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Mark as Story

An Introduction to the Narrative of a Gospel

by David Rhoads, Joanna Dewey, and Donald Michie

Publication Year: 2012


In this third edition of Mark as Story, Rhoads, Dewey, and Michie take their treatment of the Gospel of Mark to new levels. While retaining their clear and thorough analysis of Mark as a narrative, they now place their study of Mark in the context of orality. The new preface explains the role of Mark in a predominantly oral culture. Throughout the study, they refer to the author as composer, the narrator as performer, the Gospel as oral composition, and the audience as gathered communities. The conclusion hypothesizes a performance scenario of Mark in Palestine shortly after the Roman-Judean War of 66 to 70 CE.

The new edition also highlights the dimensions of Mark that stand in contrast to imperial worldviews and values. The authors argue that the performance of Mark itself was a means to draw audiences into a non-imperial world based on mutual service rather than hierarchical domination. In so doing, they shift the Gospel’s center of gravity from the end of the story to the beginning, configuring it not as "a passion narrative with an extended introduction" but as "the arrival of the rule of God with an extended denouement."

Performing Mark: The appendices for students at the end of the book that offer exercises to interpret the narrative of Mark now also include "Exercises for Learning and Telling Episodes" from the Gospel of Mark by heart as part of the learning process.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-x

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Preface to the Third Edition

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pp. xi-xiv

The primary purpose of all three editions of this book is the same: to serve as an introduction to the Gospel of Mark as a story. We are not so much trying to give an interpretation of Mark—though of course we do that—as we are endeavoring to show how narrative analysis can illuminate a text, using Mark as our...

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Introduction. The Gospel of Mark as Story

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pp. 1-8

The Gospel of Mark deals with the great issues—life and death, good and evil, God and Satan, triumph and failure, human morality and human destiny, and the nature of authority in the life of a nation. It is not a simple story in which virtue easily triumphs over vice, nor is it a collection of moral instructions for life. The...

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Chapter 1: The Gospel of Mark

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pp. 9-38

The translation that follows is set out as a short story without chapter and verse designations, so that readers may experience the narrative as an integrated whole.1 The paragraph divisions mark a shift in scene, a change of speaker, or the end of a conflict. Punctuation often serves to establish connections in the narrative and...

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Chapter 2: The Narrator

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pp. 39-61

Stories that share the same basic content can be told in many ways. Each author or composer will have a different style of narrating, a different point of view, and different objectives in telling a story. One way, therefore, to get at the distinctiveness of a story is to explore the dynamics of storytelling. Because the narrator...

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Chapter 3: The Settings

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pp. 63-72

Settings provide the narrative with a “world” where events take place and characters act. Settings in a narrative include the cosmic depiction of space and time, the cultural ethos, and the political configurations of the story world, geographical locations, humanly constructed spaces, and so on...

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Chapter 4: The Plot

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pp. 73-97

Plot has to do with events: how they are arranged, how they are connected, and what they reveal. Events are actions or happenings that bring about change. Events, of course, are inseparable from settings and characters: settings provide the conditions for events, and characters are the agents who cause and react to...

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Chapter 5: The Characters I: Jesus

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pp. 99-115

An analysis of the characters in Mark’s story overlaps the analysis of the conflicts, because characters are integrally related to plot. At one level, characters are agents in a plot—a character aspires to a goal, a character is the object of an action, other characters help to further goals or become obstacles to them,...

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Chapter 6: The Characters II: The Authorities, the Disciples, and the Minor Characters

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pp. 117-136

In this chapter, we turn our attention from Jesus the protagonist to the characters with whom Jesus interacts: the authorities with whom Jesus is in conflict from the beginning, because they reject Jesus and the rule of God he proclaims; the disciples, who struggle to follow Jesus and enter the rule of God; and finally the...

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Conclusion. The Audience

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pp. 137-152

We have been focusing on the storytelling and the story. Now we focus on the hearers, or audiences, as they engage in the process of experiencing the story in performance. Like a reader, the audience responds to the story in a linear, temporal fashion from the first word to the last.1 Unlike a reader, hearers...

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Epilogue. Reading as a Dialogue: The Ethics of Reading

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pp. 153-156

Ancient audiences interacted with performers; performers would adapt performances to the interests and situation of their audiences. Modern readers cannot affect the printed text in direct interaction, but they can think of reading as a dialogue—a meaningful exchange between the story and the reader.1 Each...

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pp. 157-162

In 1980, while serving as a parish pastor in southeast Texas, I talked with a director of theological education about the possibility of pursuing a PhD in New Testament. He encouraged the postgraduate study, but not my choice of fields. “Every verse of that poor book,” he told me, “has been so thoroughly analyzed, that there...

Appendix 1. Exercises for an Overall Narrative Analysis of Mark

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pp. 163-165

Appendix 2. Exercises for a Narrative Analysis of Episodes

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pp. 167-172

Appendix 3. Exercises for Learning and Telling Episodes

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pp. 173-177


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pp. 179-188

Selected Bibliography for the Third Edition

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pp. 189-191

E-ISBN-13: 9781451411041
E-ISBN-10: 1451411049
Print-ISBN-13: 9780800699093
Print-ISBN-10: 0800699092

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 3