Mark as a Literary and Theological Document: Mark 3:22–30 test case

I’m currently reviewing Elizabeth Shively’s Apocalyptic Imagination in the Gospel of Mark, and have been impressed with a number of her hermeneutical abilities and presuppositions.  Her clarity in thought is exemplary as tension and anticipation await each turn of the page.

One beneficial aspect of her project is her “close reading” of the text. As she analyzes Mark 3:22–30 (Beelzebul pericope), she utilizes narrative critical tools. Unlike other Markan resources, Shively demonstrates how this pericope is a “first of firsts.” This is the first lengthy discourse in the Gospel by Jesus. This is the first time Jesus is said to be speaking in parables. This is the first solemn declaration being introduced with ἀμήν. Moreover through an historical reading, Mark places this pericope in different place in his Gospel, distinct from Matthew’s and Luke’s placement. Mark exclusively identifies this discourse as a παραβολή. Finally, Mark places this parable at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, unlike Matthew or Luke. With this empirical data, Shively concludes Mark 3:22–30 demonstrates the “program for the whole Gospel. Specifically, Mark 3:22–30 constructs a symbolic world that shapes the literary and theological logic of the rest of the narrative.”[1] (Please wait until the book review is complete for a fuller analysis of her thesis).
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