Date of Award

Spring 1999

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Hills, Julian V.

Second Advisor

Barnes, Michel R.

Third Advisor

Edwards, Richard A.


As one who has a primary interest in gospel literature, I have long been engaged by form criticism and the history and formation of the gospel tradition. In particular, I am attracted to the study of the Jesus sayings tradition, not only the parables but also what are commonly termed logia, or "sayings." This has naturally led to the study of other analogous speech patterns from antiquity, such as the proverb, the chreia, the yvwμT), and the aphorism. As these interests have developed, I have also become increasingly frustrated with the classification of the Jesus sayings by the form critics and with related attempts-especially those of literary critics-to capture the essence of Jesus' speech. I have often suspected that there must be a way of understanding the sayings of Jesus in terms of their distinctiveness which does not collapse into broadly defined categories or overly general designations of literary characteristics. In the dissertation, I argue that a more precise understanding of Jesus' sayings is facilitated by the identification of distinctive structures, which, upon examination, are seen to organize the content of the sayings and distinguish them one from another. The dissertation combines the method of form criticism with rhetorical and syntactical analysis in order to determine the structures of six Jesus sayings in the Gospel of Mark. Upon identifying the structure of each saying in Mark, I then collect sayings that reveal the same structure in other early Christian literature, in the LXX and in lst-2d century hellenistic pagan writings. Next I examine how each structure, in its various manifestations, functions in its literary contexts and, finally, in the Gospel of Mark. Through this analysis, it becomes increasingly clear that the structure of the sayings plays a major role in persuading the hearer or reader that what has just been announced must be so.



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