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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.
|Title: The First Biography of Jesus: Genre and Meaning in Mark's Gospel|
By: Helen K. Bond
Number of Pages: 360
Vendor: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Publication Date: 2020
|Dimensions: 9 X 6 (inches)|
Weight: 1 pound 5 ounces
Stock No: WW874603
Kings College London
"Despite the now widely held view that Marks Gospel is an ancient biography, few Markan scholars have explored the narrative-critical implications of this genre. In this groundbreaking work full of fresh insights, Helen Bond skillfully redresses that deficiency and shows how reading Marks Gospel as ancient biography can fruitfully inform how we understand its message."
Craig S. Keener
Asbury Theological Seminary, author of Christobiography
"With characteristic insight and clarity, Helen Bond places Mark's Gospel in the company of other ancient lives of philosophers. The result is a fascinating reading of Mark's Gospel as a bios that both reflects and subverts the literary conventions of that genre, all in light of its intent focus on its protagonist, Jesus of Nazareth. Bond's considerable achievement is to hold in tension both the narrative world of the Gospel and the social and historical circumstances of its first-century readers, demonstrating not simply how to read Mark as a bios, but what difference it made, and makes."
St Mary's University, Twickenham
"In her well written study Helen Bond makes a strong case for reading Marks Gospel as an ancient biography. Her careful analysis of ancient bioi shows why the genre of the gospels matters. Moreover, Marks Gospel is approached from a literary as well as a historical perspective to demonstrate that the work was written by a creative and learned author who provides a vivid portrait of Jesus. This study opens up a fresh reading of Mark which overcomes less-helpful alternatives of previous scholarship."
Humboldt University Berlin
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