This study wrestles with the problem of the literary genre of Mark’s gospel. Drawing on Bakhtin’s theory of genre and his examination of Greco-Roman literary genres, the author compares the latter with the Gospel of Mark. Although the Gospel of Mark is in some respects similar to Greco-Roman novelistic genres, the author maintains that it compares more favorably with Jewish novelistic literature of the Hellenistic period, and that Mark writes within this narrative tradition. In both the Gospel of Mark and the Jewish novel, salvation is accomplished through divinely appointed agents. In telling the story of Jesus the messiah, Mark adapts a narrative tradition that formerly served to subvert foreign oppressors, and uses it against the Jewish leaders who oppose Jesus.
Michael E. Vines is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina, USA.
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