A Review Of Selected Narrative-Critical Conventions In Markís Use Of Miracle Material -- By: B. Dale Ellenburg

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 38:2 (Jun 1995)
Article: A Review Of Selected Narrative-Critical Conventions In Markís Use Of Miracle Material
Author: B. Dale Ellenburg


A Review Of Selected Narrative-Critical Conventions In Markís Use Of Miracle Material

B. Dale Ellenburg*

The impetus for this paper arose from an extended redactional analysis of the Markan miracles in juxtaposition with parallel miracles found in the other synoptists.1 While a redactional investigation yielded profitable fruit, it became obvious that a literary-narrative study of the same material might well lend tremendous insight into how Mark, not primarily as a theologian or redactor but as a writer, crafted the story he has given to us.

The purpose here is to examine the Markan miracle narratives through the lens of a recent literary-critical approach. The value and legitimacy of redactional analysis has been sufficiently demonstrated by others, and the abiding place of redaction-critical studies seems to me to be a secure one.2

The last two decades of Biblical scholarship, however, have witnessed an upheaval both in approach and methodology toward NT studies. The dominant approach to Biblical studies for more than a century was the historical-critical method with its emphasis on historical concerns, grammar, and microlevel syntax.

The problem that scholars had with this old method was voiced by H. Frei: “The major limitation to all these approaches is that they fail to take seriously the narrative character of the Gospels.”3 M. Powell agreed:

They [the gospels] are intended to be read from beginning to end, not dissected and examined to determine the relative value of individual passages. In focusing on the documentary status of these books, the historical-critical method attempted to interpret not the stories themselves but the historical circumstances behind them.4

* Dale Ellenburg is assistant professor of New Testament and Greek at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, 1255 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38104.

This perceived need for a more literary approach to the gospels prompted a host of scholars to set about analyzing them from the perspective of how they invite the reader to participate in and respond to their stories.5 The first literary forms in the NT to be examined in this way were the parables. Important studies were those of R. W. Funk, D. O. Via, J. D. Crossan and N. Perrin.6

The discipline of literary-critical analysis of the gospels grew enormously through the 1970s an...

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