The Ideology and Social Strategy of Mark’s Gospel

In The Bible and Liberation: Political and Social Hermeneutics, revised ed., edited by N. Gottwald and R. Horsley (Orbis, 1993), pp 428-452.  13 pp.

The purpose of this chapter is to summarize the socioliterary evidence that has been yielded by my reading of the gospel text, and to organize it into a brief portrait of Mark’s community. I begin with the reconsideration of the historical “moment” in which Mark wrote, and then return to the hypothesis articulated at the outset of this commentary. There it postulated that the determinant social formation of Roman Palestine in Mark’s era allows the possibility of a social group that was alienated from the dominant order, which advocated a radical alternative practice, and remains politically engaged yet nonaligned with the major sociopolitical groups. Before reconsidering this hypothesis, however, a word needs to be said about hermeneutical barriers to achieving an accurate and sympathetic portrait of Mark’s community.

It has become a commonplace recently among biblical scholars to understand apocalyptic literature in terms of the conceptual framework established by the socioanthropological study of “millennial” communities. There is much to be said for this approach …

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