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

My Dream Gospel Parallel

There has been some discussion on Mark Goodacre’s blog about a recent Gospel parallel. Let me also mention Arthur Dewey’s recent work available from Poleridge.

What these parallels have in common are their use of all four Gospels, Thomas, and for a reason on God knows, Q. Poleridge – I can say this because I have it – also uses the Gospel of Peter and other various fragments.

This is a great asset, but they are missing something that I would love to see corrected.

And they have one thing that needs to have a stake driven into its heart – Q, but that is for another time. Oh yes, and that time will come.

Anyway, I would love to work on with someone a Gospel Parallel that begins with Mark and moves chronologically explaining the differences in development. Why is it that Matthew expounds on Mark? Where is the M-material from? The L-material? The T-material? The parallel, then, would be a Farrer-Goulder-type trajectory.

Thoughts? Anyone want to work on this project with me?

Or any publisher what would want such a project?

Intertexuality between Paul and James?

If, however, you aare fulfilling the 1royal law according to the Scripture, “bYOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well. But if you ashow partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the 1law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole 1law and yet astumbles in one point, he has become bguilty of all. For He who said, “aDO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “bDO NOT COMMIT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the 1law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by athe law of liberty. (Jam 2:8-12 NASB)

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for ahe who loves 1his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “aYOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “bYOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Love 1does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore alove is the fulfillment of the law. (Rom 13:8-10 NASB)

I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this, but one author is using and responding to another. For James, it looks as if he is saying that the law must be fulfilled in every way. Paul responds with much the same line, but changes it to position love not just as well, but as the perfection.

True Intertextuality – The Dark Knight Rises and the Tale of Two Cities

Gordon’s selection of this passage as Batman’s eulogy is quite apt. First of all, the lines in the book represent the last thoughts of the character Sydney Carton as he prepares to make the ultimate sacrifice for his loved ones and city—a sacrifice just like the one Batman makes. At the end of the novel, Carton manages to switch places with the character Charles Darnay as Darnay faces execution. As he does so, he expresses faith in his city, just like the faith Batman expresses for Gotham again and again throughout the Batman trilogy. Here’s the passage that comes just before those last lines:

I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, though long to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out.

via The Dark Knight Rises inspired by A Tale of Two Cities: The parts that draw from Dickens.

Intertextuality is only a part of mimesis, by the way, but nevertheless, it is a vital one. What’s awesome about this is that this is a very present model of what to look for in reading ancient literary texts. Intertextuality, allusion, and imitation are all ways or preserving past literary texts by making use of them in the present.

Fascinating…

Following up on Isaiah 65.1-7 and Mark 5.1-20

Medieval book illustration of Christ Exorcisin...

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As we turn to the exegesis of Mark 5.1-20, which I have already weighted heavily with the idea that Mark is using mimesis to undue Vespasian’s actions in Gadara and Simon bar Giora’ claims, it is necessary that I examine the normative source for a Gospel writer, the Jewish Prophets. The Gospel writers’ use of the Old Testament as a means of showcasing who Jesus is is well documented and must not be overlooked during any exegesis. In Mark, the writer has a formula for introduction when he is using the voices of the Prophets to introduce something which Jesus has done/is doing. The Evangelist used it least eight times[1], with a preference for Isaiah and the Septuagint. Knowing that, then, one must examine Isaiah 65.1-7 as a possible backdrop to Mark’s story of the demoniac.

On the surface, the two passages are similar. Gerasa was a Gentile city, which matches Isaiah 65.1c. Also of note is the imagery of living among the tombs and demons in Isaiah 65.3-4a while 63.4b speaks about swine’s flesh. Also similar is the warning of the people to the Lord in Isaiah of not to come closer which is similar to Legion’s plea with Jesus not to have anything to do with it. The pattern is between the two is familiar as well, with the Lord/Jesus coming to a people who didn’t want to see him and being met with the insistence to stay away. Further, as just noted, the imagery of the tombs plays a large part in both passages, although in Isaiah the scenery is filled with the images which accompany pagan sacrifices and the move from henotheism to monotheism (65.3b – ‘the demons, which do not exist.’). Finally, what is also present is the images of hills and mountains as well as the repayment for the deeds done by the people.

What is missing, however, is the Markan use of the phrase ὡς γέγραπται. Without that formula it is difficult to assume that Mark is using his story in 5.1-20 as an eschatological fulfillment of Isaiah 65.1-7 (LXX). While Mark shows that he is familiar with the Septuagint and the Prophets, especially Isaiah, we cannot easily assume that Mark is writing to show that Christ fulfilled the words of the Prophet Isaiah. If we do, we must assume then that the Evangelist is employing recent historical events in such a way that they themselves cause the situation in Isaiah 65.1-7 to take place so that Jesus as the Son of God can now fulfill them. As we have seen, the historical events which pre-dated Mark’s writing would have been prevalent in his mind, and if he was writing to counter, as Winn suggests, the rise of the Roman pretender to the Messianic throne then the author may well have seen the fulfillment of Isaiah’s oracle in Vespasian and thus would use mimesis to show that the mighty acts of Jesus were far superior to that of the Roman pretender.


[1] 1.2; 7.6; 9.12-13; 11.17; 14.21; 14.27


[1] 1.2; 7.6; 9.12-13; 11.17; 14.21; 14.27

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Is Isaiah 65.1-7 LXX Mark’s Literary Backdrop in Mark 5.1-20?

Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur

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I am currently writing my exegesis paper on Mark 5.1-20. This passage, specifically in the LXX, was brought to my attention as something that Mark may have been using, at least literary. Granted, I think that Mark is using a real historical situation, but in the end, nothing we say or write is done in a vacuum. To probe Mark’s literary backdrop helps us to see first his lexicon and second what he may be trying to say as he tells the story. While some may find this almost blasphemous, I find that the more you know, as best you can without going overboard, the the better and more poignant the story becomes.

To that end, is there an intertexual connection between the passage below and Mark 5.1-20?

“I made myself available to those who did not ask for me; I appeared to those who did not look for me. I said, ‘Here I am! Here I am!’ to a nation that did not invoke my name. I spread out my hands all day long to my rebellious people, who lived in a way that is morally unacceptable, and who did what they desired. These people continually and blatantly offend me as they sacrifice in their sacred orchards and burn incense on brick altars. They sit among the tombs and keep watch all night long. They eat pork, and broth from unclean sacrificial meat is in their pans. They say, ‘Keep to yourself! Don’t get near me, for I am holier than you!’ These people are like smoke in my nostrils, like a fire that keeps burning all day long. Look, I have decreed: I will not keep silent, but will pay them back; I will pay them back exactly what they deserve, for your sins and your ancestors’ sins,” says the LORD . “Because they burned incense on the mountains and offended me on the hills, I will punish them in full measure.” -65.1-7 NETS

How far do we take intertextuality between the Gospels and the Jewish Canon?

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