Musings on Mark: Mark and the Cynic Tradition

John R. Donahue and Daniel J. Harrington, The Gospel of Mark, Sacra Pagina, vol. 2 (The Liturgical Press, 2002), 193.

If Mark reacts in any way to the Cynic tradition it is rather to distinguish Jesus and his disciples from that tradition and implicitly to reject it as a lifestyle for Christian missionaries. Jesus’ disciples are to wear sandals and not carry the begging bag that was characteristic of the Cynics. They are to stay with settled communities and are to move on only when their stay is unfruitful. Further indication that the Markan Jesus is not the Cynic Jesus is the Markan Jesus’ fidelity to the Torah. Rather than rejecting traditional values, Jesus promotes true observance of the Sabbath, encourages marriage, accepts and even welcomes children, and is constantly in the presence of crowds and disciples. He is far from the solitary and individualistic rejection of human contact attributed to the Cynics. The Cynic Jesus is a problematic reconstruction of the historical figure and a nonexistent model for the Markan Jesus.

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