Tag Archives: Elisha

How Literary Imitation Works: Are Differences More Important than Similarities?

Recently I disappointed the pastor of the Diamond Valley Community Church when I declined to respond to his point by point counter-claims to my comparison of the miraculous feeding of the 5000 as told in Mark 6:30-44 with Elisha’s feeding 100 followers with 20 loaves of bread in 2 Kings 4:38-44. This was a pity because he assures us that his efforts were “such a burden”, but we both know that those are the trials of a self-sacrificing follower of the Lord whose every breath is dedicated to banishing spiritual darkness from a godless world.

I have encountered the sorts of objections our burdened pastor made many times before and confess that by now I have lost all interest in engaging with them. Such objections — “this is not a real parallel because the story-reasons for the food shortage are different or because the prompts that led to groups of people sitting down are different in the two stories” — are a pointlessly puerile game of “spot the difference” where the pictures are quite different to begin with.

monlisas

Original images at:
http://alturl.com/uocjz http://alturl.com/57t8y (centre) http://alturl.com/quprv (right)

The differences in the above images are more striking than their similarities. One can search the net and easily find hundreds more and even more striking variations — different colour schemes, additional figures, different backgrounds, different positions and postures of the central figure . . . But one thing is clear: they are all adaptations of the original Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.

We can spot mimesis so easily in a graphic. And this sort of imitation is easily enough recognized in literature. But when it comes to the Bible there are many apologists (and scholars, too) who just can’t or won’t see it. read more »

The Elijah-Elisha narrative as a model for the Gospel of Mark

The Crucial BridgeThomas L. Brodie presents an argument that the Gospel of Mark was in its basic outline, plot and structure based on the Elijah-Elisha narrative in the Old Testament. I am not quite sure what to make of his case at times, but cannot deny its interest. I have no problem accepting that Mark used some of the miracle stories from Elijah and Elisha as templates for his Jesus miracles, but Brodie goes much further than this. His book is The Crucial Bridge: The Elijah-Elisha Narrative as an Interpretative Synthesis of Genesis-Kings and a Literary Model for the Gospels. It is published by the Order of St Benedict, Minnesota, 2000.

His discussion of the Elijah-Elisha narrative’s link with the Gospel of Mark consists only of ten of the last dozen pages of a 114 page book. The earlier section explains the reasons to see the Elijah-Elisha section of 1 and 2 Kings as a cohesive single narrative unit within the Primary History of Israel (Genesis-2 Kings), and also to argue that this section is a synthesis of the entire Primary History itself. I’m have a few questions about his overall thesis but need time to explore these. There are good reasons to opt for other models for Mark, too, and Brodie does not seem to deny this. There appear to have been a range of sources available to Mark and that potentially influenced the final mix that became his Gospel. read more »