Other followers of Jesus: The characterization of the individuals from the crowd in Mark's Gospel

Joel Forrest Williams, Marquette University

Abstract

Jesus is clearly the central figure in Mark's Gospel. At least in part, Mark wrote his narrative in order to move the reader toward a fitting response to Jesus. In other words, Mark's narrative has a rhetorical function. The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the rhetorical effect of Mark's characterization of the individuals from the crowd. The method used in this study may, in general, be categorized as narrative criticism. Mark includes a series of analogous scenes throughout his narrative which feature individual members of the crowd. These characters are from the crowd in the sense that they belong to the general mass of people who are neither disciples nor opponents of Jesus. Mark uses these analogous scenes and their strategic placement throughout the narrative in order to influence the reader. Initially, Mark encourages the reader toward faith in Jesus through his treatment of these characters, but he also seeks to move the reader beyond trust toward an acceptance of the demands and values of Jesus. Particularly crucial in the developing characterization of the individuals from the crowd is Mark's portrayal of Bartimaeus in 10:46-52, since there Mark seeks to move the reader beyond faith toward a faithful following of Jesus. After the Bartimaeus story, Mark continues to encourage the reader to accept the demands and values of Jesus through the positive example of a number of individuals from the crowd and also through the negative example of the women at the tomb. Therefore, the thesis of this study is that Mark's characterization of the individuals from the crowd is meant to influence the reader, moving the reader from faith to following, and that Mark's characterization of Bartimaeus plays a crucial role within this rhetorical strategy. The first two chapters of the dissertation are methodological in nature, examining the need for a literary approach to this subject and exploring the concepts of narrative analogy, characterization, and the implied reader. Chapters three through five trace Mark's presentation of the individuals from the crowd through the course of the narrative and examine its impact on the implied reader.

Recommended Citation

Williams, Joel Forrest, "Other followers of Jesus: The characterization of the individuals from the crowd in Mark's Gospel" (1992). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9306007.
https://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI9306007

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