Jesus' Defeat of Death: Persuading Mark's Early Readers

Jesus' Defeat of Death: Persuading Mark's Early Readers

Jesus' Defeat of Death: Persuading Mark's Early Readers

Jesus' Defeat of Death: Persuading Mark's Early Readers

Synopsis

Peter Bolt explores the impact of Mark's Gospel on early readers in the first-century Graeco-Roman world. Focusing upon the thirteen characters in Mark who come to Jesus for healing or exorcism, Bolt analyzes their crucial role in the communication of the Gospel. Enlisting a variety of ancient literary and non-literary sources, this book recreates the first-century world of illness, magic and Roman imperialism. This new approach to Mark combines reader-response criticism with social history.

Excerpt

This project is an inquiry into the impact of Mark’s Gospel on its early Graeco-Roman readers. It argues that the suppliants in the thirteen healing/exorcism scenes have an important role in engaging the implied readers, and, because they represent a sample of life from the real world, the suppliants enable flesh-and-blood Graeco-Roman readers to ‘become’ the implied readers, enter the story, and so feel its impact.

Each suppliant begins under the shadow of death, but their circumstances are changed as a result of their encounter with Jesus, who brings life where there once was death. Their stories are told as part of a larger narrative which presents Jesus, as Son of God, as an alternative leader for the world, who leads the way into the coming kingdom of God. Mark’s early flesh-and-blood readers also lived under the shadow of death. When they entered the story through ‘becoming’ the suppliants, the larger narrative would have caused them to focus upon Jesus whose life, death and resurrection addressed their mortality and gave them the hope of their own future resurrection. in this way, Mark’s message about Jesus’ defeat of death had the potential to make a huge impact upon Graeco-Roman readers, and so to play a large role in the mission, and the remarkable growth, of early Christianity.

This remarkable growth is plainly a fact of history, even if it cannot be adequately described. Although the portrait of growth depicted in the nt cannot be taken as entirely informative, for there was no-one who had the means to gain accurate statistics, it is ‘a fact of great importance’ that the church took encouragement from its own ‘consciousness of steady and irresistible growth’; Judge, ‘Penetration’, 6.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.