The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark

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Yale University Press, 2000 - Religion - 262 pages
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In this groundbreaking book, Dennis R. MacDonald offers an entirely new view of the New Testament gospel of Mark. The author of the earliest gospel was not writing history, nor was he merely recording tradition, MacDonald argues. Close reading and careful analysis show that Mark borrowed extensively from the Odyssey and the Iliad and that he wanted his readers to recognise the Homeric antecedents in Mark's story of Jesus. Mark was composing a prose anti-epic, MacDonald says, presenting Jesus as a suffering hero modeled after but far superior to traditional Greek heroes. Much like Odysseus, Mark's Jesus sails the seas with uncomprehending companions, encounters preternatural opponents, and suffers many things before confronting rivals who have made his house a den of thieves. In his death and burial, Jesus emulates Hector, although unlike Hector Jesus leaves his tomb empty. Mark's minor characters, too, recall Homeric predecessors: Bartimaeus emulates Tiresias; Joseph of Arimathea, Priam; and the women at the tomb, Helen, Hecuba, and Andromache. And, entire episodes in Mark mirror Homeric episodes, including stilling the sea, walking on water, feeding the multitudes, the Triumphal E
 

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Contents

Mark and Mimesis
1
Carpenters Who Suffer Many Things
15
Foolish Companions
20
Sons of Thunder
24
Murderous Usurpers
33
Recognitions
44
Sleeping Sailors
55
Speluncular Savages
63
Transfigurations
91
Blind Seers
97
Untriumphal Entries
102
Water Carriers 1
120
Violent Deaths
135
Anointing Women
147
Hydropatetics
148
Tombs at Dawn
162

Femmes Fatales
77
Feasts for Thousands
83

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About the author (2000)

Dennis R. MacDonald is John Wesley Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Claremont School of Theology and co-director of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity at the Claremont Graduate University.

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