The Gospel of Mark as Reaction and Allegory
ISBN/ASIN: N/A | English | pdf | 169/169 pages | 3.03 Mb
By Dubious Disciple – Published on Amazon.com
This book provides an excellent collection of Markan midrash, going verse-by-verse through Mark and explaining its sources. Mark pulls his stories of Jesus from Isaiah and the prophets, and Price makes an excellent case for Mark also borrowing from the writings of Paul. Price also points out the influence of the war of 70 CE upon Mark's Gospel, a topic I discuss in my book about Revelation, but not to the depth of this book. It is my opinion that this "war to end all wars" is too often understated in Gospel analysis, and Price's analysis should contribute to scholarship on the topic.
The book's stated purpose is to show that the Gospel of Mark was written as an allegorical study in reaction to the destruction of Judea in 70 CE, the intention of which was to portray Judean Jews as having brought that destruction upon themselves. In this, Price proves his point very well, though it may be optimistic to conclude, as he does, that this is the primary intention of the Gospel. A secondary purpose of Price's book is to show that there is no flesh-and-blood "Jesus" beneath Mark's midrash. Of this, I came away a bit unconvinced. Although Price does highlight the dependency of Mark upon earlier Christian (Pauline) writings, he does not take the second step of proving that Paul, himself, was never writing about a flesh-and-blood Jesus. However, I confess I read Price's books out of order. I suspect his treatment of Mark builds upon a foundation laid in Jesus: A Very Jewish Myth, which I haven't yet read. So, while there are a number of other reasonable conclusions I could draw about Jesus' historicity from Mark's Gospel alone, that topic will wait until I've read more of what Price has to say.
But whatever the reason for Mark's parallels to other scripture, those parallels do unquestionably exist, and scholars are right to wonder why. This book's conclusion details a very interesting scenario about how the Synoptic Gospels were derived. Hint: No "Q" gospel. Price touches lightly upon the possible derivation of John's Gospel as well, but on this topic, he and I are at odds: I think he neglects evidence of Johannine familiarity with Judea, instead portraying the Fourth Gospel as the creation of an anti-Jewish Gentile, and I think he overlooks evidence of John's dependence upon Pauline theology. But John's Gospel is ancillary to what Price does do very well, and that's to lay out plausible origins of Synoptic thinking.
If I have one complaint, it's that the scriptural references could be condensed. Often, I found myself reading long passages in Old Testament references where it seemed that a single verse or two would be sufficient. In retrospect, I realize Price wants us familiar with the settings of these stories, so that we'll recognize Mark's many allusions to passages that deal with the destruction of Jerusalem. So, I'm warning you of this up front; if I had understood his purpose, I would have paid more attention to the lengthy references.