the homeric epics and the gospel of mark pdf

The homeric epics and the gospel of mark pdf

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Dennis R. MacDonald - The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark (2000, Yale University Press).pdf

Cento and Canon

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Jun 9,

Dennis R. MacDonald - The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark (2000, Yale University Press).pdf

Louis Stern Memorial Fund. Library: The Iliad, translated by A. This book may not be reproduced, in Murray, Cambridge, Mass. Murray and permitted by Sections and of George E.

Dimock, Cambridge, Mass. Copyright Law and except by Harvard University Press, Robert Fagles. Introduction and Notes Typesetting, Inc. Used by Printed in the United States of America. Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin p. Putnam, Inc. Includes bibliographical references and Aeneid by Virgil by Virgil, translated by index. Robert Fitzgerald. Mark-Extra-canonical Reprinted by permission of Random parallels.

House, Inc. Used by permission. All rights available from the British Library. The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources. To Amy A. Lftaea otae. One morning in the spring of I woke early to prepare a lecture on the Gospel of Mark.

My files archived several perfectly acceptable lectures on this, the earliest gospel, but because much about it remained enigmatic to me, and because many widely held scholarly positions had failed to satisfy me, I wanted to give myself the leisure - and a pot of coffee - to mull it afresh. I gave one of my older lectures with a nagging suspicion that I was depriving my students of a significant aspect of Marean composition.

In this book I attempt to redress the wrong done my students that morning by developing as best I can the discovery that so startled me in 1 I read Mark differently that morning because of my research on the apocryphal Acts of Andrew. At a deeper level, however, the Acts ofAndrew is an allegory. Andrew himself appropr i a. According to the literary critic Gerard Genette, a hypertext is any text that relies somehow on a written antecedent, or hypotext.

I once bought my daughter a book entitled Sleeping Ugly, a hypertext of Sleeping Beauty that transvalued the fairy tale by replacing its patriarchy with a feminist perspective. Scholars of early Christian literature later than the New Testament have observed a similar phenomenon in Kontrastimitationen of classical authors, imitations of pagan models that contrast the content of the originals with those of the Christian copies.

The apostle, who had been a fisherman and whose name means "manliness," dies at the edge of the sea, tied to his cross like Odysseus tied to the mast. Every episode in the Acts corresponds to some scene of Greek mythology, except those that rely instead on Plato's depiction of Socrates. But soon after I began rereading Mark that morning, I noticed echoes of the Odyssey - parallels between Jesus and Odysseus, then between Jesus' disciples and Odysseus's crew, then between the Jewish authorities and Penelope's suitors, and then between entire episodes in the two works.

Both the epic and the Gospel demonstrated a fascination with the sea, suffering, secrecy, and the victories of their heroes over- their arrogant and murderous foes. My faint suspicions turned into convictions that the author of the earliest gospel indeed used the Odyssey as his primary literary inspiration but also imitated Books 22 and 24 of the Iliad for narrating Jesus' death and burial. Sometimes the similarities obtain even at the level of word choice and minor plot elements.

Furthermore, I have come to conclude that Mark wanted his readers to detect his transvaluation of Homer. Reading Mark as a Homeric hypertext permits a new solution to the vexing problem of the kind of book Mark intended to write. Mark must have used one or more literary models, and the quest for them has focused on identifying texts closest to Mark's genre, the elusive Holy Grail of gospel studies.

In this book I argue, however, that the key to Mark's composition has less to do with its genre than with its imitation of specific texts of a different genre: Mark wrote a prose epic modeled largely after the Odyssey and the ending of the Iliad.

Odysseus and Jesus both sail seas with associates far their inferiors, who weaken when confronted with suffering. Both heroes return home to find it infested with murderous rivals that devour the houses of widows, Both oppose supernatural foes, visit dead heroes, and prophesy their own returns in the third person.

A wise woman anoints each protagonist, and both eat last suppers with their comrades before visiting Hades, from which both return alive.

In both works one finds gods stilling storms and walking on water, meals for thousands at the shore, and monsters in caves. Furthermore, Mark's dependence on the Odyssey suggests elegant solutions to some of the most enigmatic and disputed aspects of the Gospel: its depiction of the disciples as inept, greedy, cowardly, and treacherous; its interests in the sea, meals, and secrecy; and even its mysterious reference to the unnamed young man who fled naked at Jesus' arrest.

But Mark did not steal from the epics, he transvalued them by makingjesus more virtuous and powerful than O d ysseus and Hector. But unlike ' ".. Hector, Jesus is raised from the dead. Mark may have cut his literary teeth on epic, which also might explain a major incongruity in his composition: despite its rustic, at times barbaric Greek, the Gospel's literary achievement is brilliant.

Some of Mark's brilliance, I submit, is Homeric radiation. Because of Homer's unrivaled hegemony in ancient education, such imitations were common.

Youngsters learned their ABrs by identifying them in epic poetry, and only after demonstrating facility with the Iliad and the Odyssey were they promoted to other books. Even Plato, no friend of Homer, had to admit that "this poet educated Greece.

In a distant second place is Demosthenes with 83 , then Euripides, with 77, Hesiod with 7 2, and Plato with Even Jewish poets imitated Homer, such as in the surviving fragments of On the jews by Theodotus and On jerusalem by Philo Epicus, both of whom narrated Jewish themes in dactylic hexameters. Imitations of Homer were common in prose as well; students learned to imitate across genres, especially by paraphrasing epic into prose.

The author of the Book of Tobit borrowed extensively from the epic, though he surely did not expect his Aramaic readers to suspect his Greek model. Skilled authors were bees that took the best nectar from many blossoms to produce textual honey. According to Seneca, such apian authors should "blend those several flavours into one delicious compound that, even though it betrays its origin, yet it nevertheless is clearly a different thing from that whence it came.

The success of these transvaluations required the reader to detect the presence of the hypotext, and to this end the author supplied hypertextual dues. Favorite flags for hypertextuality in prose were signifying names. Petronius expected his readers to make the proper associations when. His characters frequently parodied Homer's, contrasting epic nobility with the flabby hedonism of contemporary Romans.

Though Jesus' death resembled Hector's, he returned from the dead leaving an empty tomb. Nearly every episode with parallels in the epics displays such theological rivalry. Mark provided several pointers to the epics to inform the reader of his "teasing play. Mark was long on concealing, short on revealing. This failure of detection need not invalidate the claim that Mark imitated the epics, for mimesis is a delicate even risky undertaking. The ideal reader who sees exactly the same clues. This would not cease to be true even if we had access to the author's first readers and to the most attentive and well-read among them.

The earliest evangelist was not writing a historical biography, as many interpreters suppose, but a novel, a prose anti-epic of sorts. More striking than the similarities between the epics and the Gospel are their differences: poetry versus prose, mythical heroes versus a historical hero, many gods versus one god, and on and on. These differences are significant, but they are precisely what one would expect. Homer and Mark wrote in vastly different literary, cultural, religious, and political environments; they had widely divergent literary objectives.

One might reasonably view some of the similarities as accidental agreements or as literary commonplaces. The poet's unparalleled hegemony in Greek education ensured his influence on a wide range of texts and on ancient Mediterranean cultures generally; thus, some parallels between Mark and Homer may be due to Mark's Greek cultural identity and nothing more.

But I am arguing for more; several parallel passages suggest deliberate transvaluative interplay with the epics, whether Mark worked from manuscript or from memory. Similarities that do not meet these criteria are considered accidental confluences, or topoi.

A topos is a convention of speech or composition, a commonplace. At the other extreme are literary. Those using this approach need be no more interested in comparing Mark with ancient literature than with Finnegans Wake. Unfortunately, no list of criteria, however sophisticated, can altogether clarify the fuzzy logic of intertextual referencing. Criteria are tests, not laws.

I developed the following criteria from my work on the Acts of Andrew and from reading other scholars working on similar problems, including those who investigate allusions to jewish scriptures in the New Testament and allusions to classical texts in Latin poetry. The criterion accessibility, or availability, assesses the likeliness that the author had access to the hypotext. The parallels identified in this volume invariably satisfy this criterion. Homer was in the air that Mark's readers breathed.

The second criterion, analogy, seeks to place the proposed Homeric parallels within a tradition of imitations of the same model. Conversely, the case for rewriting is weaker if no one else imitated this aspect of the epic. Density, criterion three, pertains to the volume of contacts between two texts. Density is determined by bulk, not by count; parallels between two texts may be numerous but trivial, such as "he said," "they went," "she replied.

On the other hand, as few as two or three weighty similarities may suffice. The more often two texts share content in the same order, the stronger the case for literary dependence. The fifth criterion is distinctiveness. This may include the solution to a peculiar problem that has eluded other explanations.

Criteria three, four, and five test for similarities between two texts, including potential flags of literary dependence. This sixth criterion, however, looks for differences between texts as evidence of emulation. In this volume I will present texts in parallel columns in a manner unfamiliar to some readers. The parallels seldom are word-for-word, as they often are among the Synoptic Gospels.

Cento and Canon

This is an incredible book that must be read by everyone with an interest in Christianity. MacDonald's shocking thesis is that the Gospel of Mark is a deliberate and conscious anti-epic, an inversion of the Greek "Bible" of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey , which in a sense "updates" and Judaizes the outdated heroic values presented by Homer, in the figure of a new hero, Jesus whose name, of course, means "Savior". When I first heard of this I assumed it would be yet another intriguing but only barely defensible search for parallels, stretching the evidence a little too far-tantalizing, but inconclusive. What I found was exactly the opposite. MacDonald's case is thorough, and though many of his points are not as conclusive as he makes them out to be, when taken as a cumulative whole the evidence is so abundant and clear it cannot be denied.

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MacDonald proposes a theory wherein the earliest books of the New Testament were responses to the Homeric Epics, including the Gospel of Mark and the Acts of the Apostles. The methodology he pioneered is called Mimesis Criticism. If his theories are correct then "nearly everything written on [the] early Christian narrative is flawed. The other major branch of MacDonald's scholarly activity is his contribution to the Synoptic Problem. D from Harvard University.

Louis Stern Memorial Fund. Library: The Iliad, translated by A. This book may not be reproduced, in Murray, Cambridge, Mass. Murray and permitted by Sections and of George E.

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.

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