THE CRY AND THE CONFESSION: A NARRATIVE- AND PERFORMANCE-CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE DEATH OF JESUS IN MARK

by Daniel M. Yencich

Mark‘s Gospel in Mediterranean Context Study Group Stone-Campbell Journal Conference

Lincoln, IL 4/13/12

The death of Jesus in the gospel of Mark is a difficult text. In it, the categories of faith/faithfulness and unbelief/unfaithfulness, and the characters associated with those categories, seem to reverse polarities within the narrative fully and problematically. By the end of chapter 1 it is explicitly stated that Jesus is God‘s anointed and ―Beloved Son.‖ Likewise, as early as 5:120, in Jesus‘ standoff with the Gerasene demoniac, we encounter a clear reference to the Roman empire that categorizes the empire as identified with its soldiers (―Legion‖) as enemies of God‘s reign and oppressors of the people.1 It is thus striking that at the climax of the Markan narrative two relationships would reverse polarities so fully and immediately in God‘s apparent forsakenness of Jesus and the centurion‘s apparent confession in him. At the moment of Jesus‘ death, abandoned by friends and surrounded by enemies, who is on his side? Theologies have been constructed to make sense, or at least make use, of this problematic passage. Substitutionary atonement, for example, would see no problem with a God-forsaken Christ – such abandonment is but the transferred wages of sin in the salvific transaction. Regarding the centurion‘s confession, some have taken it to be the story of an enemy-convert, or a reference to the Gentile mission to come. Yet neither of these interpretations will do, for they do not seek to interpret Mark‘s death of Jesus from within its own context. To make sense of Jesus‘ death in Mark, the gospel must be taken in context and as a whole – as a story, and a story performed orally by and among oppressed Judean peasants at that.2 Moreover, Mark is a story that has come into its own within the wider story and traditions of the people of Israel, and at times reflects or echoes back elements of those latent traditions of the Israelite heritage. Jesus‘ cry from the cross and the centurion‘s so-called confession thus cannot be understood by
1

Richard A. Horsley, Hearing the Whole Story (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001), 50.

For a discussion of the inherent connectedness of Mark‘s gospel as orally-performed narrative among Judean peasants, see Ibid., 1-78.

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themselves, but must be interpreted in light of the rest of the Markan narrative, its performance in peasant communities, and its ―storied‖ place within the traditions of Israel. In this paper, we will focus on one particular scene within Mark‘s story, the crucifixion, using the three related critical frameworks of narrative-criticism, performance-criticism, and a people‘s historical hermeneutic. By using these as interpretive keys, I hope to better frame the cry and the confession as elements of a ―performed theology‖ of lament and resistance by early Jesus-followers who lived as an oppressed minority in the first-century Mediterranean world. At the outset of our study, a brief sketch of the following critical assumptions is necessary: Mark as Narrative On the most basic level, Mark is very clearly presented to us as a story. It has a consistent narratorial voice and characters who behave in consistent and expected ways. The plot itself finds resolution following expectations that the narrative provides, sounding notes early on that will be repeated again and fulfilled later. These interconnections, repetitions, and anticipations are characteristic of Mark‘s gospel.3 For this reason, J. Dewey will liken Mark and its recursive character to an interwoven tapestry,4 while H. Kee will compare it to a fugue. 5 Recursive themes – chief among them the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus – are introduced early and

Other important repeated themes in Mark include: the inauguration of God‘s reign (introduced in 1:15, returned to again in 4:11, 26, 30; 9:1; 11:10; 12:34; 14:25); conflict with authorities, including the temple establishment and the Roman empire (introduced: 2:6, returned to: 3:6; 3:22-27; 5:1-13; 7:1-15; 8:11-12; 10:2-9; 11:15; 12:38-40; 14:1-2, 43-65; 15:1-39); persecution of the faithful (introduced: 8:34-38; returned to: 10:29-31; 13:9-23); suffering, death and resurrection of the Messiah (introduced: 8:31, returned to: 9:31; 10:33-34; 14:4316:8). There are others, to be sure, but these themes are most salient to the matter at hand. Joanna Dewey, ―Mark as Interwoven Tapestry: Forecasts and Echoes for a Listening Audience‖, Catholic Biblical Quarterly 53 no. 2, 221-236.
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3

Howard Clark Kee, Community of the New Age: Studies in Mark’s Gospel (Philadelphia, Westminster,

1977), 75.

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repeatedly returned to later on in the story. In this way, the Markan narrative assists ―the memory to reach the end by having it anticipated somehow in the beginning.‖6 In order to properly understand the cry of Jesus and the confession of the centurion, we must first see them as connected to the wider Markan story. Mark as Performance It has become apparent to many that the New Testament documents come to us from an oral culture that did not share our high level of literacy. We now have evidence to suggest that outside of a small minority elite, the majority of people in the Greco-Roman world were illiterate.7 In larger cities, such as Attica or Pompeii, literacy has been estimated to be between 10-20%.8 Focusing more specifically on the geographical locus of Mark, David Rhoads has noted estimations of Israelite literacy to be even smaller, at about 2-3%.9 Beyond low literacy rates in the ancient Mediterranean world, books were also difficult to come by for most people. Even if a person could read them, books were rare, handwritten, and very expensive to purchase – at times upward of five denarii for a high quality copy.10 That the gospel of Mark was widely circulated despite illiteracy and the relative scarcity of books cannot be doubted, but we must maintain an hermeneutic that takes into account first

6

Joanna Dewey, ―Oral Methods of Structuring Narrative in Mark‖, Interpretation 43 no. 1 (1989): 39.

Richard A. Horsley, Hearing the Whole Story: The Politics of Plot in Mark’s Gospel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001), 54.
8

7

William V. Harris, Ancient Literacy (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1989), 114, 264.

David Rhoads, ―Performance Criticism: An Emerging Methodology in Second Testament Studies—Part I,‖ Biblical Theology Bulletin 36 (2006): 4.
10

9

Whitney Shiner, Proclaiming the Gospel: First-Century Performance of Mark (Harrisburg: T&T, 2003),

13.

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century media culture rather than assuming likeness to our own book-bound world. Thus we must accordingly alter our interpretive framework to reckon with the oral culture of the ancient world which seems to have placed a high premium on oral performance for the dissemination of texts.11 In seeking to understand a text as a performance event, a new world of interpretive possibility is opened. Instead of limiting our exegesis to word choice and syntax, we also engage the text as a multidimensional and multifaceted event in time and space. How would a given piece be delivered by a first-century performer? How would she inflect her voice, gesture, and use space to tell the story? How would she characterize and present different characters? In performance, meaning is not derived solely from what a piece says but also how it is said and so questions such as these and others are important. We can no longer seek to interpret Mark solely as a textual document but must also seek to establish, to the best of our ability, how Mark would be performed for a first-century audience as part of the exegetical task.12 As such, we will necessarily be led to ask how characters, their dialogue, and actions in Mark‘s crucifixion scene would be performed in order to most cohesively convey the story to an engaged audience. Mark as “People’s History” Lastly, Mark is a story that was performed and remembered among first century peasant audiences because it reflected the experiences and concerns of an oppressed people on the bottom-side of society. It is quite striking that a significant portion of Jesus‘ ministry consists of various ―ministries of mercy‖ to the poor, the hungry, the sick, and the outcast. These people

11

Ibid., 14-15.

See Ibid., 57-142 especially for an excellent study of how a performer would use emotion, voice, gesture and movement in a first-century oral performance of Mark‘s gospel.

12

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groups are typically characterized positively in Mark‘s narrative, with these minor characters reacting faithfully to Jesus‘ message (cf. 1:40-42; 2:1-5; 5:25-34). Conversely, the characters of authority (Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, Roman authorities) are uniformly portrayed negatively and provide a backdrop of conflict to the narrative, a key theme in Mark‘s story.13 Overall, Mark paints a stark picture of the world of Jesus‘ followers struggling to remain faithful under the strictures of the Jewish temple state and Roman imperial rule. Therefore we must take an extra step in our exegesis to include a view ―from below‖ in our assessment. Broadly, this view ―from below‖ entails an openness to historical data from groups not normally considered in classical post-Enlightenment, ―Rankean‖ historiography.14 Rather than limit the historical task to detailing the acts of the great and the powerful, a people‘s history hermeneutic seeks to recount history from the perspective of the majority voices: the non-elites, the people.15 In using this approach, we are not really breaking new ground or focusing on new characters per se, since Christianity, in its infancy, ―consisted of nothing but people‘s history.‖16 Yet a ―people‘s-historical‖ view of the New Testament reckons seriously with the plight of the people in first-century Roman Palestine, and so uncovers and reclaims voices and traditions that have sometimes gone unheard within the Christian canon.

For a discussion of the characterization of authorities and ―minor characters‖ in Mark‘s gospel, see David Rhoads, Joanna Dewey, and Donald Michie, Mark as Story (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999), 116-136. Richard A. Horsley, ―Unearthing a People‘s History,‖ in A People’s History of Christianity, vol. 1: Christian Origins (ed. Richard A. Horsley; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005), 1.
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13

Ibid., 5. Ibid., 2.

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In reclaiming the voices of those on the bottom of Israelite-Judean culture, we also begin to inherit their tradition(s) of revolt.17 Struggling under the three layers of rulers and tribute – Rome, the Judean kingship, and the Jerusalem temple-state – and the inherent oppression therein, the Judean peasantry was sometimes incited to resistance and revolt. At the death of Herod the Great in 4 BCE, various resistance movements were rapidly born throughout the districts, many of which were led by a Jewish messianic figure.18 The infamous incident involving the tearing down of the Roman eagle from the Jewish temple in the same year is yet another example of popular resistance.19 Josephus reports further and more widespread frustration in 51 CE, attesting that banditry, raids, and flat-out insurrection were not limited to Jerusalem, but began to break out all over the country (War: 2:239). Such resistance was a disorganized yet widespread ―expression of frustration at the failure of Roman responsibility in the province.‖20 Mark finds its place in this lineage of oppression and frustration with and resistance against the powers that be. Before Mark was considered canon, therefore, it was a story of the people – a story of how God‘s Anointed was leading God‘s people in faithful resistance against the oppressive powers that be. This notion of faithful resistance, which Horsley argues to be present within much of the New Testament, is ―a concentrated effort of re-imagination of how genuinely alternative relations and practices can be embodied in religious communities.‖21 If Mark is a people‘s document reflecting a particular form of Israelite-Judean resistance, it will

17

Ibid., 5. Ibid., 7. Doron Mendels, The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 289. David Rhoads, Israel in Revolution: 6-27 CE (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1976), 73.

18

19

20

Richard A. Horsley ed., Reclaiming the Bible as a History of Faithful Resistance (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2008), 182.

21

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come as no surprise that Mark will use quotations from and allusions to the Hebrew Bible to further reflect the religious tradition of the oppressed minority. Recapturing and reframing traditions can be a form of re-imagining those relations and practices of power within communities, and when Mark seeks to connect traditions of the righteous sufferer to Jesus, reframing the tradition as a voice of contemporary resistance is precisely the goal. References within Mark to the religious traditions of Israel are sometimes direct quotations,22 while at other times the scriptural references are more oblique.23 In both cases, Mark draws upon the traditions of Israel to lend credence and continuity to his audience‘s involvement in the new movement of God centered in the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The Cry From 8:34 onward, the Markan narrative has been spiraling towards the climactic death of Jesus as the telos of his ministry. It is here that Mark will sound echoes not only of previous narrative but also of traditions very familiar to his first-century audience. These narrative and traditional references will go off as flares in the night, signaling an important ―dual-reading‖ of past into present. For Mark‘s crucifixion to be properly understood, it must be seen as a median between past and present, in both narrative and performance. The first imposition of past onto present happens on the level of story. We hear the Markan storyteller make repeated allusions to Psalm 22 [LXX – Psalm 21] and we will hear its opening line on the lips of the dying Christ. This ―indirect narrative commentary‖24 is a

22

Cf. Isa 40:3 in Mk 1:2; Isa 6:9-10 in Mk 4:12; Ps 22:1 in Mk 15:34. Cf. Mk 1:17, Jer 16:16; Mk 15:29, Ps 22:7.

23

Thomas Boomershine, ―Mark, the Storyteller: A Rhetorical-Critical Investigation of Mark‘s Passion and Resurrection Narrative‖ (PhD diss, Union Theological Seminary, 1974), 218.

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―scripturalization of history,‖ a weaving-in of the scriptural tradition into the people‘s history of the death of Jesus.25 Mark is making the assertion that Jesus‘ messiahship can only make sense in connection to his righteous suffering, that his program of renewal and resistance throughout the gospel finds its fullest expression in his suffering death under the forces of empire. Performance is the second overlaying of past onto present, in that a performer uses the story of Jesus‘ death, storied as it is in the traditions of Israel, to make sense of present unjust suffering in the community of faith on the bottom-side of empire. In performance, the performer (and presumably his audience) makes the claim that, against a backdrop of oppression and persecution, Jesus-faith is only properly apprehended and lived out when imaged in the likeness of the cross. Thus, just as the narrative moves forward and backward in story and tradition, so too do the performer and audience move between story, tradition, and lived experience. This is the dual-reading of past and present in Mark and its performance. Immediately preceding the moment of his death, Jesus cries out from the cross the haunting words, ―Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani? (‗My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?‘)‖ The citation of Psalm 22:1 in Mark 15:34 is of course obvious to anyone. What is less obvious, but no less critically important is how deeply interwoven Psalm 22 is in Mark‘s crucifixion narrative. Here I am indebted to the work of Holly J. Carey in her monograph, Jesus’ Cry from the Cross. In the crucifixion, Carey counts four strong allusions to Ps 22, five faint allusions, and one direct citation in 15:34, making a strong case that the relationship between Mk

See Mark Goodacre, ―Scripturalization in Mark‘s Crucifixion Narrative‖ in Geert Oyen and Tom Sheperd (eds.), The Trial and Death of Jesus: Essays on the Passion Narrative in Mark (Leuven: Peters, 2006): 3347.

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15 and Ps 22 is much stronger than simply the citation at 15:34. 26 But beyond an obvious intertextual relationship between the two texts, what is its significance with regard to the rest of the narrative? Central to Carey‘s thesis is that Mark presents Jesus as the ‗Righteous Sufferer‘ par excellence: audiences have been keyed to this note throughout Mark and know that Jesus ―is the one who follows the will of God, as opposed to those with whom he engages in conflict and who eventually bring about his arrest and crucifixion.‖27 Therefore, while he is crucified under the ironic inscription ―King of the Jews‖ (15:26), it is clear to the audience that it is his faithfulness in proclaiming the Reign of God that had stopped him short of proclaiming himself a messiah after the likeness of the Davidic kingship (Cf. 9:29-30). Jesus‘ kingship and suffering are intertwined in the Markan story, and if Carey‘s reading of Jesus as ―righteous sufferer‖ is correct, then even more is in play and at stake in Jesus‘ final words. Crucifixion and the Persistence of Evil In Creation and the Persistence of Evil, J. D. Levenson attempts to draw out a latent impulse from Jewish tradition, namely the belief that God‘s mastery over chaos and evil is not yet fully realized.28 By tracing back to some of the earliest fragments of poetry in the Hebrew Bible, Levenson makes the case that the earliest Israelites conceived of God as having won a great victory over chaos in the Chaoskampf that preceded the act of Creation. In it, God subdues

Holly J. Carey, Jesus’ Cry from the Cross: Towards a First-Century Understanding of the Intertextual Relationship between Psalm 22 and the Narrative of Mark’s Gospel (London: T&T Clark, 2009), 187.
27

26

Ibid., 128.

Jon D. Levenson, Creation and the Persistence of Evil: The Jewish Drama of Divine Omnipotence (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), xxv.

28

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and limits chaos, but does not destroy it; from chaos, rather than nothing, he creates and orders.29 The Hebrew Bible recognizes that chaos and evil still exist and can threaten creation at any time.30 Therefore there is a certain ―theurgic character‖ to the liturgy of Israel, especially in the psalms of lament, that calls God to be moved, reawakened and to re-activate his mastery over chaos when chaos impinges upon the goodness of creation and causes the righteous to suffer unjustly.31 Given Mark‘s characterization of Jesus as paradigmatic righteous sufferer, it is likely that Mark was aware of this tradition within Israel and drew upon it in his depiction of the dying messiah and his final words.32 Crucified unjustly, Jesus stands yet righteous before God and the authorities, and for God‘s apparent absence Jesus calls him to account. At the very place that God is not, Jesus hangs dying, and offers up a final challenge: ―My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?‖ It is here that Mark sounds the strongest echo of Psalm 22, citing its first line in the last words of Christ calling God to draw near and make right what has gone wrong in the face of great chaos. The narrative has already explicitly connected the death of Jesus with his resurrection in the passion predictions (8:31; 9:30; 10:33-34), thus the audience understands the coming resurrection of Jesus to be God‘s answer to his unjust suffering and the seeming victory of the powers.

29

Ibid. Ibid., 21. Ibid., xxvi.

30

31

Dominic Rudman has made a similar case in his Crucifixion as Chaoskampf in which he claims that the gospels‘ portrayal of Jesus‘ death bear with them the full weight of a Chaoskampf myth. His case rests on three legs, the darkness that descends (15:33), the death of Jesus as victory of chaos (15:37) and the tearing of the temple curtain (15:38). His first two points are convincing enough, but his emphasis on the temple as ―microcosm of creation‖ is not well placed against the backdrop of Mark who seems to view the temple more negatively. See Dominic Rudman, ―The Crucifixion as Chaoskampf: A New Reading of the Passion Narrative in the Synoptic Gospels‖ in Biblica 84, no. 1 2003, 102-107.

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The “Confession” In performance, the tone and urgency of the Markan crucifixion would rise to an excruciating apogee at the story‘s climax, Jesus‘ death and the tearing of the veil (15:37-38). A polarity would exist in the audience‘s identification with characters: on the one side is ‗us,‘ we who stand with Jesus; on the other is ‗them,‖ the enemies of Jesus and God‘s reign – the authorities. We stand against them. Yet the Markan storyteller appears to jam our neat binary scheme with the ambiguous posture and words of the Roman centurion in 15:39. Is it possible that the centurion, so moved by Jesus‘ death and the hanging, unnatural darkness would be converted? While it is possible that the centurion‘s so-called confession was heartfelt, it is equally possible that it was intended as mockery. As K. Iverson has pointed out in his performance-critical study of the passage, the centurion‘s words lack illocutionary force — we know what the speaker said, but we do not know how he intended it to be received.33 There is no indication in any Markan manuscript as to how the performer might have voiced the centurion and his confession. This lack of performer‘s intent presents us a quandary, for if the performance critic is after the authorial presence of a text,34 what is he or she to do when the full dynamics of that presence is obscured by the limitations of a written document?35 Past this point the answers may lack definiteness, but we have certain routes through which we can move forward, if only provisionally.

Kelly R. Iverson, ―A Centurion‘s ‗Confession‘: A Performance-Critical Analysis of Mark 15:39,‖ Journal of Biblical Literature 130, no 2 (2011): 331. Richard F. Ward, "The End is Performance: Performance Criticism and the Gospel of Mark" in Preaching Mark’s Unsettling Messiah (eds. David Fleer and Dave Bland; St. Louis: Chalice, 2006), 95. Kelly R. Iverson, ―A Centurion‘s ‗Confession‘: A Performance-Critical Analysis of Mark 15:39,‖ Journal of Biblical Literature 130, no 2 (2011): 332.
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Thomas Boomershine is correct in noting that the Roman soldiers present at the crucifixion (of which the centurion is presumably head)36 are characterized in purely negative ways throughout the Markan passion narrative.37 Yet despite this, and despite that on historicalcritical grounds a sarcastic ―confession‖ would be more likely, Iverson argues that because the statement lacks metalinguistic indicators (e.g., ―mocking him, he said‖) and because of the nature of performed story, there exists ―a powerful dynamic between performer and audience‖ and that this, in turn, opens the audience to ―a realm of infinite possibilities‖ of interpretation.38 One of these possibilities is certainly that the confession is genuine. In any performance, an audience submits to the narratorial authority of the story and its performer, suspending disbelief where need be despite any dissonance between the story as it happens in front of them and the world as it exists around them. It is therefore plausible, on the level of performance and its inherent openness to possibility, that Mark could introduce his audience to a confessing enemyconvert. On the level of the wider Markan story, however, I believe we have reason to balk at this option. The centurion‘s title for Jesus, ―son of God,‖ (ςἱὸρ ἦν θεοῦ) sounds an important echo to an earlier confession of the identity of Jesus on the lips of an unlikely character. In Mk 5:1-20, Jesus exorcises an unclean spirit from a Gerasene, a spirit named Legion (a word which "had

Myers wishes to characterize the centurion as even more starkly opposed to Jesus, translating ὁ παπεστηκὼρ ἐξ ἐναντίαρ αὐτοῦ most pointedly as ―standing over against‖ Jesus, giving the centurion‘s presence an antagonistic subtext. See Ched Myers, Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus, 20 th Anniversary Edition (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2008), 393. Thomas Boomershine, ―Mark, the Storyteller: A Rhetorical-Critical Investigation of Mark‘s Passion and Resurrection Narrative‖ (PhD diss, Union Theological Seminary, 1974), 293. Kelly R. Iverson, ―A Centurion‘s ‗Confession‘: A Performance-Critical Analysis of Mark 15:39,‖ Journal of Biblical Literature 130, no 2 (2011): 332-338.
38 37

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only one meaning in Mark‘s social world: a division of Roman soldiers‖).39 This Legion ―confesses‖ Jesus as ςἱὲ τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ὑψίστος, Son of the most high God (5:7). The argument is generally not put forward that Legion converts, but rather that he recognizes the identity of Jesus as God‘s anointed and even uses this knowledge in an attempt to control or resist him.40 It is thus striking that in both instances, (1) the one who names Jesus as son of God is characterized only as an enemy of God in Mark's narrative, and (2) that both are named in the story only with relation to the Roman military, "Legion" (5:9) and "the centurion" (15:39). While the story in performance necessarily opens an audience up to new and unlikely possibilities (so Iverson), I believe it is more likely that, as with Legion, the centurion would be portrayed in performance as an enemy of Jesus who at most just barely 'admits' to Jesus‘ authority; his confession could also be open mockery, but it is unlikely that it was authentic, evidence of conversion, or a prefiguring of the coming Gentile mission. Between Lament and Resistance: First-Century Performance of Mark's Crucifixion The interweaving of the traditions of the righteous sufferer into Mark‘s crucifixion, I believe, stands in direct connection to the Sitz im Leben of Mark as a people‘s story performed among first century Israelite peasants. We have sought to re-center Jesus‘ dying cry and the centurion‘s ―confession‖ as elements of a performed story of faithful resistance using narrative, performance, and ―people‘s historical‖ interpretive keys. In so doing, we have come to see Jesus‘ dying cry not to be indicative of a Markan belief in substitutionary atonement but rather as a culmination of Jesus‘ characterization as paradigmatic ―righteous sufferer‖ (so Carey) and a

Ched Myers, Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus, 20 th Anniversary Edition (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2008), 191.
40

39

Adela Yarbro Collins, Mark: A Commentary (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2007), 268.

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reclaiming of theurgic lament that calls God to new action in the face of great chaos. The centurion‘s confession, understood with the grain of the wider story, has led us to see it not as evidence of an enemy-convert but as another darkly ironic reminder that those forces of chaos, whether demonic or imperial (or both), that stood against Jesus stood also against the early Jesus communities. The performance of this story of their falsely accused and unjustly executed prophetmessiah would resonate deeply with a community of Jesus-followers alienated and oppressed by both the Jewish and Roman constellations of power. If Mark was originally performed orally at gatherings of the earliest Jesus people, it is possible that performance of the crucifixion scene functioned theurgically for the community just as Jesus‘ cry from the cross functioned theurgically within the narrative. It could very well be a lament writ large, performed and lived in the community of faith. Postured toward God as righteous co-sufferers with Jesus, the centurion‘s ―confession‖ could then function for the Markan community as a reification of community boundaries and faithful resistance. The Roman authorities have been presented in the story only as enemies of the living God and the crucifixion itself as a sad mockery of his justice. In performance, the audience would stand with Jesus, the righteous and crucified messiah. Conversely, they would stand against and in contrast to the authorities who aped justice in putting Jesus to death and who flouted peace and security in Jerusalem in 70 CE in the name of the empire. Given the backdrop of oppression, resistance, and the violent fall of Jerusalem, it is certainly within the realm of possibility for early Christian communities to interpret their present experience through the lens of their religious traditions, not least among them was Mark‘s

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gospel, and interpret their religious traditions through the lens of their experience. In performing the crucifixion, the community of faith could perform their religious and political commitments, lament the present state of their world while being encouraged to follow Jesus in faithfully resisting the forces that stood opposed to the reign of God on earth.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY Boomershine, Thomas. ―Mark, the Storyteller: A Rhetorical-Critical Investigation of Mark‘s Passion and Resurrection Narrative.‖ Ph.D. dissertation, Union Theological Seminary, 1974. Carey, Holly J. Jesus’ Cry from the Cross: Towards a First-Century Understanding of the Intertextual Relationship Between Mark 15 and Psalm 22. London: T&T Clark, 2009. Collins, Adela Yarbro. Mark: A Commentary. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2007. Dewey, Joanna. ―Mark as Interwoven Tapestry: Forecasts and Echoes for a Listening Audience.‖ Catholic Biblical Quarterly 53 no 2 (1991): 221–36. ________. ―Oral Methods of Structuring Narrative in Mark.‖ Interpretation 43, no 1 (1989): 3244. Goodacre, Mark. ―Scripturalization in Mark‘s Crucifixion Narrative.‖ Pages 33-47 in The Trial and Death of Jesus: Essays on the Passion Narrative in Mark. Edited by Geert Oyen and Tom Sheperd. Leuven: Peters, 2006. Harris, William V. Ancient Literacy. Cambridge: Harvard, 1989. Horsley, Richard A. A People’s History of Christianity, Vol. 1: Christian Origins. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2005. ________. Hearing the Whole Story: The Politics of Plot in Mark’s Gospel. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001. Horsley, Richard A. ed. In the Shadow of Empire: Reclaiming the Bible as a History of Faithful Resistance. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2008. Iverson, Kelly R. ―A Centurion‘s ‗Confession‘: A Performance-Critical Analysis of Mark 15:39,‖ Journal of Biblical Literature 130, no 2 (2011): 332-338. Kee, Howard Clark. Community of the New Age: Studies in Mark’s Gospel. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1977. Levenson, Jon D. Creation and the Persistence of Evil: The Jewish Drama of Divine Omnipotence. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988. Mendels, Doron. The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism: Jewish and Christian Ethnicity in Ancient Palestine. New York: Doubleday, 1992. Myers, Ched. Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus, 20th Anniversary Edition. Maryknoll: Orbis, 2008. Rhoads, David. Israel in Revolution: 6-27 CE. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1976. ________. ―Performance Criticism: An Emerging Methodology in Second Testament Studies— Part I,‖ Biblical Theology Bulletin 36 (2006): 2-16.
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Rhoads, David, Joanna Dewey and Donald Michie. Mark as Story: An Introduction to the Narrative of a Gospel, 2nd edition. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999. Rudman, Dominic. ―The Crucifixion as Chaoskampf: A New Reading of the Passion Narrative in the Synoptic Gospels,‖ Biblica 84, no 1 (2003): 102-107. Shiner, Whitney. Proclaiming the Gospel: First-Century Performance of Mark. Harrisburg: Trinity, 2003. Ward, Richard F. "The End is Performance: Performance Criticism and the Gospel of Mark." Pages 88-101 in Preaching Mark’s Unsettling Messiah. Edited by David Fleer and Dave Bland. St. Louis: Chalice, 2006.

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