Musings on Mark: Mark 4 and Psalm 107

John R. Donahue and Daniel J. Harrington, The Gospel of Mark, Sacra Pagina vol. 2 (The Liturgical Press, 2002), 160-161.

Especially significant [to Mark 4:35-41] is Ps 107:23-32 (LXX 106:23-32), which Mark’s narrative virtually paraphrases. According to that psalm people “went down to the sea in ships” and “saw the deeds of the Lord” (v. 23). When God raises a strong wind that lifts up the waves (v. 25, kymata; see Mark 4:37) the mariners cry out to the Lord (v. 28; see Mark 4:38), and the Lord “made the storm be still [see Mark 4:39, “be still”], and the waves of the sea were hushed.” The psalm draws on the ancient portrayal of the sea as chaotic power, often the habitation of monsters, a motif that is deeply rooted in earlier Canaanite myths of creation where a storm god defeats the sea. While in the psalm it is YHWH who both stirs up the waves and calms them in response to the prayer, in Mark Jesus sleeps at the onset of the storm but afterward calms the waves as YHWH does.

2 thoughts on “Musings on Mark: Mark 4 and Psalm 107

  1. You could make the case that Psalm 107 gives structure to much of Mark 4-7. Mark;s Jesus feeds the hungry in the desert (Ps. 107:4-9/Mark 6:30-44), liberates prisoners who sit in darkness (107:10-16/5:1-13), and heals the sick (107:17-22).

    One of my favorite books on Markan sources is Adam Winn’s “Mark and the Elijah-Elisha Narrative. I think you’d like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Winn’s book is on my “Mark” Amazon wishlist. I’ve always found the Elijah-Elisha comparisons fascinating, though I think Luke does a bit more direct stuff with it than Mark does.


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