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?


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)


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.


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.


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?


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.


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?


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.


Today I interrupt the normal text to tell something about myself.

Johannes Neumann, the author of the blog
Johannes NeumannJohannes Neumann, the author of the blog

I am Johannes Neumann, I am 72 years old, I live near Dresden in the country of Saxony in Germany. Since my youth I have been interested in Christianity, its origin and the Bible.

While studying Protestant theology, I had doubts whether the biblical account of the origin of Judaism and Christianity corresponded to the historical truth. Later I studied history and dealt with the poetry of the Greeks and Romans. My hobbies are cycling and jogging, in winter alpine skiing and cross-country skiing.

I am especially happy about every single person who reads my blog and writes comments. It is great if you put a link to my blog on your homepage or recommend me in your Facebook group. I want my theses to become even better known so that they can find their way into the discourse of theology.