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Mark's Jesus

Characterization as Narrative Christology

Elizabeth Struthers Malbon

Publication Year: 2009

Noted biblical scholar Elizabeth Struthers Malbon asks a literary question in this landmark volume: how does the Markan narrative characterise Jesus? Through a close narrative analysis, she carefully examines various ways the Gospel discloses its central character. The result is a multi-layered Markan narrative christology, focusing not only on what the narrator and other characters say about Jesus (pro-jected christology), but also on what Jesus says in response to what these others say to and about him (deflected christology), what Jesus says instead about himself and God (refracted christology), what Jesus does (enacted christology), and how what other characters do is related to what Jesus says and does (reflected christology). Holding significant implications for those who wish to use Mark's Gospel to make claims about the historical Jesus, as well as for those who wish to use Mark's Gospel to construct confessions about the church's belief, Malbon's research is a groundbreaking work of scholarship.

Published by: Baylor University Press


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Front Matter

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pp. ix-xii

The research and writing leading to this book have been spread over a decade—a decade that has included many other demands on my time and energy and thus interruptions in my work. During this time I have benefited from the support and critique of others in a variety of ways. I have enjoyed financial support for research from Virginia Polytechnic ...


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pp. xiii-xiv

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Introduction: Characterization of Jesus as Narrative Christology

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pp. 1-20

About halfway through the Gospel of Mark the main character, Jesus, asks his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” (8:27) and then, more pointedly, “But who do you say that I am?” (8:29).2 These questions have continued to challenge the Markan audience of hearers and readers for nearly two thousand years. As members of that audience, we would do well to listen carefully to the ...

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Chapter 1. Enacted Christology: What Jesus Does

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pp. 21-56

Enacted christology explores the actions of the Markan Jesus as they contribute to a narrative christology. Because actions are both essential and central to narratives, enacted christology is also essential and central to narrative christology, making this a good place to begin. At the most elemental level, what the Markan Jesus does is preach and teach (about the in-breaking of God’s rule), exorcise ...

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Chapter 2. Projected Christology: What Others Say

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pp. 57-128

Traditionally, examinations of Markan Christology have focused on the “titles” applied to Jesus by others in the narrative, especially “Christ” and “Son of God,” although “Son of Man” (or, more literally translated, “Son of Humanity”), used only by Jesus in Mark, and Jesus’ actions have not been ignored. My work on narrative christology decenters this way of abstracting “titles” from the narrative ...

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Chapter 3. Deflected Christology: What Jesus Says in Response

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pp. 129-194

In this chapter we will explore what the Markan Jesus says in response to those whose words to and about Jesus we examined in the previous chapter—except for his responses that include “Son of Humanity” or “kingdom of God.” I will deal with the Markan Jesus’ words about the “Son of Humanity” and the “kingdom of God” in the following chapter, on what Jesus says instead, because these ...

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Chapter 4. Refracted Christology: What Jesus Says Instead

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pp. 195-218

Not only does the Markan Jesus attempt to deflect attention and honor away from himself and toward God (the focus of the previous chapter on deflected christology), but the Markan Jesus also refracts—or bends—the christologies of other characters and the narrator. The image comes from the way a prism refracts “white” light and thus shows its spectral colors. When a thing is bent ...

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Chapter 5. Reflected Christology: What Others Do

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pp. 219-230

The final aspect of the Markan narrative christology presented here is reflected christology, that is, christology reflected in what some characters other than Jesus in the Markan narrative do that reflects what the Markan Jesus says and does. We began the exploration of Markan narrative christology with a consideration of what Jesus does, enacted christology (chapter 1). However, I made no ...

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Implications. The Markan Jesus, Mark’s Jesus, and the Historical Jesus

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pp. 231-258

As a narrative critic, my goal in this book has been to understand how Jesus is characterized in the Gospel of Mark. At the beginning was a simple observation: characters are known by what they say, by what they do, and by what others (the narrator and other characters) say and do to, about, or in relation to them. The result is a multilayered Markan narrative christology, focusing not only on ...


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pp. 259-268

Index of Biblical Citations

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pp. 269-282

Index of Authors

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pp. 283-286

E-ISBN-13: 9781602585133
E-ISBN-10: 160258513X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602582477
Print-ISBN-10: 1602582475

Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2009

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 760721234
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Mark's Jesus

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Bible. N.T. Mark -- Criticism, Narrative.
  • Bible. N.T. Mark -- Theology.
  • Narrative theology.
  • Jesus Christ -- Person and offices -- Biblical teaching.
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