I plan to share the links of any bloggers who take the time to interact with my book The Gospel on the Margins: the Reception of Mark in the Second Century and hope to continue the dialogue over at my blog. I just noticed that Neil Godfrey has offered his summary and reflections on the book in his post “Why is the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament.” I left a comment over at his blog to clarify a few of my positions in interaction with his kind review.
- I lean towards the majority view that Mark’s Gospel is our earliest extant Jewish biography of Jesus (ca. 65-75 CE), though I noted David Aune’s contention that there may be some parodic inversion of the values of elite Graeco-Roman biographies, and that its narrative served as the source for the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. I covered a range of views in my genre post.
- Against those who see Papias unfavourably contrasting Mark’s Gospel with the Gospels of Luke (Martin) or John (Hengel, Bauckham, etc), I argue that Papias compared Mark’s rhetorical or literary arrangement (taxis, order) to Matthew’s carefully arranged account with its complete narrative of the subject and five orderly discourses (cf. Eccl. Hist. 3.39.15-16). Clement of Alexandria’s observation about Mark as rough “notes” may fit here (cf. Hist. Eccl. 2.15.2) and most Church Fathers privileged Matthew over Mark.
- Neil summarized my case about how certain groups read Mark in a way that centrist Christian writers judged heretical, such as claiming that the divine Christ possessed the human Jesus at the baptism, that Simon of Cyrene was crucified instead of Jesus or that Jesus imparted hidden gnosis (knowledge) in the form of a “mystery” to his disciples. Irenaeus is my major source for these examples. On the last point, I could bring in Clement’s Letter to Theodore as corroborating evidence about how Mark’s Gospel was being read by some Alexandrian Christians in the second century, but I tried to largely bracket this text to an appendix since I recognize its “authenticity” is still hotly debated in the guild and would point out that Irenaeus already told us how the Carpocratians understood the “mystery” Jesus taught in Against Heresies 1.25.5.
I also appreciate that Daniel Gullotta included my book in his interview and I second his answer about whether Mark was a “Gnostic Gospel”: it is not a “Gnostic” text in that there is absolutely no identification of the Creator God of the Jewish Scriptures with the ignorant or fallen demiurge and Mark is adamant that Jesus came to die a vicarious death on behalf of others, but some “Gnostics” may have found an adoptionist reading of Mark’s baptism scene or the theme of secrecy (e.g., Jesus teaching a “mystery” to an inner circle of followers in private) conducive to their theological views. My thanks to both bloggers who shared their thoughts on the book and I look forward to further blog conversations about the book.
*Update: since I mentioned that I “hope to continue the dialogue”, I thought I should re-enable comments whenever I interact with other bloggers reviews to let them or anyone else respond.