What if the most or the entire Gospel of Mark is a vision?

Jim doesn’t like the theological trend which suggests that Mark was written as a performance piece… but what if it was?

Also, what if the Gospel, either in part or near the whole if not the whole, was either meant to be a vision or perhaps, meant to suggest that the audience could understand it to be a vision?

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. (Mar 1:9-13 NAB)

Compare that to:

And to me in a vision it was thus shown: Behold, clouds in the vision were calling and fogs were calling, and courses of the stars and lightnings were troubling me and bothering me, and winds in my vision stunned me. And they lifted me up and brought me into heaven, and I entered until I came near to a wall built with stones of white marble and a tongue of fire around them; and they began to frighten me. (1EN 14:8-9 OPE)

First, the Wilderness could be understood as a vision especially given the presence of the beasts and angels. Further, notice the connection between the clouds and the voices amongst them and the fact that there is no smooth transition between Jesus being in the Wilderness and when John is arrested. Also, following other New Testament language (especially in Revelation), the vision could be started by the compunction of the Spirit. Sure, this may help the mythicists out, but as a friend and I were discussing the other day, it is possible that given the bifurcation of Mark connected at the Transfiguration, then it may be that this scene was meant to end the initial vision. Given my theory that the first part of Mark is anti-Roman Imperial Ideology, which of course happened long after Christ, then a vision would be the best place to house this ‘new’ information. Finally, the final portion of Mark contains prophecies, which could be the result of the vision.

Now, this is only the genesis of the exploration here, but nevertheless, one which I intend to explore. No worries… the fact that Jesus begins outside the vision, and ends outside the vision, if there is a vision, still maintains a historical vision. Remember, the cardinal rule of propaganda is that it has to be based in truth, somewhat, believable, and purposeful.

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4 Replies to “What if the most or the entire Gospel of Mark is a vision?”

  1. just to make sure my Sunday school mind understands, the theory goes that the author of Mark is creating a propaganda against the Roman empire. The author of Mark wrote this propaganda as more of a performance piece than as a history piece, I know I know ancient history isn’t the same as modern history. And the audience would have known this writing was a performance piece with a vision section. Is this correct?

    Would the audience know the writing was based an actual historical event or just view it as propaganda?

    1. Nate, there is a lot of unpacking here, but I wanted to touch base before I head out for the day.

      I think that Mark was recomposing his-story. I don’t view propaganda as negative, by the way, but in Mark’s case, he was fighting against the encroachment of Roman Imperial ideology which promoted Vespasian as the Jewish Messiah. And I think that the audience would have understood what Mark was doing.

      1. So would it be fair to say that the author felt that his gospel was telling the “real story” of who he felt was the Messiah, and that in presenting his case he interpreted the teachings and stories of Jesus in Messianic fashion. Not because he was making stuff up, but because the author truly believed Jesus was the Messiah.

        1. I think both, but I think that we miss the fact that Mark was relating the Gospel. In Mark 1.1, we are introduced to the beginning of the Gospel – and it never ends.

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