Showing you some Asso! #SBL, Daniel, Mark, Caesar, and Lucan. @degruyter_TRS

I mention in my book Lucan using Caesar’s structure to somewhat frame his own poem. And it should be really, if you think about it. Lucan is (re)writing the Civil War, responding to the Vergilian myth of Caesar. As much as Pharsalia  is anti-Aeneid, it is likewise anti-Caesar’s Commentary on the Civil War. Julius’ commentary, by the way, ends rather oddly, as does Lucan (as does Mark).

Anyway, as I am reading Paolo Asso‘s commentary on Book IV of Pharsalia, I am struck by his conversation regarding Lucan’s use of Caesar’s structure. The Poet retains the general’s structure, somewhat, although he alters it just a little to refocus several different plot points.1 Of course, this leads me to ponder again my suggestion (found in a proposal to an SBL section) about Mark’s use of a Danielic structure.

First, to suggest Mark is using a Lucanian style, something I do believe is happening, does not mean Mark is using Lucan as a literary source so much as it is a teacher-student thing. So, don’t go off crazy and think I am saying Mark is saying Jesus is Caesar, because I’m not. Jesus is Lord, Caesar is not. What I am, again, saying is that we should look for an underlying writing philosophy shared between the two poets which will lead us to better examining Mark.

Second, the use of an overarching structure, as Asso points out, does not limit the structure to rigidity, nor limit pericope sources. Lucan, while using a Caesarian structure for his poem, manages to use Homer, Vergil, and real life sources to fill in his imaginative pericopes. If you look close enough, Nero makes appearances in Pharsalia, a poem about events long before Nero. Ahh, the collapsing of memory and history, eh?

Anyway, while I disagree with Asso’s suggestion that Lucan intended to write a full twelve books, thus far, his work is sublime.

  1. Asso, 16
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

One thought on “Showing you some Asso! #SBL, Daniel, Mark, Caesar, and Lucan. @degruyter_TRS”

  1. “Mark is using a Lucan style” means Mark is writing in the style of the gospel of Luke, surely? In biblical studies “Lucan” is the adjective from “Luke”, and grammatically an adjective is required between “a” and “style”. I don’t know what the adjective from “Lucan” is, “Lucanian” perhaps, but if this is what you meant you should have written “Mark is using the style of Lucan”, or perhaps “Mark is using one of Lucan’s styles”.

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