Was Mark’s Gospel an Ancient Novel?

The Jesus Memoirs

One of the pioneering literary critical studies on Mark’s Gospel was Mary Ann Tolbert’s Sowing the Gospel: Mark’s World in Literary-Historical Perspective (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989). She did not think there was an obvious analogue to Mark’s Gospel in the ancient world, though she allows that the much later third century Life of Apollonius has a similar narrative pattern (55n.20), but adds that a “unique genre” is a contradiction in terms (50, 56). The literary parallels to the Gospels may be no longer extant or the evangelists were not able to emulate other literary genres as successfully due to their limited training (56-57). There are parallels to Jewish midrash or apocalyptic features within the text, but this is not the text’s genre (58). Other suggested genres overemphasize Mark’s focus on Jesus’ miracles (aretalogy), character (biography), or teaching (memorabilia) and each of these genres are part of elite culture (58-59). Elite culture is “individualized”, “subtle”, “profound,” whereas popular culture…

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. I study the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of its Ph.D. program. I have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting.
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