Donahue and Harrington: The ‘Great Human Realism’ of the Markan Jesus

John R. Donahue and Daniel J. Harrington, The Gospel of Mark, Sacra Pagina (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2002), 17.

Mark writes about Jesus with a great human realism that Matthew and Luke often omit or tone down; see, for example, 1:41 (his compassion); 1:43 (strong displeasure); 6:5 (surprise at disbelief); 8:12 (deep sigh); 10:14 (indignation); and 10:21 (love). Likewise Matthew and Luke omit or play down Mark’s realistic pictures of the disciples’ faults; e.g., in 1:36 they “track him down”; in 3:21 they try to seize him, for they think he is mad; in 4:40 Jesus asks them, “Have you no faith?” while in 6:52 their “hearts are hardened”; in 8:18-19 they have “eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear”; and in 8:33, Peter is called “Satan” (cf. Matt 16:23).

2 Comments

  1. Continuing this theme: Mark has the most touching version of the healing of Jairus’ daughter! (Mark 5:21-43) Jairus comes to Jesus and says “My *little daughter* is at the point of death.” That’s the part that gets me every time. But this is also the version where Jesus talks to her in Aramaic, calling her “little girl,” and very practically “told them to give her something to eat.” (Luke has that last, too, but more formally.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is a great scene. And Mark has constructed it in a way to parallel the poor woman with the menstrual condition that has existed for as long as the little girl has been alive. He even refers to that woman as “daughter” just as Jairus speaks of his daughter.

      It is great story telling and one of my favorites in Mark!

      Liked by 1 person

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