Transformative Discourse In Mark’s Gospel With Special Reference To Mark 5:1-20 -- By: Stuart T. Rochester

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 60:2 (NA 2009)
Article: Transformative Discourse In Mark’s Gospel With Special Reference To Mark 5:1-20
Author: Stuart T. Rochester


Transformative Discourse In Mark’s Gospel With Special Reference To Mark 5:1-201

Stuart T. Rochester

The study investigates Mark’s Gospel as a witness to early Christian theological anthropology. It reads the text as an example of ‘transformative discourse’ in which the rhetoric of the Gospel works in synergy with its anthropology (the view of humanity that is assumed and promoted by it). The theological anthropology is implicit, but recoverable, and dynamic in that it is oriented toward change. Mark communicates with his audience in ways that challenge them and lead them toward transformation. The story of the man with a legion of demons (5:1-20) functions within this discourse primarily as a most dramatic example (symbolic and perhaps paradigmatic) of the kinds of transformation available to people through positive encounters with Jesus.

Chapter one argues that a strong element of Mark’s purpose is the transformation of the reader. While Mark has a strong Christological focus, this is complemented by an apologetic and kerygmatic focus on the message of the ‘good news’ (for both Christians and others) and a paraenetic focus on his readers in order to encourage repentance and faith. In all three areas Mark works towards reader responses that will be transformative for them.

Chapter two deals with the rhetoric. Following Richard Burridge, it views the categories of classical rhetoric as blunt instruments for getting to the heart of Mark’s project, but these are acknowledged and incorporated into an alternative multi-faceted rubric that identifies six means by which transformation of the reader is promoted:

1. The ‘rhetoric of proclamation’ is Mark’s presentation of the euangelion as the ‘good news’ that calls for response.

2. A ‘rhetoric of demonstration’ is implicit in the Gospel’s narration of Jesus’ healings and exorcisms, which brought change in people’s lives. Readers are able to ‘identify’ with characters in the stories and make their own responses.

3. Elements of Jesus’ teaching constitute a ‘rhetoric of instruction’, an explicit and direct appeal to the audience to embrace new understandings that are transformative.

4. Robert Fowler’s phrase ‘rhetoric of indirection’ encompasses some literary and stylistic elements of the text: irony, metaphor, paradox, ambiguity and opacity all provoke the audience’s engagement with the text.

5. The ‘rhetoric of metaphor’ examines the extended metaphor of blindness and deafness, which refers to perceptions of Jesus and of the me...

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