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The First Biography of Jesus
Genre and Meaning in Mark's Gospel
HARDCOVER; Coming Soon: 4/30/2020
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7460-3
Price: $ 42.99
360 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9

What difference does it make to identify Mark's gospel as an ancient biography?

Reading the gospels as ancient biographies makes a profound difference to the way that we interpret them. Biography immortalizes the memory of the subject, creating a literary monument to the person’s life and teaching. Yet it is also a bid to legitimize a specific view of that figure and to position an author and his audience as appropriate “gatekeepers” of that memory. Biography was well suited to the articulation of shared values and commitments, the formation of group identity, and the binding together of a past story, present concerns, and future hopes. 

Helen Bond argues that Mark’s author used the genre of biography to extend the gospel from an earlier narrow focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus so that it included the way of life of its founding figure. Situating Jesus at the heart of a biography was a bold step in outlining a radical form of Christian discipleship patterned on the life – and death – of Jesus.

Table of Contents

The Present Volume
Time, Place and Author
Chapter 1 - Mark as a bios
From the Ancients to Votaw
The Eclipse of Biography
A Jewish Background?
The Return of Graeco-Roman Biography
The Last 25 Years
Chapter 2 - Ancient bioi
The Emergence of Biography
Biography and Morality
Depictions of Death
Biographical Fact and Fiction
The Preserve of the Elite?
Sub-Groups and Sub-Types?
Chapter 3 - Mark the Biographer
Profile of a Biographer
Mark’s Christian Readers
Mark’s Structure
Pre-Markan Tradition
Authorial Voice
Chapter 4 - A Life of Jesus
Mark’s Opening Section (1:1-15)
Temptation and Resolve
Jesus in Galilee (1:16-8:21)
Teaching on Discipleship (8:22-10:52)
Jerusalem (11:1-13:44)
Imitation of Jesus
Jesus’ Appearance
Chapter 5 - Other Characters
Peripheral Characters
Markan Intercalations – a form of synkrisis?
“King Herod”
The High Priest/Pilate
The Twelve
“Minor Characters”
Chapter 6 - The Death of Jesus
A Slave’s Death
Setting up an Ending
King of the Jews
Events Around Jesus’ Death
The Disappearance of the Body

Final Reflections