405

Symbolism 2: The great silence, 4:39, is in the Hellenistic philosophy of Epicurus

800 years port of Hamburg, May 1989
800 years port of Hamburg, May 1989

and later in the whole ancient philosophy a symbol for the mental balance, which is the goal of the philosophical instruction.

The calming of the storm, which is described as an actual event, is therefore of the same character. If this is so, one may ask: Does Mark commit the reader to the interpretation as historical narrative or parable?

Or does the evangelist give his audience a freedom of interpretation to choose one or the other? Is the reader allowed to decide whether to see the story as real or as a parable?

404

Narrative technique: In Mark, every word is carefully chosen, none is too many.

800 years port of Hamburg, May 1989
800 years port of Hamburg, May 1989

1. Symbolism: The first poetic device is symbolism. We are forced to ask ourselves the question: Is what is signified what is meant?

In the parables of Mark 4 this is obviously not the case, a parable points beyond itself to another, more difficult to understand matter.

But what is parable, what is history? Is the stilling of the storm, which crowns and concludes the parable chapter, a historical account or a parable?

(to be continued)

403

Continuation 5: 6. The Resolution of the External Conflict: Only the Actual Healing

800 years port of Hamburg, May 1989
800 years port of Hamburg, May 1989

brings the resolution of the conflict on the outer level. In Mark, the resolution of the conflict (the healing process is not described) is followed by an instruction for action: here in 2:11, as in 1:44, it is about a confirmation of the actual healing by the Jewish authorities.

The confirmation not only frees Jesus from the accusation of charlatanism, the scribes who just criticized Jesus now have to confirm his miracle healing.

402

Continuation 4: 4. The resolution of the moral conflict: Jesus

800 years port of Hamburg, May 1989
800 years port of Hamburg, May 1989

removes these doubts, he is allowed to heal, and he grants the sick person forgiveness of sins.

5. The resolution of the inner conflict: The sick person is now freed from the stigma that he himself is to blame for his illness, but he is not yet healed.

Is the forgiveness of sins only a pious saying after all? The scribes, 2:6-7, and Jesus himself, 2:8-9, feel this way, therefore he affirms his will to heal.

401

Continuation 3: In addition to the external level (the sick person and Jesus)

Hamburg, Außenalster
Hamburg, Außenalster

and the inner level (faith of the sick person and Jesus’ will to heal) there is now a third level, the moral one.

Here the question is asked: Is it allowed to heal, is Jesus allowed to intervene in the divine order? Does Jesus not criticize the divine creation as unfinished?

Doesn’t Jesus criticize God as a bungling creator, who left a half-finished creation to man, so that man could complete it?

400

Continuation 2: 3. The Moral Conflict: In 2:1-12, the most detailed

Hamburg, Außenalster
Hamburg, Außenalster

healing story in Mark, the reader expects a quick healing after the sick man’s helpers went to so much trouble to bring him to Jesus.

But Jesus makes the reader squirm. Like in a beautiful romance novel, where the lovers are in each other’s arms only after many obstacles and misunderstandings, Mark builds delays into the plot to increase the tension.

399

Continuation 1: 1. The external conflict: In 1:21-28 Mark describes an

Hamburg, Goldbekkanal
Hamburg, Goldbekkanal

external conflict between two persons. A sick man (evil spirit) attacks Jesus with words, Jesus has to defend himself.

The inner conflict: In 1:40-45 the preceding is already presupposed. Like the reader, the sick man knows that Jesus can heal, 1:40.

Here we are dealing with the inner conflict. Does the sick person want to be healed? Does he believe in Jesus? Does Jesus want to heal him or does Jesus choose his patients according to certain criteria such as neediness, moral qualities or affiliation to Judaism?

398

Mark has structured his narrative units according to a certain scheme.

Hamburg, Außenalster
Hamburg, Außenalster

The understanding of this scheme makes the interpretation much easier. He shows us the scheme with the first miracle stories in 1:21-2:12.

There are three conflicts, the outer, the inner and the moral conflict. These conflicts are first described, then resolved in reverse order.

397

The inauthentic Markan conclusion: In the secondary Mark,

Hamburg, Außenalster
Hamburg, Außenalster

16:8-20, metaphysical propositions and an Ascension are added, which show Jesus as an inhabitant of the heavenly world.

This second narrative level, the god level of Homer and Virgil, had been deliberately avoided by Mark, as well as by the Roman poet Lucan (39-65 AD).

396

Church of St. John 11: Only later do the women remember

Hamburg, Außenalster
Hamburg, Außenalster

of the proclamation mission that the evangelist fulfills in their place. The risen Jesus will meet the disciples in Galilee, 16,7.

The resurrection, the new life does not take place in religiously prominent places, but in the everyday world, for the disciples in Galilee.

395

Church of St. John 10: The alchemical art of women

Hamburg, Außenalster
Hamburg, Außenalster

is only enough to preserve the body for the afterlife and a later resurrection. To their surprise, however, Jesus returns to this world of the women and the disciples.

Jesus is resurrected, he is already alive again. Although Jesus is not present, the women can clearly see this.

The young man on the right is the unmistakable sign. The women are horrified and cannot immediately pass on their experiences to other Christian groups.

394

Church of St. John 9: The tradition of the apparitions to the women,

Hamburg, Außenalster
Hamburg, Außenalster

as handed down by Mark, must be older than the tradition of the apparitions to Peter and the disciples cited by Paul, from which it was later displaced.

Mark reports the resurrection, interestingly enough, not as an event, but as a message, as a message of the women of the Anabaptist Christians, to whose tradition the Easter event belongs.

393

Church of St. John 8: While the women want to make Jesus ready

Hamburg, Außenalster
Hamburg, Außenalster

for the afterlife, he returns to their reality on this side. The new creation has already begun.

Jesus is completely rehabilitated after his deep fall and proves to be more powerful than his enemies in the resurrection.

Mark 16:8 reports the silence of the women about the resurrection. Mark quotes a tradition that knows the belief in the resurrection as a special tradition of Christian women’s groups (Mary).

392

Church of St. John 7: The women are already directly related

Hamburg, Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten
Hamburg, Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten

to the resurrection event. Their request to prepare the corpse with the usual materials for the commemoration of the dead or for the journey into the afterlife shows Jesus the appropriate earthly reverence, 15:47-16:1.

The preparations of the women already point to the expected new creation. But what the women expect only for the future has already become reality.

391

Church of St. John 6: Jesus can be buried according to

Hamburg, Junfernstieg
Hamburg, Junfernstieg

custom. The deprivation of the civil rights of honor, which was connected with the punishment of crucifixion, is cancelled, 15:45.

By burying Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea is already higher in the divine plan of salvation than Pilate.

Joseph creates with the hermetic closure of the tomb, 15:46, the -alchemical- precondition for the new creation, the subsequent resurrection.