Daily Archives: 2007-03-07 17:17:22 GMT+0000

New book on Gospel of Mark

Anyone who is a fan of Mark’s gospel will be absolutely mad if they don’t catch up with the podcast or transcript of interview with author of a new book (The Existential Jesus) on Mark’s gospel, John Carroll (yep, he’s a sociologist, “out of his field” and all that) at the Religion Report program site.

He argues that “Mark is one of the pinnacles of Western literature” (Vork, we’re not alone!), “I don’t think there’s anything like it in Western culture”, he’s a fan of Frank Kermode’s “Genesis of Secrecy” (I’ve already referred again to my notes on that, and how its a story that works on its sub text.)

Carroll says Matthew and Luke are boring by comparison — they want to tie Christianity in with the OT (missing Mark’s point entirely, or rejecting it), but that John was the only one who came close to understanding what Mark was saying.

Mark’s Jesus is not a teacher of morals and ethics, he gives up on trying to teach his disciples anything, Simon was named Peter to caricature him as the rocky ground (always jumping in with enthusiasm then withering at the first problem) — nice to find someone else who agrees with Tolbert on that, too! — Peter wants to build a church but Mark is anti-church, a fascinating interpretation of the transfiguration! He’s solitary, alone, angry, those closest to understanding him are Pilate and Judas. He’s not anti-Jewish and takes Jewish religion as a “prototype” for all religion, but is anti the whole Jewish culture that had to end. And his end is alone, without God, on a stake prefigured by the withered fig tree.

I’m sure I’m not going to agree with everything but I won’t be reading it to “agree” or “disagree” but to explore another perspective and think afresh!

Mark’s Jesus / John Carroll — Kermode

Just heard snippets of the broadcast I mentioned in previous post. Loved bits I heard. So John Carroll is also another Frank Kermode fan! That’s surely one of the best reads on the gospel of Mark — check out Interpreting Mark like any other work of literature.

One reason I want to read Carroll’s book, The Existential Jesus, is to follow up his intriguing idea that the Gospel of John understood the Gospel of Mark and was an exposition of the mysteries coded in Mark. I can’t imagine more two totally opposite gospels so this is surely (hopefully) going to be an interesting read. (About the only thing in common that immediately hits me is their apparently less than “orthodox” provenance.)

I just know our public broadcaster the ABC is a secret front for book publishers.

Existential Jesus: Mark’s gospel / John Carroll – broadcast

This morning there’s a radio program (web accessible) on Mark’s Gospel — John Carroll sees Mark’s gospel as “up with Homer as the great Western storyteller; the other gospels are inferior. . . .”

This can be heard live from http://www.abc.net.au/rn/

but podcast will be available for 4 weeks at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/religionreport/default.htm (Transcript will be there forever)

The announcement from last week:


Stephen Crittenden: Welcome to the program.

Before we get under way, a reminder that next week on the program we’ll be reading the strangest and most troubling of the four gospels, St Mark’s gospel. It’s the one with the angry Jesus who frowns at the fig tree because it’s not in season, and turns it into a black stump; who gives up trying to teach his disciples because they don’t get it, and who dies alone and in despair.

Sociologist John Carroll has written a new book about Mark, ‘The Existential Jesus’. He says that Mark is up with Homer as the great Western storyteller; the other gospels are inferior, just footnotes, although at least John’s footnotes are better than Luke’s and Matthew’s. So, it’s time to refresh your memory of a great Western storyteller, the man who invented Jesus. That’s next week.