Mark’s Text, Audiences & Identity: Studies in Mark, Pt. 57

First of all, this is post #500 for me, sort of a blogger milestone for most people. That's kind of neat, I guess. Anyway...

Some time ago, I wrote a post that dealt with the Aramaisms, Hebraisms and Latinisms is Mark’s Gospel (to read it click here). I contended there that, Mark’s work was oriented towards a predominantly Gentile/Roman people group; it is likely, in my view, that the beginning stages of the Gospel According to Mark were composed in the city of Rome. I still maintain these views. I do wish, however, to note that while the majority of Mark’s audiences may have been Roman, it seems sensible to suggest that he would have shared his story with Hebrew/Israelite people too.

A question to posit here is: If to Hebrews/Israelites, why, then, would Mark include all of the Hebraisms, Aramaisms, etc. along with explanations of them? Actually, this question leads into my working theory on how Mark’s audiences (and the internal evidence of the text) may help us understand some things about Mark’s identity. The way to answer the question would be as follows: While those things were included in Mark’s text, when he spoke to Hebrew audiences, he glossed over them; they remained in the text but as a speaker, he didn’t have to say them.

It is comparable today to a preacher delivering a message to the younger, more contemporary crowd in the first Sunday morning service. In her message, the preacher shares a story about the Civil Rights movement, which she has to be very detailed about. If she excludes details, the hearers will not understand or even relate. However, in the second service for the more traditional crowd, she uses the same story but doesn’t have to spell-out or explain the nitty-gritty or details of the illustration. Sure, it’s there in the manuscript but it can be glossed over because the audience already understands and doesn’t need the details. This is one explanation to the question I raised above.

I want to build on this, though. Specifically, I want to contend that Mark was akin to a traveling storyteller. Of course, there were rhapsodists, philosophers, teachers, actors, sages, etc. that traveled around promoting their cause and sharing the agenda. Mark may not have fit one of these categories specifically but I would argue that he was a type of traveling storyteller and dramatist. I will not get into primary source comparisons, etc. here but I do think that given the nature of Mark’s work, there is ample evidence to suggest that his story was for multiple audiences. I also think there is evidence to suggest that Mark’s work contains elements of novel, tragedy and drama and thus, able to be performed. It could also be the case that all of the movement lends itself to a monodrama or something of that sort.

It is my contention, then, that the author of the Gospel of Mark was a type of performing storyteller who shared his story with a variety of audiences. If I were to cite primary sources, give textual evidences and make all of my points here, this post would go on forever. These proofs may be something more fitting for a journal article. What I wanted to do here, however, is to put forth my (current) view, since I have yet to do that. Indeed, Mark’s work seems to fit to be performed to a variety of audiences. And while this may tell us about Mark’s identity (e.g. a traveling performing storyteller) it may actually lead us to believe that the Gospel of Mark was performed by various people. I do not think it beyond possibility, even, that the author might have left in some of the different linguistic “isms” and explanations because there were performers whose native tongues might have been Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek or Latin. This last statement is something that quite interests me and could eventually “reshape” my view of Mark and his Gospel account quite dramatically. (For instance, it could rule out the entire notion of Mark having a "community" to which he wrote, among other things!!!) However, such views need time to ferment.

No comments:

Post a Comment