victims.
1. Kelber {Mark's Story, p. 32) understands the number twelve as a thoroughly
Jewish symbol.
2. For a contrasting view, see Stacy, 'Fear', p. 88.

108

Teaching with Authority

The first is a 'daughter' (5.23, 35) of twelve years (5.42) who needs to
be 'saved' (5.23). She has an advocatea father of power and reputation who falls before Jesus to openly present her need (5.23-24). The
opponent which threatens her is a terminal illness. The second victim
is also a 'daughter' (5.34), and she has been sick for twelve years. She
too needs to be 'saved' (5.28), and Jesus accomplishes this for her
(5.34). All her helpers have proved useless (5.26), and she has no
advocate to plead her case. Instead she approaches Jesus in secrecy.
When she is discovered, she falls before Jesus and presents her own
need. The disease which threatens her is chronic, not terminal. The
two diseases not only deplete their victims physically they also make
them ritually unclean. The healing of each of the two daughters is
marked by fear (5.33, 36) and by faith (5.34, 36). Thus, the two
victims create a mirroring effect in which the story of each impacts
the story of the other.
This mirroring effect generates crucial narrative twists in the
development of the story. First, the mirroring effect generates a sense
of narrative time. The use of the journey concept and the insertion of
the second line of action occupy the reader and provide a profound
sense of the passage of time. The narrative transition from the
opening motif of 5.21a to the conclusion in 6.1a is a long and arduous
journey. In addition to the major departure provided by the internal
story, the plot is marked by intrusions and diversions of various sorts.
Two settings and three audiences are required to accommodate the
wanderings of the story, and the narrator intrudes frequently into the
plot action.
Although this technique of narrative retardation may produce boredom, it also provides a profound sense of narrative tension and expectation.1 The reader suspects the destination of the story, but does not
know when these expectations will be fulfilled. Each delay creates a
sense of foreboding urgency, and the death of the daughter confirms
this danger. Indeed, one daughter seems to have been sacrificed for
the other, and the initial plot line seems destined to end in death and
failure. Thus, the plot movement and expectation of the first line of
action come to a complete halt with the death of the daughter. Only
through a complex series of movements and through an ultimate
display of power is the victim reached and saved. In this manner the
1. So also Rhoads and Michie, Mark as Story, p. 51.

4. Mark 3.7-6.6

109

action of the story is carefully screened and magnified toward the


climactic reversal and the resolution of the tragedy. The primary
element behind this experience is the strategy of delay and misdirection with its resulting sense of narrative tension and expectation.
The narrative strategy also creates a sense of narrative reinforcement. The primary creative element at work here is that of repetition.1 The constant mirroring of traits, needs, destinies creates a narrative pattern of demonstration and confirmation which provides a
sense of mutual reinforcement. What is known to be true of one story
is suspected to be true of the other. A sense of foreshadowing and
fulfillment is created, reinforcing the values of the narrative.
The third major effect of juxtaposing the two victims is that of narrative intensification.2 While the units mirror and reinforce each
other, definite trends of intensification are also created. The story
moves by levels. The presentation of the need moves from a reported
sickness (5.23), to an actual sickness (5.25-26), to a reported death
(5.35), to the presence of the dead one (5.38-40). The display of
power moves from the report of Jesus' power (5.27), to the inadvertent display of Jesus' power (5.29-30), to the raising of the dead
(5.41-42). This intensification of need and of power is accompanied
by an increasing level of secrecy. Jesus dismisses the first audience
(5.37), then the second audience (5.40), leaving only three disciples
and the parents as witnesses to the raising. Finally, even these witnesses are commanded to silence (5.43). Ultimately the narrative silences
of all its participants, leaving only the narrator and the audiencethe
implied readeras witnesses to the story. This process of intensification of need, power and secrecy further magnifies the climactic
narrative moment in which the dead daughter is raised to life.
The final narrative effect of the juxtaposing of the stories is that of
narrative focusing. The sense of retardation, expectation and intensification focuses the plot action around the raising of the dead daughter.
Her need is more dramatic, as is the act of power which meets that
need. Thus, the plot action has its center in the raising story.
Although the plot action centers upon the healing of Jairus'
daughter, the ideological focus of the story falls on the response of the

1. On the narrative technique of repetition, see Robbins, Jesus the Teacher,


pp. 7-14, 19-73, 197-213. See also Rhoads and Michie, Mark as Story, pp. 46-47.
2. So also Kelber, Mark's Story, pp. 32-33.

110

Teaching with Authority

woman with the issue of blood.1 The daughter of Jairus is a ficellea


flat, one-trait characterknown only in terms of her need. In contrast, the approach and the response of the woman with the issue of
blood are dynamic and colorful. She plots her healing out of desperation, rumor and hope (5.25-28). She presents herself at the feet of
Jesus in the posture of reverence (5.33). Jesus defines her response as
faitha faith which saves her, makes her whole and gives her peace
(5.34). Thus, while the plot action of the narrative focuses on the
raising of the dead daughter, the story finds its ideological center in
the response of the woman with the issue of blood. While all response
to the raising is silenced, the faith of the woman with the issue of
blood is praised, and she is sent on her way in peace. In this manner
the woman with the issue of blood models the ideal response to Jesus
and his authority.
Thus, the syntactical distribution and operation of the formal elements of the story create powerful narrative relationships in Mk 5.216.1a. The narrative linkage of the two victims creates four primary
narrative effects: passage of time, narrative reinforcement, narrative
intensification and narrative focusing. This narrative strategy and this
narrative manipulation generate the extraordinary significance of
Mk5.21-6.la.
The conclusion of this extensive story (6.1a) is bare and unadorned.
Paired with the simple introduction (5.21a), this conclusion leaves the
focus within the body and its narrative operations.
In addition to these narrative techniques, the story gives internal
clues to the manner in which it is to be read. The story creates the
most profound portrait of Jesus as miracle worker. Here is one whose
inadvertent touch overcomes incurable illness and uncleanness. This
healing power is demonstrated as an absolute power when Jesus raises
one from the dead. Thus, the miracle activity of Jesus is brought to its
ultimate expression in Mk 5.21-6.1a.
At the same time Mk 5.21-6.1a provides interpretive keys by which
this miracle activity is to be read. The narrative does not exploit the
full potential of the miracle stories. There is no public preparation for
the healing of the woman with the issue of blood. Indeed, the healing
is inadvertent, and there are no narrative witnesses. The focus of the
1. Kelber (Mark's Story, p. 32) wrongly understands the focus to be on the
miracle of the resurrection. While plot action focuses the resurrection, the ideological
center is on the faith and response of the woman with the issue of blood.

4. Mark 3.7-6.6

111

account falls not on the act, but on its resultthe woman bows
in reverence before Jesus, she is honored for her faith, she is
pronounced saved and whole, she is sent on her way in peace.
In the same manner the narrative does not exploit the full value of
the raising account. The raising creates the potential for widespread
acclamation of Jesus as Wundermann, but the opportunity is bypassed.
Instead, the potential for construction of a christological portrait of
Jesus as one who raises the dead is blunted. Jesus limits the number of
witnesses to the raising, and he commands even these witnesses to
silence.
Because of this distancing from the effect and the acclamation of the
miracle stories, another narrative perspective is given a significant
place within the stories. Prior to the miracle activity Jesus is cast again
in the image of teacher with authority (5.21b). In the face of his most
powerful opponentdeathJesus is addressed as 8i8daKata>,
* teacher'. Thus, it is Jesus the teacher who heals and raises the dead.
At the same time the narrative highlights the proper response to the
power of Jesus: fear and faith. While miracle activity of the highest
order is credited to Jesus, the narrative strategy does not allow this
miracle activity to ultimately define who Jesus is. The miracle portrait
is presented, but it is tempered by the larger strategy to portray Jesus
in terms of his proclamation, his service and his death. At the same
time discipleship cannot be understood simply from the vantage point
of awe in the presence of the overwhelming power of Jesus. In the
presence of the powerful teacher sent from God the proper response
is one of reverential fear and obedient faith.
Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 5.21-6.1a reveals an example of the
miracle story genre with a mixed thematic orientation. This combination of a healing and a raising from the dead creates an unusual subclass of healing/raising story.1
While the formal construction of this miracle story is unique, the
syntactical operation of its motifs creates a narrative experience that is
even more extraordinary. Through a complex interweaving of two
1. Bultmann (History, pp. 214-15) labels the unit as the weaving together of
two healing miracle stories. Dibelius (Tradition, p. 71) places the stories under the
classification of Novellen. Theissen (Miracle Stories, p. 321) sees both stories as
healings.

112

Teaching with Authority

story lines Jesus is portrayed as the mighty teacher. The healing and
the raising accounts demonstrate the overwhelming divine authority
which is present in Jesus. At the same time the narrative syntax
tempers this portrait of Jesus. The ideological focus falls not on the
raising of the dead daughter, but on the results of the inner story:
faith, salvation, peace, wholeness. This resultand not acclamation of
miraclesbecomes the standard for discipleship.
Thus, the formal miracle story in Mk 5.21-6.1a plays a central role
in the characterization of Jesus. The power demonstrated in Jesus'
ministry is unsurpassed. At the same time it is Jesus the teacher who
performs these mighty deeds. The miracles alone do not define Jesus'
identity, but serve as narrative demonstrations which call for reverential fear and obedient faith. In this manner the portrait of Mk 1.1420 is confirmed: Jesus is the mighty proclaimer of the Kingdom who
calls disciples to follow in his way.
Extended Synchronic Analysis
Mk 3.7-6.6 presents a coherent narrative portrait.1 Synchronic analysis of this extended unit demonstrates the manner in which the miracle
stories of 3.7-6.6 operate within the unit to help fulfill the strategy of
the narrative.
Mark 3.7-13a
The extended unit of Mk 3.7-6.6 begins with a summary portrait of
the miracle activity of Jesus (3.7-13a). The formal elements of the
story are typical for miracle stories, giving focus to the healing and
exorcism activity of Jesus. At the same time the syntactical operation
of the unit is distinct. The story begins with Jesus and the crowds
beside the sea (3.7-8). This introduces the discipleship theme at the
outset of the unit, casting this expectation over the miracle activity
1. Numerous scholars have pointed out the literary unity of the miracle stories in
Mk 3.7-6.6. Kelber (Mark's Story, pp. 30-33) demonstrates the unity of the stories
in Mk 4.35-5.43. Kertelge (Wunder, p. 112) shows the literary links between the
healing of the woman with the issue of blood and the raising of the daughter of
Jairus. He then shows extensive literary links between this intercalated story of
Mk 5.21-6.la and the two miracle stories which precede it. In addition, the early
form critics noted the manner in which geographical and temporal links and the
mentions of the boat were used to create a literary unity.

4. Mark 3.7-6.6

113

that follows. Further, the miracle activity of 3.7-13a is presented with


a negative aspect: it is the source of confusion and threat. In addition,
the miracle activity is preceded and followed by a command from Jesus.
These commands provide a distancing effect between Jesus and the
result of miracle activity. Thus, the narrative prefaces the miracle activity with a focus on discipleship, and the narrative effect of the miracles is tempered within the unit. Mk 3.7-13a is then followed by a direct
focus on the calling to discipleship in 3.13-19. In this manner the
miracle activity of 3.7-13a is subsumed within a larger narrative focus
on the role of disciples. Thus, both of the first two major sections of
Mark open with a concerted focus on discipleship (1.16-20; 3.13-19).
Following the focus on discipleship (3.13-19), the narrative portrays the rejection of Jesus by his family and by the religious leaders
(3.20-30). In this manner miracle activity is tempered by a proleptic
taste of the rejection and suffering which mark the way of Jesus. In
conjunction with this Jesus proclaims those who do his will as his true
family (3.31-35).
An extended section on the teaching of Jesus follows (4.1-34). In
contrast to earlier portraits of Jesus as teacher, this unit gives attention
to the content of Jesus' teaching, particularly to his parables and
proverbs. This extensive focus on Jesus as teacher and on the content
and purpose of his teaching serves as a preface for the miracle stories
which follow (4.35-5.1; 5.1-21a; 5.21-6.1a). In this manner the
thematic linkage of miracle and proclamation is taken up from Mk
l.l-3.7a. Miracles again serve as the demonstration of the authority
of Jesus the teacher.
Mark 4.35-5.1 a
The miracle story in Mk 4.35-5.la is also reshaped by the larger narrative strategy of the Gospel of Mark. The calming of the storm is
narrated with overtones of an exorcism, and the unit employs numerous strands of imagery from the OT. Ultimately the story is one of
revelation, providing the implied reader with crucial new insights into
Jesus and his followers. Jesus is here shown to be the mighty teacher
(4.38) in whom the creative power of God is at work to roll back the
sea with all its chaos and danger. At the same time the disciples are
revealed in their lack of faith. This narrative use of the miracle story
to focus the identity of Jesus prepares for his activity in the land of the
Gentiles (5.1-21a).

114

Teaching with Authority

Mark 5.1-21a
In Mk 5.1-21 a miracle activity is again reoriented by the distinct narrative focus on the person and the ministry of Jesus. Mk 5.1-2la
presents a massive exorcism in the land of the Gentiles. Here Jesus is
proclaimed Son of God and is confronted by the most difficult case of
exorcism. The nature and the number of the evil forces make the
exorcism one of unsurpassed intensity. At the same time the event is
spread throughout the region by witnesses and by the preaching of the
healed victim. Thus, the exorcism is unmatched in both its intensity
and its extension. Jesus thus drives out the uncleanness of an entire
Gentile region. In this manner the miracle activity is used to focus the
identity of Jesus and the nature of his ministry.
This mass exorcism in Mk 5.1-2la is particularly linked to the
calming of the sea in 4.35-5.la. Through this linkage Jesus is shown
as the mighty teacher in whom the creative power of God is at work.
This creative power is demonstrated both in calming the chaotic sea
and in driving the demonic evil of the Gentile region into the depths
of the sea. The most desperate member of that region becomes a disciple of Jesus and then preaches throughout the land. Thus, the
creative power of God is at work in Jesus to drive back the chaos and
the uncleanness in order to create a community of mercy and faith.
Miracle stories are the formal elements from which this larger narrative strategy operates.
Mark 5.21-6.1 a
The complex miracle story of Mk 5.21-6.la also participates in this
narrative strategy. This story narrates the most profound portrait of
Jesus as miracle worker. Jesus is shown in 5.21-6.1a as the mighty
teacher whose inadvertent touch can heal an incurable sickness and
uncleanness and in whose hand is the power to raise the dead. This is
the ultimate expression of the miracle-working power of Jesus. At the
same time, however, the narrative does not employ the full potential
of this miracle activity. The healing of the woman with the issue of
blood occurs without notice; attention falls instead to the result and to
her faith. The raising of the dead daughter is witnessed only by the
inner disciples and by the parents, but even their witness is silenced.
Thus, the christological consequence of the miracle stories is subverted by the narrative. Fear and faith, not acclamation, become the
proper response to the power of Jesus.

4. Mark 3.7-6.6

115

This narrative manipulation of the miracle activity in 5.21-6.la


allows the teaching characterization to surface again as a crucial
element in the portrait of Jesus. Prior to the miracle activity, the
image of Jesus as teacher is focused (5.21), and it casts its shadow
across the stories. In the midst of the miracle activity and in the face
of death, Jesus is addressed as teacher (5.35). Thus, the intense miracle activity of 5.21-6.1a again serves to demonstrate the power of
Jesus, the mighty teacher.
Mark 6.1-6
This narrative strategy also shapes the final story of the sectionMk
6.1-6. Here Jesus teaches in the synagogue of his home region. Jesus'
teaching is marked by wisdom and power, and the audience is amazed
(6.2). At the same time the people are scandalized by Jesus. It is
within this context that the story conspicuously narrates the absence of
miracle activity. Though sick ones are healed, these do not count
(6.5), for the narrative is intent to tell that no miracle occurred.
Where other miracle stories report that crowds are amazed at Jesus,
Mk 6.1-6 tells that Jesus is amazed at the crowds because of their
unbelief (6.6a).
Thus, Mk 6.1-6 completes the portrait of the larger section. In
other units Jesus' teaching activity provides the occasion for miracle
activity. Here the tale is reversed; the rejection of Jesus' teaching
activity accounts for the absence of miracles. As in the first section of
the Gospel (Mk 1.1-3.7), miracles are linked to and subsumed by the
theme of Jesus as teacher with authority. In the void created by this
rejection and this absence of miracles, the primary theme re-emerges
as the conclusion of the section: Jesus goes about the surrounding
towns, and he preaches (6.6b).
Thus, Mk 3.7-6.6 reveals a coherent narrative strategy that repeats
and expands the portrait of Jesus as mighty teacher. While formal
miracle stories are employed in the construction of this literary portrait, they are impacted from without and from within by the consistent strategy of the narrative. Through this formal narrative strategy
Jesus' ultimate identity is found in his proclamation, his service, his
death and his call to discipleship.

116

Teaching with Authority


Conclusion

Synchronic analysis shows that the stories of Mk 3.7-6.6 create a distinct narrative orientation. Individual miracle stories are altered from
within to refocus the implications of the miracle activity of Jesus. At
the same time these miracle stories have been embedded into wider
narrative contextsthat of the extended unit of Mk 3.7-6.6 and that
of the narrative framework of the Gospel of Mark. This extended
narrative context also reorients the function of the miracle stories and
employs them in the service of a larger narrative strategy. Within this
larger narrative context, the traditional miracle stories of Mk 3.7-6.6
are reinterpreted in a number of ways: (1) by the emphasis on Jesus as
caller of disciples (3.13-19), (2) by the rejection and suffering of
Jesus (3.20-35), (3) by the portrait of Jesus as teacher (4.1-34), and
(4) by the primacy of faith over miracles (6.1-6).
Thus, the traditional miracle material behind Mk 3.7-6.6 has been
altered from within and from without by the coherent narrative strategy of the Gospel of Mark. The christological portrait and the attending ecclesiology and soteriology of the traditional material has been
transformed through this compositional process. Thus, the formal
reconstruction and the syntactical distribution of the traditional
miracle stories within the narrative framework of the Gospel of Mark
create a new form and function for the miracle material. Through the
formal strategy of the narrative the miracle stories of Mk 3.7-6.6
now characterize Jesus as wondrous and mighty teacher, suffering
servant, caller of disciples.

Chapter 5
MARK 6.6b-8.27a

The third major unit of the Gospel of Mark extends from 6.6b-8.27a
and contains seven miracle stories. Synchronic analysis will be undertaken for each of the miracle stories and then their role within the
wider unit of Mk 6.6b-8.27a will be considered. Particular attention
will be given to the role of these miracle stories in the characterization
of Jesus.
Mark 6.32-46: Feeding Five Thousand
While Mk 6.32-44 is usually taken as the parameters of this story, the
proper narrative conclusion occurs in 6.45-46. Therefore, synchronic
analysis will be applied to Mk 6.32-46 as an inclusive narrative unit.
Introduction

Miracle worker comes


Crowd comes
Body
Need presented
Miracle worker teaches
Need presented
Miracle worker commands
Disciples respond
Miracle worker questions
Disciples respond
Miracle worker commands
Crowd responds
Miracle worker distributes

Crowd responds
Narrator intrudes

6.32-33
6.32
6.33
6.34-44
6.34a, b
6.34c
6.35-36
6.37a
6.37b
6.38a
6.38b
6.39
6.40
6.41
6.42-43
6.44

118

Teaching with Authority


Conclusion
Miracle worker commands
Miracle worker departs

6.45-46
6.45
6.46

Narrative Morphology
The introduction to the unit employs two motifs. The first is the
expected 'the miracle worker comes' (6.32). This motif includes the
disciples, and it involves both a departure (ocTcfjA-Bov) and an entrance
(ei<;). In this manner a linking transition is made from the discipleship
story of 6.30-31. This withdrawal intends to provide a place of rest in
which the disciples may be with Jesus following their mission. Instead,
the departure by boat into the desert place occasions the feeding story.
This transformation of the retreat is accomplished by the second
motif, 'the crowd comes' (6.33). The arrival of the crowd involves
several stages: they first see (el8ov) Jesus and the disciples, then
recognize them (erceyvcoaav), then run together (ai)ve8pa|xov), then
at last come before them (rcpofj^Gov). This complex staging places
the crowd in the proper position to greet Jesus and the disciples as
they land. Thus, the introduction tightly links the unit to the preceding
plot action, and it plays a special role in setting the stage for the
dramatic scene which follows.
The body of the unit (6.34-44) is a complex presentation of the
interactions between Jesus, the disciples and the crowd. The presentation of the need (6.34a, b) is unusual, and it requires a complex literary development. The crowd stands in the place usually occupied by a
sick one, a demoniac or a threatened one. Nevertheless, it is they who
stand in need, for Jesus is moved with compassion upon them. Because
the reason for this compassion is not evident as in the case of healings
or exorcisms, the narrative employs OT imagerythey are as sheep
not having a shepherd.1 Thus, the narrative presents the crowd in a
distinct manner: it is they who stand in need before Jesus. This narrative description of the crowd provides an irreplaceable element for
the story which follows.
The response to the need is narrated in an unexpected way in 'the
miracle worker teaches' (6.34c). Jesus teaches the crowd 'many
things'. 2 By replacing the expected miracle activity with emphasis on
1. The OT use of the passage may be seen in Num. 27.17 and elsewhere.
2. The Greek employs an extended play on words. In 6.31, Jesus departs from
the many people (noXXoi). In 6.33 many (noXXoi) gather from the villages

5. Mark 6.6b-8.27a

119

Jesus' teaching, the import of the story becomes clear: it is the teaching of Jesus which properly satisfies the need of these shepherdless
people. Thus, the configuration of the unit around the teaching once
again subsumes the miracles of Jesus within a crucial interpretive
context: they are demonstrations of the power and mercy of Jesus the
teacher.
In 6.35-36 the second presentation of the need is more typical. At
this point the disciples are linked into the plotting of the story.1 The
disciples present this second level of need to Jesus, and it is they who
offer the most evident solutionsend them away. This firmly establishes the dialogical triangle which will occupy the center of the story.
The dialogue between Jesus and the disciples continues and the narrative role of the disciples is intensified in the motif 'the miracle
worker commands' (6.37a). Not only do the disciples report the need
to Jesus, they are now commanded to resolve the crisis: 'you give
them to eat'. This command raises the role of the disciples to a new
level: their actions are necessary for the fulfillment of Jesus' ministry.2 This new level of participation is confirmed by the central role
of the disciples in the dialogue that follows.
In the motif 'the disciples respond' (6.37b), the disciples offer a
second, less practical, solution: spending a fortune to purchase bread
for the crowd.3 The use of the deliberative subjunctive (dyopdacou^v)
implies a question, perhaps one filled with sarcasm and disbelief. The
dialogue continues with 'the miracle worker questions' (6.38a). The
use of the imperatives CoTcdyexe, i'Sexe) places the query in the form
of a command: 'go up and see how many loaves you have'. The
dialogue between Jesus and the disciples concludes in the motif 'the
disciples respond' (6.38b). Here the disciples fulfill the command of
Jesus and report the number of loaves and fish to him.
At this point the focus shifts to the interchange between Jesus and
the crowds. In the second use of the motif 'the miracle worker
(TCO^ECOV). In 6.34, Jesus is confronted by a crowd that is great (noXvv), and he
responds by teaching them many things (noXka). In 6.35, Jesus teaches until the
hour is late (noXkr[<;).
1. Kelber (Mark's Story, pp. 35-36) emphasizes the key role of the disciples in
the story.
2. Ironically, they who because of their calling do not have time to eat (6.31) are
commanded in the desert to give the multitudes something to eat (6.37).
3. In Mt. 20.2, the denarius is a day's wage for a laborer.

120

Teaching with Authority

commands' (6.39) Jesus instructs the crowds to recline in groups upon


the green grass.1 In the motif 'the crowd responds' (6.40) the people
obey the command of Jesus. The interchange between Jesus and the
crowds centers on the distribution and the reception of the food. In
'the miracle worker distributes' (6.41) Jesus stands at the center of the
action: he takes, he looks up, he blesses, he breaks, he divides, he
gives. This distribution by Jesus replaces the healing act or word in
other miracle units. Here the actual miracle event is hidden from
view. As in other stories the action of the miracle worker is sufficient
for the need. Significantly, this most important interchange of Jesus
with the crowd is mediated through his disciples.
In a similar manner the motif 'the crowd responds' (6.42-43)
replaces the response of the victim and confirms the action of the
miracle worker. All of the crowd eats, and they are satisfied. The
gathering of the excess food intensifies this confirmation.2
The intrusion of the narrator further confirms the sufficiency of
Jesus' actions (6.44). While the enumeration of the crowd belongs
more properly to the introduction and setting of the story, its location
in close proximity to the distribution intensifies the effect of the feeding.3 Thus, the intrusion by the narrator provides both specification
and intensification for the event.
The conclusion of the story (6.45-46) is provided through two
motifs. In the first, 'the miracle worker commands' (6.45), the command of Jesus again stands as the central plot element: Jesus compels
the disciples to cross over to Bethsaida while he dismisses the crowd.
The second member of the dialogue is dismissed when Jesus bids
farewell to the crowd in 'the miracle worker departs' (6.46). The
departure of the miracle worker himself empties the stage of its characters and concludes the unit. The departure of the miracle worker
provides more than a functional conclusion, however: Jesus goes to
1. This seems to be a clear allusion to the shepherding imagery of Ps. 23.
2. When 6.43 says that 'they took up twelve baskets of fragments', it most
likely refers to the taking up of the excess food by the crowd and not by the
disciples. The crowd serves as the antecedent once in 6.41 and twice in 6.42. In
addition, 6.44 immediately refers back to the crowd.
3. Here the use of av5pe<; seems to be a generic reference to the totality of the
people present, not simply to the male members of the crowd. W. Bauer, W. Arndt
and F. Gingrich (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early
Christian Literature [ed. F. Gingrich and F. Danker; Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 2nd rev. edn, 1979], p. 67) discuss the indefinite use of dvrip.

5. Mark 6.6b-8.27a

121

the mountain to pray. Thus, the story ends with Jesus in the presence
of God in the place of calling and revelation.1
Narrative Syntax
The motifs of Mk 6.32-46 play a vital syntactical role within this story
and within the larger narrative structure. The introduction of the unit
(6.32-33) links the story directly to the prior focus on discipleship in
6.7-31, and it brings the disciples forward as key participants in the
feeding story. Thus, the story has crucial significance for those who
would be disciples of Jesus. In addition the introduction employs
extensive measures to bring the crowd forward as the dialogue partner for Jesus. In this manner the introduction provides the needed
elements for the plot action which follows.
The interaction of the motifs within the body of the story (6.34-44)
also plays a key role. The body performs two significant operations.
In the first the central focus of the story is brought under a decisive
interpretive frame: the need of the crowd is met on the first level not
by miracle activity, but through the teaching of Jesus. This links the
story to the portrait initiated in Mk 1.14-15, 21-39: Jesus is the
teacher/preacher with authority. The priority of this christological
portrait is reasserted within the story, and all other plot events are to
be understood in light of this portrait. In the second operation the
miracle activity is narrated through the technique of a dialogical
triangle which includes Jesus, the disciples and the crowd. This technique inserts the disciples as key participants in the feeding, and it
raises the interchange with the crowd to a more personal level. The
feeding itself is narrated in terse strokes, giving the dialogical interchange a more central role in the story. This technique effectively
transfers the ministry of Jesus to his followers.
The motifs of the conclusion (6.45-46) also play a significant role.
Beyond their function in the termination of the story they present
Jesus in a distinct manner. Rather than concluding in typical fashion
with the acclamation and the spread of the fame of the miracle
worker, the conclusion portrays Jesus in terms of prayer, of revelation and of calling. Thus, the christological focus on Jesus' miracle
activity is again redirected toward a deeper understanding of the
ministry of Jesus.
1. See Rhoads and Michie, Mark as Story, pp. 66-67, on the narrative role of
the mountain setting.

122

Teaching with Authority

In addition Mk 6.32-46 draws extensively upon imagery from the


OT. This imagery is most obvious in the citation in 6.34, and the
implied reader can hardly miss the suggestion. The mention of the
green grass (%Xcop(p %6px(p) in 6.39 extends the shepherd imagery
through reference to Psalm 23. The use of the number twelve may
allude to the twelve tribes of Israel.1 The OT portrait of Israel is most
firmly established through the feeding in the desert place. Mk 6.32-46
recalls the feeding of the children of Israel in the wilderness. In so
doing the theological milieu of the Exodus is transported into the
literary world of the feeding story. Thus, Mk 6.32-46 becomes the
story of the calling and nurturing of a shepherdless people who are to
become the people of God. Significantly, the story extends this call
through the teaching ministry of Jesus, and the disciples are key participants in this event.
In this manner the miracle activity of the story becomes a functional
element in a larger theological portrait. The distribution of bread in
the wilderness actuates the calling of the people of God, and the miracle is subsumed by its own theological significance. This understanding of the feeding has crucial soteriological and ecclesiological
import: the Kingdom of God which was announced in Mk 1.14-15 is
now actuated in the calling forth of a new community to be the people
of God. The teaching ministry of Jesus established in Mk 1.21-39 and
carefully developed throughout the Gospel is the source of this calling. The disciples called in Mk 1.16-20 and appointed in 3.7-19 now
participate in this calling.
Beyond this soteriological and ecclesiological import, Mk 6.32-46
constructs a vital christological portrait. Here Jesus stands in the
image of Moses, the wonder-working teacher who leads forth the
people of God. In addition, Jesus is the one in whom the shepherding
love of Yahweh is poured forth upon the people. This characterization
of Jesus does not permit a self-serving role for the miracles; instead,
the story places Jesus' deeds firmly within the OT frame of the mighty
powers of Yahweh demonstrated for the redemption of Israel. This
characterization of Jesus as the teacher in whom Yahweh works for
the redemption of the people provides a crucial portrait, particularly
for a people rooted in the faith of the OT.

1. Kelber (Mark's Story, p. 35) sees the mention of the twelve baskets as
evidence that the feeding is set in a Jewish milieu.

5. Mark 6.6b-8.27a

123

Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 6.32-46 reveals an example of the miracle
story genre whose thematic orientation'Jesus gives bread in the
desert'places it in the sub-category of gift miracle.1 Moving beyond
this formal description, the syntactical operation of the story creates a
distinct narrative significance. Significantly, the need of this shepherdless people is met on the first level by the teaching of Jesus rather than
by miracle activity. When the miracle activity is narrated, the
employment of a dialogical triangle brings Jesus, the disciples and the
crowd into crucial interrelationships. The terse narration of the miracle event places these dialogical interactions at the center of the story.
The concluding focus on prayer, calling and revelation rather than on
acclamation of the miracle worker provides a guide to the identity of
Jesus. Finally, the constant use of OT imagery transforms this narrative into the story of God's call and care for a shepherdless people.
The alignment of the story with the OT portrait of God's shepherding
love creates decisive narrative implications for soteriology, for ecclesiology and especially for Christology. While the formal characteristics of this unit place it firmly within the tradition of miracle stories,
the syntactical operation of the motifs provides a distinct narrative
focus: Jesus is the mighty teacher who calls forth the people of God,
and the disciples play a crucial role in this calling.
Comparison of this synchronic portrait with the co-texts in the prehistory of the story and in the parallel traditions gives clarity to these
narrative features of Mk 6.32-46. Though emerging from a history of
development and alteration, the distinct narrative significance of the
story has its genesis in the formal narrative strategy of the Gospel of
Mark. Through this narrative strategy the formal miracle story in Mk
6.32-46 now portrays Jesus as powerful teacher, compassionate
shepherd, leader of disciples.

1. So also Theissen, Miracle Stories, p. 321, and Gnilka, Das Evangelium nach
Markus, I, p. 257. Bultmann (History, p. 217) labels the story as a nature miracle.
Again, the distinction between miracles related to nature and miracles related to
disease or demons seems unfounded. Dibelius (Tradition, p. 71) labels the story as a
Novelle. Pesch (Markusevangelium, I, p. 348) prefers to speak of the feeding
stories as Vermehrungswundergeschichten. Schille (Die urchristliche Wundertradidon, p. 35 n. 115) rejects the classification of the story as a Wundergeschichte,
suggesting instead that such stories are atiologische Kultlegenden from north Galilee.

124

Teaching with Authority


Mark 6.47-53: Crossing the Sea

While the story of the crossing and calming of the sea traditionally
involves Mk 6.45-52, the proper narrative parameters of the story are
to be found in Mk 6.47-53. The motifs of Mk 6.47-53 may be plotted
in the following manner:
Introduction
Narrator intrudes

6.47
6.47

Body
Need presented
Miracle worker comes
Need presented
Miracle worker commands
Need overcome
Disciples respond
Narrator intrudes

6.48-52
6.48a, b
6.48c, d
6.49-50a
6.50b
6.51a, b
6.51c
6.52

Conclusion
Miracle worker departs

6.53
6.53

Narrative Morphology
The introduction of the unit is most unusual. Because the previous
story concluded with Jesus at prayer in the mountains, the sea crossing
begins with the absence of Jesus. Because of this, an intrusion by the
narrator provides a setting which makes Jesus' entrance possible. The
narrator's intrusion (6.47) provides the temporal and geographical
specifications necessary for the story. Through this technique the
disciples are placed alone in the darkness in the midst of the sea.
Previously on the mountain, Jesus is now placed upon the 'land' where
he is able to see the situation of the disciples.1 Thus, the introduction
of the unit provides the transitions which are necessary for the central
plot action.
The body of the story (6.48-52) employs seven motifs and provides
the central plot action. The first motif (6.48a, b) presents the need of
the disciples in natural terms: they struggle against the wind and the
darkness. Following this unusual presentation of need, the second
motif of the body is 'the miracle worker comes' (6.48c, d). Because of
1. Here the land seems to provide a contrast to the sea. The reference seems to
place Jesus on the seashore rather than in the mountain.

5. Mark 6.6b-8.27a

125

the unusual setting of the story and the unusual nature of the need, this
motif appears delayed. Here Jesus comes to the disciples upon the
water, and this portrait draws heavily upon the imagery of the OT.1
In Mk 6.48 Jesus intends to pass by the disciples,2 and this interjects an
unexpected element into the story. The need presented by the storm is
secondary, for the presence of Jesus is not required. Instead, Jesus
'passes by' the disciples in an epiphany. As a result the disciples are
filled with fear. Thus, the real need is not in the sea but in the hearts
of the disciples.
This narrative shifting of the opponent is accomplished in the
second use of the motif 'the need presented' (6.49-50a). The disciples
fear they have seen a phantom, they cry out and they are terrified.
This second presentation of need stands extremely late within the
story, and it confirms that the nature of the disciples is the real opponent. In this manner the disciples are placed in an opposing role
normally occupied by demons, sickness or danger. This fearful need
of the disciples forms the central crisis of the story.
Jesus addresses this fear in the motif 'the miracle worker commands' (6.50b). The language of his address is significant. Jesus' stark
use of eyco eijxt, 'I am', implies an epiphany. Reflecting the dialogue
between Moses and God in Exod. 3.13-22, the formula carries an
inherent focus on the identity of Yahweh and on the mission of the
one sent by Yahweh. Thus, the saying points directly to the unique
identity and mission of Jesus in relationship to Yahweh.3 This
confirms the epiphanic nature of Jesus 'passing by' the disciples. The
second saying of Jesus is spoken in tones that are both imperative and
durative (|rn (popeicGe): the disciples are commanded to cease their
fear. Thus, the command of Jesus is directed to the central oppositionthe fear of the disciplesand not to the storm. Only in the
second use of the motif 'the miracle worker comes' (6.51a, b) is the
opposition of the storm addressed. When Jesus goes up into the boat,
1. The OT portrays the sea as the source of chaos and mystery. Yahweh is the
one who rolls back the sea to create a new community, both in the Creation and in the
Exodus.
2. 'Passing by' is an epiphanic imagery from the OT. See God's passing by of
Moses in Exod. 33.19, 22; 34.5-7; and of Elijah in 1 Kgs 19.11.
3. The term carries the same implications of identity and mission elsewhere in
the Gospel of Mark. In Mk 13.6, the use of the phrase is negative; in Mk 14.62, it is
positive, and the high priest does not doubt its implications.

126

Teaching with Authority

the wind ceases. The fearful response of the disciples (6.51c) stands in
direct disobedience to the command of Jesus in 6.50. Because of this,
the central opposition and needthe fear of the disciplesremains
unconquered.
The final motif of the body employs a second intrusion by the
narrator (6.52). This explanation removes all doubts about the fear of
the disciples. Their fear is not epiphanic, but due rather to misunderstanding and to the hardness of their hearts.
The conclusion (6.53) is brief, consisting of a single motif. The
miracle worker departs with the disciples and lands in Gennesaret.
This departure provides the conclusion to the crossing story and links
it closely to the material that follows.
Narrative Syntax
The syntactical operation of the narrative motifs of Mk 6.47-53 plays
a decisive role in the shaping of the story. The introduction (6.47)
takes unusual steps to narrate Jesus' absence from the disciples, and
the coming of the miracle worker is delayed. Thus, the story immediately focuses the isolation of the disciples and sets the stage for their
failure.
In the body of the story (6.48-52) a preliminary need is presented
in the form of the opposing wind and the darkness. When Jesus comes,
however, the storm does not require his presence. Instead, the fear of
the disciples is placed at the center of the story as the real crisis. Their
fear occasions the central focus on Christology and on discipleship.
Thus, the command of Jesus which focuses his identity and mission
also addresses the fear of the disciples. The stilling of the sea appears
almost incidental, occurring without gesture or command, but the fear
of the disciples rages on. The narrator links the disciples' fear not to
the epiphany but to their misunderstanding and hardness of heart. In
this manner the syntax directs the ideological focus of the story away
from the external storm to the crippling fear which rages in the hearts
of the disciples. Jesus is revealed as the one in whom the power of
Yahweh is at work, but the disciples are revealed as fearful and
cowardly followers.
Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 6.47-53 reveals an example of the miracle
story genre whose thematic orientation* Jesus is revealed upon the

5. Mark 6.6b-8.27a

121

sea'places it within the formal sub-class of epiphany.1 The syntactical operation of the formal elements of the story creates a distinct
orientation. Here the focus on the miracle activity is redirected by the
narrative syntax. Consequently the identity of Jesus and the failure of
the disciples become the ideological center of the story. The narrative
strategy thus employs a formal miracle story to create a story of revelation, unveiling to the implied reader the unique character of Jesus
and the disappointing character of the disciples. Ironically, Mk 6.4753 employs a miracle story to narrate the failure of miracles to lead
the followers of Jesus to faith and understanding. None of the miracles, not even this epiphany, is sufficient to give them true insight into
the identity of Jesus. The implied reader witnesses this confirmation of
Jesus' identity and this sharp warning to the followers of Jesus.
Mark 6.53-56: Healing Various Diseases
Mark 6.53-56 presents a summary portrait of Jesus. Because of the
miracle activity at its center, this unit will also be considered under
the category of miracle story.
Introduction
Miracle worker comes

6 S3-54 a
6.53-54a

Body

6.54b-56

Need presented
Miracle worker heals

6.54b-56c
6.56d

Conclusion

Narrative Morphology
The introduction of the unit is built on a single motif, 'the miracle
worker comes' (6.53-54a). This motif takes over the departure from
the previous story (6.47-53) and provides the transition to the miracle
activity in Gennesaret. In addition, the introduction brings the

1. Bultmann (History, p. 216) calls the story a nature miracle. Dibelius


(Tradition, p. 71) labels the story as a Novelle. Theissen (Miracle Stories, pp. 94,
321) labels the story as an epiphany which is part of a rescue miracle. The story is
also seen as an epiphany by Pesch (Markusevangelium, I, p. 358), and Koch
(Wundererzahlungen, pp. 104-105).

128

Teaching with Authority

disciples forward as witnesses and participants in the miracle activity


of Jesus.
The body of the story (6.54b-56) presents the miracle activity in a
summary form. The presentation of the need (6.54b-56c) emphasizes
the rush of the crowds to present the sick to Jesus. This widespread
response is initiated by the people rather than by Jesus. The onrushing
crowd holds a stark and primitive understanding of miracles: they
wish only to touch the hem of Jesus' garment.
The second motif of the body, 'the miracle worker heals' (6.56d),
fulfills this primitive miracle expectation: the people touch Jesus and
they are healed. The onrush of the crowd overshadows the brief
description of the healings. Thus, the story highlights the outpouring
to Jesus by the miracle-seeking throng.
The conclusion to the unit is missing entirely, and there is no transition to the action which follows in 7.1-23. In this manner Mk 6.5356 highlights the onrushing crowd with its unadorned expectation of
miracles.
Narrative Syntax
The syntactical operation of Mk 6.53-56 is noteworthy. The introduction reasserts the focus on discipleship by making the disciples key
participants in the story. Beyond this, a bare, unadorned expectation
of miracles gives the story a Geioq dvf|p outlook. Significantly, the
internal operations of the story do not counter this outlook. Thus, the
focus on miracle activity and on the Geioq dvr|p portrait of Jesus
remains fully operative in Mk 6.53-56.
Conclusion
Mk 6.53-56 provides an example of the miracle story genre whose
thematic orientation places it in the sub-category of healing story. In
addition, the story is presented in the form of a summary.1 Although
many scholars argue for a monolithic suppression of miracle
traditions in the Gospel of Mark,2 the blatant Qtxoq dvfjp outlook of
1. For a critical summary, see Kingsbury, Christology, pp. 25-45.
2. Bultmann {History, p. 341) labels the unit as an editorial formulation which
describes the healing activity of Jesus. Dibelius (Tradition, p. 224) labels 6.54-56 as
a collective note which endeavors to give a condensed representation of the work of
Jesus. Theissen (Miracle Stories, pp. 48, 322) labels 6.53-56 as a summary built
through expansion of the variant motif of attracting the crowd. Gnilka (Markus, I,

5. Mark 6.6b-8.27a

129

6.53-56 contradicts this proposal. No attempt is made to correct the


Beiog dvf|p outlook which dominates this story. Although the unit
presents a clear 0eio<; ocvfjp understanding of Jesus, the passage
remains open to reinterpretation by the wider narrative context within
which it functions.
Mark 7.24-31: Cleansing the Syro-Phoeniciari s Daughter
While Mk 7.24-30 is usually taken as the parameters of this story, the
account of the Syro-Phoenician woman has its narrative conclusion in
7.31. 1 Thus, Mk 7.24-31 will be analysed as a coherent narrative unit.
Introduction
Miracle worker comes

7.24
724

Body
Need presented
Miracle worker commands
Representative responds
Miracle worker commands
Representative responds

725-30
7.25-26
7.27
7.28
7.29
7.30

Conclusion
Miracle worker departs

7.31
7.31

Narrative Morphology
The introduction of the story employs a single motif, 'the miracle
worker comes' (7.24). Beyond providing transition from the previous
story, the introduction defines the geographical setting of the unit: a
house in the Gentile region of Tyre. In addition, the motif defines the
ideological setting of the story: Jesus wishes to remain hidden, but he
is not able to do so.
The body of the story employs five motifs and contains the central
plot action. A representative presents the need of the victim (7.25-26).
Indeed, the representative plays a more central role than the victim
whom she represents. The story describes the representative in detail:
she is the mother of the victim, a Hellenist, a Syro-Phoenician by race.
Beyond this detailed description the woman plays an active role in the
p. 271) describes the unit as a Sammelbericht. Lohmeyer (Das Evangelium nach
Markus, p. 137) describes the unit as an allgemeineren Bericht.
1. Bultmann (History, p. 38) sees 7.24-31 as the proper division.

130

Teaching with Authority

story: she hears of Jesus, she comes to Jesus, she falls before Jesus, she
begs for her daughter's healing. While the presentation of the need
occupies a traditional place in the formal structure of miracle stories,
it functions most uniquely within this storyas the presentation of the
representative. Thus, the Syro-Phoenician woman becomes the crucial
dialogue partner for Jesus.
'The miracle worker commands' (7.27) follows the presentation of
the representative. Here Jesus addresses the woman and the need of
her daughter with a proverbial command: 'Permit first the children to
be satisfied, for it is not good to take the bread of the children and to
throw it to the dogs'. This saying seems terse and harsh on the lips of
Jesus,1 and probably represents a typical Jewish response to Gentiles
and their religion.
Surprisingly, the woman answers in a manner no less terse, no less
demanding. The woman replies with an insistent, proverbial rejoinder
which raises her to the level of dialogue partner with Jesus (7.28).
Jesus' response to this rejoinder (7.29) signifies his appreciation of the
woman's reply. Because of her saying, Jesus commands the woman to
go up and to find her daughter healed from the demon. In the final
motif of the body, 'the representative responds' (7.30), the woman
obeys the command of Jesus and finds that the demon has departed
from the daughter.
The conclusion of the story consists of a single motif, 'the miracle
worker departs' (7.31). Jesus leaves the region of Tyre, traverses
through Sidon, then returns to the Decapolis region of Galilee. This
conclusion terminates the plot action of the story and prepares for the
healing which follows.
Narrative Syntax
The syntactical operation of the motifs of Mk 7.24-31 creates a distinct orientation. The representative of the victim is unusual, though
not without parallel. In no other NT story does the representative
ascend to such a central role. Indeed, the healing occurs at a distance
and the victim is almost lost in the focus on the woman. Most important, this Gentile woman rises to the level of impertinent interlocuter
to Jesus. Significantly, the issue which they discuss is one of profound
1. The use of the diminutive (lcuvapioi^) does not always soften the command.
For example, the 'little* in 'little witch' makes the slur no less offensive. Indeed, the
diminutive may be the more derisive term.

5. Mark 6.6b-8.27a

131

theological consequencethe acceptance of Gentiles in the gospel.1 In


addition, the discussion between Jesus and the woman has profound
implications for the nature of discipleship and for the identity and
mission of Jesus himself. The positive response of Jesus to the woman
affirms both her demands and her status. The miracle activity serves a
functional role: it demonstrates that the woman has responded correctly to Jesus. Thus, the syntactical operation of this formal miracle
story creates a sharp focus on the Syro-Phoenician and on the
implications of her dialogue with Jesus.
Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 7.24-31 reveals an example of the miracle
story genre whose thematic orientation'Jesus overcomes demons'
places it in the sub-category of exorcism. In addition, an apophthegm
dominates the unit. Thus, Mk 7.24-31 is an apophthegmatic exorcism.2
The narrative syntax focuses the story not on the victim or the healing
itself, but on the dialogue between the representative and Jesus. In this
manner, Mk 7.24-31 employs miracle activity to address a number of
crucial issues: the nature of discipleship, the place of the Gentiles and
of women, the mission and identity of Jesus.
Mark 7.31-37: Healing a Deaf and Silent Man
Mk 7.31-37 narrates the healing of a deaf and silent man. Synchronic
analysis will demonstrate the significance of this narrative unit,
particularly for the characterization of Jesus. The motifs of the story
exhibit the following pattern:
1. Kelber {Mark's Story, p. 38) gives particular attention to the manner in
which the story raises the issue of Jewish-Gentile priority.
2. Bultmann {History, p. 38) labels the passage as an apophthegm which is
dominated by an unusual controversy dialogue. He contends the miracle is not reported
for its own sake, but rather the main point is the change in the behavior of Jesus as a
result of the dialogue with the woman. Similarly, Dibelius {Tradition, p. 261) labels
the unit as an exhortation, suggesting the story originates in a saying of Jesus.
V. Taylor {The Gospel according to St Mark [New York: St Martin's Press, 2nd edn
1966], p. 347) agrees with Bultmann that the narrative is more akin to a pronouncement story than to a miracle story. Theissen {Miracle Stories, p. 321) labels the unit
as an exorcism. Gnilka {Markus, p. 291) labels the unit as a Streitgesprdch, or better,
as a Lehrgesprdch. Ironically, many of the form critics seem inclined to evaluate the
unit by its syntactical function rather than by its formal construction.

132

Teaching with Authority


Introduction

Miracle worker comes

7.31
7.31

Body
Need presented
Miracle worker heals
Narrator intrudes
Miracle worker heals
Victim responds
Miracle worker commands
Crowd responds

7.32-37
7.32
7.33-34b
7.34c
7.35a, b
7.35c
7.36a
7.36b-37

Conclusion

Narrative Morphology
The introduction of the story employs a single motif, 'the miracle
worker comes' (7.31). This motif narrates an extensive geographical
transition which relocates Jesus in the region of the Decapolis.
Temporal designations are missing, but Jesus' itinerary places him
within the land of the Gentiles, a setting crucial for the units which
follow. Thus, the introduction links the story to the preceding
narrative and prepares for the following scenes.
The body of the story (7.32-37) employs seven motifs and contains
the central plot action. The first motif (7.32) presents the need of the
deaf and silent man to Jesus. This presentation employs an impersonal
plural ((pepo\)aiv), implying the presence of a crowd. Jesus avoids
this crowd in the motif 'the miracle worker heals' (7.33-34b). Thus, a
distancing motif prefaces the healing. In this instance a healing action
and a healing substance accomplish the miracle. In addition, the
healing employs a petition to heaven and a healing command from the
miracle worker. At this point the intrusion of the narrator translates
the command, which is probably Aramaic,1 for Greek speaking
readers. This translation into the vernacular reduces the sense of
mystery and magic.
Following the intrusion of the narrator, the motif 'the miracle
worker heals' (7.35a, b) is taken up again. This motif emphasizes the
result of the healing: the hearing is opened and the tongue is loosed.

1. For discussion of the origin of the command, see Pesch, Markusevangelium,


I, p. 396 n. 27.

5. Mark 6.6b-8.27a

133

The motif 'the victim responds' (7.35c) serves its usual function: it
confirms and demonstrates the miracle.
Following the healing action the story returns to the interchange
between Jesus and the crowd in the motif 'the miracle worker
commands' (7.36a). Here Jesus commands the crowd to silence
concerning the miracle activity. In the final motif of the body (7.36b37) the crowd disobeys this command by preaching, by marveling and
by spreading the acclamation of the deeds of Jesus.
The conclusion of the story is missing entirely. Instead, the setting
of the story is retained, and the plot moves directly into the feeding of
the four thousand (8.1-10).
Narrative Syntax
The syntactical operation of the motifs in Mk 7.31-37 creates a special
outlook for the story. The opening motif sets the story within a
Gentile milieu, thus providing a clear ideological orientation. The plot
action is prefaced by a distancing motif which sets the miracle activity
apart from the participation of the crowd. The healing act itself pulls
in two directions. While the healing is accomplished through methods
common to the thaumaturge, the narrator intrudes to remove the
mystery of the healing command. Finally, Jesus issues a command to
silence which distances his identity and mission from the miracle
activity.
In addition, the OT provides the backdrop for the story. Indeed, the
unusual description of the man as 'speaking with difficulty'
(jioytXa^ov) draws directly upon Isa. 35.6. The acclamation of 7.37
reflects Isa. 35.5-10, where the opening of deaf ears and the loosing of
silent tongues will accompany the regathering of Israel. Mk 7.31-37
employs this eschatological imagery to tell of the healing of the deaf
and silent man. Thus, the event in the Decapolis becomes a sign for
those who can read its significance: in the ministry of Jesus the day of
God's redemption has dawned, and it has done so among the Gentiles.
The Gentile crowd proclaims this event, refusing to be silenced. Thus,
Mk 7.31-37 employs the formal elements of a miracle story to present
a unique portrait of the identity and mission of Jesus.
Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 7.31-37 reveals an example of the miracle
story genre whose thematic orientation'Jesus overcomes sickness'

134

Teaching with Authority

places it in the sub-category of healing story.1 While the unit is a


formal miracle story, the syntactical distribution and interaction of its
motifs creates a distinct orientation. Set within a Gentile land, the
miracle activity of Jesus carries thaumaturgical overtones. At the same
time the story distances the miracle activity and its consequences.
Corresponding to this distancing technique, the story draws upon the
Isaianic imagery of the return from exile. Through these syntactical
operations the story now tells of the breaking in of God's ransoming
mercy to the Gentile people through the life and ministry of Jesus.
Through the narrative strategy of Mk 7.31-37 a distinct portrait is
generated: Jesus is the mighty one in whom Yahweh works for the
redemption of the Gentiles.
Mark 8.1-10: Feeding Four Thousand
Mk 8.1-10 narrates the feeding of the four thousand. Synchronic analysis will show the importance of this narrative unit for the characterization of Jesus. The motifs of Mk 8.1-10 may be plotted in the
following manner:
Introduction
Body
Need presented
Miracle worker commands
Disciples respond
Miracle worker questions
Disciples respond
Miracle worker commands
Miracle worker distributes
Disciples distribute
Narrator intrudes
Miracle worker commands
Crowd responds
Narrator intrudes
Miracle worker commands
Conclusion
Miracle worker departs

8.1-9
8.1a, b
8.1c-3
8.4
8.5a
8.5b
8.6a
8.6b, c
8.6d
8.7a
. 8.7b
8.8a, b
8.9a
8.9b
8.10
8.10

1. So also Bultmann, History, p. 213, and Theissen, Miracle Stories, p. 321.


Dibelius (Tradition, p. 72) labels the story as a Novelle.

5. Mark 6.6b-8.27a

135

Narrative Morphology
The introduction to the unit is missing entirely, and the temporal and
geographical settings are taken over from the previous healing (7.3137). Thus, the story is set within the Gentile region of Galilee.
The body of the story (8.1-9) employs a complex of motifs to focus
the role of the disciples. In the opening motif'the need presented'
(8.1a, b)Jesus sees the hunger of the crowds. Jesus responds to this
need in 'the miracle worker commands' (8.1c-3). The command of
Jesus addresses the disciples, and it unveils both the situation of the
people and Jesus' compassion for them.
A reply from the disciples counters the command of Jesus (8.4).
Here the disciples raise the difficulties involved in caring for this
multitude. Significantly, they classify their task as finding 'bread in the
wilderness' (8.4), a phrase that draws upon the imagery of the
Exodus. This central dialogue between Jesus and the disciples
continues in 8.5. In the motif 'the miracle worker questions' (8.5a)
Jesus inquires about the number of loaves. In the motif 'the disciples
respond' (8.5b) the disciples give an account of the loaves available.
At this point the dialogue shifts to include the crowds. Jesus
instructs the crowds to sit upon the ground in the motif 'the miracle
worker commands' (8.6a). The central action of the story follows: in
the motif 'the miracle worker distributes' (8.6b, c) Jesus takes bread,
blesses it, breaks it and gives it to the disciples. The disciples complement the action of Jesus in the following motif'the disciples
distribute' (8.6d).
At this point the narrator intrudes to mention that fish were also
available (8.7a). This late insertion requires repetition of the motif
'the miracle worker distributes' (8,7b), this time for the fish. The
eating of the crowd is mentioned only in 'the crowd responds'
(8.8a, b). The bread and fish satisfy the crowd, and seven containers
of food are taken up.
The narrator intrudes again in 8.9a to number the crowd, thus
confirming and intensifying the status of the miracle. The central plot
action ends with the third use of 'the miracle worker commands'
(8.9b); here the command dismisses the crowd.
The conclusion of the story employs a single motif. In 'the miracle
worker departs' (8.10) Jesus goes with the disciples in the boat into
the region of Dalmanoutha.

136

Teaching with Authority

Narrative Syntax
Beyond their role as formal elements in a miracle story, the motifs of
Mk 8.1-10 interact to create a unique narrative orientation. First, the
story is set within a Gentile context, matching the feeding in Jewish
territory (Mk 6.32-46).1 Because the story mirrors the feeding on the
Jewish side of the lake, a number of parallels lie close at hand for the
implied reader. Through the reference to bread in the wilderness both
stories draw upon the imagery of the Exodus. As in the first feeding,
dialogue occupies the center of the story; here the dialogue is primarily between Jesus and disciples, but the crowd is included at points.
Thus, the story takes up the concerns of the Jewish feeding and repeats
them in Gentile territory. Here, in the land of the Gentiles, Jesus is
giving bread in the wilderness, calling forth the people of God.
The two feeding stories are distinguished from each other only
through their usage within the Gospel of Mark; here they are narrated
as two distinct experiences. Both units assume the geographical and
ideological setting of the surrounding units. For the first feeding story
this setting is thoroughly Jewish; for the second feeding the setting is
thoroughly Gentile. This narrative distinction may clarify the contrasting elements in the stories. The differing numbers, blessings and
baskets do not appear to hide deep symbolism. On the contrary, these
elements are the only internal differences between the two units, and
that is their message: the stories are alike but they are different.
Within the Gospel of Mark the stories say the same thing but they are
not the same.2 The narrative strategy of the Gospel of Mark exploits
this distinction in settingwhich appears to be quite incidentalto
point out that one story is Jewish, one is Gentile. Because of this the
feeding in 8.1-10 takes over the ideological significance of 6.32-46.
Through narrative transformations the significance of the feeding in
Jewish territory is now applied to the Gentile peoples.
Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 8.1-10 reveals an example of the miracle
story genre whose thematic orientation classifies it within the

1. Kelber (Mark's Story, p. 39) emphasizes the Gentile milieu of the story.
2. For a most insightful discussion of the significance of variations upon a
repeated pattern, see R. Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative (New York: Basic
Books, 1981), pp. 47-62, 88-113.

5. Mark 6.6b-8.27a

137

sub-category of gift miracle.1 While the formal construction of the


scene classifies it as a miracle story, the syntactical interaction of the
motifs controls its orientation. Jesus' mission to the Jews is now
affirmed among the Gentiles. Thus, the story confirms the activity of
Jesus among the Gentiles established in the story of the SyroPhoenician woman (7.24-31) and in the healing of the deaf and silent
man (7.31-37). Here Jesus calls forth a new people of God, and the
disciples are clear witnesses to this activity. Indeed, they are partners
and participants in this mission, as they were in the Jewish feeding.
The story thus mirrors the feeding on the Jewish side, and the miracle
activity is subsumed within this focus on the identity and mission of
Jesus. The breaking of bread to the Gentiles not only provides a new
and crucial understanding of Jesus' identity and mission, but it also
foreshadows the future role of the disciples in sharing this mission to
Jews and Gentiles alike.
Mark 822-27a: Healing a Blind Man
Mk 8.22-26 is usually taken as the parameters of this healing story,
yet the narrative conclusion occurs in 8.27a. Therefore, synchronic
analysis will be applied to Mk 8.22-27a as an inclusive narrative unit.
Particular attention will be given to the role of this miracle story in
the characterization of Jesus. The motifs of Mk 8.22-27a may be
plotted in the following manner:
Introduction
Miracle worker comes

8.22a
8.22a

Body
Need presented
Miracle worker heals
Victim responds
Miracle worker heals
Victim responds
Miracle worker commands

8.22b-26
8.22b, c
8.23
8.24
8.25a
8.25b, c
8.26

Conclusion
Miracle worker departs

8.27a
8.27a

1. So also Bultmann, History, p. 217. Dibelius {Tradition, p. 78 n. 1) sees


the story as a shortened form of the feeding of the five thousand, but he does not
classify the story. Theissen (Miracle Stories, p. 321) labels the story as a gift miracle.

138

Teaching with Authority

Narrative Morphology
The introduction of the unit employs a single motif, 'the miracle
worker comes' (8.22a). The introduction specifies the geographical
setting of the story and it brings the disciples forward as key witnesses
to the healing.
The body of the story (8.22b-26) begins with the presentation of the
need (8.22b, c). In this instance the people bring a blind man and
request that Jesus touch him. The presentation of the need is met by
the healing action of the miracle worker (8.23). Here the healing
occurs in stages: leading outside the city, placing spittle on the eyes,
laying hands on the victim, questioning the victim. This healing act
evokes the response from the victim (8.24). The victim's response
indicates that his healing is only half accomplished. In a pattern that is
unusual among miracle stories, the healing and the response are
repeated. The second use of the motif 'the miracle worker heals'
(8.25a) repeats the laying on of hands. Likewise, the victim responds
for a second time (8.25b, c): he looks intently, his sight is restored, he
sees all things plainly. A command to secrecy (8.26) follows the
doubled healing event. The blind man was removed from the town
prior to the healing; now he is forbidden to return there.
The conclusion of the story employs the motif 'the miracle worker
departs' (8.27a). The disciples were conspicuously absent from the
central plot action of the story, but now they are mentioned again as
fellow travelers with Jesus. The geographical transition is made from
Bethsaida to Caesarea Philippi, preparing for the story of 8.27-38.
Narrative Syntax
The motifs of 8.22-27a interact to create an unexpected focus for this
story. The doubling of the healing and response at the center of the
story is unusual, and it calls attention to the difficult nature of the
blindness. In addition, the healing occurs in stages: withdrawal, spittle,
laying on of hands, questioning, second laying on of hands. Though
absent from the central plot action the disciples function as witnesses
and companions of Jesus through their role in the introduction and the
conclusion. Because of this the implied reader can relate the healing of
blindness to the situation of the disciples and, subsequently, to others
who would follow Jesus.1 Indeed, the OT citation in Mk 8.18 invites
1. Kelber (Mark's Story, pp. 44-45) points to the narrative link between the
healing at Bethsaida and the mission of the disciples. Rhoads and Michie (Mark as

5. Mark 6.6b-8.27a

139

this comparison. Thus, the powerful miracle activity at the center of


the story focuses the crucial issue of discipleship, particularly the lack
of understanding of those who follow Jesus. The extended synchronic
analysis will show that this theme is intensified by the operation of the
wider unit of 6.6b-8.27a.
Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 8.22-27a reveals an example of the miracle
story genre whose thematic orientation'Jesus overcomes blindness'classifies it within the sub-category of healing story.1 Beyond
this classification as a formal miracle story, the syntactical distribution
of the motifs of the story creates a distinct narrative. Here the miracle
activity at the center of the plotted action demonstrates the difficulty
of overcoming blindness. At the same time the story relates this obstinate blindness to the situation of the followers of Jesus. This is
accomplished internally by framing the story with the presence of the
disciples; externally the story draws upon the blindness of the disciples
in 8.18. Thus, the formal miracle story in 8.22-27a gives intense focus
to the identity of Jesus and to the demands upon those who would
follow him.
Extended Synchronic Analysis
The third major section of the Gospel of Mark (6.6b-8.27a) creates a
coherent narrative unit. The extended synchronic analysis will
demonstrate the formal narrative strategy which operates upon the
miracle stories of Mk 6.6b-8.27a. This narrative strategy employs the
morphological and syntactical features of these miracle stories to
generate a distinct portrait of Jesus.
The itinerant proclamation ministry of Jesus provides the keynote
which opens the unit (6.6b). This active characterization of Jesus
brings forward the ideological focus initiated in Mk 1.14-15 and
demonstrated throughout the first two major sections of the Gospel of
Mark: Jesus is the mighty teacher/preacher who proclaims the
Kingdom of God with authority (Mk 1.14-15, 21, 27, 38, 39; 2.13;
Story, pp. 122-29) deal with the developing narrative characterization of the
disciples.
1. So also Bultmann, History, p. 213, and Theissen, Miracle Stories, p. 321.
Dibelius (Tradition, p. 72) labels the story as a Novelle.

140

Teaching with Authority

4.1, 33, 38; 6.2, 34). This narrative focus is cast forward upon the
entire unit of Mk 6.6b-8.27a.
The focus shifts to the disciples in Mk 6.7-13. Jesus sends the
Twelve to preach the message of repentance, to cast out demons and to
heal the sick. They are to travel in pairs and to live in radical simplicity as they carry out their mission. In this manner Jesus transfers his
powerful ministry of proclamation to his disciples. Likewise the
disciples find their identity and their mission in Jesus himself.
This initial focus on the mission of Jesus and then on the mission of
the disciples provides a crucial interpretive standard for the
remainder of 6.6b-8.27a. Thus, the miracle stories of 6.6b-8.27a are
impressed beforehand by a concerted narrative focus on Christology
and on discipleship. The first three major sections of the Gospel of
Mark employ this same prefacing technique, and a process of
intensification may be identified. In the first major section (1.1-3.7a)
the keynote summary of the identity and mission of Jesus (1.14-15)
precedes the call to discipleship (1.16-20). In the second major section
(3.7-6.6) the summary portrait of Jesus' activity beside the sea (3.113) precedes the calling of the Twelve (3.13-19). In the third major
section (6.6b-8.27a) Jesus' proclamation ministry (6.6b) precedes the
mission of the Twelve (6.7-13, 30-34). Thus, the narrative defines and
demonstrates the identity and mission of Jesus with increasing specificity: Jesus is the powerful proclaimer sent to announce the Kingdom
of God. Likewise, the participation of the disciples intensifies,
particularly from their calling in 3.13-19 forward. In the third section
(6.6b-8.27a) the sending of the Twelve (6.7-13, 30-34) and the death
of the Baptist (6.14-29) provide a stark portrait of discipleship.1 This
proleptic mission of the Twelve and this dramatic foreshadowing of
the destiny of those who follow Jesus give sharp definition to the role
of discipleship. Disciples are to take up the mission of Jesus and they
are to share the destiny of the Baptist and of Jesus.
Thus, Mk 6.6b-8.27a opens with a focus on the identity and mission
of Jesus and on the extension of this mission to the disciples. This
emphasis upon Jesus' identity draws upon the developments of the
previous sections, then exerts a strong primacy effect upon Mk 6.6b1. See G.A. Wright, 'Markan Intercalations: A Study in the Plot of a Gospel'
(unpublished PhD dissertation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1985),
pp. 51-59, 124-35, 219-28, on the role of Mk 6.7-34 in the plotting of the Gospel
of Mark.

5. Mark 6.6b-8.27a

141

8.27a. This prefacing focus on Christology and discipleship proves


decisive for interpretation of the miracle activity in 6.6b-8.27a. This
narrative strategy gathers the miracle activity into the larger narrative
concern for Christology and discipleship.
The prefacing focus on Christology and discipleship influences the
feeding of the five thousand (6.32-46). Though formally a miracle
story, the internal syntax of the story provides a distinct orientation.
The introduction links the feeding to the discipleship focus. Jesus'
teaching, not miracle activity, meets the primary need of the crowd.
Thus, teaching and discipleship emerge as the central themes of the
story. In addition, the dialogical triangle which occupies the center of
the story overshadows the miracle event. The story draws upon
extensive OT imagery to create a distinct characterization: in Jesus,
the shepherding mercy of Yahweh calls forth and nurtures a new
people of God. The conclusion of the story portrays Jesus in the place
of prayer, revelation and calling; this replaces acclamation of Jesus in
terms of his miracle activity. In this manner the feeding story of
Mk 6.32-46 subsumes the miracle activity into a clear focus on the
identity of Jesus as powerful teacher and on the role of the disciples as
his followers.
Following close upon the feeding of the five thousand, Mk 6.47-53
narrates the story of the sea crossing. The syntax of this formal
miracle story generates a new orientation. The story draws upon OT
imagery to portray the creative power of Yahweh which is present in
Jesus. At the same time the events which reveal the identity of Jesus
also unveil the stunning failure of the disciples. Thus, Mk 6.47-53
employs miracle activity to generate a crucial revelation of the
character of Jesus and the failure of the disciples.
Following the sea crossing comes a bare summary portrait of Jesus'
miracle activity (6.53-56). This formal miracle story draws the disciples into the unit, but no further reorientation occurs. Nothing within
the story refocuses the central miracle activity; thus, the portrait of
Jesus as Hellenistic miracle worker remains intact. In this manner the
syntactical operation of 6.53-56 makes attention to miracles and the
miracle worker the central focus of the story.
Following this series of miracle stories Mk 7.1-23 portrays the
teaching activity of Jesus concerning the Law. The teaching unit
employs a thoroughly Jewish context: Jewish leaders are addressed on
Jewish questions through extensive reference to the OT. Jesus sharply

142

Teaching with Authority

condemns the Jewish leaders and their treatment of the Law, then
warns the crowds to choose a better wisdom. Significantly, this
Jewish-oriented teaching activity concludes an extended focus on
Jesus' activity within a Jewish context (6.32-7.23). This characterization of Jesus through his teaching activity plays a crucial role within
the extended unit (6.6b-8.27a). In the midst of extensive miracle
activity the narrative strategy again asserts the primacy of its christological portrait: Jesus is the powerful, though misunderstood,
proclaimer.
Both the subject and the audience of this teaching unit prove decisive for the larger narrative. Jesus first addresses the Pharisees and
scribes from Jerusalem (7.1-13), then the crowds (7.14-16), then his
disciples (7.17-23). Each address treats the same issue: the question of
clean/unclean is focused around the issue of bread (7.2, 15, 18-23).
This portrait of Jesus as teacher of the Jews and this focus on uncleanness and bread form a crucial narrative backdrop for the other stories
in the unit. In addition, the miracle activity among the Jews is framed
by the portrait of Jesus as teacher (6.6b; 7.1-23). In this manner the
narrative gathers miracle activity under the larger interpretive guide
of Jesus' teaching ministry. In spite of extensive miracle activity
within the Jewish context, both the religious leaders (7.1-13) and the
disciples (8.14-21) reject Jesus' teaching ministry. Despite this rejection Jesus will turn his ministry of power and proclamation to the
Gentiles. They too will be offered cleanness (7.24-31) and a share in
the bread which Jesus offers (7.24-31; 8.1-10).
Following Jesus' activity within a Jewish context come three miracle
stories set in a Gentile contextan exorcism, a healing and a feeding.
These miracles among the Gentiles mirror the previous activity of
Jesus among the Jews. The verbal exchange with the Syro-Phoenician
woman overshadows the miracle activity in 7.24-31. The extension of
the activity of Jesus beyond the boundaries of Judaism and the acceptance of that ministry by a Gentile woman form the central focus of
this story. Mk 7.24-31 employs this formal miracle story to make the
representative more crucial than the victim and the dialogue more
central than the healing. As a result the ideological focus of this
miracle story now belongs to the issue of discipleship, to the place of
Gentiles and women, and to the mission of Jesus and his followers.
Beyond this, the story of the Syro-Phoenician picks up several
crucial narrative themes from the larger unit. The dialogue at the

5. Mark 6.6b-8.27a

143

center of the unit represents that of rabbi and student. The response of
the woman is a A,6yo<;, 'word', which correctly interprets the work of
Jesus. This dialogue provides a mirror image of the teaching in
7.1-23. The teaching focus overshadows the miracle activity in 7.2431, and the woman's response sharply contrasts the rejection of Jesus'
teaching in 7.1-23. Most significant, the teaching on cleanness (7.1-23)
now addresses the Gentile situation: the exorcism in 7.24-31 is a
cleansing event among the Gentiles. Thus, the teaching theme is carefully linked to the contrast between Jews and Gentiles. Jesus' powerful
teaching was rejected in the Jewish environment, but is now welcomed
among the Gentiles.
In the same manner the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman picks
up the bread theme. Through mention of the bread of the children, a
narrative bond is created between this story and the two feeding
accounts (6.32-46; 8.1-10). Mk 7.24-31 argues that both the Jews and
Gentiles are to be satisfied (xopxaaGiivoci) with bread from the table.
Jesus accomplishes this for the Jewish crowd in 6.42 and for a Gentile
crowd in 8.8. In both instances the crowds eat bread and they are
satisfied (xopxaaGfivai). Thus, Mk 7.24-31 provides a mirror in
which to reflect the destiny of both Jews and Gentiles: they are both to
be subject to the teaching of Jesus and they are both to be satisfied
with bread from the table of the Lord. Thus, Jesus' powerful teaching
ministry among the Gentiles extends to them the offer of cleanness
and a share in the loaf.
The Gentile focus continues in the story of the deaf and silent man
(7.31-37). Again a formal miracle story performs a unique narrative
function. Internally, a distancing motif prefaces the miracle activity.
The narrative also employs techniques which remove the mystery of
the healing and silence the proclamation of the miracle. Reference is
made to the redemptive activity of God through the use of Isaiah 35,
making the story a prophetic account of the inbreaking Kingdom of
God. Set within a Gentile context the story thus employs the miracle
activity to speak of the rule of God's mercy. This rule breaks out in
Gentile Galilee through the ministry of Jesus. This loosing of deaf
ears and silent tongues among the Gentiles provides a sharp contrast to
the deafness and blindness exhibited by religious leaders (7.1-13) and
by disciples (8.14-21).
The Gentile focus intensifies in the feeding of the four thousand
(8.1-10). This story mirrors the feeding in Jewish territory (6.32-46),

144

Teaching with Authority

recalling the themes focused there. The Exodus imagerythe creation


of a new people of Godextends to the Gentile people. The disciples
become witnesses and participants in this mission. In this manner the
miracle activity demonstrates the identity of Jesus as one who calls
forth a new people in the name of God. It also points proleptically to
the future mission of the disciples among both Jews and Gentiles.
The activity on the Gentile side of the lake concludes in Mk 8.1113. As in Mk 6.1-6, this conclusion provides a sharp critique of the
false understanding of miracle activity. When the Pharisees seek
miracles as a sign from heaven, Jesus rebukes them and departs from
them. Repeating the pattern of Mk 6.1-6 the unbelief of the Pharisees
occasions the absence of miracles. Once again the link between
miracle activity and true faith is broken. This confirms a message
central to Mk 6.6b-8.27a: miracle activity does not lead to faith.
Indeed, miracles are often accompanied by blindness and hardness of
heart.
This sharp rebuke of the religious leaders is followed by a similar
rebuke of the disciples (8.14-21). Placed in the form of teaching, Jesus
warns the disciples about the Pharisees, and he chastises their own lack
of understanding. Citing the OT (8.18), Jesus characterizes his hardhearted followers as unable to see, unable to hear. This rebuke
mirrors the citation of Scripture against the religious leaders in 7.6-7.
Thus, Mk 6.6b-8.27a gives priority to the task of teaching, then
employs a teaching unit to chastise religious leaders who seek a
miracle (8.11-13) and disciples who have seen miracles, but do not
comprehend who Jesus is and what he is about (8.14-21). This affirms
two crucial narrative standards: (1) the priority of the teaching portrait of Jesus, and (2) the insufficiency of miracles to identify the true
mission of Jesus.
The final passage of the extended unit narrates the healing of a blind
man (8.22-27a). A distancing motif and a command to silence temper
the healing act. The doubling of the healing act and the healing by
stages point to the obstinacy of the blindness. The story carefully
draws the disciples into this imagery. The story entices the implied
reader to make the connection to the blindness of the disciples in Mk
8.18. The miracle activity is then focused toward the issue of discipleship. In this manner Mk 8.18 generates an extensive portrait of the
disciples: they do not understand Jesus. Their blindness and deafness is
further intensified through contrast with the healing of deaf and blind

5. Mark 6.6b-8.27a

145

Gentiles (7.31-37; 8.22-27a). Likewise the sharing of the loaf with the
Gentiles (7.31-37; 8.1-10) contrasts the failure of the disciples to
understand about the loaf (7.17).
Thus, the syntactical operation of Mk 6.6b-8.27a generates a narrative significance which exceeds the bounds of its morphological
classification. Although employing seven formal miracle stories, the
extended unit creates a concerted focus not on miracles, but on the
identity and mission of Jesus and on the related issue of discipleship.
Internal transitions orient all but one of the stories (6.53-56) away
from a central focus on miracle activity. Beyond these internal transitions the syntactical operation of the extended unit also shapes the
ideological focus away from miracle activity. The interpretive preface
of the unit gives priority to the proclamation ministry of Jesus and to
the subsequent demands of discipleship (6.6b-31). The recurring use
of the bread theme, the extended focus on clean/unclean and the continued mirroring of the role of Jews/Gentiles direct the stories away
from the miracle focus and toward more primary narrative concerns.
Through narrative framing and through intervention into the miracle
stories, Mk 6.6b-8.27a reasserts the primacy of Jesus' teaching
ministry. Jesus' teaching against Jewish blindness (7.1-23, 8.11-13)
and against the blindness of the disciples (7.17-23; 8.14-21) thus
tempers the energy of the miracle activity. Indeed, miracles are
employed to point not to the faith of those around Jesus, but to the
blindness, deafness and hardness of heart of both religious leaders and
disciples.
The recurring ideological focus on the identity and mission of Jesus
and on the role of discipleship gives the miracle activity a functional
role within a larger narrative strategy. This demonstrates a crucial
canon of narrative analysis: to label a unit as a member of a particular
genre delineates its form, but not its function. Moving beyond the
morphological description of these scenes as miracle stories, attention
to the syntactical operation of the units reveals a creative and obstinate
diversity in the narrative function of the stories. No monolithic
pattern of operation can be identified for the miracle stories examined
in the Gospel of Mark. Indeed, formal miracle stories have shown the
ability to subvert the miracle activity at their core to serve in a variety
of narrative functions, some of which represent a critique of miracles.
This narrative strategy operates both internally from within the genre
units and externally in the larger patterns of narrative structure.

146

Teaching with Authority

Synchronic analysis of the extended unit of Mk 6.6b-8.27a reveals the


operation of a consistent narrative strategy. This narrative strategy
employs formal miracle stories to generate a coherent narrative focus
on the identity and mission of Jesus and on the crucial failure of those
who follow Jesus. Thus, the miracle stories of Mk 6.6b-8.27a play a
crucial role in the characterization of Jesus: he is the powerful teacher
in whose deeds God extends acceptance to both Jews and Gentiles.
Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 6.6b-8.27a demonstrated various internal
transformations within the seven miracles stories. In addition, the
miracle stories are transformed by the extended narrative unit in
which they participate. The syntax of the extended unit generates distinct narrative themes. The entire unit focuses the role of Jesus as
preacher/teacher. The issue of clean/unclean is developed in relation
to both Jews and Gentiles. The loaf becomes a symbol of God's calling
for both Jews and Gentiles and of the failure to accept that calling.
The blindness which rejects Jesus becomes a central focus in the
extended unit. In this manner the grammar of the extended unit
generates new and diverse narrative significance.
The synchronic operation of the seven miracle stories within the
extended unit of Mk 6.6b-8.27 provides a distinctive contribution to
the narrative portrait of Jesus. Jesus is portrayed as a wonder worker
with extensive power. The concentration of seven occasions of miracle
activity within this brief narrative span cannot be ignored; the unit
gives a clear, intense focus to Jesus as miracle worker. Indeed, one
account (6.53-56) provides a good example of the Hellenistic miracle
story. Recent attempts to find in the Gospel of Mark a monolithic
rejection of miracle activity do violence to the manner in which
miracles operate within the narrative.1 As demonstrated in Mk 6.6b8.27 miracle activity provides a central element which cannot be
negotiated out of the christological portrait of the Gospel of Mark. At
the same time the extensive presence of miracle activity does not
signify an uncritical adoption of a 9eioq dvr|p outlook.2 The portrait
of Jesus in Mk 6.6b-8.27a lies between these two extremes. Miracles
1. For a coherent statement of this view, see TJ. Weeden, Mark: Traditions in
Conflict (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971).
2. For an example of this proposal, see Talbert, What Is a Gospel?

5. Mark 6.6b-8.27a

147

provide the narrative demonstration of the identity of Jesus. Miracles


confirm the authoritative proclamation of Jesus, and miracle activity
becomes the channel of Jesus' ministry to the Gentiles.
In addition to their role in the construction of the central christological portrait, the miracle stories in Mk 6.6b-8.27a shape the context of the christological portrait. The extended unit employs formal
miracle stories to narrate the obstinate rejection of Jesus by the religious leaders. At the same time formal miracle stories are employed to
demonstrate that none of the wonders overcomes the blindness of the
disciples. In this manner miracle stories play a decisive role in creating the narrative context of blindness and rejection against which the
christological portrait is constructed. This context paves the way for
the passion narrative.

Chapter 6
MARK 8.27-10.52
The fourth major section of the Gospel of Mark extends from
Mk 8.27-10.52 and contains three miracle stories. Synchronic
analysis will be applied to each of these miracle stories. Attention will
then be given to the operations of the extended unit of Mk 8.27-10.52.
Particular focus will be given to the role of the miracle stories of
Mk 8.27-10.52 in the characterization of Jesus.
Mark 9.2-14a: The Transfiguration of Jesus
While Mk 9.2-13 is generally taken as the parameters of the
transfiguration story, the proper narrative conclusion is provided by
9.14a. Therefore, synchronic analysis will be applied to Mk 9.2-14a as
a coherent literary unit. The narrative motifs of Mk 9.2-14a may be
plotted in the following manner:
92a, b

Introduction
Miracle worker comes

9.2a, b

Body
Miracle worker revealed
Witnesses revealed
Disciples respond
Narrator intrudes
God commands
Disciples respond

9.2c-8
9.2c-3
9.4
9.5
9.6
9.7
9.8

Conclusion
Miracle worker departs
Miracle worker commands
Disciples respond
Disciples question
Miracle worker responds
Miracle worker departs

9.9-14a
9.9a
9.9b, c
9.10
9.11
9.12-13
9.14a

6. Mark 8.27-10.52

149

Narrative Morphology
The introduction of the unit employs a single motif, the expected 'the
miracle worker comes' (9.2a, b). This motif encodes a wealth of
information necessary for the story which follows. The temporal
designation locates the story six days after the teaching at Caesarea
Philippi (8.31-9.1), and the geographical designation places the event
on a mountain of that region. In addition, the introduction provides
the three human witnesses to the transfiguration. In this manner the
introduction links the story to the teaching concerning the passion, and
it brings Peter, James and John forward as key participants.
The body of the story (9.2c-8) employs a number of unusual motifs.
The opening motif'the miracle worker is revealed' (9.2c-3)is
distinct within the Gospel of Mark. In other instances the revelation is
veiled in the meeting of a need (6.47-53; 4.35-5.1). In contrast, the
revelatory motif of 9.2c-3 employs neither the coming of the miracle
worker nor the meeting of a need, but a pure epiphanic event. This
unadorned epiphany replaces the miracle activity found at the center
of other miracle stories, creating a distinct form for the epiphanic
miracle stories.
In the same manner the epiphanic focus creates a second distinct
motifthe appearance of heavenly witnesses (9.4). This motif extends
the revelatory motif. Taken together, the revelation of the miracle
worker and the appearance of heavenly witnesses take over the function of the miracle activity and serve as the formal center in the
epiphanic miracle stories.1
The disciples respond to this epiphanic event in Mk 9.5. Here Peter
speaks as a representative of the other disciples, but his answer seems
misdirected. The intrusion of the narrator confirms the improper
nature of Peter's response (9.6). The narrator not only confirms that
the disciples' reply is inappropriate, but also tells that their confusion
is motivated by fear. Thus, the disciple's own reply and the comments
of the narrator both reveal the inability of the disciples: they are
unable to respond properly to the revelation of Jesus' identity.
The distinctive motif 'God commands' (9.7) stands in stark contrast
to this failure. Here the voice of God speaks from the clouds to articulate the proper understanding of Jesus and the proper response to the
revelatory event: 'This is my beloved SonHear him!' Following the
1. The process of displacing miracle activity with an epiphanic focus has already
begun in stories such as Mk 4.35-5.1; 6.47-53; Jn 21.1-8.

150

Teaching with Authority

command of God the disciples respond by looking about (9.8), but


they see only Jesus. In this manner the epiphanic vision ends and the
story moves to its conclusion.
The conclusion of the story (9.9-14a) is extensive and complex. The
genitive absolute construction (KaxaPawovxcov CCOTCOV in 9.9a) gives
the descent from the mountain a durative sense. This temporal expansion accomodates the concluding dialogue between Jesus and the three
disciples. Following the initiation of the departure (9.9a) Jesus commands the disciples to silence (9.9b, c). Unlike other commands to
silence, this one is conditional: it remains in effect only until the Son
of Man is raised from the dead. The disciples respond to the command
of Jesus (9.10) as they did to the epiphany: they do not understand.
The concluding dialogue continues with the disciples' question concerning Elijah (9.11). Because of the events which they have witnessed, the disciples question the destiny of Elijah, but not Jesus'
destiny. The answer of Jesus (9.12-13) addresses not only the fate of
Elijah, but also the destiny of the Son of Man.
The motif 'the miracle worker departs' (9.14a) completes the
extensive conclusion. This motif links Jesus and the three to the
remainder of the disciples, and it provides transition to the healing of
the young boy (9.14-30).
Narrative Syntax
Beyond their role as compositional elements in a formal miracle
story, the syntactical distribution of the motifs of 9.2-14a generates a
special orientation. The introduction (9.2a, b) plays an important role
in the orientation of the plot action. The temporal linkage to the
previous unit ties the story to Jesus' teaching on the passion. This
foreknowledge concerning the destiny of Jesus tempers the glorious
revelation in 9.2-14a. The introduction marks the unit as a story of
revelation through the use of the mountain setting.1 Beyond this the
three disciples are named as key witnesses. Thus, the introduction
links the story to the passion prediction as a crucial revelation to the
disciples.
The body of the unit (9.2c-8) provides a distinctive center for this
miracle story. The typical presentation of need is missing, and the
1. For discussion of the narrative significance of the mountain settings in the
Gospel of Mark, see Rhoads and Michie, Mark as Story, pp. 66-67. See also
Kelber, Mark's Story, pp. 53-55, and Pesch, Markusevangelium, II, p. 71.

6. Mark 8.27-10.52

151

miracle activity is replaced by a scene of revelation. The epiphany of


Jesus and the appearance of heavenly witnesses thus become the center
around which the body operates. This transformation generates a distinct christological focus: Jesus is the one in whom the surpassing
brightness of God's presence abides,1 and Moses and Elijah bear
witness to this revelation.
The response of the disciples extends this christological portrait into
a commentary on the closest followers of Jesus. As in Mk 8.17 the
disciples do not comprehend the revelation of Jesus' identity. Thus,
9.2-14a amplifies the portrait of the disciples as blind and hardhearted. The intrusion of the narrator confirms this image, linking the
fear of the disciples to their failure to understand.
Most significantly, the story provides the occasion for an appearance by God. The command of God contrasts the failure of the disciples and provides the proper interpretation for the epiphanic vision.
The first focus of the divine voice is the identity of Jesus: he is the
beloved Son of God. First narrated to Jesus alone in 1.11, the identity
of Jesus is now conveyed to the inner circle of three.
Beyond this focus on Jesus' identity, the divine voice provides an
ultimate interpretation of the role of discipleship. The imperative
command to hear Jesus (axovexe) implies obedience.2 Thus, the
proper response to the identity of Jesus is to hear and obey his teaching. Significantly, the nearest didactic event is the passion teaching of
8.27-38. Thus, obedience to Jesus means obedience to the demands of
discipleship in terms of the cross (8.34). The divine voice demands
cross-bearing in the path of the one who will die in Jerusalem.
In this manner the story employs the divine command to crystallize
the focus on Christology and discipleship. The carefully developed
portrait of Jesus as the proclaimer sent from God to give his life is
now confirmed by the very voice of God. In addition the central focus
on discipleship is articulated as a divine command. In this manner 9.214a brings the pivotal teaching of 8.27-38 on Christology and
discipleship forward and raises it to the level of a divine imperative.

1. For the OT background of this imagery, see Exod. 24.17. See also Acts
9.3-6; Heb. 12.18-21, 29.
2. The imperative use of (XKOTSCO seems to take over the OT use of schema
'hear and obey'. See Deut. 5.1; 6.4-5; Mk 12.29-30.

152

Teaching with Authority

Fear and failure to understand mark the response of the disciples.1


The linkage of this response to the divine command on Christology
and discipleship provides stark affirmation of the failure of those who
follow Jesus.
The syntactical operations of the conclusion also provide a crucial
orientation for the story. The departure of the miracle worker extends
into a lengthy dialogue which focuses the destiny of Jesus and his
followers. The command to silence again evokes the portrait of the
disciples as dull and slow to comprehend: they do not understand the
instruction concerning the resurrection (8.31; 9.10). In addition the
question of the disciples misses the central focus on the identity of
Jesus; they inquire instead about the destiny of Elijah. Thus, the
operations of the conclusion intensify the portrait of the disciples as
slow to comprehend. This image is especially stark in view of the
preceding passion teaching and the Christophany. The response of
Jesus turns the story back to the central focus on Christology and
discipleship. Jesus points again to the destiny of the Son of Man to
suffer much and to be despised (9.12). In view of this central focus,
the issue of Elijah becomes intelligible: Elijah returned in the form of
the Baptist, and they killed him. Thus, even the Elijah question points
to the identity of Jesus and, beyond that, to the destiny of all who
follow Jesus.
In this manner the syntactical operation of the formal motifs of Mk
9.2-14a creates a distinct focus on the identity of Jesus and on the role
of discipleship. Through its internal syntax the story employs the
divine command to focus two crucial themes: (1) the identity of Jesus
as the one sent from God to give his life, and (2) the imperative of the
cross for all who would follow Jesus.
Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 9.2-14a reveals an example of the miracle
story genre whose thematic orientation'Jesus is revealed'places
the unit in the sub-category of epiphany. More precisely, the story is a
Christophany.2
1. For an extensive discussion of the narrative role of fear, see Stacy, Tear*.
2. Bultmann (History, pp. 259-61) labels the unit a resurrection story which has
been predated into the ministry of Jesus. Dibelius (Tradition,?]). 271, 275-79) describes the story as a mythological narrative whose epiphanic focus was used as part of
a Christ-mythology. Theissen (Miracle Stories, p. 321) labels the unit as an epiphany.

6. Mark 8.27-10.52

153

Beyond its description as a formal miracle story, the syntactical


operation of the unit proves important. The miracle activity typical of
miracle stories becomes here a Christophany affirmed by heavenly
witnesses and by the voice of God. The syntax of the narrative directs
this epiphany into a concerted focus on Jesus: he is the one sent from
God who will give his life and be raised. Thus, the epiphany points
uniquely to the cross. In view of this sharp focus on the identity and
destiny of Jesus, the failure of the disciples is overwhelming. At the
same time, however, the failure of the disciples becomes the occasion
for the clear assertion of the suffering and death which accompany the
task of discipleship. Thus, the syntactical operation employs the
epiphanic focus to give a sharp narrative portrait of the identity and
destiny of Jesus and of the demands upon all who would follow him.
Analysis of the operation of the transfiguration story in other contexts demonstrates both the flexibility of the formal unit and the
narrative distinctiveness of Mk 9.2-14a. Prior to its use in the Gospel
of Mark, the story operated as a revelation of the glory of Jesus in a
christological portrait that is thoroughly Jewish-Christian. The application of the material to the passion of Jesus stands in distinct contrast
to the use of the material in its earlier context. Both Matthew and
Luke take over the basic production found in the Gospel of Mark, but
each reduces the negative portrait of the disciples. In 2 Peter, the
story provides apostolic authority for the teachings of the writer. In
the Ethiopic Apocalypse of Peter and in the Pistis Sophia, the story is
a resurrection appearance providing wisdom and insight to the
followers of Jesus. In the Akhmim Apocalypse of Peter the story is
employed to give a vision of the glory which is to come.
This transfiguration story may operate in a variety of contexts with
a stark diversity in its significance, as diachronic analysis shows.
Standing in contrast to these co-productions, the distinct narrative
operation of Mk 9.2-14a within the wider narrative of the Gospel of
Mark demonstrates a crucial premise: narrative significance is a
product of the narrative grammar which operates within and upon a
text. Through the operations of this narrative grammar Mk 9.2-14a
creates a distinct narrative focus on the identity of Jesus and on the
demands of discipleship. Jesus is the beloved Son of God who will
give his life in Jerusalem; true disciples must share his destiny.

154

Teaching with Authority


Mark 9.14-30: A Final Exorcism

While Mk 9.14-27 is usually taken as the parameters of the healing of


the boy with the unclean spirit, the narrative conclusion of the story is
reached only in the departure in 9.30. Therefore, synchronic analysis
will investigate Mk 9.14-30 as a coherent literary unit, giving
particular attention to its role in the characterization of Jesus.
Introduction
Miracle worker comes

9.14
9.14

Body
Crowd responds
Miracle worker questions
Need presented
Miracle worker responds
Need presented
Representative responds
Miracle worker responds
Representative responds
Miracle worker heals
Victim responds
Crowd responds
Miracle worker heals

9.15-27
9.15
9.16
9.17-18
9.19
9.20
9.21-22
9.23
9.24
9.25-26a
9.26b
9.26c
9.27

Conclusion
Miracle worker departs
Disciples question
Miracle worker responds
Miracle worker departs

9.28-30
9.28a
9.28b
9.29
9.30

Narrative Morphology
The introduction of the unit employs a single motif'the miracle
worker comes' (9.14). This expected introduction links the healing of
the boy to the transfiguration, but it also inserts characters crucial for
the healing story. The remainder of the disciples become participants
in the story. In addition, a large crowd encircles the disciples as they
dispute with the scribes. Thus, the introductory motif enlarges the
confusion which surrounded the inner three disciples in the
transfiguration story.
The body of the story (9.15-27) opens with an unusual motif'the
crowd responds' (9.15). Here the crowd runs together at the approach

6. Mark 8.27-10.52

155

of Jesus. This gathering is followed by Jesus' question concerning the


nature of the debate (9.16).
The presentation of the need (9.17-18) is extensive and unique. As
in a few other stories (2.1-13; 5.21a-6.1a; 7.24-31) a representative
presents the need. Here a father steps forth from the crowd to plead
on behalf of his son. The father first presents the need as a spirit of
muteness, but the extensive description of torment intensifies this
presentation. Beyond this the representative presents another lack. In
conjunction with the inability of the boy to speak stands a second level
of need: the disciples are unable to heal the boy.
The response of Jesus (9.19) also operates at two levels. Reversing
the order of presentation, Jesus first responds to the unbelief of the
present generation. Only in the second layer of the response does he
address the physical problem.
Mk 9.20 presents the physical need a second time. A demonstration
of the desperate nature of the illness accompanies this second presentation. The question of Jesus to the father (9.21a) interrupts this
exhibition. Jesus' question provides the occasion for the third presentation of the need.
The reply of the father (9.21b-22) provides a third presentation of
the need. Significantly this presentation addresses two layers of need.
Beyond the life-threatening situation of the boy, the father stands in
need of faith. Jesus' response addresses this need for faith: 'all things
are possible to the one who believes' (9.23). In the same manner the
response of the father concerns the lack of faith and not the physical
illness: 'I believe, help my unbelief (9.24).
Only after this lengthy focus on the issue of faith does the story
address the physical illness. The healing command of Jesus leads to the
violent departure of the spirit and to the deathlike stillness of the boy
(9.25-26b). The crowd responds to the healing with their judgment
that the boy died (9.26c). Because of this the story narrates a second
healing act (9.27). Here the exorcism imagery gives way to the
imagery of resurrection. Thus, the raising of the boy creates a second
level of deliverance which intensifies the event. In contrast to the
raising events in 1.29-31 and 5.21-24, 35-43, the raising of the boy in
9.14-30 is a public event.
The conclusion of the unit is extended and complex. The departure
of the miracle worker (9.28a) does not terminate the story; instead,
the genitive absolute construction (eioeT&ovxoq cruxou) provides the

156

Teaching with Authority

occasion for continued, co-temporal developments. The question from


the disciples about their inability to heal the boy (9.28b) occupies this
temporal extension. This extension of the departure allows a concluding logion from Jesus: 'this kind does not come out except through
prayer' (9.29). Only in 9.30 does the story terminate. Here the healing
story concludes as Jesus departs for a secretive journey through
Galilee.
Narrative Syntax
The syntactical operation of the motifs of Mk 9.14-30 creates a particular narrative orientation. The introduction of the story (9.14)
extends and expands the confusion which surrounds the disciples in the
previous story. In addition, the interactions of the disciples with the
scribes and the crowds in the absence of Jesus demonstrate the
impotence of the disciples.
The body of the story generates an intense focus on the pervasive
lack of faith. The story presents the physical need in drastic, graphic
terms. In addition, the physical need is presented in stages, each more
intense than the last. The initial presentation labels the illness as muteness and employs a description of the need (9.17-18). The second
presentation employs a further description and a graphic demonstration of the illness (9.20-22). The third presentation of the need
includes both muteness and deafness, and this description employs a
violent demonstration and a deathlike trance (9.25-26).
In spite of this growing intensity in the description of the illness, the
need which confronts Jesus is not only physical in nature, but also
spiritual. The disciples lack the faith to heal (9.18); the father lacks
the faith to trust completely ('if you can' in 9.22). In each instance
Jesus first addresses the lack of faith (9.19a, b, 23), then the physical
ailment (9.19c, 25-27). Thus, the syntactical operations supersede the
life-threatening physical need with a more crucial lackthe absence
of faith. This lack of faith stands in sharp contrast to earlier activity
by the disciples. Those who once preached and healed in the name of
Jesus (3.13-15; 6.7-13) are now impotent and lacking in prayer.
Significantly, this bifocal presentation of need is accompanied by a
strong christological focus on Jesus as teacher. In the face of the
physical crisis and the impotence of the disciples Jesus is addressed as
teacher (9.17). In the aftermath of the disciples' failure, Jesus embodies
the model of teacher when he instructs his followers in the privacy of

6. Mark 8.27-10.52

157

the house (9.28-29). In this manner the internal syntax of the story
operates to frame the miracle activity and the failure of the disciples
with a crucial interpretive portrait of Jesus as the powerful teacher.
This interpretive framing takes over the teaching/preaching portrait
initiated in 1.14-15 and carefully developed through the first three
sections of the Gospel of Mark. In this manner the miracle activity is
subsumed within the central focus of the story: Jesus, the powerful
proclaimer, addresses the lack of faith which possesses his followers.
Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 9.14-30 reveals an example of the miracle
story genre whose thematic orientation'Jesus overcomes demons'
places it in the sub-category of exorcism.1 Beyond this formal
description as a miracle story, the syntactical operation of the motifs
within the unit creates a unique focus. The motifs operate in such a
way that the lack of faith becomes the central need of the story. Jesus
then addresses this need through his role as teacher. In this manner,
Mk 9.14-30 employs a formal miracle story to focus the failure of the
disciples in spite of their close association with Jesus. At the same time
the story employs miracle activity to renew the distinctive christological focus on Jesus as the powerful teacher who addresses the needs of
those about him. Thus, the syntactical interaction of the motifs of Mk
9.14-30 employs the miracle activity to reassert the primary narrative
focus: the identity of Jesus and the demands of discipleship.
Mark 10.46-52: The Healing of Bartimaeus
Mk 10.46-52 narrates the healing of Bartimaeus. Synchronic analysis
will be applied to this story in order to focus its narrative significance,
particularly in the characterization of Jesus. The motifs of Mk 10.4652 may be plotted in the following manner:

1. Bultmann (History, pp. 211-12) labels the story as a healing story built from
two independent miracle stories. Dibelius (Tradition, p. 72) calls the story a
Novelle. Theissen (Miracle Stories, p. 321) calls the unit an exorcism story.

158

Teaching with Authority


Introduction
Miracle worker comes

10.46a
10.46a

Body
Need presented
Crowd responds
Victim responds
Miracle worker commands
Need presented
Miracle worker questions
Victim responds
Miracle worker heals

10.46b-52a
10.46b-47
10.48a
10.48b
10.49a
10.49b-50
10.51a
10.51b
10.52a, b

Conclusion
Miracle worker departs

10.52c
10.52c

Narrative Morphology
The introduction of the unit employs a single, brief motif, 'the
miracle worker comes' (10.46a). Beyond providing the geographical
setting, this introductory motif brings the disciples forward through
the use of the plural (ep%ovxai). This technique links the healing to
the teaching on Christology and discipleship in 10.32-45.
The body of the story (10.46b-52a) builds a complex interchange
between Jesus, the crowd and the blind man. The initial motif,
'the need presented' (10.46b-47)inserts these three key participants
into the story. The use of the genitive absolute construction
(eKrcope<DOuivo'o amov) creates a temporal span in which the plot
action may occur. The outward movement of Jesus, disciples and
crowds is met by the static and durative description of Bartimaeus
he was sitting by the way as a beggar. In this manner the opening
motif of the body provides both the situation of the story and the
presentation of need. Mk 10.47 transforms the narrative description
of the need into a cry on the lips of the victim. Significantly, 10.47
employs three different titles: Jesus, the Nazarene, son of David. This
strategy presents the need of the victim in a way that prepares for the
christological focus of the story.
An extensive interchange precedes the actual healing of the victim.
This dialogue creates difficulty and delay. The response of the crowd
(10.48a) rebukes the blind man to silence. In reply to this rebuke
Bartimaeus cries even louder for the mercy of Jesus (10.48b). The
cries of Bartimaeus bring the movement of Jesus to a halt, then Jesus

6. Mark 8.27-10.52

159

commands the crowd to call the blind man (10.49a). As a result of this
command the need is presented a second time (10.49b-50). Here the
crowd calls Bartimaeus, he casts off his garment,1 he rises to his feet
and he comes to Jesus. This second presentation of the need brings
Bartimaeus into the presence of Jesus. The question of Jesus (10.51a)
provides the occasion for a third presentation of the need. This third
stage of the presentation is more personal: Bartimaeus presents his
own need to Jesus (10.51b). Significantly, the plea of Bartimaeus
employs a fourth title for Jesusrabbi. The request of Bartimaeus is
direct: 'Rabboni, I wish to see again' (10.51b).
The healing act is reached only in 10.52a, b. Here the story employs
a command to confirm that the healing has already occurred; no
healing command, no gesture, no healing medium is employed. More
significantly, the command of Jesus links the healing to the faith of
Bartimaeus: 'your faith has saved you' (10.52a).
The conclusion of the story employs the single motif 'the miracle
worker departs' (10.52c). This departure plays a crucial role in the
central action of the story. Bartimaeus accompanies Jesus in his departure, and the inceptive imperfect (riKo^coGei) implies the beginning
of a journey. Significantly, Bartimaeus follows Jesus 'in the way'a
code for discipleship in view of the cross. In this manner Bartimaeus
becomes a companion of Jesus on his journey to his death in
Jerusalem. This act of following completes the transformation of the
blind beggar. As such, the departure functions as Bartimaeus's
response and as confirmation of the healing. This technique incorporates the expected response and the confirmation of the miracle event
into the departure scene as an act of discipleship.
Narrative Syntax
Beyond their role as compositional elements in a formal miracle
story, the syntactical distribution of the narrative motifs of Mk 10.4652 is important. Though entirely missing from the central action of
the story, the disciples are made key witnesses by the operation of the
opening motifs. The story presents the need of the blind man in three
levels, with each stage becoming more personal. In contrast to this
intensification of the need and the delay in the healing comes the brief
and simple nature of the healing act. Thus, the motifs operate to
1. For discussion of the narrative role of the garment, see R. A. Culpepper,
'Mark 10.50: Why Mention the Garment?', JBL 101 (1982), pp. 131-32.

160

Teaching with Authority

reduce the self-focused impact of the healing event. Instead, the


healing points to the faith of Bartimaeus and to his response to Jesus.
The healing focus is redirected toward two crucial character traits of
Bartimaeus: he is faithful, and he follows Jesus in the way.
Within the larger context of Mk 8.27-10.52 the faithfulness of
Bartimaeus stands in stark contrast to the disciples' lack of faith.
Because of this, the blindness of Bartimaeus recalls the blindness of
the disciples (8.18). Likewise, the 'way' plays a key role in the larger
unit.1 In Mk 8.27-10.52 the way means Jesus' journey to his death in
Jerusalem (8.31; 9.31; 10.32-34). Disciples are to follow Jesus in this
way (8.34-38), but they also fail Jesus in the way (9.33-34; 10.35-45).
Thus, the motifs of the narrative operate in such a manner that the
need of Bartimaeus and his miraculous healing become the occasion
for his faithful following in the way of the cross.
The need of Bartimaeus not only occasions his discipleship, but also
provides a sharp focus on the identity of Jesus. The narrative motifs
employ four titles: Jesus, the Nazarene, son of David, rabbi. The use
of son of David is especially proper in view of Jesus' approach to
Jerusalem, the city of David. In addition, the address of Jesus as rabbi
is noteworthy. Again, the use of the Hebrew form of 'teacher' is most
appropriate in the approach to Jerusalem. The story portrays Jesus in
the face of desperate need and in the shadow of his cross as the powerful teacher sent from God. Here Jesus' teaching activity addresses
physical illness, but more importantly, the crucial need for faith and
discipleship. In this manner Mk 10.46-52 takes over and advances the
narrative development of the teaching theme. Thus, the internal syntax
of the story employs the need and the healing of Bartimaeus to focus
the identity of Jesus: he is the son of David who draws near to his
destiny in Jerusalem, the powerful teacher who calls faithful disciples
to follow in his path.
Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 10.46-52 reveals an example of the miracle
story genre whose thematic orientation'Jesus heals the blind'
places it in the sub-category of healing story.2 Beyond its classification

1. For the narrative role of the 'way', see Kelber, Mark's Story, pp. 43-46,
and Rhoads and Michie, Mark as Story\ pp. 64-65.
2. Bultmann (History, p. 213) labels the unit as a healing miracle. Dibelius

6. Mark 8.27-10.52

161

as a formal miracle story, the syntactical operation of the narrative


motifs of Mk 10.46-52 creates a unique narrative production. Though
unnecessary for the plot action, the disciples become key witnesses to
the healing. The need of Bartimaeus occupies an extended stretch of
the narrative. This need then becomes the occasion for demonstration
of Bartimaeus's faith and discipleship. The response by the blind
beggar thus stands in stark contrast to the response of the disciples in
the larger unit. Beyond this the need of Bartimaeus occasions deeper
focus on the identity of Jesus. The internal syntax of the story focuses
the identity of Jesus as the son of David and as the powerful Jewish
teacher who leads on the path of faith and discipleship. In this manner
the miracle activity at the center of the story is subsumed within a
more central narrative concern. Mk 10.46-52 again demonstrates the
syntactical use of a formal miracle story to generate a decisive narrative focus on the identity of Jesus and on the demands of discipleship.
Extended Synchronic Analysis
Extended synchronic analysis will give attention to the narrative
operation of the elements of the extended unit. Special attention will
be given to the role of miracle stories within Mk 8.27-10.52, particularly in the characterization of Jesus.
The three passion predictions (8.31-38; 9.30-37; 10.32-45) dominate the larger unit of Mk 8.27-10.52. These three units are crucial
because of their internal composition and because of their arrangement within the larger section (8.27-10.52). Internally the three
passion predictions follow the same pattern: prediction, misunderstanding, teaching. Each of the passion predictions gives primary
focus to the destiny of Jesus in Jerusalem (8.31; 9.31; 10.32-34). This
foretelling of the path of Jesus provides the most important christological portrait of the narrative: Jesus embraces the way of the cross
as his destiny before God. This primary focus on Christology in each
of the passion predictions provides narrative definition to the confession that Jesus is the Christ (8.27-30). This technique forges a crucial
narrative link between cross and Christology.
Following the primary christological focus, each of the passion
predictions emphasizes the decisive failure of the disciples: they do not
(Tradition, p. 43) calls the story a paradigm. Theissen (Miracle Stories; p. 321)
calls the story a healing.

162

Teaching with Authority

understand the identity and the mission of Jesus (8.32-33; 9.32; 10.3541). This pattern generates a stark narrative contrast: the clear
portrayal of Jesus' identity and mission is matched by the blindness
and dullness of those who follow him.
A third focus is present in each of the passion predictions. Following the christological assertion and the portrait of the disciples'
failure, each passion prediction creates a concerted emphasis on the
teaching ministry of Jesus (8.34-38; 9.33-37; 10.42-45). In each
instance the subject of the teaching is the nature of true discipleship.
Thus, each of the passion predictions operate in the same manner. A
crucial link is drawn from the identity of Jesus as the Christ to his
destiny of suffering and death. This climactic christological formulation is then linked to the failure of the disciples, but also to the continuing call to discipleship. In this manner the passion predictions
bring the extensive focus on Christology and discipleship under the
ultimate interpretive standard of the narrativeJesus' death on the
cross. At the same time the passion predictions link the death of Jesus
to his continued teaching ministry.
In addition to this crucial internal pattern of composition, the
distribution of the passion predictions within Mk 8.27-10.52 is decisive. The christological confession of 8.27-30 is the initial unit of this
section. The careful narrative development of the portrait of Jesus
reaches a new level with the confession of Peter: 'you are the Christ'
(8.29). While a narrative plateau has been reached, the operations of
the narrative provide a careful treatment of the christological confession. This confession is the first unit with a setting 'in the way'
(8.27)a setting that will be developed into a metaphor for the journey of Jesus to the cross. Beyond this Jesus responds to the confession
with a command to silence (8.30). This provides the first narrative
indication that the confession is incomplete.
The inadequacy of Peter's confession is confirmed by the passion
prediction which follows (8.31-38). The presence of teaching activity
by Jesus (8.31) provides a sure sign that the disciples require further
instruction on the identity and mission of Jesus. The content of the
teaching provides the most decisive reorientation of the confession:
Jesus, the Christ, is destined to die in Jerusalem. In this manner the
first passion prediction (8.31-38) provides a crucial narrative
interpretation of the christological confession (8.27-30). The failure
of the disciples (8.32-33) and the further instruction on the role of

6. Mark 8.27-10.52

163

discipleship (8.34-38) confirm the inadequacy of their confession.


Only in the shadow of the cross at Jerusalem can the identity and mission of Jesus be truly understood, as the confession of the centurion
will show (15.39).
Following the reinterpretation of the christological confession
(8.27-30) through the passion prediction (8.31-38) come the transfiguration (9.2-14a) and the healing of the silent boy (9.14-30). As
shown in the synchronic analysis of 9.2-14a, the transfiguration is
shaped from within. The epiphanic event now points to the failure of
the disciples. In addition, the conclusion of the story includes a teaching unit on the true identity of Jesus and on the destiny of those who
follow Jesus. These internal operations employ the formal miracle
story of Mk 9.2-14a to generate a narrative focus on Christology and
discipleship.
Likewise the internal operations of the healing story in 9.14-30
focus the lack of faith and the failure of the disciples. In addition, the
conclusion of the story again employs a teaching unit in which Jesus
addresses the failure of his disciples. Thus, both the transfiguration
and the healing of the silent boy contain an internal orientation on the
identity of Jesus and on the task of discipleship.
Beyond these internal operations the extended unit of Mk 8.2710.52 operates upon these two miracle stories to generate a clear
narrative focus on Jesus as the teacher and as the crucified Christ.
Following the christological portrait of the transfiguration and the
subsequent healing comes the second passion prediction (9.30-37).
This unit repeats the operation of the first passion prediction: the
christological focus is again linked to the cross of Jesus, the failure of
the disciples is narrated, and further teaching on discipleship is
provided. Thus, the first two passion predictions provide a crucial
interpretive frame for the miracle activity of 9.2-30. In this manner
the christological implications of the confession (8.27-30), the transfiguration (9.2-14a) and the healing of the silent boy (9.14-30) are
interpreted by a sharp focus on the teaching of Jesus and the cross of
Jesus. This decisive christological orientation then generates the
definitive model for discipleship.
Following this interpretive operation of the first two passion
predictions comes an extended focus on Jesus' teaching activity (9.3810.31). The portrait of Jesus as powerful teacher is taken up from its
previous narrative development and employed as a crucial element in

164

Teaching with Authority

the christological focus of 8.27-10.52. Mk 9.38-10.31 gives the


content of Jesus' teaching its most extensive treatment. Jesus addresses
the place of other believers (9.38-50), the question of divorce (10.112), the place of the little children (10.13-16) and the question of
riches (10.17-31). In this manner the christological focus on 8.2710.52 comes under the interpretive frame of both the teaching
ministry of Jesus and his passion.
The third passion prediction (10.32-45) closes the interpretive frame.
The pattern of the previous passion predictions (8.31-38; 9.30-37) is
repeated: Christology is linked to the cross of Jesus, the failure of the
disciples is highlighted, further teaching on discipleship is provided.
In this manner the passion predictions provide the crucial interpretive lens for the extended unit of 8.27-10.52. Internally, they focus
the true identity of Jesus and the severe demands of discipleship.
Externally, the distribution of the three prediction units reorients the
whole of 8.27-10.52. The christological confession stands under the
influence of the first passion prediction. Likewise the miracle activity
and the teaching activity are both framed by passion predictions. This
narrative strategy reshapes the entirety of 8.27-10.52 into an intense
focus on the significance of the death of Jesus for Christology and for
discipleship.
Beyond this the narrative portrait of Jesus as powerful teacher radically influences the orientation of 8.27-10.52. The entirety of the first
passion prediction is defined as teaching activity (8.31), and the
misunderstanding of the disciples (8.32-33) is countered by the teaching of Jesus (8.34-38). The transfiguration concludes with Jesus'
teaching activity (9.9-14a), as does the healing of the silent boy (9.2830). In the moment of his desperation and need the father of the boy
addresses Jesus as teacher (9.17). The entirety of the second passion
prediction is also characterized as teaching activity (9.31), and the
misunderstanding of the disciples (9.32) is again countered by the
teaching of Jesus (9.33-37). In 9.38 one of the disciples addresses
Jesus as teacher, then an extensive demonstration of Jesus' teaching
follows (9.38-10.31). Inside one of these didactic units the inquirer
addresses Jesus as teacher (10.17). In the final passion prediction a
disciple addresses Jesus as teacher (10.35). The disciples' misunderstanding is countered once again by the teaching of Jesus (10.42-45).
In the final story of the section Bartimaeus addresses Jesus not only as
son of David, but also as 'Rabboni', teacher.

6. Mark 8.27-10.52

165

Thus, the narrative operations of the extended unit of Mk 8.2710.52 take up the portrait of Jesus as the wondrous, powerful teacher
sent from God, providing sharp narrative demonstration and intensification of this christological portrait. The internal and external operations of the narrative grammar weave the teaching portrait through
the unit as a decisive interpretive canon. In this manner Jesus' teaching
and his passion are inseparably linked.
As this extended synchronic analysis demonstrates, the operation of
the narrative grammar upon the elements of Mk 8.27-10.52 generates
a decisive christological focus upon the teaching of Jesus. The focus of
this teaching is twofold: Christology and discipleship. The intense
focus on the identity and mission of Jesus in terms of his death on the
cross creates a consequent focus on the radical demands upon those
who would follow Jesus. Thus, the previous concern of the narrative
with the identity of Jesus and with the role of discipleship undergoes
further development through the narrative operations of Mk 8.27-52.
The miracle stories of 9.2-14a and 9.14-30 serve an intricate role in
this narrative portrait of Jesus.
This narrative production reaches its climax in the concluding story
of Mk 10.46-52. The healing of blind Bartimaeus encapsulates the
narrative focus of the entire unit into a climactic story. The focus on
the identity of Jesus continues in the titles employed: Jesus, son of
David, Nazarene, rabbi. The reference to Jesus as son of David carries
kingly and christological overtones and focuses the unique identity of
Jesus. Most importantly, the description of Jesus as Jewish teacher
points again to the identity of Jesus as the powerful teacher/preacher
sent from God.
At the same time Mk 10.46-52 takes up the christological focus on
the cross of Jesus. The larger narrative unit has defined 'the way' as
Jesus' journey to his destiny in Jerusalem (8.27; 9.33, 34; 10.17, 32,
46, 52), and this theme is taken up at two points in the story of
Bartimaeus (10.46, 52). Thus, Mk 10.46-52 affirms the christological
portrait of Jesus both as teacher and as the crucified Christ.
Finally, Mk 10.46-52 takes up the narrative focus on the role of
discipleship. Although they play no role in the healing event, the
disciples of Jesus are linked into the story of Bartimaeus (10.46). The
presence of these disciples and their history of failure encourages
a symbolic understanding of the blindness. The wider narrative
characterizes the disciples as blind (8.18) and as lacking in faith and

166

Teaching with Authority

understanding (6.49-52). The faith of Bartimaeus stands in stark


contrast to this failure of the disciples. Bartimaeus is also blind, but
his faith leads to the gift of sight and to the role of discipleship. When
Jesus asks the disciples what they want from him, they request places
of honor (10.35-37). When Jesus asks Bartimaeus what he wants, the
son of Timaeus requests the gift of sight and he follows Jesus (10.5152). By following Jesus in the way Bartimaeus becomes a model for
discipleship (1.18; 2.14). In this manner miracle activity operates to
produce not acclamation, but a faithful follower of Jesus. Discipleship
becomes the miracle which surpasses all of the miracles. Mk 10.46-52
thus employs the miracle activity of a formal miracle story to encapsulate the narrative vision of the entire unit: the teacher is on his journey to the cross in Jerusalem, a faithful disciple follows him in the way.
Conclusion
The analysis of Mk 8.27-10.52 demonstrates the manner in which
formal miracle stories may be transformed by the narrative system
within which they operate. In particular, the analysis demonstrates the
manner in which the narrative grammar of the Gospel of Mark
realigns the expected focus on the miracle event and on the acclamation of Jesus as miracle worker. Instead, traditional miracle activity
now functions in the service of a distinct narrative portrait of Jesus:
he is the messiah whose mission of teaching/preaching leads to the
cross. At the same time the narrative strategy gives intense focus to
the demands of discipleship in light of the identity and mission of
Jesus. This distinct use of the miracle stories stands at a distance from
the traditional function of the genre, both prior to the Gospel of Mark
and in the subsequent traditions.
Thus, the miracle stories of Mk 8.27-10.52 play a decisive role in
the characterization of Jesus. Taken over from a wider tradition of
miracle stories, the three miracle stories of 8.27-10.52 portray Jesus
in terms of power and authority, but a power and authority carefully
oriented toward the teaching/preaching ministry of Jesus. The transfiguration and the healings confirm that Jesus is the messiah who has
power to heal, but this identity and authority is drawn into the interpretive frame of Jesus' journey to Jerusalem and the cross. Standing in
contrast to this vital narrative formulation of the identity of Jesus is
the stark impotence and blindness of those who follow him. At the

6. Mark 8.27-10.52

167

same time Jesus' teaching activity calls and equips disciples who will
follow in his waya calling modeled ultimately in the healing of
Bartimaeus.
This narrative strategy provides a distinctive function and significance for the miracle stories of Mk 8.27-10.52. Through the operations of the narrative grammar of the extended unit, these three
miracle stories undergo a process of narrative metamorphosis and
become important elements in the concern for Christology and
discipleship. The three miracle stories of Mk 8.27-10.52 now provide
a distinctive narrative focus on Jesus: he is the powerful teacher whose
messianic identity and task reach their ultimate expression in the cross
at Jerusalem.

Chapter 7
MARK 11.1-13.37
The fifth major section of the Gospel of Mark extends from Mk 11.1
13.37. This extended unit narrates Jesus' activity in and around
Jerusalem prior to the concluding passion narrative. Significantly,
Mk 11.1-13.37 contains only one miracle story (11.12-27a).
Synchronic analysis will be applied to this story and then to the
extended unit. Special attention will be given to the role of this
miracle story in the extended unit and in the characterization of Jesus.
Mark 11.12-27a: Cursing the Fig Tree
An unusual miracle story is framed around the cleansing of the temple
in Mk 11.12-27a. Synchronic analysis will be applied to this literary
unit in order to highlight its distinct form, function and significance
within the Gospel of Mark. The narrative motifs of Mk 11.12-27a
may be plotted in the following manner:
Introduction
Miracle worker comes
Need presented

11.12-13
11.12a
11.12b

Body

11.13-26
11.13a
11.13b
11.13c
11.14a
11.14b
11.15a
11.15b-l<
11.17
11.18a, b
11.18c
11.19

Miracle worker comes


Need presented
Narrator intrudes
Miracle worker commands
Narrator intrudes
Miracle worker comes
Miracle worker cleanses
Miracle worker teaches
Opponents respond
Crowds respond
Miracle worker departs

7. Mark 11.1-1337

169

Miracle worker comes


Disciples respond
Miracle worker teaches

11.20
11.21
11.22-26

Conclusion
Miracle worker departs

1127a
11.27a

Narrative Morphology
The opening motif'the miracle worker comes' (11.12a)is direct
and concise, yet it contains a wealth of information and controls the
narration of the story. The temporal designation links the account to
the entrance into Jerusalem, the visit to the temple and the sojourn in
Bethany with the Twelve. The geographical designation makes the
story a part of Jesus' ministry in and around Jerusalem. The use of the
genitive absolute construction (E^EXGOVTCOV cnkcov) inserts the disciples into the story and creates an extended opening of narrative time
within which the events of the story may be narrated. In this manner
the simple opening motif provides the narrative foundation for the
story which follows. The second motif (11.12b) presents the need
which instigates the plot actionthe hunger of Jesus.
The body of the story extends this need through a second level of
the coming of the miracle worker (11.13a). Having come out of
Bethany, Jesus now draws near to the fig tree. Because of this the
story articulates a second presentation of need (11.13b). Here the fig
tree is barren and the hunger of Jesus is unrelieved.
Following the presentation of the need, the intrusion of the narrator
(11.13c) proves most significant. The simple informational note'for
it was not the season for figs'creates a deconstructive break in the
logic of the narrative. This deconstruction of the narrative logic is
consummated in Jesus' harsh, prophetic condemnation of the fig
tree'never again through eternity shall anyone eat of your fruit'
(11.14a). The curse is followed by the second intrusion of the narrator (11.14b). This intrusion intimately links the disciples to the
curse'and the disciples were hearing him'. Following this explosive
deconstruction of the initial narrative logic, the plot action diverts to
the scene in Jerusalem, leaving the implied reader to ponder the
incoherence of the events of the story.
The extended intrusion (11.15-19) into the plot of the miracle story
proves crucial for the orientation of the story. This redirection of the
action of the plot is signified by the third use of the motif 'the miracle

170

Teaching with Authority

worker comes' (11.15a). This new line of plot action leads to the story
of the temple (11.15b-16). Following this the teaching activity of Jesus
creates a second focus (11.17). This teaching employs the OT (Isa.
56.7; Jer. 7.11) to give prophetic sanction to Jesus' actions in the
temple. In this manner the prophetic deed and the prophetic word are
united. The religious leaders respond to this prophetic demonstration
with fear and with a death plot (11.18a, b). The crowd responds with
amazement to the teaching of Jesus (11.18c). The plot intrusion concludes with another movement of Jesusin the darkness Jesus departs
from Jerusalem (11.19).
Following the departure of Jesus from the internal scene, a fourth
movement of Jesus provides the return to the primary plot line of the
story (11.20). This morning journey returns the group to the scene of
the fig tree, which has withered from its roots. Peter responds as the
representative of the disciples (11.21), confirming the intimate involvement of the disciples in the story. Jesus then responds to the event and
to the disciples with an extended teaching session; here Jesus addresses
the issues of faith, authority, prayer and forgiveness (11.22-26).
The final movement (11.27a) of Jesus provides the conclusion to the
story. The entrance into Jerusalem completes the movement initiated
in 11.20, it concludes the plot action and it provides the transition to
the extended teaching session of 11.27-13.37.
Narrative Syntax
The syntactical operation of the narrative motifs of Mk 11.12-27a
generates a distinct function and significance for this story. This
pattern is important for both 11.12-27a and for the entire section of
11.1-13.37.
Syntactical Distribution. The introduction of the story (11.12) provides a vital link to the entrance into Jerusalem, to the passion sojourn
in Bethany and to the participation of the disciples. In addition, the
second motif of the introduction presents the need which occasions the
storyan unusual function for the introduction.
The body of the story (11.13-26) employs a syntactical pattern that
is especially distinctive. A second presentation of need complements
the extension of the arrival of the miracle worker. The first intrusion
of the narrator guarantees the participation of the disciples in the
story and in its resulting significance. The prophetic condemnation by

7. Mark 11.1-1337

111

Jesus breaks the logic of the narrative. The second intrusion of the
narrator completes this deconstruction. This intrusion clarifies the
absence of fruit, but in doing so the prophetic curse becomes an
enigma. This enigmatic transition disorients the implied reader, leading to questions about the character role of Jesus or about the
reliability of the narrator.
The sharp transition from fig tree to temple (11.15) leaves the
enigma unresolved. Instead, the disfigured plot sequence narrates
Jesus' assault on the temple at Jerusalem. This transition employs a
third sequence of movement: from fig tree to city to temple (11.15).
The use of exorcism terminology (KpdM,eiv in 11.15) and the energetic disruption of the temple practices provide a graphic demonstration of Jesus' power. In his teaching activity Jesus employs citation of
the prophets to interpret this prophetic drama. In this manner the
condemnation of the temple originates not in the personality of Jesus,
but in the prophetic tradition of the OT.
The response to Jesus' exorcism and teaching activity in the temple
plays an important syntactical role. The religious leaders respond with
fear and initiate a death plot against Jesus. In this manner the predictions of Jesus' death (8.31; 9.31; 10.33-34) are linked with increasing
specificity to the actions of the religious leadersa linkage foreshadowed in Mk 3.6. Thus, the story of 11.12-27a initiates the passion
focus. The symbolic, ironic closure to the temple story further
demonstrates the religious opposition: Jesus departs from the city
because of the darkness which has fallen upon it.
The continued movement of Jesus in 11.20 functions to recover the
primary plot line. The disciples are again included, and they witness
the accomplished prophecy against the fig tree. The disciples' role
intensifies when they initiate the unraveling of the enigma of the fig
tree (11.21). In this manner the story returns to the plot line shattered
by the deconstruction of the expected narrative logic. Significantly,
Jesus addresses the enigma through teaching activity (11.22-26). Jesus'
teaching on faith, authority, prayer and forgiveness provides the key
to the withering of the fig tree.
Narrative Time. Through this unusual syntactical distribution of the
morphological components of the story, a distinct function and significance is created. The syntax of the story first creates a distinct sensation of narrative time. The use of the genitive absolute construction in

172

Teaching with Authority

the opening motif (11.12) creates a temporal opening within which the
condemnation of the fig tree is narrated. In a similar manner the use
of the present active participle (rcapocrcopeDOiievoi) in 11.20 creates
a second temporal slot in which to complete the story of the fig tree.
Beyond this the intercalation of the two stories creates a distinct sense
of the passage of time, and this is confirmed by the contrast between
evening and morning (11.19-20). This extension of the temporal line
of the story retards and intensifies the result of the curse. At the same
time the darkness of the passing night hides the miraculous withering
of the tree. Thus, the miracle event recedes behind the symbolic focus
on the death of the tree. More significantly, a narrative pattern of
promise/fulfillment is generated. The prophecy of 11.14 has eternal
consequences, but its fulfillment is ensured within the passage of a
single day. The reliability of the prophetic word against the fig tree
ensures the reliability of the prophetic deeds and words against the
temple. In this manner the fig tree not only symbolizes but also
intensifies and guarantees the condemnation of the temple at
Jerusalem.
Narrative Linkage. In addition to its significance for the temporal
operations of the story, the syntactical framing of the temple story
with the cursing of the fig tree creates both a narrative and a symbolic
linkage of the two events. Because the fall of the temple is an event
which lies outside of the narrated time1 of the Gospel of Mark, the
cursing of the fig tree serves a mimetic function. The barren and
withered tree thus symbolizes and foreshadows the ultimate destiny of
the temple at Jerusalem. This symbolic use of the fig tree is not generated de novo, but originates in the image world of the OT.2 This
technique leads the implied reader to see the significance of the story
in a second, more symbolic level. The cursed fig tree provides an
enigmatic deterrent to a literal reading of the story. Such a reading
threatens to characterize Jesus as one who does not understand
Palestinian horticulture, or as a crazed zealot who vents his wrath
1. For a coherent discussion of the narrative use of time, see N. Peterson,
Literary Criticismfor New Testament Critics (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978),
pp. 49-80.
2. For the use of the fig tree as a symbol for Israel, see Isa. 34.4, Jer. 8.13;
29.17; Hos. 2.12; 9.10, 16; Joel 1.7; Mic. 7.1-6. The passages in Isa. 34.4,
Hos. 2.12 employ the destruction of the fig tree as a symbol for God's judgment.

7. Mark 11.1-1337

173

upon trees. The ungrounded curse and the intrusion of the narrator
destroy the logic of the narrative and threaten to create a chaotic text.
Thus, the syntactical operation of the motifs of 11.12-14 generates a
process of deconstruction which destroys the literal logic of the story.
Because of this the reader seeks a second, more symbolic level of
meaning to provide coherence to the story. The intercalation of the
temple story supplies this level. Through the use of the OT imagery of
the fig tree and through the linkage of the fig tree to the actions in the
temple a new significance is generated for the miracle story of
Mk 11.12-27'a: the religious practice of Israel, as expressed in the
temple worship at Jerusalem, stands under the judgment of God. In
this manner the fig tree becomes a symbol which not only mimics, but
also intensifies the imminent collapse of the temple. The fall of the
temple prophesied in Mk 13.2 is shown beforehand to be no accident
of war, but rather a stern judgment of God against the worship practices of the temple. In thus narrating the tension between Jesus and the
temple, Mk 11.12-27ra takes up a theme that is central to the entire
unit of Mk 11.1-13.37, as the extended analysis will show.
Characterization. The syntactical operation of the motifs of the story
generates a third focus within Mk 11.12-27a. This story demonstrates
anew the identity of Jesus as one endued with the power of Yahweh.
The story narrates the authority of Jesus with an OT outlook: both the
symbolic curse and the denunciation of the worship of Israel are
rooted in prophetic imagery.1 The story also narrates Jesus' authority
with the terminology of an exorcism (11.15). In this manner the story
intensifies the christological portrait of Jesus as the one in whom the
overwhelming power of Yahweh is now at work.
At the same time the story takes up and intensifies the christological
portrait of Jesus as the mighty teacher. Jesus' closest students, the disciples, overhear his prophetic curse against the fig tree. More directly,
the prophetic demonstration against the temple (11.15-16) is followed
by Jesus' teaching (11.17). This teaching session employs the
prophetic word (11.17) to demonstrate the prophetic deed (11.15-16).
The powerful effect of Jesus' teaching cannot be overlooked by the
1. For examples of symbolic action by the prophets, see Isa. 7.1-9; 8.1-4; 20.16; Jer. 1.11-12, 13-16; 13.1-11; 16.1-4; 18.1-11; 19.1-15; 24.1-10; 25.15-29; 27.122; 32.6-25; Amos 7.7-9; 8.1-3; 9.1; Hos. 1.2, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9; Ezek. 4.1-5.17. For
denunciation of the worship of Israel, see Amos 5.21-24; 8.1-3; Jer. 7.1-34.

174

Teaching with Authority

implied reader: Jesus' teaching leads to fear and plotting on the part of
the religious leaders and to amazement on the part of the crowd
(11.18).
The story gives its most decisive focus to Jesus as authoritative
teacher through the instruction to the disciples (11.22-26). Peter's
observation that the fig tree has withered (11.21) instigates this final
teaching session. Significantly, the term of address here is 'rabbi', the
Hebraic term for teacher. In response Jesus teaches the disciples on
faith, authority, prayer and forgiveness. The positive direction of this
teaching session contrasts the teaching against the fig tree/temple. In
addition, the address to the disciples extends the teaching authority of
Jesus into the life of the Early Church, which lives in the aftermath of
the fall of the temple.1
Conclusion
Synchronic analysis of Mk 11.12-27a reveals an example of the
miracle story genre whose thematic orientation'Jesus condemns the
fig tree/temple'places it in the sub-category of curse miracle.2
Beyond this classification of the unit as a formal miracle story, the
operation of the narrative motifs creates a distinctive function and
significance for this story. The enigmatic focus on the barren fig tree
becomes a symbolic image of the condemned temple in Jerusalem. At
the same time the imminent collapse of the temple will confirm the
judgment of God announced beforehand through the prophets and now
through Jesus.
Beyond this condemnation the story also generates a positive focus.
The story demonstrates anew the authority of Jesus, particularly in his
teaching. This teaching occasions the death plot against Jesus and links
the story to the passion narrative. In addition, the teaching of Jesus
becomes the foundation for the life and worship of his followers. In
1. Kelber (Mark's Story, pp. 57-70) sees here a critique not only against the
exclusive practices of Jesus' day, but also against the military use of the temple by
the Zealots of Mark's day.
2. Bultmann (History, pp. 36, 218) calls the fig tree story a nature miracle and
the temple story a biographical apophthegm. Dibelius (Tradition, pp. 43,106) labels
the fig tree story as a legend and the temple story as a paradigm. Lohmeyer (Das
Evangelium nach Markus, p. 234) labels the fig tree story as a Fluchwunder. Gnilka
(Das Evangelium nach Markus, II, p. 123) and Koch (Wundererzdhlungen,
pp. 132-33) label the story of the fig tree as a Strafwunder.

7. Mark 11.1-13.37

175

this manner the miracle activity of a formal miracle story has been
employed in the service of a unique narrative portrait. The narrative
grammar employs Mk 11.12-27a to address the collapse of the temple.
In addition, the story narrates two crucial themes: the identity of Jesus
as the prophet and teacher who will die in Jerusalem and the demands
upon those who would follow Jesus.
Extended Synchronic Analysis
The extended synchronic analysis will analyse the role of the miracle
story in Mk 11.12-27a within the extended unit of 11.1-13.37.
Particular attention will be given to the influence of the extended unit
upon the function and significance of 11.12-27a and to the role of this
miracle story in the larger characterization of Jesus.
The conflict between Jesus and the religious leadership of Israel1
dominates the extended unit of Mark 11.1-13.37. This conflict was
prominent in Mark 1-3, but almost absent from Mark 4-10. The
stories of Mk 11.1-13.37 re-introduce this tension as the background
for Jesus' suffering and death in Jerusalem. As in 2.1-3.6, the tension
with the religious leaders culminates in a death plot. Mk 11.1-13.37
employs a host of literary devices to narrate this conflict.
1.

2.

The entrance into Jerusalem (11.1-11) demonstrates Jesus'


authority, yet the scene also foreshadows and initiates the
conflict between Jesus and Jerusalem. In 11.11, Jesus comes
at last to the temple. Upon his arrival, he looks about at
everything. 'Looking about' (jcepiPAirconxxi) already carries
a sense of foreboding in the Gospel of Mark;2 this imagery is
deepened by the ironic comment that Jesus departs from the
temple because of 'the hour already being late' (11.11).
The interpretive juxtaposing of the cursed fig tree and the
condemned worship practices of the temple (11.12-27a) gives
dramatic expression to the conflict between Jesus and the

1. On the role of the temple in the Gospel of Mark, see D. Juel, Messiah and

Temple: The Trial of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark (SBLDS, 31; Missoula, MT:
Scholars Press, 1977).
2. Mark uses rceptpXercoum in 3.5, 34, 5.32, 9.8, 10.23 and 11.1. Only in
9.8 is the term used without a sense of warning and caution. In 3.5, 34, 5.32, 9.8
and 10.23 the looking about is followed by a dramatic pronouncement. I am indebted
to W. Wayne Roe for this insight.

176

Teaching with Authority

3.

4.
5.

6.

temple. This action initiates the death plot against Jesus


(11.18).
Following this condemnation, the religious leaders parade
one after another before Jesus. In succession come the chief
priests, scribes, elders (11.27-33), the Pharisees and
Herodians (12.13-17), the Sadduccees (12.18-27), the scribes
(12.28-40), then finally the disciples (13.1-2). The question
of 11.28 poses the central focus of this string of debates: 'In
what authority are you doing these things?' This succession
of questioners is broken only by the parable of the vineyard
(12.1-12) and by the offering of the widow (12.28-40).
The parable of the vineyard (12.1-12) with its reference to
the OT intensifies the tension between Jesus and the religious
leaders.
In the same manner the offering of the widow (12.28-40)
contrasts the stinginess of other temple worshipers. In addition, the story may contain an implicit critique of the religious system which takes the last coins from a helpless
widow.
Finally, Mark 13 narrates the conflict between Jesus and
religious leaders. Here Jesus explicitly predicts the destruction of the temple, and he provides a prophetic and apocalyptic vision of the future.

In this manner the stories of Mk 11.1-13.37 combine to present a


coherent portrait of the increasing conflict between Jesus and the
religious establishment in Jerusalem. This tension is the source of the
death plot (3.6; 11.18), and the conflict leads ultimately to the story of
Jesus' death (14.1-16.8). The miracle story in Mk 11.12-27a plays a
decisive role in this extended narrative presentation of the conflict
between Jesus and the religious establishment. Within this wider context the function and significance of 11.12-27a come into sharper
focus. The actions in the temple area (11.15-19) give explicit focus to
the tension between Jesus and the religious establishment. Here Jesus
condemns the worship practices of the temple, employing both
prophetic deeds and prophetic words. The framing of the story with
the cursing of the fruitless fig tree intensifies the condemnation of the
temple. Through identification of the temple with the fig tree, Jesus
offers the sharpest rebuke of the temple and its worship. In this
manner the formal miracle story of Mk 11.12-27a is transformed; it

7. Mark 11.1-13.37

111

now plays a crucial role in the wider narrative focus on the tension
between Jesus and the temple at Jerusalem.
This wider interpretive context also clarifies the teaching of
Mk 11.22-26. This passage now addresses the practice of a new
community of faith that stands in contrast to the condemned worship
of the temple. The worship of the followers of Jesus is to be built on
faith (11.22). The followers of Jesus will be endued with power and
authority. In this authority the worship at Jerusalem will be replaced
by the worship of the followers of Jesus (11.23).1 The worship of this
new community will be characterized not only by faith and power, but
also by prayer and by forgiveness (11.24-25). In this manner the
teaching of Jesus in Mk 11.22-26 contrasts the failed practices of the
temple at Jerusalem with the true worship of the followers of Jesus.
The time (icaip6<;) has passed for fig tree and temple (11.13); the time
has come for the Kingdom of God (1.15).2
Thus, the grammar of the narrative employs Mk 11.1-13.37 to
generate a special focus on the growing conflict between Jesus and the
religious establishment at Jerusalem. This conflict becomes the backdrop against which the death plot originates and is fulfilled. The narrative grammar employs the miracle story of Mk 11.12-27'a as a
crucial element in this focus on the destiny of Jesus.
Ironically, this narrative strategy employs miracle activitywhich
traditionally focuses the power and wonder of the miracle workerto
point to the suffering and death of Jesus. This technique drastically
reorients the inherent focus of the miracle story to provide a unique
focus on Jesus as the suffering, crucified messiah. This confirms a
narrative canon for the Gospel of Mark: miracle activity may mislead
one about the identity of Jesus. The narrative extends this warning to
the disciples through the speech of Jesus in 13.22. There Jesus prophesies the coming of false christs and false prophets who will lead
astray through signs and wonders. Thus, in the narrative grammar of
the Gospel of Mark, miracle activity may mislead one concerning both
Christology and discipleship. Significantly, the miracle activity of both
the miracle story (11.12-27a) and the dialogue (13.1-37a) recede into
1. I have argued in 'Which Mountain is "This Mountain"? A Critical Note on
Mark 11.23' (Paradigms 2 [1986], pp. 33-38) that Mk 11.23 employs geographical
symbolism to speak of the replacement of temple worship through the new
community of faith.
2. I am indebted to Werner Kelber for this insight.

178

Teaching with Authority

the focus on conflict and suffering. This tension will lead to the death
of Jesus, and it will mark the way of Jesus' followers. This transformation of the function and significance of the miracle activity is a
product of the inherent narrative grammar which operates across the
text of Mk 11.1-13.37.
Conclusion
The miracle story in Mk 11.12-27a plays a crucial role in the narrative development of the Gospel of Mark, especially in the characterization of Jesus. Synchronic analysis demonstrated the manner in which
the narrative motifs generate a distinct narrative focus on the power
and authority of Jesus. The larger demonstration of authority in 11.113.37 finds focus in the prophetic curse, the prophetic deed and the
prophetic words of 11.12-27a. In this manner the miracle event
portrays Jesus as one endued with divine power. The teaching activity
of Jesus demonstrates this prophetic authority.
Through this strategy Mk 11.12-27a advances the christological
portrait which was so carefully developed throughout the first four
sections of the Gospel of Mark: Jesus is the authoritative teacher who,
through mighty words and mighty deeds, announces the Kingdom of
God and calls forth the new people of God. In addition, a link is
forged between the authoritative teaching of Jesus and the conflict
which leads to his death. The curse of the fig tree/temple focuses the
ongoing tension between Jesus and the religious leaders which is
narrated throughout 11.1-13.37. At the same time the teaching of
Jesus in the temple instigates the death plot against him. Thus, the
miracle story of 11.12-27a generates a sharp christological characterization of Jesus: he is the powerful teacher whose conflict with the
religious leaders precipitates his death in Jerusalem.
In this manner the miracle story of Mk 11.12-27a plays a decisive
role in the larger narrative and in the larger characterization of Jesus.
In 11.12-27a a miracle event forms the juncture between the deeds of
Jesus and his passion in Jerusalem. This miracle story generates a
portrait of Jesus which summarizes the days of his ministry: he is the
powerful teacher/preacher sent from God. At the same time, the
miracle story of 11.12-27a sets in motion the events of the passion.
Thus, the passion of Jesus grows out of his identity and his deeds. This
linkage firmly roots the christological portrait of Jesus as the crucified

7. Mark 11.1-13.37

179

messiah in the christological portrait of Jesus as the wondrous, powerful teacher/preacher who calls forth the people of God. The narrative
thus addresses the potential christological dichotomy between the
glorious deeds of Jesus and his ignominious death.1 As the passion
predictions (8.31; 9.31; 10.33-34) have shown, the authoritative
ministry of proclamationdemonstrated through words and deeds of
poweris inseparably linked to the destiny of Jesus in Jerusalem. As
the miracle story in Mk 11.12-27a shows, the passion of Jesus grows
out of his ministry of teaching with wondrous authority.
Thus, Mk 11.12-27ra presses miracle activity beyond its traditional
use into a concerted narrative focus on the identity of Jesus. This
decisive focus on the identity and the destiny of Jesus is not inherent to
the miracle story genre, it is not supplied through the evolution of the
tradition, and it cannot be identified wholly with the intent of the
redactor. Instead, the distinctive christological portrait of Mk 11.1227a is a literary phenomenon which is generated by the intrinsic
grammar of the narrative. Through this process the miracle story of
Mk 11.12-21ra unites the various portraits of Jesus: powerful prophet,
worker of miracles, authoritative teacher, crucified messiah.

1. Modern scholars have not been as skillful as the Gospel of Mark in handling
this potential dichotomy. The tension between a theologia gloriae and a theologia
crucis has been the focus of both exegetical and theological analysis of the Gospel of
Mark. J. Moltmann (The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and
Criticism of Christian Theology [trans. R.A. Wilson and J. Bowden; New York:
Harper & Row, 1974]) posed this dichotomy as the decisive issue for Christology.
In exegetical circles, the tension has been posed between Jesus as a 0eio<; dvrip and
as the crucified Christbetween the Christ of the miracles and the Christ of the
cross. For an overview of the manner in which the tension between Jesus' deeds and
his death has dominated Markan studies, see Chapter 1 above. See also Kingsbury,
Christology, pp. 25-45.

Chapter 8
THE ABSENCE OF MIRACLE STORIES IN MARK 14.1-16.8
Formal miracle stories are missing entirely from the final section of
the Gospel of Mark. Particular attention will be given to the significance of this absence of miracle stories from the passion narrative.
The analysis of 14.1-16.8 will also consider the role of the passion
narrative in conjunction with the wider use of miracle stories in the
Gospel of Mark. Finally, the analysis will give particular attention to
the role of 14.1-16.8 in the characterization of Jesus.
Mk 14.1-16.8 contains no formal miracle stories, yet miracle events
abound in the passion narrative. These miracle elements cluster into
three groups: preparation, crucifixion, resurrection. A significant
cluster of miracle elements operates in the preparation for the passion.
Each of these elements demonstrates the miraculous foreknowledge of
Jesus. In 14.8-9 Jesus speaks of his death and of the future of the
gospel. The aura of this event is reduced, however, when the woman
implicitly shares this knowledge. Further, the story links this shared
foreknowledge not to acclamation, but to the cross.1 The miraculous
insight of Jesus in 14.12-16 leads to the celebration of the Passover,
which becomes a sign of Jesus' death. The foreknowledge of Jesus in
14.17-21 tells of the one who will hand him over to be killed. In
14.27-31 Jesus knows beforehand that the disciples will abandon him
at the point of his passion. This concentrated presence of Jesus'
miraculous insight generates no formal miracle stories. Instead, the
narrative grammar employs this wondrous foreknowledge to demonstrate anew the authority of Jesus, to bring the entire section under the
influence of the crucifixion, and to demonstrate that the cross of Jesus
is no accident.
1. L. Schenke, Studien zur Passionsgeschichte des Markus: Tradition und
Redaktion in Markus 14, 1-42 (Forschung zur Bibel, 4; Wiirzburg: Echter Verlag,
1971), pp. 110-18.

8. Mark 14.1-16.8

181

A second cluster of miraculous elements occurs around the scene of


the crucifixion. In 15.29-32 the mob and the religious leaders demand
to see a sign from the cross. As in 8.11-12 no sign is given, and the
opportunity for a miracle story is bypassed. The darkness of 15.33
and the torn veil of 15.38 are epiphanic elements; they indicate there
is no absence of divine presence and power in the death of Jesus.
Nonetheless, the story tells no formal miracle story. The search for
Elijah in 15.34-37 likewise provides a proper occasion for an
epiphanic miracle story, as in 9.2-8, but no epiphany occurs. Instead,
the linkage of Elijah to the passion in 9.11-13 is fulfilled by 15.34-37:
Elijah does not come and Jesus dies. This concentration of miracle
elements around the cross provides ample opportunity for narration
of a miracle story, but this opportunity is not realized. Instead, the
miracle elements around the cross are employed to demonstrate the
power and presence of God in the death of Jesus.
The third cluster of miracle elements occurs around the empty
tomb. The removal of the stone (16.4) is hidden in the night, and no
explanation is given. Mk 16.5 contains the elements of an angelophany, but the messenger is described instead as a 'young man'
(veaviaKov). The emptying of the tomb (16.6) is not narrated or
developed, but simply reported. The appearance of Jesus (16.7) is
promised, but no appearance scene is narrated. This cluster of miraculous elements around the tomb generates no formal miracle story.
Instead, the story employs a suppressed tone that points not to
miracles, but to the future of Jesus with his followers.
The presence of such miracle elements provides the germ for articulation of formal miracle stories. Indeed, the co-texts of Mk 14.1-16.8
generally develop these miracle elements toward formal miracle
stories. While the darkness is briefly narrated in Mk 15.33, the
Gospel of Peter (15-18; 21-22; 28) fully develops this darkness as a
miracle element. Mk 15.34-37 answers the questions about Elijah
with silence and with the death of Jesus. In contrast Mk 9.2-8 narrates
the appearance of Elijah as an epiphanic miracle story. In the same
manner Mk 15.38 expresses the condemnation of the temple and the
opening of the worship to all people in a simple manner through the
rending of the temple veil. Mk 11.12-27a narrates this same focus as
a fully developed miracle story. Matthew follows the rending of the
veil by an earthquake and by the resurrection appearance of the saints
(Mt. 27.51-53). The Gospel of the Nazarenes (21, 36) claims that the

182

Teaching with Authority

lintel of the temple splits.1 The Gospel of the Nazarenes contends


(incorrectly) that Josephus supports this claim and that he adds that
awful voices were overheard crying, 'Let us depart from this abode'.2
These co-texts demonstrate the ability and the tendency of miracle
elements such as those in Mk 14.1-16.8 to create a sustained focus on
miracle activity and to develop into formal miracle stories.
The tendency of the miracle elements to generate formal miracle
stories is most clearly demonstrated in the events around the empty
tomb. Mk 16.4-7 presents the miracle elements in a subdued fashion as
part of the resurrection promise. The story limits the witnesses to this
event to a handful of women. The stone has been rolled away in the
night with no witnesses present. Mk 16.5 presents a young man in
bright clothes rather than a fully developed angelophany. No resurrection appearance is given in the Gospel of Mark. Instead, the resurrection promise of 16.7 points the witnesses to the future in Galilee.
This subdued presence of the miracle elements in the presentation of
the resurrection promise stands in sharp contrast to the resurrection
accounts which serve as co-texts for Mk 16.1-8. A number of narratives take over the resurrection promise of Mk 16.1-8 (Mt. 28.1-8;
Lk. 24.1-11; Acts Pil. 13.1; Gos.Pet. 50-57), and they expand the
elements of the resurrection promise in a number of ways. Mk 16.5 is
turned into an angelophany in Mt. 28.2-4; Lk. 24.4?; Acts PiL 13.1;
but not in Gos. Pet, 50-57. An earthquake accompanies the removal
of the stone in Mt. 28.2 and in Acts Pil. 13.1. These stories take over
the resurrection promise, but they also expand its miracle elements.
More significantly, the resurrection promise has been supplemented
in each of these narratives by a formal appearance of the risen Christ.
In this manner the resurrection promise generates an epiphanic form
of miracle story. The development of the resurrection promise into a
formal appearance can be seen in the secondary ending of Mk 16.920, in the so-called 'shorter ending' to the Gospel of Mark and in the
additions of the Freer Logion (W).3 The resurrection promise also
1. E. Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha (ed. W. Schneemelcher; trans.
R. Wilson; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1963), I, pp. 150, 153.
2. Hennecke, Apocrypha, I, p. 153; Josephus (The Jewish War [trans.
H. Thackeray; LCL; New York: Putnam's Sons, 1928], VI, pp. 293-300) does not
support this claim.
3. These three secondary endings are available in the text and the textual
apparatus of Nestle-Aland, 26th edn.

8. Mark 14.1-16.8

183

becomes a formal appearance in Mt. 28.16-20, where Jesus instructs


his disciples from the mountain in Galilee. In Lk. 24.13-35, Jesus
appears to two on the road to Emmaus. In Lk. 24.36-53 Jesus appears
in the midst of the disciples, instructs them, then ascends from the
region of Bethany. The Galilean appearance and ascension of Jesus is
reported by Jewish officials in the Acts of Pilate (14.1). In the excessive epiphany in the Gospel of Peter (34-39), a multitude from
Jerusalem witnesses the resurrection itself. Thus, the co-texts of
Mk 16.1-8 present a common pattern: they expand the resurrection
promise of Mk 16.1-8 through added emphasis on its miracle elements
and through the addition of formal appearance stories.
This development of the miracle elements into appearance accounts
can also be seen in the Gospel of John. Here the relationship to the
resurrection promise of Mk 16.1-8 is not as clear; nonetheless, the
presence of formal appearance accounts in the Gospel of John is
significant. Jn 20.1-10 appears to be a different version of the events
of Mk 16.1-8. Jn 20.11-18 follows, where the experience of Mary is
told in the form of an appearance account. Jn 20.19-23 and 20.24-29
repeat this appearance for the benefit of the disciples. Jn 21.1-23 narrates a third appearance to the disciples. Thus, the Gospel of John presents a similar line of development for the resurrection traditions. The
story of the empty tomb, with its subdued miracle elements, leads to
the narration of formal resurrection appearances with an increased
focus on miracle activity.
Attention to this diachronic context reveals the unique operation of
the passion narrative in the Gospel of Mark. Mk 14.1-16.8 demonstrates a distinct tendency to support miracle elements, but to suppress
miracle stories. The presence of twelve miracle elements in the passion narrative was identified.1 These elements play a crucial role in
the extended unit, and they cannot be removed from the passion
account. At the same time these miracle elements provide ample
opportunity for the narration of formal miracle stories in the midst of
the passion narrative. Attention to the diachronic context demonstrates
that development of a heightened miracle emphasis and of formal
miracle stories is not only possible but expected. In contrast, the
Gospel of Mark does not actualize this tendency, and no miracle
stories are generated. Most striking is the absence of a formal
1.

Mk 14.8-9, 12-16, 17-21, 27-31; 15.30-32, 33, 34-37, 38; 16.4, 5, 6, 7.

184

Teaching with Authority

resurrection appearance in the Gospel of Mark. In this manner a


characteristic of the grammar which operates within Mk 14.1-16.8 is
defined: the passion account supports miracle events, but it suppresses
miracle stories.
This analysis supports a crucial conclusion: the Gospel of Mark
avoids the christological dichotomy between the Jesus of the miracles
and the Jesus of the cross. Instead, the narrative generates an integrated portrait of Jesus as the powerful proclaimer whose teaching
leads to his death. In constructing this christological portrait, the narrative grammar does not intermingle formal miracle stories and the
formal passion account. The miracle story form is found only prior to
the passion narrative (14.1-16.8), and the formal passion account does
not invade chs. 1-13. Formal miracle stories and formal passion
account do not mix in the Gospel of Mark, but their elements do.
Twelve occasions of miracle activity are found in the passion account.
At the same time references to the passion are found in the ministry of
Jesus as proleptic elements in 3.6, 6.6, 9.12, 10.45, 1L18 and in the
three passion predictions (8.31; 9.31; 10.33-34). In addition, the final
miracle story in 11.12-27a instigates the passion events.
The absence of formal miracle stories from the passion account is
decisive for the christological portrait of the Gospel of Mark. Because
the passion narrative suppresses formal miracle stories, Mk 14.1-16.8
gives its full rhetorical effect to the characterization of Jesus as the
crucified servant of God. The events of 14.1-15.21 lead to the climactic scene at the cross (15.22-40). The christological confession on the
lips of the centurion (15.40) echoes the divine designation of Jesus
(1.11; 9.7). This is the first use of the title on human lips,1 and its
narrative location is crucial. The human confession that Jesus is Son of
God comes only at the end of the narrative, only in the shadow of the
cross. Only within this interpretive context is the full identity of Jesus
revealed. In this manner the cross scene of 15.22-40 dominates both
the passion narrative and, in some sense, the entire Gospel. The crucifixion and the confession of 15.22-40 dominate not only the plot line
of the narrative, but also its ideological focus. The climax of the plot
of the narrative also presents the consummation of its christological
development.
The resurrection promise which follows presents a denouement in
1.

The title is used by demons in 1.24 and 5.7.

8. Mark 14.1-16.8

185

both plot line and in ideology. The empty tomb is secondary to the
cross event in both function and significance. The grammar of the
narrative defines the resurrection as an event, but it identifies Jesus in
terms of the cross.1 Three titles are employed in 16.6. Jesus is the
common name, and 'the Nazarene' is a descriptive designation. The
most crucial title is TOV eaxa'opcopivov, 'the Crucified One'.
Significantly, the narrative employs this title in the door of the empty
tomb to articulate the resurrection promise: the women seek 'the
Crucified One', 'he is not here', 'he goes before you into Galilee'. In
this manner the grammar of the narrative designates 16.1-8 as the
resurrection of 'the Crucified One'. It is this one whom the disciples
will encounter in their future. In the same manner that 14.1-15.21
leads to the cross, so 15.40-16.8 leads from the cross and into the
future of the Church. The designation of Jesus as 'the Crucified One'
and the absence of a resurrection appearance prove crucial for the
characterization of Jesus. Through these narrative operations the passion of Jesus becomes the defining characteristic of his life, and thus,
the central event of his story.2
Thus, the absence of miracle stories in 14.1-16.8 serves a distinctive christological purpose in the Gospel of Mark. The absence of the
miracle form intensifies the passion focus already inherent in 14.116.8. An aura of authority is maintained through the use of extensive
miracle elements, but their development is limited. This suppression
of the miracle story form generates an intense focus on the event of
the cross and on the identity of Jesus as 'the Crucified One'.
While the operation of the passion narrative presents a sharp
christological focus on Jesus as the crucified Son of God, this unique
1. The sentence grammar of Mk 16.6-7 is crucial for the orientation of the narrative. In 16.6, the grammar employs a verb (riyepGrj) to narrate the resurrection as
an event that happens to Jesus. In contrast, 16.6 employs a substantive use of the
participle (TOV ecTca)p(ou,evov) to narrate the cross event in a titular manner: Jesus
is the Crucified One. For Mk 16.1-8, the resurrection is a significant event in the life
of Jesus, but the cross event becomes definitive of the identity of Jesus.
2. Because of this, the Gospel of Mark stands as a decisive critique against the
attempt to make the resurrection the defining characteristic of Jesus and the central
event of his story. The central focus on the resurrection is given its most incisive
theological expression in the work of Wolfgang Pannenberg. For a fuller discussion
of this, see W.H. Kelber, 'From Passion Narrative to Gospel', in The Passion in
Mark: Studies in Mark 14-16 (ed. W.H. Kelber; Philadelphia: Fortress Press,
1976), pp. 160-65.

186

Teaching with Authority

portrait does not exclude, contradict or correct the prior developments of the Gospel of Mark. In the same manner that the earlier
narrative already contained the portrait of Jesus as the one who will
die for the people (3.6; 6.6; 8.31; 9.12, 31; 10.33-34, 45; 11.18), so
the passion narrative integrates themes developed earlier in the narrative. The failure of the disciples continues and intensifies within the
passion account (14.17-21, 27, 29-31; 15.37-41, 43-47, 50-52, 66-72).
The passion narrative advances the tension between Jesus and the
religious authorities (15.1-16, 29-32, 53, 55-64).
The larger narrative especially demonstrates its coherence in the
christological portrait of Jesus. The passion narrative continues its
focus on Jesus as messiah (14.61-62; 15.26, 39). The passion focuses
anew the divine authority which surrounds Jesus (14.8-9, 12-16, 1721, 27-31; 15.33, 34-37, 38; 16.4, 5, 6, 7). The concern with Elijah in
9.2-8 surfaces again in 15.34-37. The critique of the temple in 11.1227a reoccurs in the rending of the veil (15.38). Most significantly, the
passion account advances the portrait of Jesus as powerful teacher
(14.14; 15.45, 49). In this manner the major christological themes
present in the miracle stories of Mark 1-13 emerge anew within the
passion narrative.1
Thus, the absence of miracle stories in Mk 14.1-16.8 plays a decisive role in the narration of the Gospel of Mark and in the characterization of Jesus. In the absence of formal miracle stories, particularly
of resurrection appearances, Mk 14.1-16.8 makes the intense focus on
Jesus as 'the Crucified One' the center of the Gospel narrative. In this
manner the christological portrait of Jesus as the crucified messiah
becomes the narrative and ideological climax of the Gospel of Mark.
At the same time the extensive use of miracle elements maintains the
divine authority which surrounds Jesus. Likewise, the passion account
retains and develops vital themes and christological concerns from
Mark 1-13. In this manner the potential dichotomy between the wondrous deeds of Jesus and his shameful death is overcome. Although
formal miracle stories are absent, the portrait of Jesus which they
1. Kelber ('From Passion Narrative to Gospel', pp. 156-57) concludes:
Virtually all major (and a multiplicity of minor) Markan themes converge in Mark 1416. The major ones are: passion Christology, meal Christology, titular Christology,
Messianic Secret, Temple theology, Kingdom eschatology, discipleship failure, Petrine
opposition, anti-Jerusalem theme, Galilean thesis, the leitmotif Gospel, as well as a
christological, eschatoloeical undercurrent.

8. Mark 14.1-16.8

187

have generated in Mark 1-13 is taken up and consummated in the


account of Jesus' death. Neither the characteristics of the genres, the
history of development of the tradition, nor the theological intent of
the redactor can fully account for this narrative coherence and its
significance. Instead, this coherent portrait is a literary image generated by the grammar of the narrative as it operates within the world
of the narrative. Through this process a crucial narrative portrait is
unveiled: Jesus is the powerful teacher who gives his life for the
people.

Chapter 9
CONCLUSION

The concluding chapter will draw together the findings from narrative
analysis of the miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark. This chapter
will provide a comprehensive focus on the diachronic history, the
narrative morphology and the* narrative syntax of miracle stories in
the Gospel of Mark. It will then give primary attention to the role of
miracle stories in the characterization of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark.
Following this, seven theses will articulate the major results of this
investigation. A final section will consider the implications of these
findings for critical methodology and for further research and interpretation in the Gospel of Mark.
The Diachronic History of Miracle Stories
in the Gospel of Mark
Diachronic analysis demonstrates that the history of the miracle
stories in the Gospel of Mark is elusive. Various factors hinder the
attempt to trace a coherent line of development in these stories. The
most important of these roadblocks lie in the methodological situation
and in the nature of the traditions themselves.
The Methodological Situation
Isolation of the history of tradition of the miracle stories in the Gospel
of Mark proves elusive; its process is difficult and its results uncertain. Foremost among the difficulties is the lack of pre-Markan
sources. In conjunction with this, linguistic analysis shows that both
the traditional material and the redactional material in the Gospel of
Mark share a common pattern of language. Thus, the sources
employed in the composition of Mark's Gospel are almost wholly
unavailable to modern scholarship. Marxsen recognized this problem

9. Conclusion

189

in 1956,1 and this lack of pre-Markan sources still hinders the attempt
to distinguish tradition and redaction in the Gospel of Mark.
The difficulties involved in the isolation of the history of the miracle stories are compounded by a stunning absence of careful analysis
of these stories. While individual stories or proposed collections of
miracles are treated, few interpreters have investigated all of the
miracle stories in Mark's Gospel in detail. This lack of comprehensive
analysis severely hinders a coherent portrait of the history of the miracle stories in the Gospel of Mark.
In addition, numerous investigators overlay analysis of the miracle
stories with a constricting methodological or theological bias. In most
instances this bias takes the form of presuppositions on the Sitz im
Leben of these stories in the early Christian community.2 Moving in a
circular route, this proposed Sitz im Leben provides the interpretive
key to the miracle stories. Not surprisingly the conclusion is predetermined in these guiding presuppositions on the life setting.
Because of these methodological problems the search for the history
of these miracle stories is in chaos. Historical-critical investigation in
the Gospel of Mark is confronted constantly with the absence of its
sources and the limits of its approach. No comprehensive portrait of
the development of these miracle story traditions has emerged, nor is
one forthcoming.
The Nature of the Traditions
The attempt to demonstrate a clear line of development for the miracle
stories of the Gospel of Mark is limited not only by the methodological situation, but also by the nature of the traditions themselves. While
no coherent pattern of development can be demonstrated, historicalcritical analysis has been successful in isolating various strands of
miracle traditions. What can be known of the shape of the miracle
traditions speaks against the possibility of a unified line of development.
Pre-Markan Traditions. A unified line of development is highly
unlikely because the pre-Markan traditions are not monolithic.
1. See W. Marx sen, Mark the Evangelist: Studies on the Redaction History of
the Gospel (trans. J. Boyce, D. Juel and W. Poehlmann; Nashville: Abingdon Press,
1969).
2. For clear examples of this, see Weeden, Mark: Traditions in Conflict;
E. Best, The Miracles in Mark', RevExp 75 (1978), pp. 539-54.

190

Teaching with Authority

Diachronic analysis shows that the pre-Markan miracle traditions


reflect an amazing diversity. The miracle stories reflect this diversity
first of all in their origin. A number of the miracles employed in the
Gospel of Mark are rooted in a strong Jewish heritage and resonate
with the imagery of the OT. Other miracle stories employ clear
elements from a Hellenistic world-view. Many of the miracle stories
in the Gospel of Mark intermingle Hellenistic and Jewish images.
In the same manner the pre-Markan miracle traditions reflect this
diversity in their settings. Some stories bear the marks of preChristian miracle accounts, probably of Jewish miracle workers.
Various stories employ pre-Christian elements to present Jesus in the
imagery of the Hellenistic Geiog dvfjp. A few stories apparently
served as Gemeindegrundungslegenden for the Early Church. A large
number of stories served the missionary activity of the early Christian
communities. Some of the miracle stories likely served as models for
the ongoing life and practice of the Church. No single life setting
accounts for the diverse miracle tradition behind the Gospel of Mark.
The miracle traditions employed in the composition of the Gospel
of Mark are not monolithic. Instead, these traditions exhibit a strong
diversity in both their origin and in their function. Thus, the nature of
the pre-Markan miracle traditions speaks against a unified pattern of
development.
Markan Redaction. A unified line of development is highly unlikely
because the Markan redaction is not monolithic. Some scholars see in
the Gospel of Mark an endorsement of Jesus as Hellenistic Geiog
dvfjp, yet Mark limits this imagery in numerous stories. While
numerous scholars contend that Mark suppresses all of the miracle
traditions, the evidence is not consistent. Although Mark's redactional
work seems to suppress many of the miracles, other miracle stories
contain untouched elements of thaumaturgy. Indeed, the most blatant
Geioc; dvfjp imagery is probably composed by Mark himself from
traditional material (6.53-56). l In addition, some of the stories
employed as miracle stories by Mark are non-miraculous accounts
elsewhere. Beyond this Mark has employed twenty-one miracle
storieshardly the strategy of one suppressing all miracles.2 Thus,
1. The suggestion of Weeden (Mark: Traditions in Conflict) that Mark wants the
reader to do a double take when reading the Geioq dvrip imagery is ungrounded.
2. The suggestion that Mark could not avoid miracle traditions is unconvincing.

9. Conclusion

191

the Markan pattern of redaction also speaks against a unified line of


development for the miracle stories.
Conclusion
The miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark present no monolithic pattern of development. Instead, diachronic analysis reveals a wide
diversity in the origin and use of the miracle traditions. The suppression of miracle activity is not limited to Mark's redaction of the
stories; a few of the miracle stories point to the critical use of the
miracle traditions prior to Mark.1 In the same manner QEIOQ dvf|p
imagery is present not only in the traditional stories, but also in some
Markan elements. Both Jewish and Hellenistic shadings are retained in
the miracle stories. Various stories retain the focus on the origin of
the Christian community, on its practice and on its mission.
Thus, Mark elicits the full range of miracle traditions for the composition of the Gospel narrative. As a result all stages and all
emphases of the miracle tradition are still alive in the Gospel of Mark.
Thus, Mark deals with the miracle traditions through a pattern of
inclusive reformation. All of the miracle concerns are reshaped by the
new narrative context within which Mark places them, but none is
eradicated. The Gospel of Mark merges these miracle traditions without silencing their distinctiveness. In this manner the creative, chaotic,
multi-faceted miracle traditions become elements in a unified narrative strategy. This narrative strategy employs the miracle stories in all
of their chaotic diversity to generate a unified narrative portrait of
Jesus. This portrait will occupy the remainder of this chapter.
A Narrative Morphology of Miracle Stories
in the Gospel of Mark
Narrative morphology analyses the form and the characteristics of the
compositional units of a narrative text. Miracle stories in the Gospel
of Mark employ four compositional levels: actions, agents, motifs,
thematic genres.
The clear absence of miracle traditions in Paul and the strategy of the Q source
demonstrate the viability of a non-miraculous account of Jesus.
1. Possibly, such use may be found in Mk 3.1-7a, 5.1-21a, 7.24-31 and 10.4652. In addition, Lk. 13.6-9 tells the story of the fig tree as a non-miraculous event,
and Jn 6.22-25 omits the miracles from Mk 6.53-56.

192

Teaching with Authority

Actions
The twenty-one miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark employ the
following actions:
coming
intruding
commanding
distributing

responding
healing
questioning
cleansing

teaching
departing

presented (passive)
overcome (passive)
revealed (passive)

Three of these actions employ a passive voice; the remainder employ


the active voice. All of the actions employ an indicative mood, with
the exception of commanding, which is imperative. Eight of these
actions (coming, responding, intruding, presented, commanding,
questioning, teaching, departing) are generic: they may belong to any
of the miracle stories. Five of these actions (healing, distributing,
revealed, cleansing, overcome) are specific: they belong only to
certain types of miracle stories. Thus, the miracle stories of the
Gospel of Mark employ a limited number of actions, but further
analysis will show that the narrative grammar distributes these actions
in a diverse and creative pattern.
Agents
The miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark employ a limited number
of narrative agents. Most of these agents fulfill narrative roles, with
only a small number developing into characters.
Roles. The miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark employ nine role
slots to accomplish the actions of the plot:
miracle worker
opponent
representative

crowd
victim
witness (heavenly)

narrator
disciple
God

Three of these roles are specific to certain types of miracle stories.


The victim role is specific to healings and to exorcisms; the heavenly
witness and God are specific to epiphanies. The remainder of the roles
are generic. The narrative grammar employs this limited number of
roles to accomplish the actions of the plot. To generate the plot the
grammar distributes these roles with a great deal of creativity and
flexibility.

9. Conclusion

193

Characters, The grammar develops a limited number of characters


from these role slots. Most significantly the miracle worker role is
filled in each instance by Jesus. In addition, Jesus' role is expanded
into a well-developed character slot. Jesus is characterized with a full
spectrum of character traits: compassion, anger, desire for solitude,
need for prayer, impatience, questions, commands. Jesus thus becomes
the central figure of the narrative. Indeed, the narrative syntax will
show that characterization of Jesus becomes the central task of the
narrative.
In addition, the narrative grammar develops one disciple toward a
character slot. Peter embodies the concerns of the disciples and creates
a second character slot alongside Jesus. Peter's character is stereotypical and much less developed than that of Jesus.
A surprising amount of character development occurs around the
role of victim. The mother-in-law of Peter (1.29-31), Legion (5.121a), the woman with the issue of blood (5.25-34) and Bartimaeus
(10.46-52) each take on a developed persona and become characters
within the narrative. In addition, character development takes place
around the role of the representative. The Syro-Phoenician mother
(7.24-31) and the father of the boy with the unclean spirit (9.14-30)
become distinct characters.
Surprisingly the opponent role remains undeveloped. Even the
human opponents of Jesus are stereotypical. Significantly, the miracle
stories never develop a supernatural personification of evil; Satan
never directly fills the role of opponent in the miracle stories.
Perhaps just as surprising is the limited development of the role of
disciple. Only four disciples are named inside miracle stories: Peter,
Andrew, James and John. Typically, the miracle stories employ a
generic title and a generic portrait for the disciples.
Motifs
The grammar of a narrative combines agents and actions to create
narrative motifs. These motifs provide the basic elements for the
formal operation of a narrative text. The miracle stories of the Gospel
of Mark employ twenty-seven motifs. Figure 2 demonstrates the
frequency and pattern of distribution for these narrative motifs. The
miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark employ these motifs with
chaotic spontaneity. No motif is constant in every miracle story. The
order of presentation varies with each story. While a few of the

X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X
X

X
X
X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X
X

X
X
X
X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X
X

X
X

X
X
X
X

X
X
X
X

X
X

X
X
X
X

Figure 2: Motif Patterns

X
X
X

X
X

X
X

ON

X
X

X
X
X

X
X

CN
ON

X
X

12-27

00

46-52

*
od

4-30

cn
c^

-14a

X
X
X

2-27a

cn

.32

cs

Jt
cn

-10

X
X
X

cn

1-37

Miracle Worker comes


teaches
heals
commands
questions
responds
distributes
revealed
cleanses
departs
Narrator intrudes
Disciples question
respond
distribute
Crowd comes
responds
departs
Opponent presented
responds
departs
Victim presented
responds
Need presented
overcome
Representative responds
Witnesses revealed
God commands

cn
"-*

*S

ed

cd

ed

cn

.21

cn

.45

X
X

X
X
X
X

9. Conclusion

195

motifs are specific to particular types of miracle stories,1 most of the


motifs are generic. While the miracle stories have enough in common
to identify them under the same genre, they employ these motifs with
a wide and diverse pattern of morphological arrangement.
Miracle stories in the Gospel of Mark also employ this chaotic
creativity for the major divisions of each story. While the three-part
division (introduction, body, conclusion) provides the standard for
these stories, this division is not absolute. Motifs freely move in and
out of these divisions, and no motif is locked into a single division of
the story. No motif can be designated as introductory or concluding.2
Indeed, even the three divisions are not absolute: 1.21-29, 6.53-56,
7.31-37 have no conclusion, and 1.32-39, 8.1-10 have no introduction.
Thus, no rigid morphology can be drawn for the motifs of the
miracle stories in the Gospel of Mark. While these stories employ a
limited number of motifs, the pattern of distribution is diverse, fluid,
even chaotic.3
Thematic Genres
The grammar of a narrative manipulates narrative motifs to generate
thematic genres. The miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark employ
five distinct thematic categories. In addition, several stories employ a
mixed orientation. While these categories provide a general standard
1. For example, the motifs 'God commands', 'witnesses revealed', 'the miracle
worker revealed' are specific to epiphanic miracle stories. 'The miracle worker heals'
is specific to healings and exorcisms. 'The miracle worker distributes' and 'the disciples distribute' are specific to gift miracles.
2. 'The miracle worker comes' is the most consistent motif, appearing in all but
one of the stories. 'The miracle worker departs' appears in all but three of the stories.
While these two motifs are expected in the introduction and conclusion, they also
appear frequently in the body of the story. The other motifs are less consistent in
their appearances. Thus, no motif can be identified with a single division of the
stories. Again, chaotic creativity rules the pattern of distribution.
3. The fluid pattern of the distribution of these motifs stands in sharp contrast to
the rigid formulation generally proposed by form critics. Form critics accomplish this
through abstract categories which hide the diversity of the actual motifs. For examples of this abstraction, see the typical analyses of Theissen (Miracle Stories) and
Pesch (Markusevangelium). See especially Theissen's attempt to define a tight compositional order and pattern for the motifs (pp. 72-73) and his effort to delineate the
motif field from the perspective of the main characters (pp. 74-80). Theissen's
attempt to construct an ideal form crumbles beneath the weight of the multiple
exceptions to his schema.

196

Teaching with Authority

of classification, only a close syntactical analysis can highlight the


diverse manner in which these categories are realized within narrative
settings.1
Thematic Genres
Exorcism
1.21-29
4.35-5.1
5.1-21a
7.24-31

Healing
1.29-31
1.39-45
6.53-56
7.31-37
8.22-27a
10.46-52

Epiphany
6.47-53
9.2-14a

Gift
6.32-46
8.1-10

Curse
Combination
11.12-27a 1.32-39
2.1-13
3.1-7a
3.7-13a
5.21-6. la

Combination Miracle Stories


1.32-39
2.1-13
3.1-7a
3.7-13a
5.21-6.1a

healing/exorcism
healing/controversy
healing/controversy
healing/exorcism
healing/raising

Conclusion
The morphological analysis provides a crucial overview of the miracle stories in the Gospel of Mark. Four levels of compositional
development may be identified: actions, agents, motifs, genres. Each
of these stages involves a limited number of elements. Thus, the
Gospel of Mark employs a small morphological base for the miracle
stories which it contains. This limited base proves misleading, for the
distributional patterns of these narrative elements are extremely
diverse. Attempts to refine the miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark
into a simplistic ideal have failed. The suspicion that Propp's reductionistic morphology does not apply to the Gospel of Mark has proven
accurate. The stories prove more artistic than logical; rigid morphological patterns collapse beneath their own weight.2 At the same time
1. Theissen (Miracle Storiesy pp. 112-18) attempts to analyse the composition
and the field of the themes. Again Theissen builds on an ideal reconstruction of motif
patterns. Further, Theissen's analysis assumes that the miracle element is always the
central focus of miracle storiesa theory that proves false in the Gospel of Mark.
2. The approach of Theissen {Miracle Stories, pp. 43-121) is suggestive and
creative, but it is also extremely suspect. Theissen's quest for a common, ideal compositional pattern behind the elements reflects his philosophical and methodological
presuppositions. Building on Saussure's distinction between langue and parole,

9. Conclusion

197

descriptive morphological analysis provides a helpful overview of the


form and characteristics of the miracle stories in the Gospel of Mark.
A Narrative Syntax of Miracle Stories
in the Gospel of Mark
Narrative syntax analyses the patterns of distribution and interaction
of the formal elements of a narrative text. Thus, narrative syntax
gives attention to the dynamics of a textual system. The narrative
syntax of the miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark includes four
distinct elements: syntactical functions, syntactical divisions, syntactical patterns and syntactical foci.
Syntactical Functions
The syntactical dynamics which control the miracle stories of the
Gospel of Mark generate a host of distinct narrative operations. First,
the narrative syntax employs the morphological elements of the miracle stories to fulfill four distinct functions: plot, characterization,
setting and narration. The narrating function employs a specific
motif'the narrator intrudes'. Setting is almost always accomplished
in the opening and closing motifs through the arrival or departure of
the miracle worker. The narrative syntax displays tremendous versatility in the fields of plot and characterization. The narrative employs
the full range of motifs to plot the story line and to inhabit the story
world. All the major motifs are used interchangeably in plot and in
characterization. This flexibility in distribution breaks the limitations
of a rigid morphological scheme and provides for extreme dexterity
in the production of narrative significance. Thus, the miracle stories
of the Gospel of Mark are distinguished not by the elements which
they contain, but by the creative manner in which the narrative
grammar employs these elements.
Theissen posits behind the NT miracle stories an ideal base or form. He sees this
ideal form as the generative base from which all examples of NT miracle stories are
constructed. Thus all examples are but variations on the ideal. Unfortunately
Theissen's ideal is an abstraction taken from the examples he analyses. Theissen *s
model is incapable of dealing with the chaotic, artistic diversity present in the miracle
story genre. At the same time Theissen's approach does not adequately deal with the
influence of the larger narrative context upon specific examples of the miracle story
genre.

198

Teaching with Authority

Syntactical Divisions
The narrative syntax also employs the motifs to create a three-part
norm for the miracle stories: introduction, body, conclusion.
Although this division is not absolute, it provides a helpful standard.
As a rule the narrative grammar employs introductions and conclusions to generate narrative transition. This plot function originates in
the narrative context of the stories and is absent from independent
miracle stories. Because the miracle stories are embedded into a
larger story line and story world, the introductions and the conclusions take on a new narrative function. Indeed, the conclusion of a
unit sometimes serves as the introduction for the following unit. In
addition, the syntax at times places the nucleus of the story in the
introduction or in the conclusion. Thus, the narrative syntax employs
introductions and conclusions in a distinct way.
In a similar manner the narrative syntax reshapes the body of the
story. The body generally contains the nucleus of the story; this holds
true both for independent and embedded miracle stories. In addition,
the syntax operates creatively upon the body in a number of units. In
several stories the body contains an intercalation, thus creating a
bifocal center. In other instances framing operations reshape the
center of the story. Thus, the syntax of the narrative may influence the
body of the story through a host of interpretive techniques.
Syntactical Patterns
The narrative syntax of the miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark
employs a number of syntactical patterns to manipulate the morphological elements. These syntactical patterns provide the means of
production for narrative significance. The miracle stories of the
Gospel of Mark employ six distinct narrative patterns: recollection,
association, modeling, framing, intercalation, dislocation.
Recollection. The narrative syntax employs recollection to impose a
previous imagery or theme upon a story. In the miracle stories of the
Gospel of Mark the narrative syntax employs recollection primarily to
establish the centrality of Jesus' teaching ministry. Mk 1.39 recalls the
teaching/preaching activity of Jesus from 1.21-29, then casts it
forward upon the healing story in 1.39-45. Mk 2.2b recalls the previous teaching activity (1.21-39) and imposes it upon the healing story
of 2.1-13. In the healing story in 3.1-7a the coming of the miracle

9. Conclusion

199

worker (3.1a) recalls the previous teaching/preaching in the synagogue (1.39). In Mk 3.7-13a the crowds respond to the report of
Jesus' powerful teaching; this report went out in 1.28 and in 1.45. In
5.2-6.1a the address of Jesus as Teacher' (5.35) recalls the previous
development of this image. Inside a feeding story (6.32-46), Mk 6.34c
recalls the portrait of Jesus as teacher and makes the teaching of Jesus
the answer to the central need. In the transfiguration story (9.2-14a)
the command from God points to the prior teaching of Jesus on the
passion and on discipleship (8.27-38). The address of Jesus as
'Teacher' in the healing story of 9.14-30 also recalls the portrait of
Jesus as powerful teacher/preacher. Thus, the narrative syntax
employs recollection to impose the portrait of Jesus as authoritative
teacher upon a host of miracle stories.
The narrative syntax employs recollection to support other narrative themes. In the Gospel of Mark the narrative syntax establishes the
seashore as a place of calling and discipleship (1.16-20). Succeeding
references to the seashore recall and confirm this imagery (2.13-14;
3.7-8; 4.1-2; 5.21). Significantly, three of these recollections occur
within miracle stories (2.13; 3.7-8; 5.21). In a similar way the feeding
story in Mk 8.1-10 recalls the form and imagery of the first feeding
story (6.32-46). The retreat to the mountain at the end of the first
feeding story (6.32-46) recalls the mountain imagery of 3.7-20. The
impotence of the disciples in the exorcism story of 9.14-30 recalls the
carefully-developed portrait of their failure. The summary reports of
Jesus' wonders (3.7-13a; 6.53-56) recall the full spectrum of Jesus'
miracle activity.
These various patterns of recollection impose a previous imagery or
theme upon a story. In addition, this narrative technique tends to
intensify and to extend the imagery or theme. Two examples will
demonstrate this tendency. (1) While Mk 1.22 simply tells of the
authority of Jesus' teaching, subsequent recollections employ dramatic
demonstrations of this power (1.39-45; 2.1-13; 3.1-7a, 7-13a; 5.216.1a; 6.32-46; 9.2-7a, 14-30). (2) The feeding story in 8.1-10 not only
recalls the first feeding (6.32-46), but also extends the scope of the
event to include the Gentiles.
Association. Association is a more developed form of recollection.
The narrative syntax employs association to create an extended bond
between a narrative element and a previously established theme or

200

Teaching with Authority

image. Most of these associations link a narrative element to an OT


concept. The narrative syntax links the healing of the deaf man in
7.31-37 to the eschatological healings of Isa. 35.5-10. The narrative
employs numerous techniques to associate the first feeding story
(6.32-46) with the Exodus. Likewise, the narrative syntax links the
chaotic sea of 4.35-5.1 to the sea imagery of the Creation and the
Exodus. The narrative links the mountain of Mk 3.7-20 to the OT
imagery of the mountain as the place of calling. In a similar way, the
narrative links the mountain of 9.2-7a to the epiphanic mountains of
theOT.
In addition to these OT associations the narrative syntax employs
several associations from within the narrative itself. The narrative
associates both the calming of the sea (4.35-5.1) and the story of the
fig tree/temple (11.12-27a) with the exorcism stories. In a similar
manner the narrative at times associates the human opponents of Jesus
with disease and demons (2.1-13; 3.1-7a). Finally, the narrative syntax
associates the physical blindness of 8.22-27a with the blindness of the
disciples.
Modeling. The Gospel of Mark employs modeling to create an ideal
image from less than ideal elements. The narrative syntax of the
miracle stones employs various victims to model the ideal for
discipleship. In the healing in Mk 1.29-31 the mother-in-law models
the ideal service of a disciple (1.31; 10.42-45). In the exorcism of 5.121a Legion models the preaching ministry of the disciples. In the
healing story of 5.21-6.1a the woman with the issue of blood models
reverential fear and obedient faith. The Syro-Phoenician woman
models persistent faith in the exorcism of 7.24-31. In Mk 10.46-52 the
narrative syntax employs Bartimaeus to model faith and discipleship.
In the absence of a model disciple the narrative strategy employs these
victims to generate an ideal for discipleship.
Framing. The Gospel of Mark employs framing techniques to highlight a particular narrative feature. A few examples will demonstrate
the use of this technique:
1.

The narrative syntax frames the healing in Mk 3.7-13a with


two motifs of suppression. In 3.9 Jesus prepares to escape the
hysteria of miracle activity; in 3.12 Jesus silences the acclamation which results from miracle activity.

9. Conclusion
2.

3.

201

The narrative syntax builds a larger frame in Mk 1.21-39.


The narrative frames the three miracle events with a clear
focus on the preaching/teaching of Jesus (1.22, 39).
The narrative builds an even larger frame in Mk 8.22-10.52.
Here the narrative syntax frames an extended focus on the
blindness of the disciples with two accounts of the healing of
blind men (8.22-27a; 10.46-52).

Intercalation. Intercalations represent a more radical framing technique. The narrative strategy employs intercalation to posit one story
inside another. This technique creates an extensive frame in which
each story interprets the other. Five of the miracle stories in the
Gospel of Mark employ this syntactical pattern.1 In the exorcism of
1.21-29 the narrative frames the central miracle activity (1.23-26)
with reports of the people's amazement at the teaching of Jesus. In the
healing story of Mk 2.1-13 the narrative syntax frames the inner
controversy on forgiveness (2.6-10) with the healing of a paralytic.
Mk 3.1-6 also frames its central controversy (3.4-5b) with a healing
story. In Mk 5.21-6.la the narrative syntax frames the healing of the
woman with the flow of blood. In Mk 11.12-27a the narrative syntax
frames the cleansing of the temple (11.15-19) with the cursing of the
fig tree. This syntactical pattern of intercalation operates upon these
miracle stories to create a unique narrative orientation.
Dislocation. The narrative syntax employs dislocation to create an
ideological center that is distinct from the central plot action. In
miracle stories the miracle activity typically provides the central plot
action, usually within the body of the story. Through a host of
creative techniques the syntax is able to dislocate the ideological focus
from this central plot action and to redefine the orientation of the
story. In doing so the narrative reorients the ideological focus of a
unit without destroying its formal coherence. Thus, miracle stories
remain miracle stories, but the dynamic patterns of the narrative
syntax create a distinct narrative significance.
1. Most of the miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark are reshaped
by this syntactical strategy. Within the first major section (1.1-3.7a),
the narrative syntax has relocated the ideological focus in each of the
1. For a thorough discussion of intercalations in the Gospel of Mark, see
Wright, 'Markan Intercalations'.

202

Teaching with Authority

six miracle stories. In Mk 1.21-29 the syntax refracts the central


exorcism into an intense portrait of Jesus. The story defines Jesus
beforehand as the teacher with authority, then the miracle confirms
this portrait. In Mk 1.29-31 the central healing again confirms the
portrait of Jesus as authoritative teacher. In addition, the narrative
employs the miracle activity to focus an ideal for discipleship. The
narrative links Mk 1.32-39 into this trilogy and employs the central
miracle activity to intensify and extend the portrait of Jesus as powerful teacher. In this manner the first three miracle stories deploy their
miracle activity to create a distinct focus on Jesus as the one who
teaches with authority. Mk 1.39-45 employs the healing of a leper to
demonstrate the power of Jesus not only against physical disease, but
also against the religious institutions of Israel. At the same time the
syntax employs the healing action to develop a model for discipleship.
Mk 2.1-13 employs the healing of a paralytic to confirm the authority
of Jesus' teaching. This miracle event demonstrates Jesus' authority to
announce God's forgiveness. At the same time the syntax uses the
miracle activity to characterize the opponents of Jesus with the
imagery of demonic powers and disease. In addition, the syntax
employs the central miracle to convey the escalating tension between
Jesus and the religious leaders. The narrative syntax operates in the
healing of Mk 3.1-7a to further develop these portraits of Jesus and
his opponents, then to crystalize the tension between Jesus and the
religious leaders as a central plot element for the entire Gospel.
2. This same syntactical strategy of dislocation operates upon the
four miracle stories of Mk 3.7-6.6. The narrative syntax employs the
healings and exorcism of Mk 3.7-13a to provide a concerted focus on
discipleship, to suppress the hysteria which surrounds miracles, and to
transfer the authoritative preaching theme to the disciples. The narrative syntax uses the exorcism of the sea in Mk 4.35-5.1 to focus the
teaching of Jesus, to reveal the creative power of God present in Jesus,
and to unveil the disciples' crucial lack of faith. The narrative syntax
employs the exorcism in Mk 5.1-2la to show Jesus as the one in whom
Yahweh crosses the boundary between Jews and Gentiles. At the same
time the story creates a new model for discipleship. The narrative
syntax operates in the healing of two daughters in Mk 5.21-6.1a to
confirm the power of Jesus' teaching. At the same time the story
tempers the portrait of Jesus as miracle worker. While the plot action
centers on the spectacular raising of the dead daughter, the syntax of

9. Conclusion

203

the narrative locates the ideological center in the more subtle account
of the healing of the woman with the issue of blood. In this manner
the narrative syntax uses the miracle story to speak of faith, salvation,
peace and wholeness. Once again the narrative syntax employs miracle
activity to generate an ideal for discipleshipreverential fear and
obedient faith.
3. This same syntactical strategy of dislocation also operates within
the third major section of the Gospel of Mark (6.6b-8.27a). The
narrative syntax employs the feeding story in Mk 6.32-46 to show
how God's calling forth of a new people is actualized in the ministry
of Jesus. Significantly, the story employs miracle activity to show that
God's redemptive calling is realized in Jesus' teaching activity and that
the disciples play a crucial role in this calling. The narrative syntax
uses the crossing story in Mk 6.47-53 to unveil the unique identity of
Jesus and the disappointing failure of the disciples.
The healing summary in Mk 6.53-56 portrays a central focus on
miracle activity and on a Geiog dvrip portrait of Jesus. Significantly,
the narrative syntax does nothing to alter this focus. As a result the
miracle activity provides not only the central plot action, but also the
ideological center of this story.
In contrast to Mk 6.53-56 the narrative syntax employs the cleansing of the Syro-Phoenician's daughter to focus the dialogue between
Jesus and the representative of the victim. In this manner the story
uses miracle activity to address a number of crucial issues: the nature
of discipleship, the place of Gentiles and of women, the mission and
identity of Jesus. The narrative syntax functions in the healing in
Mk 7.31-37 to tell of the breaking in of God's mercy to the Gentile
people through the life and ministry of Jesus. The narrative also
employs the feeding story in Mk 8.1-10 to confirm the Gentile mission
of Jesus. The narrative syntax uses the healing in Mk 8.22-27a to
focus the obstinate blindness of the disciples.
4. This same syntactical strategy controls the miracle stories of the
fourth major section of the Gospel of Mark (8.27-10.52). The narrative syntax uses the epiphany of Mk 9.2-14a to focus Jesus' destiny in
Jerusalem, the failure of the disciples and the link between the cross
and discipleship. The narrative syntax operates in the exorcism of
Mk 9.14-30 to make the lack of faith the central need of the story.
The story then addresses this need through the teaching ministry of
Jesus. In addition, this story uses miracle activity to reveal the failure

204

Teaching with Authority

of the disciples. The narrative syntax employs the healing story in


Mk 10.46-52 to focus anew the unique identity of Jesus and to
generate a distinct model for discipleship.
5. This same syntactical strategy operates upon the lone miracle
story in the fifth major section of the Gospel of Mark (11.1-13.37).
The narrative syntax employs the cursing of the fig tree in Mk 11.1227a to provide a symbolic image of the condemned temple in
Jerusalem. At the same time the story reasserts the authority of Jesus'
teaching, linking it to Jesus' passion and to the future of the Church.
Thus, the narrative syntax once again dislocates the ideological center
and employs miracle activity to create a distinct narrative focus.
6. Thus, the syntactical pattern of dislocation is at work in all but
one of the miracle stories. Through this process the syntax dislocates
the ideological focus away from the central plot action (miracle) and
redefines the orientation of the stories.
Conclusion. Morphological analysis assigns each of these twenty-one
stories to the miracle story genre. While these stories belong to a
common genre, they function within the Gospel of Mark in diverse
and distinctive ways. The syntactical operations of the narrative
grammar provide a dynamic pattern of distribution and interaction
for the compositional elements. This syntactical strategy operates upon
the formal elements to generate distinct and colorful narrative units.
In all but one of the miracle stories the central focus on miracles has
been dislocated, and a new emphasis has been created. Thus, the
miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark are not distinguished solely by
their content, but by the distinct syntactical strategy which shapes their
function and their significance. This strategy employs the common
elements of formal miracle stories to generate a narrative portrait that
is uncommonly creative and colorful.
Syntactical Foci
While the miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark have in common a
limited formal base, the narrative syntax causes these stories to function within the Gospel of Mark in creative and distinct ways. The
syntactical operations of these miracle stories create three distinct
foci: the characterization of Jesus, the role of discipleship and the
opposition to Jesus.
The syntactical reorientation of the miracle accounts makes the

9. Conclusion

205

characterization of Jesus the primary ideological focus of miracle


stories in the Gospel of Mark. Narrative analysis demonstrated the
manner in which the syntactical functions of plot, setting and narration advance the central syntactical function: characterization of Jesus.
In each story the morphological and syntactical operations were
shown to impact the portrait of Jesus in the miracle stories. The
detailed narrative analysis demonstrated that the miracle accounts
generate a distinct narrative portrait of Jesus, and that this portrait
provides the primary narrative product of the miracle stories.1
In addition to this central syntactical focus on the characterization
of Jesus, the miracle stories also emphasize the role of discipleship and
the nature of the opposition to Jesus.2 The emphasis on discipleship is
largely a negative one. In most cases the discipleship focus emphasizes
the stunning failure and lack of faith of those nearest Jesus. Only in a
few instances do miracle stories demonstrate a positive function for
the disciples. This positive role is found in the feeding stories (6.3246; 8.1-10), where the disciples are the agents through whom Jesus
reaches the multitudes. In this manner the two feeding stories point to
the ministry of the Early Church In addition, the narrative continually emphasizes the role of the disciples as witnesses to the miracles.
Beyond this the part of the disciples is mostly negative. The disciples
fail to understand Jesus, and they are overcome by their lack of faith
1. I find the analysis of Best (The Miracles in Mark', pp. 539-54) wholly
inadequate. Best concludes that the miracle stories are spiritualized lessons for
Christian living. For Best, these lessons are from Mark and they focus on the presence of the risen Christ in the early community. Best concludes that Christology is a
secondary element in these stories. Narrative analysis sharply contradicts the
methodology, the approach and the conclusions of Best.
2. Because this investigation concerns the characterization of Jesus, I am unable
to pursue fully the plot function of the disciples' blindness. Instead, this analysis
primarily investigates the effect of the disciples' blindness upon the role of the miracle stories and upon the characterization of Jesus. At any rate, I do not think the disciples' blindness marks a sharp distinction from pre-Markan traditions, nor does it
provide a radical suppression for the miracle stories as they appear in the Gospel of
Mark. Instead, the disciples' blindness serves, along with numerous other elements,
to focus the central necessity of the passion narrative for the true characterization of
Jesus. In particular, the drastic revisionism championed by Weeden and others seems
untenable. For a more coherent analysis of the role of the disciples' failure, see
Schweizer, Mark, pp. 160-64, 380-86; Pesch, Markusevangelium, I, pp. 275-76;
Luz, 'Geheimnismotiv', pp. 9-30.

206

Teaching with Authority

and courage. Significantly, the closer the story approximates to an


epiphany (4.35-5.1; 6.47-53; 9.2-14a), the more decisive is the
disciples' failure. Thus, the miracle stories in the Gospel of Mark are
closely linked to the failed discipleship of those nearest Jesus. Because
of this the disciples do not serve as models for the ongoing life of the
Church.
Because the Gospel of Mark creates no human ideal disciple, the
narrative syntax creates an ideal from various minor characters. The
narrative creates an ideal for discipleship from scattered narrative
elements: the service of a mother-in-law, the help of four friends, the
preaching of Legion, the faith and fear of a woman, the insistance of a
Syro-Pheonician woman, the insistent cries and faithful following of a
blind beggar. Thus, the early Christian community learns to follow
Jesus not through the example of the disciples, but through the fringe
elements of the miracle stories.
The miracle stories pose opposition to Jesus in various ways. The
opposition of the religious leaders appears early (2.1-13) and plays a
crucial role in the destiny of Jesus. In addition, the miracle stories
show that demons and disease constantly oppose the ministry of Jesus.
Finally, the disciples are presented as a crucial hindrance to the work
of Jesus. Their fear and lack of faith stand as continuing threats to
Jesus' ministry.
Thus, the same miracle stories which are employed to focus the
identity of Jesus also reveal the failure and opposition which surround
Jesus. In the Gospel of Mark miracle activity per se does not offer
deliverance and the presence of the risen Christ to the Early Church.
Instead, miracles are linked most often to the failure of discipleship
and to rejection of Jesus.
Conclusion
The narrative syntax operates upon the morphological elements of the
miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark to generate a distinct narrative
signification. Syntactical functions employ various motifs to provide
narrative guides, settings, characters and plot. Syntactical divisions
employ the primary movements of the stories to control their
development. Syntactical patterns determine the distribution and the
interaction of the narrative elements. Most significantly, the narrative
syntax dislocates the central focus on miracle activity and provides a
new ideological focus for the stories. The syntactical foci emphasize

9. Conclusion

207

the unique identity of Jesus, the demands of discipleship and the


opposition to Jesus. These elements of narrative syntax provide the
strategy which controls narrative production. Operating upon the
morphological elements of the stories, the narrative syntax conspires
and manipulates to give the miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark
their distinct orientation, their creative dynamics, their crucial
narrative significance.
Because of this narrative strategy the miracle stories do not serve as
spiritualized lessons for Christian living. Instead, they articulate a
portrait of Jesus marked by overwhelming realism. The miracle
stories present the Early Church not with object lessons, but with the
stark reality of the Son of God. This vivid portrait of Jesus provides
the crucible within which early Christians must frame their own
discipleship. The Gospel of Mark narrates ominous warnings for this
task of discipleship through Jesus' first followers and through those
who oppose Jesus' ministry. In this manner the miracle stories warn
of the difficulty and death which lie in the way of Jesus. At the same
time the early Christian community finds in the fringes of these stories
all the elements of faithful discipleship.
Thus, the central focus of the miracle stories in the Gospel of Mark
is characterization. The miracle stories provide the Early Church with
a vivid christological portrait of Jesus. The remainder of this chapter
will focus on the crucial role of miracle stories in this portrait of Jesus.
The Role of Miracle Stories in the Characterization
of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark
The narrative syntax operates upon the morphological elements of the
miracle stories to generate a distinct narrative significance. The major
product of this narrative strategy is the unique portrait of Jesus articulated by the miracle stories. The syntactical functions and divisions
employ a wide and diverse range of motifs in the characterization of
Jesus. More importantly, the narrative employs various syntactical
patterns to produce a concerted focus on the identity of Jesus. Most
significantly, the narrative syntax employs dislocation to shift the
ideological focus from the central plot actionusually a miracle. This
dislocation creates a new narrative space and the possibility of a new
narrative focus. The narrative syntax employs this space to generate a
central and distinctive characterization of Jesus.

208

Teaching with Authority

The Characterization of Jesus in the Miracle Stories


The syntactical strategy operates upon the miracle stories to produce a
distinct narrative portrait of Jesus. This narrative strategy proves
significant for each of the six major sections of the Gospel of Mark.
The miracle stories of Mk l.l-3.7a portray Jesus as the mighty
proclaimer who ministers in the power of God. The narrative demonstrates Jesus' authoritative teaching through exorcisms, through his
healings and through his performance of priestly tasks (pronouncing a
leper clean, pronouncing God's forgiveness, ministering on the
Sabbath). These deeds provide vivid confirmation of Jesus' identity: he
is the mighty teacher/preacher endued with the power of God. At the
same time the miracle stories of Mk l.l-3.7a focus the growing
opposition to Jesus. This section initiates the conflict which leads to the
death of Jesus (1.44; 2.7; 3.6). In addition, the miracle stories of 1.13.7a emphasize the demand and the ideal for discipleship. Thus, the
narrative grammar operates upon the miracle stories of Mk 1.1-3.7a
to produce a clear and distinctive portrait of Jesus: he is the powerful
teacher/preacher who will die at the hands of his opponents.
The second major section of the Gospel of Mark (3.7-6.6) employs
miracle stories to focus the identity of Jesus as the mighty teacher in
whom the redemptive power of Yahweh is at work. In addition, Jesus
is shown to be the Son of God who calls disciples to follow in his way.
The third major section of the Gospel of Mark (6.6b-8.27a) also
employs miracle stories to focus the identity of Jesus. Through the
operation of the narrative grammar these stories now present a distinct portrait: Jesus is the powerful teacher in whose deeds God
extends acceptance to both Jews and Gentiles.
The fourth major section of the Gospel of Mark (8.27-10.52)
employs miracle stories to show that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of
God, whose teaching leads to the cross. This use of the miracle stories
links them closely to the passion narrative. The single miracle story in
the fifth major section of the Gospel of Mark (11.1-13.37) employs
the cursing of the fig tree/temple (11.12-27a) to portray Jesus as one
who bears the prophetic power of the OT. This story employs the
terminology of an exorcism to demonstrate the overwhelming power
of Yahweh at work in the words and deeds of Jesus. This power leads
to a concerted focus on Jesus as teacher. At the same time the power
of Jesus' words and deeds seals the death plot against him. Thus, the
narrative grammar employs this final miracle story to confirm the

9. Conclusion

209

identity of Jesus: he is the mighty prophet and teacher sent from God;
he will die in Jerusalem at the hands of his opponents.
Thus, the narrative syntax operates upon the miracle stories in each
section of the Gospel of Mark to create a distinct narrative portrait of
Jesus. Ironically the primary characterization which emerges from the
miracle stories is not a bare GeiOQ dvf|p portrait. Instead, the narrative grammar creates from these miracle stories a balanced, multifaceted narrative image of Jesus. The central focus of this portrait is
the teaching ministry of Jesus. Closely linked to this focus on Jesus as
authoritative teacher/preacher are two corollary issues: discipleship
and passion. Jesus' teaching establishes the ideal and the demand for
disciples. At the same time Jesus' teaching instigates the opposition and
conspiracy which lead to his death.
While the portrait of Jesus as teacher provides the central image of
the miracle stories, the narrative grammar provides an inseparable
link between the teaching image and the wondrous authority of Jesus.
Through this strategy the miracle elements are not destroyed or abandoned. Instead, they provide graphic demonstrations of the authority
and power present in Jesus' teaching. This power is not self-serving,
but redemptive. The miracle stories employ the authoritative ministry
of Jesus to overcome disease, demons and fear. Jesus' ministry extends
the call of God to both Jews and Gentiles. Thus, miracle stories
confirm the redemptive power present in the ministry of Jesus, the
one who teaches with authority.
In addition to the focus on teaching and authority, the narrative
grammar employs miracle stories to generate a complex and intricate
narrative portrait of Jesus. He is the powerful healer who overcomes
all manner of disease (1.21-29, 29-31, 32-39, 39-45; 2.1-13; 3.1-7a,
7-13a; 5.1-21a; 6.53-56; 7.24-31, 31-37; 8.22-27; 9.14-30; 10.46-52).
He is the exorcist without equal (5.1-21a; 6.53-56). Jesus embodies the
true priesthood of God by pronouncing a leper clean (1.39-45), by
announcing God's forgiveness (2.1-13), and by ministering on the
Sabbath (3.1-7a). Jesus is the caller of disciples (3.1-7a) and the
creator of community (6.32-46; 8.1-10). He is the one in whom God
overcomes the chaos of Creation (4.35-5.1). Jesus is the epiphany of
God's power and presence (4.35-5.1; 6.47-53; 9.2-14a). Jesus is God's
shepherd to both Jews and Gentiles (5.1-21 a; 6.32-46; 7.24-31, 31-37;
8.1-10; 11.12-27a), to both males and females (1.29-31; 5.21-6.1a;
7.24-31). Jesus is the prophet of old (1.21-29; 11.12-27a) and the

210

Teaching with Authority

founder of the new community of faith (5.1-21a; 11.12-27a). Jesus is


the giver of life (5.21-6.1a) who journeys to his death in Jerusalem
(2.1-13; 3.1-7a; 11.12-27a). Jesus is the revered son of David (10.4652), the beloved Son of God (1.21-29; 3.7-13a; 9.2-14a).
Significantly, the narrative grammar generates this intricate
characterization from a single type of materialmiracle stories.
While the narrative portrait of Jesus does not abandon the miracle
element in these stories, neither does it magnify the miraculous. Only
in the summary of Mk 6.53-56 do miracles provide the central ideological focus. In the remainder of the miracle stories, the narrative
grammar dislocates the central focus and provides a distinct portrait
of Jesusa portrait dominated by power, but not by miracles and
acclamation.
The Characterization of Jesus: The Divine Man?
Narrative analysis shows that the characterization of Jesus in the
miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark is not dominated by a bare
Geioq dvf|p outlook. The 0eio<; dvfip understanding of Jesus has been
reoriented in all but one of the stories (Mk 6.53-56). At least part of
this critical reorientation is pre-Markan. Indeed the very existence of
a concrete OeiOQ dvf|p concept must be questioned.1 Narrative analysis demonstrates with certainty that no such concept controls the
portrait of Jesus in the miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark. While
GeiOQ dvf|p elements remain in numerous stories, these elements have
been recast to focus Jesus' identity as powerful teacher, compassionate
shepherd, Son of God, suffering messiah. Thus, narrative analysis
provides a crucial insight into these stories: the characterization of
Jesus in the miracle stories is not controlled by a 0eio<; dvf|p outlook.
The Characterization of Jesus: Corrective Christology?
A contrasting line of scholarship views the miracles not as the foundation of the portrait of Jesus, but rather as the foil against which the
Gospel of Mark constructs a distinct, cross-oriented Christology. This
thesis has several variations and is held by numerous scholars. 2
1. For analysis of this issue, see J. Polhill, 'Perspectives on the Miracle
Stories', RevExp 1A (1977), pp. 389-99; J.D. Kingsbury, 'The "Divine Man" as the
Key to Mark's ChristologyThe End of an Era?', Int 35 (1981), pp. 243-57;
Holladay, Theios Aner.
2. See Chapter 1.

9. Conclusion

211

Narrative analysis shows that these attempts to focus a corrective


Christology around Mark's suppression of certain traditions and his
emphasis of the passion focus are problematic for a number of reasons.
These problems highlight the limitations of historical-critical analysis.
First, the GETOQ dvf|p concept cannot be taken as a fixed assumption.
No one has shown that a fixed Geioq &vr|p concept existed, or that
such a concept was widespread, or even that Mark's opponents held
this view.1 The Geux; dcvfip likely circulated as a loosely defined set of
images rather than as a clear and systematic paradigm. Thus, NT
scholarship must speak cautiously of a loose Geiog dvf|p imagery and
influence rather than of a decisive, concrete typology.2
Secondly, the pre-Markan tradition is not monolithic. Even if one
assumes the existence of a stable GEIO^ dvf|p concept, the argument
that all pre-Markan miracle stories contain a Geux; dvf|p orientation
cannot be demonstrated. Indeed, reconstruction of a number of traditional miracle stories reveals some degree of pre-Markan reduction of
the miracle focus.3 The idea that Jesus is more than Geioq dvf|p does
not originate with Mark, neither does the idea of critical reinterpretation of traditional material. Mark does not have as much to correct as
many scholars presume, for much of his material already stands at a
critical distance from a bare 9eio<; dvf|p portrait.
Thirdly, Markan redaction is not monolithic. If one assumes the
fixed concept of a Geioc; dvfip and that this concept dominates the preMarkan tradition, one is still left with an enigmatic problem: Markan
redaction does not wholly endorse a Geiog dvfjp portrait of Jesus, nor
does it fully eradicate such a portrait. While much of Markan redaction seems to reduce the central focus on miracles and acclamation,
Mark's treatment of his miracle traditions is varied. In numerous
stories Geioq dvf|p elements remain.4 Indeed, the most blatant Geio^
dvf|p portraitthe summary in 6.53-56seems to be a Markan
creation. While Mark has not endorsed a Geiog dvf)p portrait of Jesus,
neither has he systematically expunged this imagery. Proponents of a
radical corrective Christology must explain why Mark, if he so
opposed miracle traditions, includes so many in his Gospel. Indeed,
1. For a fuller discussion of these questions, see Kingsbury, Christology,
pp. 33-37.
2. For a fuller discussion of this issue, see Chapter 1 above.
3. See, for example, the analysis of Mk 6.32-46, 7.24-31 and 8.1-10.
4. See, for example, the analysis of Mk 1.21-29 and 5.21-6.1a.

212

Teaching with Authority

why does Mark bother to include any miracle traditions? The suggestion that Mark could not avoid this popular strain of tradition is
tenuous.1 Mark had at hand a number of precedents in which miracle
traditions played a minor role in the Christian kerygma: the sayings
source, the Pauline preaching, ancient hymns such as Phil. 2.5-11,
and, perhaps, the subtle Johannine view of miracles.
Fourthly, if one assumes a fixed 0eio<; dvt|p, a monolithic use of
this concept in the pre-Markan tradition, and a monolithic redaction
and correction of this material by Mark, a further dilemma arises.
Are these stages accessible to a historical-critical approach which is
forced to deal almost exclusively with literary evidence? The contention that all of these assumptions are not only true, but are also
accessible and can be proven true by modern scholarship is presumptuous. While scholars have given hearty approval to the thesis of corrective Christology, their reconstructions of the history of the tradition and their descriptions of the formative Sitz im Leben prove
ambiguous, uncertain and speculative. Not only are the conditions
necessary for a radical program of corrective Christology highly
unlikely, they are also inaccessible to modern scholarship.
Fifthly, if Geiog dvf|p existed as a fixed concept, if this concept
dominated pre-Markan miracle traditions, if Mark intended to eradicate this portrait through his redaction, and if these facts were accessible to modern research, yet another barrier remains. Such analysis
would require a story-by-story investigation of the miracle stories of
the Gospel of Mark. This analysis would require precise identification
of both the pre-Markan tradition and the Markan redaction for each
story. In addition, the analysis would require a precise description of
the Sitz im Leben and the redactional intention responsible for these
changes. Only a few scholars have attempted such a programmatic
analysis;2 others seem content to deal with miracle stories in sweeping
stereotypes.3
1. See, for example, Weeden, Mark, p. 168:
As soon as he introduced his opponents' material into his composition, his own
position was compromised. It was the price he had to pay to unmask his opponents'
position and substantiate his own.

See especially p. 138 n. 9.


2. I am aware only of Schenke, Wundererzdhlungen; Kertelge, Wunder, Koch,
Wundererzdhlungen.
3. See, for example, the sweeping conclusions and the lack of exegesis

9. Conclusion

213

A final obstacle bars the way to a positive assessment of the corrective Christology thesis. If the Geioq dvf|p was a fixed concept which
dominated pre-Markan miracle traditions, yet was radically corrected
by Mark, if this thesis is capable of demonstration and were successfully demonstrated, a final question would remain. From a literary
standpoint was Mark successful in this program? Only a careful
narrative analysis could address this question. This analysis would
require a careful formal analysis of the operation of the Gospel of
Mark and precise definition of its rhetorical effect. Only then could
one conclude that Mark has reinterpreted his traditions through a
corrective Christology.
Thus, the attempt to demonstrate a Markan program of corrective
Christology which negates the miracle traditions is the victim of two
fatal methodological flaws. First, this proposal presumes that the
material for such a reconstruction is available. Because the evidence is
almost exclusively literary, critics are doomed to an eternal circularity: they are condemned to move from text to reconstructed tradition
and Sitz im Leben, then back to the text again. Not surprisingly, the
conclusions of corrective Christology are seldom far from its presuppositions. The second fatal flaw is the presupposition that such a
reconstruction provides the key to interpretation of the Gospel of
Mark. Narrative analysis demonstrates that a radical Markan scheme
of corrective Christology does not sufficiently account for the entire
portrait of Jesus in the miracle stories. In the place of corrective
Christology narrative analysis offers a positive alternative: the significance of this text lies close at hand within the narrative system itself.
The Characterization of Jesus: A Unified Narrative Portrait
Careful narrative analysis provides a path through the interpretive
dilemma presented by the miracle stories in the Gospel of Mark.
Narrative analysis of the role of miracle stories in the Gospel of Mark
supports a crucial conclusion: the Gospel of Mark avoids the christological dichotomy between the Jesus of the miracles and the Jesus of
the cross. Instead, the narrative grammar constructs an integrated
portrait: Jesus is the powerful proclaimer whose wondrous teachings
lead to his death.

concerning the miracle stories in the Gospel of Mark in Talbert, What is a Gospel?,
and in Weeden, Mark.

214

Teaching with Authority

Formal miracle stories occur only prior to the passion narrative,


and the formal passion account does not invade chs. 1-13; nonetheless,
the narrative grammar integrates the elements and the portrait of
Jesus from both genres. Twelve occasions of miracle activity are
present in the passion account.1 Proleptic reference to the passion
occurs seven times prior to Mk 14.1.2 Most significantly, the final
miracle story in 11.12-27a instigates the passion events. In this
manner the miracle stories and the passion narrative collaborate in
their portrait of Jesus.
The absence of formal miracle stories in Mk 14.1-16.8 intensifies
the passion focus. The extensive use of miracle elements in the passion
narrative retains the aura of authority, but their development is
limited. This technique generates a climactic focus on the cross event
and on the identity of Jesus as 'the Crucified One'. At the same time
this distinct focus on the cross does not exclude, contradict or correct
the previous developments of the Gospel of Mark.3 No sharp division
exists between the portrait of Jesus in the first and the last half of the
Gospel. The narrative develops the failure of the disciples through
both miracle stories and the passion account. The opposition of the
religious leaders begins in a miracle story and concludes in the passion
story. The focus on Jesus' death originates in a miracle story and is
fulfilled in the passion narrative.
This narrative coherence is particularly true of the christological
portrait of Jesus. Both miracle stories and the passion (14.61-62;
15.26, 39) confirm the messiahship of Jesus. The divine authority
present in Jesus is demonstrated through both miracle activity and
through the passion of Jesus. Elijah is treated in both genres, as is the
temple. Most significantly, both the miracle stories and the passion
account contain the two crucial poles of Jesus' identity. Early miracle
stories point to the death of Jesus (3.6; 6.6; 9.12; 11.18), and the
passion narrative advances the portrait of Jesus as powerful teacher
(14.14; 15.45, 49).
1. Mk 14.8-9, 12-16, 17-21, 27-31; 15.30-32, 33, 34-37, 38; 16.4, 5, 6, 7.
2. Mk 3.6; 6.6; 8.31; 9.12, 31; 10.33-34, 45; 11.18.
3. In particular a radical revisionism such as that proposed by Weeden (Mark)
proves groundless. Weeden thinks the first part of the Gospel of Mark mimics the
theology of the opponents of the Markan community. Weeden claims that Mark
employs the second half of his Gospel to counter the first half of the story and thus to
correct this false theology.

9. Conclusion

215

Thus, the Gospel of Mark employs both miracle stories and passion
narrative to present a coherent, integrated portrait of Jesus. The
absence of formal miracle stories in Mk 14.1-16.8 makes the portrait
of the crucified messiah the narrative and ideological climax of the
Gospel. At the same time the passion narrative employs extensive
signs of authority and develops crucial christological themes from the
miracle stories. In this manner the narrative grammar overcomes the
potential dichotomy between the wondrous deeds of Jesus and his
shameful death. This Jesus who works miraculous deeds dies at the
hands of his opponents; this Jesus who dies on the cross is the mighty
teacher, the wondrous shepherd, the merciful healer, the beloved Son
of God.
Seven Theses
Narrative analysis provides crucial insights and addresses critical
issues concerning the role of the miracle stories in the Gospel of
Mark. The findings of this investigation may be stated as seven theses.
Thesis One
Diachronic analysis shows there is no unified line of development for
the miracle stories in the Gospel of Mark. Neither the miracle traditions nor Mark's redaction is monolithic. The pre-Markan traditions
do not create overwhelming tension with Markan concerns, and no
consistent pattern of development can be isolated. Critical reinterpretation of miracle traditions does not begin with Mark. At the same
time Mark does not eradicate all of the 8eio<; dvfjp elements from his
traditions. The Markan redaction also allows various traditional concerns to remain in the miracle stories. Thus, the Gospel of Mark
employs a variety of miracle traditions without destroying any of
them. These various traditions are merged into a unified narrative
strategy in the Gospel of Mark.
Thesis Two
The miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark employ a limited morphological base. At the same time the narrative distributes these compositional elements in a diverse and creative manner. Because of this no
simple morphological paradigm can be composed for the miracle
stories in the Gospel of Mark.

216

Teaching with Authority

Thesis Three
Through a host of syntactical techniques, the narrative dislocates the
ideological focus from the central plot action (miracle) and redefines
the orientation of the story. In doing so the narrative reorients the
ideological focus of a unit without destroying its formal coherence.
Thesis Four
The syntactical reorientation of the miracle stories makes the characterization of Jesus the central ideological focus of the miracle stories
in the Gospel of Mark. In addition, the miracle stories focus the
corollary issues of discipleship and opposition to Jesus.
Thesis Five
The miracle stories of the Gospel of Mark articulate a dynamic and
multi-faceted characterization of Jesus. The miracle stories portray
Jesus as the mighty preacher/teacher, the powerful healer, the exorcist
without equal, the priestly servant of God. Jesus is the caller of disciples, the creator of community, the ruler over chaos, the epiphany of
God's power and presence, God's compassionate shepherd. Jesus is the
prophet of old who founds the new community of faith. Jesus is the
giver of life who journeys to his death in Jerusalem. Jesus is the
revered son of David and the beloved Son of God.
Thesis Six
The Gospel of Mark employs the characterization of Jesus in the
miracle stories as part of a unified narrative portrait of Jesus. The
Gospel of Mark overcomes the potential dichotomy between the Jesus
of the miracles and the Jesus of the cross. The tension between the
miracle stories and the passion narrative is not as stark as recent
scholarship presumes. The narrative strategy of the Gospel of Mark
makes the passion the central element in the characterization of Jesus.
Significantly, the narrative develops this passion focus in a manner
that does not exclude, contradict or correct the prior developments in
characterization. Instead, the Gospel of Mark integrates the contributions of both miracle stories and passion narrative and creates a
unified narrative portrait of Jesus.
Thesis Seven
The unified narrative portrait of Jesus articulated in the Gospel of
Mark is a phenomenon of literary signification. At the same time this

9. Conclusion

217

narrative portrait has an intimate relationship with history, with


hermeneutical interpretation and with Christian proclamation.
Concluding Thoughts
Narrative analysis in the Gospel of Mark provides distinct and crucial
insights. In addition to highlighting the process and the effect of the
narrative strategy behind the miracle stories, narrative analysis
unveils a unique and artistic characterization of Jesus. Beyond this,
narrative analysis has important implications for biblical interpretation.

Texts
This investigation demonstrates the viability of formalistic analysis set
within a traditionsgeschichtlich context. Biblical criticism generally
treats the text as representation: hidden within the text are the keys to
its sources, its history of development, its sociological setting, its
author. In contrast, narrative analysis considers the text as presentation. Thus, the text and its operations become the primary object of
investigation. For the reader the text incorporates a world and a
strategy. While the text draws upon numerous external elements to
construct this narrative world, the text ultimately presents nothing but
itselfits world-view, its strategies, its demands.
Narrative analysis investigates this narrative world and its strategies
by analysing the inherent grammar of the narrative. A descriptive
narrative grammar serves as a blueprint for analysis of a text.
Through this inductive grammar the reader can point to the method
and means and effect of the text. The narrative grammar is not a
replacement for the text, it is not the source of the text, nor does it
contain the life of the text. Instead, formal narrative grammar serves
as a guide to the reader of the text. The narrative grammar leads the
reader through the world of the text, it demonstrates the program of
the text, and it clarifies the significance of the text.
This program of narrative analysis provides a crucial new direction
for reading biblical texts. From the negative side, narrative analysis
avoids a current impasse in historical-critical analysis. Attempts to
interpret the Gospel of Mark through its development or through
its author depend almost solely on literary datathat is, upon the text
of the Gospel. Historical-critical analysis has encountered sharp
limitations in the Gospel of Mark. Despite the creativity and optimism

218

Teaching with Authority

of interpreters, no definitive portrait of Markan tradition and redaction has emerged. Lloyd Kittlaus articulates this stalemate:
I must confess that, in my view at least, twenty years of redaction-critical
work on Mark have not produced the necessary reliable criteria. Despite
some other gains, we still have not make [sic] sufficiently satisfactory
progress toward compensating for that deficiency which Marxsen had to
acknowledge in 1956, when he began the redactional-critical discussion of
Mark, viz., the deficiency of our not possessing Mark's sources. In fact,
slightly more than twenty years later, the results of our Markan studies
have brought us to the recognition that the separation of tradition from
redaction in this gospel is an even harder task than we once had thought
it was.1
Only new discoveries in archaeology or fresh approaches in methodology can bypass this stalemate in interpretation.
From the positive side, narrative analysis offers an alternate route
to interpretation. Narrative analysis attempts to bypass this stalemate
by returning the interpretive burden to the narrative text. This
approach does not exclude external elements such as the pre-Markan
tradition, Markan redaction or sociological settings. On the other
hand, these external factors do not provide the interpretive key to the
Gospel of Mark. Instead, reconstruction of these external factors
serves a secondary role: it provides a comparative literary context
within which to focus the Gospel of Mark. Narrative analysis places
the primary burden of significance not on this context, but on the text
itselfon its narrative strategy, its narrative world, its narrative
signification. Thus, the narrative grammar of a text unveils its
patterns and its formulas for creating narrative significance.
Texts and Readers
Narrative analysis understands the Gospel of Mark not as a historical
relic, but as a dynamic narrative production. As such the Gospel of
Mark is encoded with a wealth of strategies, plots, designs, transformations. Narrative analysis attempts to return the text to the reader
and to initiate the dialogue of interpretation. Narrative analysis seeks
to unveil for the reader the strategies, the operations, the significance
of the text. Narrative analysis opens the text and its significance to the
1. L. Kittlaus, 'John and Mark: A Methodological Evaluation of Norman
Perrin's Suggestion', in Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers (ed.
P.J. Achtemeier; Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1978), II, pp. 273-74.

9. Conclusion

219

task of hermeneutical inquiry and interpretation. Thus, narrative


analysis offers up its results to the task of hermeneutics, knowing that
readers will assign meaning to the text in a variety of ways.
At the same time narrative analysis attempts to tune the reader's ear
to the operations of a particular narrative text. In this vein the interchange between text and reader is best understood as a performance.1
In the act of reading, the codes, signals and strategies engrained in a
narrative confront the ideals, stereotypes, ambitions and blindness
engrained in the reader of the text. Thus begins the interpretive dance,
the hermeneutical dialogue. Narrative analysis attempts to return the
text to the reader and to sponsor the artistic, existential encounter in
which text and reader mutually read each other.
Texts, Readers and Disciples
Narrative analysis turns to the text as a self-presenting entity.
Narrative investigation attempts to offer this text to the reader and to
the reading act. Ultimately narrative analysis attempts to guide the
reader to perform the text in its proper key, with its proper
significance. Narrative analysis of the role of the miracle stories in the
Gospel of Mark unveils a carefully drawn portrait of Jesus. For this
narrative strategy and its significance the mood is imperative and the
voice existential. Ultimately, the narrative portrait of Jesus carved
from the miracle stories invites not casual reading, but carefully
considered discipleship. Such is its strategy, such is its call.

1. For a dynamic theory of reading which gives close attention to the role of
both the text and the reader, see W. Iser, The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic
Response (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Aarne, A., and S. Thompson, The Types of the Folk-tale: Annti Aarne's Verzeichnis der
Mdrchentypen Translated and Enlarged (Folklore Fellows Communications, 74;
Helsinki, 1928 [1910]).
Abrams, M.H., A Glossary of Literary Terms (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 3rd
edn, 1971).
Achtemeier, P.J., Mark (Proclamation Commentaries; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975).
The Origin and Function of the Pre-Marcan Miracle Catenae', JBL 91 (1972),
pp. 198-221.
'Toward the Isolation of Pre-Markan Miracle Catenae', JBL 89 (1970), pp. 265-91.
Albertz, M., Die synoptischen Streitgesprdche: Ein Beitrag zur Formgeschichte des
Urchristentums (Berlin: Trowitzsch & Sohn, 1921).
Alter, R., The Art of Biblical Narrative (New York: Basic Books, 1981).
Anderson, H., The Gospel of Mark (NCB; London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1976).
Aristotle's Poetics (trans. L. Golden; commentary by O.B. Hardison, Jr; Fnglewood Cliffs,
NJ: Prentice-Hall [1968]).
Aristotle, De Poetica (trans. I. Bywater), in Introduction to Aristotle (ed. R. McKeon; New
York: The Modern Library, 1947).
Barthes, R., S/Z (trans. R. Howard; New York: Hill & Wang, 1974).
Bauer, W., W. Arndt and F. Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and
Other Early Christian Literature (ed. F. Gingrich and F. Danker; Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 2nd rev. edn, 1979).
Bauernfeind, 0., Die Worte der Ddmonen im Markusevangelium (BWANT; Stuttgart:
Kohlhammer, 1972).
Beardslee, W., Literary Criticism of the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press,
1970).
Bertram, G., %IGTO<;\ TDNT, VIII, pp. 614-20.
Best, E., The Miracles in Mark', RevExp 75 (1978), pp. 539-54.
Betz, H.D., Lukian von Samosata und das Neue Testament (TU, 76; Berlin: Akademie
Verlag, 1961).
Bieler, L., Theios Aner: Das Bild des 'Gottlichen Menschen' in Spdtantike und
Fruhchristentum (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1967).
Bjorck, G., HN AlAAIKQN: Die periphrastischen Konstruktionen im Griechischen
(Uppsala: Almquist & Wiksell, 1940).
Black, M., An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1946).
Blass, F.W., and A. Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early
Christian Literature (trans, and rev. R.W. Funk; Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1961).

Bibliography

221

Blevins, J., The Messianic Secret in Markan Research, 1901-1976 (Washington: University
Press of America, 1981).
Bocher, O., Ddmonenfurcht und Ddmonenabwehr: Ein Beitrag zur Formgeschichte der
christliche Taufe (BWANT, 5.10; Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1970).
Das Neue Testament und die damonischen Mdchte (SBS, 58; Stuttgart: KBW, 1972).
Bonner, C , Traces of Thaumaturgic Technique in the Miracles', HTR 20 (1927),
pp. 171-81.
Bomkamm, G., G. Barth and H.J. Held, Tradition and Interpretation in Matthew (trans.
P. Scott; Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1963).
Branscomb, B.H., The Gospel ofMark (MNTC; London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1952).
Broadhead, E.K., 'Which Mountain is "This Mountain"? A Critical Note on Marie 11.22-25',
Paradigms 2 (1986), pp. 33-38.
Bultmann, R., The History of the Synoptic Tradition (trans. J. Marsh; New York: Harper &
Row, rev. edn, 1963 [1921]).
Theology of the New Testament (trans. K. Gobel; New York: Charles Scribner's Sons,
1951 [1948]).
Burkill, T.A., The Historical Development of the Story of the Syrophoenician Woman',
NovT 9 (1967), pp. 161-77.
Mysterious Revelation: An Examination of the Philosophy of St Mark's Gospel (Ithaca,
NY: Cornell University Press, 1963).
Chatman, S., Story and Discourse (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1978).
Chomsky, N., Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1965).
Syntactic Structures (The Hague: Mouton, 1957).
Conzelmann, H., The Theology of Luke (trans. G. Buswell; London: Faber & Faber,
1960).
'Die formgeschichtliche Methode', SThU 29 (1959), pp. 54-62.
Cranfield, C.E.B., The Gospel according to St Mark (CGTC; Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1959).
Culler, J., Structuralist Poetics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1975).
Culpepper, R.A., Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983).
'Mark 10.50: Why Mention the Garment?', JBL 101 (1982), pp. 131-32.
Daube, D., The Sudden in the Scripture (Leiden: Brill, 1974).
Delling, G., Antike Wundertexte, X (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1960).
Dewey, J., 'The Literary Structure of the Controversy Stories in Mark 2.1-3.6', JBL 92
(1973), pp. 394-401.
Dibelius, M., From Tradition to Gospel (trans. B.L. Woolf; Cambridge: James Clarke, 1971
[1919]).
Gospel Criticism and Christology (London: Ivor, Nicholson & Watson, 1935).
Dundes, A., 'From Etic to Ernie Units in the Structural Study of Folktales', Journal of
American Folklore 75 (1962), pp. 95-99.
Dungan, D.L., 'MarkThe Abridgement of Matthew and Luke', Perspective 11 (1970),
pp. 51-97.
Eagleton, T., Literary Theory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983).
Ebeling, H.J., Das Messiasgeheimnis und die Botschaft des Marcus-Evangelisten (BZNW;
Berlin: de Gruyter, 1939).
Fiebig, P., Jiidische Wundergeschichten des neutestamentlichen Zeitalters, unter besonderer
Berucksichtigung ihres Verhdltnisses mm Neuen Testament bearbeitet: Ein Beitrag
zum Streit um die 'Christusmythe' (Tubingen: Mohr, 1911).

222

Teaching with Authority

Rabbinische Wundergeschichten des neutestamentlichen Zeitalters, in vokalisiertem Text,


mit sprachlichen und sachlichen Bermerkungen (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2nd edn, 1933).
Fleming, JM Die syrische Didaskalia (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1904).
Fortna, R.T., The Gospel of Signs: A Reconstruction of the Narrative Source underlying the
Fourth Gospel (London: Cambridge University Press, 1970).
Fowler, R., Loaves and Fishes: The Function of the Feeding Stories in the Gospel of Mark
(SBLDS; Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1981).
Frye, N., Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1957).
Fuller, R.H., Interpreting the Miracles (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1963).
Funk, R., 'The Form of the New Testament Healing Miracle Story', Semeia 12 (1978),
pp. 57-96.
Gaston, L., Horae Synopticae Electronicae: Word Statistics of the Synoptic Gospels
(Missoula, MT: Society of Biblical Literature, 1973).
Genette, G., Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method (trans. J.E. Lewin; Ithaca, NY:
Cornell University Press, 1980).
Georgi, D., The Opponents of Paul in Second Corinthians (Philadelphia: Fortress Press,
1986).
Gnilka, J., Das Evangelium nach Markus (EKKNT; Zurich: Benzinger Verlag, 1978).
Grundmann, W., Das Evangelium nach Markus (THKNT; Berlin: Evangelische
Verlagsanstalt, 6th edn, 1973).
Gunkel, H., Einleitung in die Psalmen: Die Gattungen der religiosen Lyrik Israels
(Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1933).
Schopfung und Chaos in Urzeit und Endzeit: Eine religionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung
uberGen 1 undApJohn 12 (Gttttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1895).
Giittgemanns, E., Candid Questions concerning Gospel Form Criticism (trans. W. Doty;
Pittsburgh: Pickwick Press, 1979).
'Introductory Remarks concerning the Structural Study of Narratives', Semeia 6 (1976),
pp. 23-125.
Haenchen, E., Der Weg Jesu: Eine Erkldrung des Markus-Evangeliums und der kanonischen
Parallelen (De Gruyter Lehrbuch; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1966).
Hahn, F., The Titles of Jesus in Christology (trans. H. Knight and G. Ogg; London:
Lutterworth Press, 1969).
Hauck, F., 'otKdOapxog, &Ka0apaia\ TDNTt III, pp. 427-28.
Hawkins, J.C., Horae Synopticae: Contributions to the Study of the Synoptic Problem
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899).
Hennecke, E., New Testament Apocrypha (ed. W. Schneemelcher; trans. R. Wilson;
Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1963 [1959]).
Hirsch, E.D., The Aims of Interpretation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976).
Validity in Interpretation (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967).
Hjelmslev, L., Prolegomena to a Theory of Language (trans. F.J. Whitfield; Madison: The
University of Wisconsin Press, 1961).
Holladay, C.H., Theios Aner in Hellenistic-Judaism: A Critique of the Use of this Category
in New Testament Christology (SBLDS, 40; Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1977).
Holtzmann, H.J., Die synoptischen Evangelien: Ihr Ursprung und geschichtlicher Charakter
(Leipzig: Breitkopf & Hartel, 1863).
Iser, W., The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response (Baltimore: The Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1978).

Bibliography

223

Jeremias, J., Die Abendmahlsworte Jesu (Gdttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 4th edn,
1967).
The Eucharistic Words of Jesus (trans. N. Perrin; New York: Charles Scribner's Sons,
1966).
Jesus' Promise to the Nations (trans. S.H. Hooke; Napierville, IL: Alec Alecson, 1958).
Josephus, The Jewish War (trans. H. Thackeray; LCL; New York: Putnam's Sons, 1928).
Juel, D., Messiah and Temple: The Trial of Jesus in the Gospel ofMark (SBLDS; Missoula,
MT: Scholars Press, 1977).
Keck, L., 'Mark 3.7-12 and Mark's Christology', JBL 84 (1965), pp. 341-58.
Kelber, W.H., 'From Passion Narrative to Gospel*, in The Passion in Mark: Studies in
Mark 14-16 (ed. W.H. Kelber; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976), pp. 153-80.
The Kingdom in Mark: A New Place and a New Time (Philadelphia: Fortress Press,
1974).
Mark's Story ofJesus (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979).
The Oral and the Written Gospel (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983).
Kermode, F., The Genesis of Secrecy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979).
Kertelge, K., Die Wunder Jesu im Markusevangelium: Eine redaktionsgeschichtliche
Untersuchung (Munich: Kosel, 1970).
Kingsbury, J.D., The Christology of Mark's Gospel (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983).
'The "Divine Man" as the Key to Mark's ChristologyThe End of an Era?', Int 35
(1981), pp. 243-57.
Kittlaus, L., 'John and Mark: A Methodological Evaluation of Norman Perrin's Suggestion',
in Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers (ed. P.J. Achtemeier, Missoula, MT:
Scholars Press, 1978), pp. 269-79.
Klostermann, E., Das Markusevangelium (HNT; Tubingen: Mohr, 1950).
Koch, D.-A., Die Bedeutung der Wundererzdhlungen fiir die Christologie des Markusevangeliums (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1975).
Ko'ster, H., 'One Jesus and Four Primitive Gospels', in Ko'ster and Robinson (eds.),
Trajectories, pp. 158-204.
Ko'ster, H., and J.M. Robinson (eds.), Trajectories through Early Christianity (Philadelphia:
Fortress Press, 1971).
Kraeling, C.H. (ed.), Gerasa: City of the Decapolis (New Haven, CT: American Schools of
Oriental Research, 1938).
Kuhn, H.-W., Altere Sammlungen im Markusevangelium (Go'ttingen: Vandenhoeck &
Ruprecht, 1971).
Lake, K., 'EMBRIMESAMENOS and ORGISTHEIS, Mark 1.40-43', HTR 16 (1923),
pp. 197-98.
Lane, W., 'From Historian to Theologian: Milestones in Markan Scholarship', RevExp 75
(1978), pp. 601-17.
The Gospel according to Mark: The English Text with Introduction, Exposition and Notes
(NICNT: Grant Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974).
Lentricchia, F., After the New Criticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980).
Lepschy, G.C., A Survey of Structural Linguistics (London: Andre Deutsch, 1982).
Lesky, E., and J.H. Waszink, 'Epilepsie', RAC, V, pp. 819-31.
Liddell, H.G., and R. Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon (rev. and augmented by H. Stuart
Jones and R. McKenzie; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1940).
Lightfoot, R.H., History and Interpretation in the Gospels (London: Hodder & Stoughton,
1935).

224

Teaching with Authority

Lohmeyer, E.f Das Evangeliwn nach Markus (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 10th
edn, 1937).
Galilda und Jerusalem (Go"ttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1936).
Luz, U., 'Das Geheimnismotiv und die Markinsiche Christologie', ZNW 56 (1965),
pp. 9-30.
McKnight, E.V., Meaning in Texts: The Historical Shaping of a Narrative Hermeneutics
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978).
Martin, R., Mark: Evangelist and Theologian (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972).
Marxsen, W., Mark the Evangelist: Studies on the Redaction History of the Gospel (trans.
J. Boyce, D. Juel and W. Poehlmann; Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1969).
The Beginnings of Christology, together with the Lord's Supper as a Christological
Problem (trans. P. Achtemeier and L. Nieting; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979
[I960]).
Metzger, B. (ed.), A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London: United
Bible Societies, 1975).
Moltmann, J., The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of
Christian Theology (trans. R.A. Wilson and J. Bowden; New York: Harper & Row,
1974).
Mowinckel, S., The Psalms in Israel's Worship (trans. D.R. Ap-Thomas; Nashville:
Abingdon Press, 1962).
Neirynck, F., Duality in Mark: Contributions to the Study of the Markan Redaction (Leuven:
Leuven University Press, 1972).
Paul, H., Principles of the History of the Language (trans. H.A. Strong; New York:
Macmillan, 1889).
Perrin, N., A Modern Pilgrimage in New Testament Christology (Philadelphia: Fortress
Press, 1974).
Towards an Interpretation of the Gospel of Mark', in Christology and a Modern
Pilgrimage: A Discussion with Norman Perrin (ed. H.D. Betz; Missoula, MT:
Scholars Press, rev. edn, 1974), pp. 1-78.
Pesch, R., 'Ein Tag vollmachtiger Wirkens Jesu im Kaphernaum (Mk 1, 21-34.35-39)',
BibLeb 9 (1968), pp. 114-28, 177-95.
Das Markusevangelium (HTKNT; Freiburg: Herder, 3rd edn, 1980).
Petersen, N., 'The Composition of Mark 4.1-8.26', HTR 73 (1980), pp. 185-217.
Literary Criticism for New Testament Critics (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978).
Polhill, J., 'Perspectives on the Miracle Stories', RevExp 74 (1977), pp. 389-99.
Preisendenz, K., Papyri Graecae Magicae (Leipzig: Teubner, 1928).
Propp, V., Morphology of the Folktale (ed. L.A. Wagner; Austin: University of Texas
Press, 2nd edn, 1968).
Pryke, E.J., Redactional Style in the Marcan Gospel (London: Cambridge University Press,
1978).
Quesnell, Q., The Mind of Mark: Interpretation and Method through the Exegesis ofMark
6.52 (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1969).
Reitzenstein, R., Hellenistische Wundererzahlungen (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche
Buchgesellschaft, 2nd edn, 1963).
Rhoads, D., and D. Michie, Mark as Story: An Introduction to the Narrative of a Gospel
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982).

Bibliography

225

Riesenfeld, H., 'Tradition und Redaktion im Markusevangelium', in Neutestamentliche


Studien fur Rudolf Bultmann zu seinem siebzigsten Geburtstag (ed. W. Eltester;
Berlin: To'pelmann, 1954), pp. 157-64.
Robbins, V.K., Jesus the Teacher: A Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation of Mark (Philadelphia:
Fortress Press, 1984).
Robertson, A.T., A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical
Research (Nashville: Broadman Press, 4th edn, 1934).
Robinson, J.M., 'Kerygma and History in the New Testament', in Ko'ster and Robinson
(eds.), Trajectories, pp. 20-70.
The Problem of History in Mark and Other Marcan Studies (Philadelphia: Fortress Press,
1982).
Roloff, J., Das Kerygma und der irdische Jesus (GOttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht,
1970).
Rudberg, G., 'EUTHUS', ConNT 9 (1944), pp. 42-46.
Rydbeck, L., Fachprosa, vermeintliche Volkssprache und NT (Studia Graeca Upsaliensia;
Uppsala: Berlingska Boktryckeriet, 1967).
Sanders, E.P., Jesus and Judaism (London: SCM Press, 1985).
Saussure, F. de, Course in General Linguistics (ed. C. Bally and A. Sechehaye in
collaboration with A. Reidlinger; trans. W. Baskin; New York: Philosophical Library,
1959).
Schenk, W., Tradition und Redaktion in der Epileptiker-Perikope Mk 9.14-29', ZNW 63
(1972), pp. 76-94.
Schenke, L., Die Wundererzahlungen des Markusevangelium (SBB; Stuttgart: Katholisches
Bibelwerk, 1974).
Studien zur Passionsgeschichte des Markus: Tradition und Redaktion in Markus 14.1-42
(Forschung zur Bibel; Wiirzburg: Echter Verlag, 1971).
Schille, G., Anfange der Kirche: Erwagungen zur apostolischen Friihgeschichte (Munich:
Chr. Kaiser Verlag, 1966).
Die urchristliche Wundertradition: Ein Beitrag zur Frage nach dem irdischen Jesus
(Stuttgart: Calwer Verlag, 1967).
Schmidt, K.L., Der Rahmen der Geschichte Jesu: Literarkritische Untersuchungen zur
dltesten Jesusuberlieferung (Berlin: Trowitzsch & Sohn, 1919).
Schmithals, W., 'Der Markusschluss, die Verklafungsgeschichte und die Aussendung der
Zwolf, ZTK 69 (1972), pp. 379-411.
Schnackenburg, R., The Gospel according to St Mark (trans. W. Kruppe; New York:
Crossroad, 1981).
Schreiber, J., 'Die Christologie des Markusevangeliums', ZTK 58 (1961), pp. 154-83.
Schurmann, H., Das Lukasevangelium (HTKNT; Freiburg: Herder, 1969).
Schweizer, E., 'Die theologische Leistung des Markus', EvT 24 (1964), pp. 337-55.
'Neuere Markus-Forschung in USA', EvT 33 (1973), pp. 533-37.
The Good News according to Mark (trans. D. Madvig; Atlanta: John Knox, 1970).
'Geister (Da'monen)', RAC, IX, pp. 688-700.
SjOberg, E.K.T., Der verborgene Menschensohn in den Evangelien (Lund: Gleerup, 1955).
Smith, H., 'The Sources of Victor of Antioch's Commentary on Mark', JTS 19 (1918),
pp. 350-70.
Snoy, T., La marche de Jesus sur les eaux: Etude de la redaction marcienne (unpublished
dissertation, Louvain, 1967).

226

Teaching with Authority

Stacy, W., Tear in the Gospel of Mark', (unpublished PhD dissertation, The Southern
Baptist Theological Seminary, 1979).
Stagg, R, 'Matthew*, in Broadman Bible Commentary (ed. J. Allen; Nashville: Broadman
Press, 1969), pp. 61-253.
Sternberg, M., ExpositionalModes and Temporal Ordering in Fiction (Baltimore: The Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1978).
Strack, H.L., and P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und
Midrash (Munich: Beck, 1961-65).
Sundwall, J., Die Zusammensetzung des Markusevangeliums (Abo; Abo Akademi, 1934).
Tabachovitz, D., Die Septuaginta und das NT (Lund: Gleerup, 1956).
Tagawa, K., Miracles et ivangile: La pensie personelle de I''evange'liste Marc (Paris: Presses
Universitaires de France, 1966).
Talbert, C.H., What Is a Gospel! The Genre of the Canonical Gospels (Philadelphia:
Fortress Press, 1977).
Taylor, V., The Gospel according to St Mark (New York: St Martin's Press, 2nd edn,
1966).
Telford, W., The Barren Temple and the Withered Tree (JSNTSup, 1; Sheffield: JSOT
Press, 1980).
Theissen, G., The Miracle Stories of the Early Christian Tradition (trans. F. McDonagh;
Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983 [1974]).
Thraede, K., 'Exorzismus', RAC, VII, pp. 43-117.
Trocme", E., The Formation of the Gospel according to Mark (trans. P. Gaughan;
Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1963).
Van Iersel, B., 'Die wunderbare Speisung und das Abendmahl in der synoptischen
Tradition', NovT (1964-65), pp. 167-94.
Weeden, T.J., Mark: Traditions in Conflict (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971).
Weiss, J., Das dlteste Evangelium (Go'ttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1903).
'EUTHUS bei Markus', ZNW 11 (1910), pp. 124-33.
Wendling, E., Die Entstehung des Markusevangeliums (Tubingen: Mohr [Paul Siebeck],
1908).
Wink, W., The Bible in Human Transformation (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1973).
Wohlenberg, G., Das Evangelium des Markus (Kommentar zum Neuen Testament; Leipzig:
Deichert, 1910).
Wrede, W., The Messianic Secret (trans. J.C.G. Greig; Cambridge: James Clark, 1971
[1901]).
Das Messiasgeheimnis in den Evangelien: Zugleich ein Beitrag zum Verstdndnis des
Markusevangeliums (Go'ttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1901).
'Zur Heilung des GelShmten (Me 2.1ff.)\ ZNW 5 (1904), pp. 354-58.
Wright, G.A., 'Markan Intercalations: A Study in the Plot of a Gospel' (unpublished PhD
dissertation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1985).
Zerwick, M., Untersuchung zum Markus-Stil (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1937).

INDEXES

INDEX OF REFERENCES
OLD TESTAMENT

Psalms

Genesis
1

95

Exodus
3.13-22
24.17
33.19
33.22
34.5-7

125
151
125
125
125

Numbers
27.17

72

118

Deuteronomy
151
5.1
151
6.4-5
1 Kings
19.11
Job
41

120, 122

125

95

7.1-9
8.1-4
20.1-6
34.4
35
35.5-10
35.6
56.7
Jeremiah
1.11-12
1.13-16
7.1-34
7.11
8.13
13.1-11
16.1-4
18.1-11
19.1-15
24.1-10
25.15-29
27.1-22

29.17
32.6-25

172
172

Ezekiel

Isaiah

Leviticus

14-15

23

173
173
173
172
143
133, 200
133
170

173
173
173
170
172
173
173
173
173
173
173
173

4.1-5.17

173

Amos
5.21-24
7.7-9
8.1-3
9.1

173
173
173
173

Hosea
1.2
1.4-5
1.6-7
1.8-9
2.12
9.10
9.16

173
173
173
173
172
172
172

Joel
1.7

172

Micah
7.1-6

172

1.1
1.9-20

87, 89,
91, 92,
95, 113,
115, 140
201,208
90
60

NEW TESTAMENT

Matthew
20.2
27.51-53
28.2-4
28.1-8
28.2
28.16-20

119
181
12
182
182
183

Mark
1.1-16.8
1-13
1-3
1.1-3.7

51
184, 186,
187, 214
56, 83,
84, 86,

228
1.9-13
1.11
1.13
1.14-20
1.14-15

1.14
1.15
1.16-20

1.18
1.20
1.21-39

1.21-31
1.21-29

1.21-22

1.21
1.22

1.23-28

1.23-26

Index of References
16
151, 184
63
112
66, 67,
70, 71,
83, 84,
121, 122,
139, 140,
157
86
177
58, 64,
77, 78,
88,90,
104, 113,
122, 140,
199
166
58
56, 64,
67-71,
74-77,
79, 84,
121, 122,
198, 201
65,66
56,57,
60-62,
67, 68,
94, 195,
196, 198,
201,202,
209-11
56,58,
60, 61,
63, 6769,72
56-58,
139
56, 58,
62, 84,
86, 199,
201
56, 59,
61, 67,
68
201

L23-24
1.24
1.25
1.26
1.27-28
1.27
1.28
11.29-31

1 .29

1 .30-31
1 .30
] .31

1 .32-39

1 .32-34
11.32
11.33
11.34
11.35-39
11.35
11.36-37
11.36
L37-38
1.37
11.38-39
11.38
11.39-45

1.39

56,59
59,184
56,59
56,60
56, 60,
61
100, 139
74, 89,
199
62-64,
67, 68,
155, 193,
196, 200,
202, 209
56,6064, 67,
68,88
62-64,
67,68
62,63
62, 63,
73, 84,
200
64,6668, 77,
195, 196,
202, 209
64, 66-68
63,65
64,65
64,65
64-69, 74
65
65
88
65
65
65
139
72, 74,
75, 85,
196, 198,
199, 202,
209
67, 72,
74, 80,
81, 86,
139, 198,

1.40-45
1.40
1.41
1.42
1.43-44
1.44
1.45
2.1-13

2.1-12
2.1-2
2.1-2
2.1
2.2
2.3-12
2.3-4
2.5-10
2.5
2.6-10
2.6-9
2.6
2.7-8
2.7
2.8-9
2.10-11
2.10
2.10
2.11
2.12
2.13-17
2.13-14
2.13
2.14
2.18-22

199, 201
72,74
72
72, 74,
85
72
72
85,208
72-74,
89,199
75-79,
82, 83,
155, 196
198-202,
206, 209
210
85
85
75, 77,
78
75
75, 76,
198
75, 76,
79
75,76
78
75,76
201
76
75,76
75,76
83,208
75, 76,
94
75,76
76
76
76
75-77
85,90
90, 104,
199
75,7779, 90,
139,199
166

85

229

Teaching with Authority


2.20
2.23-28
2.24
3.1-13
3.1-7

3.1-6
3.1-2
3.1
3.2
3.3
3.4-5
3.4
3.5-6
3.5
3.6

3.7-6.6

3.7-20
3.7-19
3.7-13

3.7-12
3.7-8
3.7

86
85
80
140
79-85,
191, 196,
198-200,
202, 209,
210
79, 80,
82, 83,
85,201
79,80
79-81,
83,199
79,80
79,80
80-82,
201
79-81,94
80,81
80, 81,
105, 175
56, 80,
81, 83,
86, 171,
176, 184,
186, 208,
214
88, 91,
112, 115,
116, 140,
202, 208
199, 200
122
88-90,
92, 112,
113, 196,
199, 200,
202, 209,
210
88
88, 8890, 104,
112, 199
56,7982, 88,
90

3.9-12

88, 89,
91
88, 89,
3.9
91,200
88,89
3.10-11
88,89
3.10
89
3.11
88-91,
3.12
200
91, 113,
3.13-19
116, 140
156
3.13-15
88, 90,
3.13
91
91,92
3.14-15
99,100
3.14
116
3.20-35
113
3.20-30
113
3.31-35
3.34
175
4.1-34
93, 95,
96, 105,
113,116
4.1-2
90, 93,
98, 101,
104, 199
4.1
140
140
4.33
4.35-5.43 112
4.35-5.1 93,9597, 101,
113, 114
149, 196
200, 202
206, 209
4.35-41
93
4.35-40
98
4.35-36
93,95
98,101
4.35
4.37-41
93, 95,
96
93
4.37-38
4.37
95
95, 96,
4.38
106, 113
140
93,94
4.39
93,94
4.40

4.41
5.1-21

5.1-20
5.1

5.2-6.1
5.2-20
5.2-8
5.2-7
5.2
5.6-8
5.7
5.9-12
5.9
5.11
5.12
5.13
5.14-17
5.14-15
5.14
5.15
5.17
5.18-20
5.18
5.19-20
5.19
5.20
5.21-6.1

93,94
95, 96,
100-102,
113, 114,
191, 193,
196, 200,
202, 209,
210
96, 97,
103
93, 94,
96-98,
101
19
97, 98,
101
97
98,101
98
98
98, 101,
184
97, 99,
101
97-99
99
99
97, 99,
101
98, 99,
101, 102
99
99
94,99
99
102
97,
99-101
101
97, 100,
102
97, 100,
102
102, 103,
106,
110-15,
155, 196,
199-202,

230
5.21-43
5.21-24
5.21

5.22-23
5.23-24
5.23
5.24
5.25-34
5.25-28
5.25-26
5.25
5.36
5.27-28
5.27
5.28
5.29-30
5.29
5.30
5.31
5.32
5.33
5.34
5.35-43
5.35
5.36-39
5.36
5.37
5.38-40
5.40
5.41-42
5.41

Index of References
209-11
96, 102,
104
155
90, 97,
100, 101,
103, 104,
107, 108,
110, 111,
115,199
103-105
108
104, 108,
109
103-105
105, 193
103, 105,
110
105, 109
107
108
105
109
108
109
103, 105
103, 105
103-105
103, 105,
175
103, 105,
106, 108,
110
103, 105,
106, 108,
110
155
103, 105,
108, 109,
115, 199
103, 106
106, 108
106, 109
109
103, 106,
107, 109
109
103, 106

5.42
5.43
6.1-6
6.1
6.2
6.5
6.6-8.30
6.6-8.27

6.6-31
6.6

6.7-34
6.7-31
6.7-13
6.11
6.14-29
6.30-34
6.30-31
6.31
6.32-7.23
6.32-46

6.32-44
6.32-33
6.32
6.33
6.34-44
6.34
6.35-36
6.35

103, 107,
108
103, 107,
109
115, 116,
144
102, 103,
107, 108,
110
115,140
115
96
117,13942,14447, 203,
208
145
115, 139,
140, 142,
184, 186,
214
140
121
140, 156
73
140
140
118
118,119
142
117, 121,
123, 136,
141, 143,
196, 199,
200, 203,
205, 209,
211
117
117,121
117,118
117,118
117, 118,
121
117-19,
122, 140,
199
117,119
119

6.37
6.38
6.39
6.40
6.41
6.42-43
6.42
6.43
6.44
6.45-52
6.45-46
6.45
6.46
6.47-53

6.47
6.48-52
6.48
6.49-52
6.49-50
6.50
6.51
6.52
6.53-56

6.53-54
6.53
6.54-56
6.56
7.1-23
7.1-13
7.2
7.6-7
7.14-16
7.15
7.17-23
7.17

117,119
117,119
117, 120,
122
117,120
117,120
117,120
120, 143
120
117,120
124
117, 118,
120,121
118,120
118,120
124, 126,
127, 141,
149, 196,
203, 206,
209
124, 126
124, 126
124, 125
166
124, 125
124-26
124-26
124, 126
127-29,
141, 145,
146, 190,
191, 195,
196, 199,
203, 209,
210
127
124,126
127, 128
127, 128
128,14143,145
142,143
142
144
142
142
142, 145
145

231

Teaching with Authority


7.18-23
7.24-31

7.24-30
7.24
7.25-30
7.25-26
7.27
7.28
7.29
7.30
7.31-37

7.31
7.32-37
7.32
7.33-34
7.34
7.35
7.36-37
7.36
7.37
8.1-10

8.1-9
8.1-3
8.1
8.4
8.5
8.6
8.7
8.8
8.9

142
129-31,
137, 142,
143, 155,
191, 193,
196, 200,
209,211
129
129
129
129
129, 130
129,130
129,130
129, 130
131,13335, 137,
143, 145,
195, 196,
200, 203,
209
129, 130,
132
132
132
132
132
132, 133
132,133
132, 133
133
133, 134,
136, 142,
143, 145,
195, 196,
199, 203,
205, 209,
211
134, 135
134, 135
134, 135
134, 135
134, 135
134, 135
134, 135
134, 135,
143
134, 135

134, 135
144, 145
181
143-45
151
138, 139,
144, 160,
165
8.22-10.52 201
137, 139,
8.22-27
144, 145,
196, 200,
201, 203,
209
137, 138
8.22-26
137, 138
8.22
137, 138
8.23
8.24
137, 138
137, 138
8.25
137, 138
8.26
8.27-10.52 148,16067, 203,
208
138, 151,
8.27-38
199
8.27-30
161-63
137, 138,
8.27
162, 165
162
8.29
162
8.30
8.31-9.1
149
161-64
8.31-38
152,1608.31
62, 164,
171, 179,
184, 186,
214
162, 164
8.32-33
105
8.33
160,1628.34-38
64
8.34
151
9.2-30
163
9.2-14
148, 15053, 163,
165, 196,
199, 203,
206, 209,

8.10
8.11-13
8.11-12
8.14-21
8.17
8.18

9.2-13
9.2-8
9.2-7
9.2-3
9.2
9.4
9.5
9.6
9.7
9.8
9.9-14
9.9
9.10
9.11-13
9.11
9.12-13
9.12
9.14-30

9.14-27
9.14
9.15-27
9.15
9.16
9.17-18
9.17
9.18
9.19
9.20
9.20-22
9.21-22
9.21
9.22
9.23
9.24
9.25-26
9.25-27

210
148
148-50,
181,186
199,200
148, 149
148-50
148,149
148, 149
148,149
148, 149,
184
148, 150,
175
148, 150,
164
148,150
148, 150,
152
181
148,150
148,150
152, 184,
186,214
150,15457, 163,
165, 193,
199, 203,
209
154
148, 150,
154, 156
154
154
154,155
154-56
156, 164
156
154-56
154,155
156
154, 155
155
156
154-56
154,155
154-56
156

232
9.26
9.27
9.28-30
9.28-29
9.28
9.29
9.30-37

154, 155
154, 155
154,164
157
154-56
154, 156
161, 163,
164
9.30
154, 156
160, 161,
9.31
164, 171,
179, 184,
186,214
162, 164
9.32
162, 164
9.33-37
9.33-34
160
165
9.33
9.34
165
9.38-10.31 163, 164
164
9.38-50
164
9.38
164
10.1-12
10.13-16
164
164
10.17-31
164, 165
10.17
175
10.23
158, 164
10.32-45
10.32-34 160, 161
10.32
161, 165
10.33-34
171, 179,
184, 186,
214
160
10.35-45
162
10.35-41
166
10.35-37
164
10.35
10.42-45 63, 162,
164, 200
10.43-44 63
63, 184,
10.45
186, 214
10.46-52
157-61,
165, 166,
191, 193,
196, 200,
201, 204,
209, 210
10.46-47
158

Index of References
10.46
10.47
10.48
10.49-50
10.49
10.51-52
10.51
10.52

158,165
158
158
158, 159
158, 159
166
158,159
158, 159,
165
11.1-13.37 168, 170,
173,17578, 204,
208
11.1
175
11.11
175
11.12-27 82, 168,
170, 171,
173-79,
181, 184,
186, 196,
200, 201,
204,20810,214
11.12-14
173
168
11.12-13
11.12
168-70,
172
11.13-26
168, 170
168, 169,
11.13
177
11.14
168, 169,
172
169, 176,
11.15-19
201
11.15-16
168, 170,
173
11.15
168, 170,
171,173
11.17
168, 170,
173
83, 168,
11.18
170, 173,
176, 184,
186,214
11.19-20 172
11.19
168, 170
169-72
11.20
11.21
169-71,

174
169-71,
174, 177
11.22
177
11.23
177
11.24-25
177
11.27-13.37 170
11.27-33
176
11.27
169, 170
11.28
176
12.1-12
176
12.13-17 176
12.18-27 176
12.28-40 176
12.29-30 151
13
176
13.1-37
177
13.1-2
176
13.2
173
125
13.6
73
13.9
111
13.22
186
14-16
14.1-16.8 176,18085, 214,
215
14.1-15.21 184, 185
14.1
214
14.5
73
14.8-9
180, 183,
186, 214
14.12-16 180, 183,
186, 214
14.14
186, 214
14.17-21
180, 183,
186,213
180, 183,
14.27-31
186, 214
14.27
186
186
14.29-31
186, 214
14.61-62
14.62
125
14.64
78,83
15.1-16
186
15.22-40 184
186,214
15.26
15.29-32 181, 186
15.30-32
183, 214
11.22-26

233

Teaching with Authority


15.33

181. 183,
186,214
15.34-37
181, 183,
186, 214
15.37-41
186
15.38
181, 183,
186, 214
15.39
90, 163,
186, 214
15.40-16.8 185
15.40-41
63
184
15.40
186
15.43-47
15.45
186, 214
15.49
186, 214
15.50-52
186
15.53
186
15.55-64
186
15.66-72
186
16.1-8
182, 183,
185

16.4-7
16.4
16.5
16.6-7
16.6

16.7
16.9-20
Luke
4.22
13.6-9
24.1-11
24.4
24.13-35
24.36-53

182
181, 183,
186, 214
181-83,
186, 214
185
181, 183,
185, 186,
214
181-82,
187, 214
182

John
6.22-25
20.1-10
20.11-18
20.19-23
20.24-29
21.1-23
21.1-8

191
183
183
183
183
183
149

Acts
9.3-6

151

Philippians
2.5-11
212
73
191
182
182
183
183

Hebrews
12.18-21
12.29

151
151

EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITINGS

Acts of Pilate
13.1
182
14.1
183
Gospel of Peter
15-18
181

21-22
28
34-39
50-57

181
181
183
182

Gospel of
the Nazarenes
21
181
36
181

INDEX OF AUTHORS

Aarne, A. 40, 41
Abrams, M. 42
Achtemeier, P. 18, 20
Aland, K. 182
Alter, R. 136
Arndt, W. 120
Barthes, R. 29, 30, 32, 38
Bauer, W. 120
Beardslee, W. 45
Best, E. 189, 205
Bieler, L. 15-17
Black, M. 73
Blass, F. 34
Bolte, J. 40
Bremond, C. 30, 31
Bultmann, R. 15-17, 22-24, 41, 44,
55, 61, 64, 66, 75, 78, 82, 83, 92,
96, 102, 111, 123, 127, 128, 131,
134, 137, 139, 152, 157, 160, 174
Chatman, S. 30, 38, 39
Chomsky, N. 29
Culler, J. 36, 38, 53, 55
Culpepper, R. 45, 159
Dewey, J. 85, 86
Dibelius, M. 14, 15, 17, 18, 22-24,
41, 44, 50, 55, 61, 64, 66, 75, 78,
83,92,96,97, 102, 111, 123,
128, 131, 134, 137, 139, 152,
157, 160, 161, 174
Dijk, T.A. van 2
Dundes, A. 29, 41

Frye, N. 32, 38
Funk, R. 57, 69
Genette, G. 30, 31
Georgi, D. 17, 19
Gingrich, F. 120
Gnilka, J. 94, 123, 128, 129, 131,
174
Greimas, A. 30, 31, 37, 38
Greverus, I. 42, 43
Gunkel, H. 41, 44
Giittegemanns, E. 29
Hardison, O. 37
Hennecke, E. 182
Hirsch, E. 47
Hjelmslev, L. 28
Holladay, C. 21, 210
Iser, W. 219
Jakobson, R. 28
Juel, D. 175
Keck, L. 18
Kelber, W. 20, 65, 90, 94, 96, 100,
103, 106, 107, 109, 110, 112,
119, 122, 131, 136, 138, 150,
160, 174, 177, 185,186
Kermode, F. 48
Kertelge, K. 18, 19, 95, 112, 212
Kingsbury, J. 20, 21, 128, 179, 210,
211
Kittlaus, L. 218
Koch, D.-A. 19, 127, 174, 212

Eaglton, T. 31, 43
Fowler, R. 90

Lentricchia, F. 30
Lepschy, G. 28, 53

Teaching with Authority


L6vi-Strauss, C. 28, 29, 32, 43
Lohmeyer, E. 94, 129, 174
Luz, U. 18, 205
McKnight, E. 27-29, 31, 53
Marxsen, W. 15, 24, 55, 188, 189,
218
Michie, D. 59, 90, 91, 94, 108, 109,
120, 138, 139, 150, 160
Moltmann, J. 179
Moulton, J. 34
Mowinckel, S. 41
Pannenberg, W. 185
Paul, H. 34
Peirce, C. 29
Perrin, N. 20
Pesch, R. 21, 76, 95, 123, 127, 132,
150, 195, 205
Petersen, N. 20, 172
Polhill, J. 210
Polivka, G. 41
Propp, V. 26-29, 35-37, 40-43, 196
Rhoads, D. 59, 90, 91, 94, 108, 109,
120, 138, 139, 150, 160
Robbins, V. 59, 109
Robertson, A. 34, 54, 55

235

Saussure, F. de 26-29, 47, 53, 196


Schenke, L. 18, 95, 180, 212
Schille, G. 19, 123
Schmidt, K. 24
Schweizer, E. 18, 21, 205
Schweitzer, A. 22
Stacy, W. 94, 99, 107, 152
Sternberg, M. 43
Tagawa, K. 21
Talbert, C. 17, 146, 213
Taylor, V. 92, 131
Theissen, G. 41, 57, 61, 64, 66, 75,
78,83,92,97, 102, 111, 123,
127, 128, 131, 134, 137, 139,
152, 157, 161, 195,197
Thompson, S. 40
Todorov, T. 30, 31, 38
Tomashevsky, B. 37
Veselovskij, A. 40-42
Weeden, T. 19, 20, 146, 189, 190,
212-14
Wrede, W. 13-16, 22, 24, 55
Wright, G. 140, 201

JOURNAL FOR THE STUDY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT


15
16

HOSTILITY TO WEALTH IN THE SYNOPTIC GOSPELS


Thomas E. Schmidt
MATTHEW'S COMMUNITY:
THE EVIDENCE OF HIS SPECIAL SAYINGS MATERIAL

Stephenson H. Brooks
17

THE PARADOX OF THE CROSS IN THE THOUGHT OF ST PAUL

18

HIDDEN W I S D O M AND THE E A S Y YOKE:

Anthony Tyrrell Hanson


W I S D O M , TORAH AND DISCIPLESHIP IN M A T T H E W 11.25-30

CeliaDeutsch
19

20

21

22

JESUS AND G O D IN P A U L ' S ESCHATOLOGY

L. Joseph Kreitzer
LUKE:
A NEW PARADIGM (2 Volumes)
Michael D. Goulder
THE DEPARTURE OF JESUS IN LUKE-ACTS:
THE ASCENSION NARRATIVES IN CONTEXT
Mikeal C. Parsons
THE DEFEAT OF DEATH:
APOCALYPTIC ESCHATOLOGY IN l CORINTHIANS 15 AND ROMANS 5

Martinus C. de Boer
23

P A U L THE LETTER-WRITER
AND THE SECOND LETTER T O TIMOTHY

Michael Prior
24

APOCALYPTIC AND THE N E W TESTAMENT:


ESSAYS IN H O N O R O F J. LOUIS M A R T Y N

Edited by Joel Marcus & Marion L. Soards


25

T H E UNDERSTANDING SCRIBE:
M A T T H E W AND THE APOCALYPTIC IDEAL

David E. Grton
26

WATCHWORDS:
M A R K 13 IN M A R K A N ESCHATOLOGY

27

28

Timothy J. Geddert
THE DISCIPLES ACCORDING TO MARK:
MARKAN REDACTION IN CURRENT DEBATE
C. Clifton Black
THE NOBLE DEATH:
GRAECO-ROMAN MARTYROLOGY
AND PAUL'S CONCEPT OF SALVATION

David Seeley

29

30
31

32

33

ABRAHAM IN GALATIANS:
EPISTOLARY AND RHETORICAL CONTEXTS
G. Walter Hansen
EARLY CHRISTIAN RHETORIC AND 2 THESSALONIANS
Frank Witt Hughes
THE STRUCTURE OF MATTHEW'S GOSPEL:
A STUDY IN LITERARY DESIGN
David R. Bauer
PETER AND THE BELOVED DISCIPLE:
FIGURES FOR A COMMUNITY IN CRISIS
Kevin Quast
MARK'S AUDIENCE:
THE LITERARY AND SOCIAL SETTING OF MARK 4.11-12

Mary Ann Beavis


34

35

36

37

38

39

THE GOAL OF OUR INSTRUCTION:


THE STRUCTURE OF THEOLOGY AND ETHICS
IN THE PASTORAL EPISTLES
Philip H. Towner
THE PROVERBS OF JESUS:
ISSUES OF HISTORY AND RHETORIC
Alan P. Winton
THE STORY OF CHRIST IN THE ETHICS OF PAUL:
AN ANALYSIS OF THE FUNCTION OF THE HYMNIC MATERIAL
IN THE PAULINE CORPUS
Stephen E. Fowl
PAUL AND JESUS:
COLLECTED ESSAYS
Edited by A.J.M. Wedderburn
MATTHEW'S MISSIONARY DISCOURSE:
A LITERARY CRITICAL ANALYSIS
Dorothy Jean Weaver
FAITH AND OBEDIENCE IN ROMANS:
A S T U D Y IN R O M A N S

40

1-4

Glenn N. Davies
IDENTIFYING PAUL'S OPPONENTS:
THE QUESTION OF METHOD IN 2 CORINTHIANS

Jerry L. Sumney
41

HUMAN AGENTS OF COSMIC POWER:


IN HELLENISTIC JUDAISM AND THE SYNOPTIC TRADITION

42

MATTHEW'S INCLUSIVE STORY:


A STUDY IN THE NARRATIVE RHETORIC OF THE FIRST GOSPEL

Mary E. Mills
David B. Howell

58

59

60

61
62

63

64
65
66

67

68

69
70

71
72
73

NONE BUT THE SINNERS:


RELIGIOUS CATEGORIES IN THE GOSPEL OF LUKE
David A. Neale
CLOTHED WITH CHRIST:
T H E EXAMPLE A N D TEACHING OF JESUS IN R O M A N S 12.1-15.13
Michael Thompson
THE LANGUAGE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT:
CLASSIC ESSAYS
Edited by Stanley E. Porter
FOOTWASHING IN JOHN 13 AND THE JOHANNINE COMMUNITY
John Christopher Thomas
JOHN THE BAPTIZER AND PROPHET:
A SOCIO-HISTORICAL STUDY
Robert L.Webb
POWER AND POLITICS IN PALESTINE:
THE JEWS AND THE GOVERNING OF THEIR LAND 100 BC-AD 70
James S. McLaren
JESUS AND THE ORAL GOSPEL TRADITION
Edited by Henry Wansbrough
THE RHETORIC OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IN ROMANS 3.21-26
Douglas A. Campbell
PAUL, ANTIOCH AND JERUSALEM:
A STUDY IN RELATIONSHIPS AND AUTHORITY IN EARLIEST CHRISTIANITY
Nicholas Taylor
T H E PORTRAIT OF PHILIP IN A C T S :
A S T U D Y OF ROLES A N D RELATIONS
F. Scott Spencer
JEREMIAH IN MATTHEW'S GOSPEL:
THE REJECTED PROPHET MOTIF IN MATTHAEAN REDACTION
Michael P. Knowles
RHETORIC AND REFERENCE IN THE FOURTH GOSPEL
Margaret Davies
AFTER THE THOUSAND YEARS:
RESURRECTION AND JUDGMENT IN REVELATION 20
J. Webb Mealy
SOPHIA AND THE JOHANNINE JESUS
Martin Scott
NARRATIVE ASIDES IN L U K E - A C T S
Steven M. Sheeley
SACRED SPACE:
AN APPROACH TO THE THEOLOGY OF THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS

Marie E. Isaacs
74

TEACHING WITH AUTHORITY:


MIRACLES AND CHRISTOLOGY IN THE GOSPEL OF MARK

Edwin K. Broadhead

43

44
45

46

47

48

JESUS, PAUL AND TORAH:


COLLECTED ESSAYS
Heikki Raisanen
THE NEW COVENANT IN HEBREWS
Susanne Lehne
THE RHETORIC OF ROMANS:
ARGUMENTATIVE CONSTRAINT AND STRATEGY AND PAUL'S
DIALOGUE WITH JUDAISM

Neil Elliott
THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST:
THE RHETORIC OF REVERSAL IN LUKE
John O. York
JAMES AND THE Q SAYINGS OF JESUS

Patrick J. Hartin
TEMPLUMAMICITIAE:
ESSAYS ON THE SECOND TEMPLE PRESENTED TO ERNST BAMMEL
Edited by William Horbury

49

PROLEPTIC PRIESTS :
PRIESTHOOD IN THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS

50

PERSUASIVE ARTISTRY:
STUDIES IN NEW TESTAMENT RHETORIC
IN HONOR OF GEORGE A . KENNEDY

John M. Scholer

Edited by Duane F. Watson


51

THE AGENCY OF THE APOSTLE:


A DRAMATISTIC ANALYSIS OF PAUL'S RESPONSES
TO CONFLICT IN 2 CORINTHIANS

Jeffrey A. Crafton
52

53
54

55

REFLECTIONS OF GLORY:
PAUL'S POLEMICAL USE OF THE MOSES-DOXA TRADITION IN
2 CORINTHIANS 3 . 1 2 - 1 8

Linda L.Belleville
REVELATION AND REDEMPTION AT COLOSSAE
Thomas J. Sappington
THE DEVELOPMENT OF EARLY CHRISTIAN PNEUMATOLOGY
WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO LUKE-ACTS

Robert P. Menzies
THE PURPOSE OF ROMANS:
A COMPARATIVE LETTER STRUCTURE INVESTIGATION

L. Ann Jervis
56

THE SON OF THE MAN IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN

Delbert Burkett
57

ESCHATOLOGY AND THE COVENANT:


A COMPARISON OF 4 EZRA AND ROMANS 1-11

Bruce W. Longenecker