The Gospel Of Mark VS The Imperial Mindset by Rocket Kirchner (repost)

St Mark

Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr

by Rocket Kirchner
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Rocket Kirchner (blog)
Rocket Kirchner (youtube channel)
Originally posted March 30, 2009
July 16, 2013

Many literary critics have said that in the theocratic age of literature, that the gospel of Mark is the most radical and important work of antiquity. It took me years to see that. I always saw Mark as a wallflower gospel, not yielding its secrets so easily. I mean there is no sermon on the mount, no Magnificat, no Pilate/Christ juicy repartee. And yet there is no doubt that Mark’s gospel was the first one to be written. The plethora of books on recent Markan studies, however, have convinced me that it is indeed the most revolutionary document against the imperial mindset in the common era. And for all eras.

Mark wastes no time with genealogies and blood lines. He starts off with a bang, “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Messiah, Son of God”. These words alone if taken in context are a slap in the face to the mindset of Caesar being the Son OF God that was written on every Roman coin. Then comes Jesus from nowheresville Nazareth, a nobody, with no credentials, blowing the whole concept of a messianic overthrow of Rome choosing rather to preach being a servant, and to love instead of being violent. Talk about a “reversal of expectation” that Israel was waiting for!

Then Mark’s Jesus has to break all the social taboos; healing on the Sabbath, treating woman equal to men, destroying private property, enraged at the religious leaders of his day for asking for a sign that he is the messiah. Oh yeah, and about those family values…forget it. He speaks of his mission to bring division to the family unit right at the axis of its power, between the generations. Because that is where the abuse is. And if that’s not enough, he denies his own family by stating that his family is “those who do the will of God”. What in the world is Mark trying to tell us? Hang on.

As the tension mounts in every great story, Jesus is taken into custody by the authorities for blasphemy. He is condemned by the Romans. He is crucified. A dishonorable way to die. a rabble rousing peasant dies with no honor in the eyes of anyone except a Roman soldier who sees the way in which he dies and commits treason by stating that Jesus is the real SON OF GOD. Bang! There is Mark’s tectonic plate paradigm shift. The defining moment of his gospel. And by the way, we get no great sayings from Jesus on the cross like in the other gospels. We get only, “my GOD my GOD, why have you forsaken me?”

Now this would ordinarily be the ultimate Greek tragedy. But rumor has it that he was raised from the dead in ch 16 and therefore Mark inverts tragedy into good news, hence blowing all despair away, and yet it ends with those who hear about it running away afraid telling no one. This is stripped down writing at its best.

All notions of messiahship and divinity are redefined in this short book. They are not defined in terms of empire, might makes right, physical deliverance of Israel from the Romans. It is the divinity and messiahship redefined in humility, love, servanthood. It is the document of the ultimate revolution and good news to the oppressed. And good news is always good.

***

Read and/or Listen to Mark: Mark 1 NIV – John the Baptist Prepares the Way – The Bible Gateway

see

Why Unbelievers Love Christian Hypocrites by Rocket Kirchner (repost)

Why the Christ Story is Not a Copycat of Ancient Religious Myths by Rocket Kirchner (repost)

Noam Chomsky: The Gospels Are Radical Pacifist Documents

Lewis Logan: Jesus was an anti-imperialist

Progressives Who Become More Progressive After Their Conversion to Christ by Rocket Kirchner

Hope for the Gentiles: The Gospel of Mark

The Crossing: The Event That Changed My Life by Rocket Kirchner

9 thoughts on “The Gospel Of Mark VS The Imperial Mindset by Rocket Kirchner (repost)

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  4. On a more pedestrian note Rock ~ how do you liberate someone “inwardly” when they are excluded, overworked, starved and abused? Such an individual needs a real flesh and blood saviour, not an ersatz promise of a one-size-for-all haloed icon. You yourself actually become that blessed saviour for another when you present with good news. My only misgiving is that news is seldom good.

    I understand your drift, always engaging, and your passionate commitment is profound, but when does common sense kick into the equation? Christianity it seems to me derives from an authentic mystical understanding that was skyjacked from the “get-go” by the diabolical spin-doctors who strive to control all resistance to their masters, the black magicians of powerful elitism.

    Perhaps the real secret is to banish all our illusions of separation from the sacred engineered by religion, & face imminence.

    Pure magick (in its classic ~ not class ~ context) transcends and defeats all such contrived polarities by accepting the necessity of reconciling incommensurates. It is therefore submissive in the sense that it is a philosophy of effective action that must acknowledge context, but is not a corrupted doctrine of surrender ~ like Islam has mutated into, under the myopic Mullahs and effete monarchies ~ rather, it is a fully cognizant means to accommodate reality through mastery of circumstance.

    • David , as Chomsky points out , the Gospels are radical documents . Mark was the first historically , so it must be looked at FIRST.

      a real flesh and blood savior is what they got who believed . The power of that flesh and blood sacrificed .

      A parallax paradigm was set up against the Imperial mindset when Mark was written . we don’t know who Mark is and it does not matter. what matters is is that early Jesus model movement was not just expressed in the Q sayings and the Gospel of Thomas , or even the brilliant Pauline letters , but that a literary narrative of such brilliance appeared about the time of the destruction of the temple –the gospel of Mark , that seem to be a short summation of the zeitgeist of the times; singing martyrs , inner freedom , a new kind of love , one that loves its enemies .

      i think that this ancient document is just as relevant today as yesterday . at least Gandhi , MLK , the Dalia Lama , Mandela , and many many others think so.

  5. The story is meant for the oppressed to be servile and submissive to the oppressors, to keep the commoners in their place and the promise of the after/better life as compensation for the indignities of burdens placed on those by the elite, a story most likely propaganda of the writers that worked for the elite.

    • Don , the story of The Gospel of Mark must be taken in its context. no need to regurgitate Neitzcheian ”Christianity is slave morality ”nonsense . this is a radical document not to be misunderstood by us being immersed in a domesticated view after the fact. at the time this short masterpiece was meant to liberate the oppressed where they needed liberation –inwardly .

      The Markian account was written in a Aristotle’s 3 point construct of Greek Tragedy :
      1. Conflict –chapters 1 thru 8
      2. Denouement -ch 8
      3. Final outcome -8 thru 16.

      in the book ”The Liberated Gospel ” this a strong thesis on how Mark used such a literary device to then flip it to becoming GOOD NEWS.

      There was such an explosion of love and rebellion ( non violent ) against the Roman Oppressors because of this gospel that anyone who took it seriously was not servile and submissive to the Empire anymore , but rather Martyrs . So , even if the intent of the writer was as you say , it sure did backfire.

      • Not sure how to approach this Rocket, but there is a significant clue in your Aristotelian reference to Greek Tragedy.

        I’ve just picked up a copy of Kerenyi’s Prometheus. It is a very intriguing piece of work, to which I propose to devote adequate time for absorption. Something that seems deeply remarkable to me, is the way that Dionysos has been dismissed as a figure of myth by sophist scholars, whereas this legendary magician was clearly an avatar who assumed the persona of the ancient genius of viticulture to not only celebrate ecstasy and the psychoactive mysteries, but also to invoke the gods through the innovative art of theatre.

        So by the time we get to the context of Roman propaganda after the Jewish Wars, the notion of fiction as a mystical agency of imaginal experience is well established.

        • Dave , Nietzsche didnt think he was myth. in ”Birth of Tragedy” he took Dionysus very seriously and said that the Greeks did too.

          i just picked up Dodd’s ”The Greeks and the Irrational”. excellent! it gets into the Socratic concept of ”Divine Madness ” –the 4 types: Apollo, Dionysus, Muse, Eros.

          The premise behind the literary Deive used in Mark in the book ”the liberated Gospel” is that he put forth an amazing narrative of tragedy , then flipped it to good news, so that it would not end with tragedy. E.m. Cioran said ”Christ would have been the perfect tragic hero in literature had he not ruined it by rising from the dead”.

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