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Jan 4 / Steve Runge

Interesting tidbits in Mark

As stated in the last post, I will be looking at the function of the historical present (HP) in Mark by looking at how the synoptic writers handle the same material. I spent this morning making a spreadsheet of each instance that I have annotated. I now have access to Rod Decker‘s volume, and will check my list against his at some point for quality purposes (Thanks for your attention to detail Rod, it is greatly envied appreciated).

The first column of the chart lists the reference of the occurrence in Mark, the next one the UBS pericope that it occurs in, followed by the synoptic parallels of the pericope in the next three columns, based on the UBS headings for preliminary purposes. Yes, I include John in response to Paul Anderson‘s call for R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the fourth gospel. I noted the pericopes that do not manifest an HP; there are 28, with only two of them having no synoptic parallel (according to the UBS heading note): 3:7-12 and 4:26-29.

What was more interesting was the scarcity of pericopae (or is it pericopoi, or pericopim?) that use the HP that do not have a synoptic parallel. I plan to consult Aland’s synopsis as I dig in just to make sure. I read in somewhere recently that the HP in Mark was viewed by some as a global marker of importance. I will probably take issue with that, but it seemed noteworthy that only three UBS pericopes were not picked up by someone else:

  1. Mk 7:31-37, the healing of the deaf and blind dumb man (Thanks, Bob)
  2. Mk 8:22-26, the healing of the blind man in Bethsaida
  3. and my favorite, Mk 14:51-52, the reluctant biblical streaker that fled the scene.

I think that this is going to be an interesting project, based on some initial poking around in the early chapters of Mark. I look forward to receiving feedback as this progresses, as I know there are Markan and Synoptic specialists lurking out there somewhere. I have many blind spots, and trust that the larger blogosphere will set me straight when I go astray. Whether I repent or not is another matter.


  1. Bob MacDonald / Jan 4 2009

    I look forward to your tense reflections. The deaf mute is who you are referencing above – not blind. I have always considered the young man in the garden as the author himself. Perhaps he is also a reflection of the blind man who sees men walking as trees – John Mark had a long learning process.

  2. Sean / Jan 4 2009

    Definitely an interesting project. The whole question of when other
    Gospels have parallel pericopes is far from black and white. For
    example, in my Composite
    Gospel Index
    , the pericope for Mk
    3:7-12 (Large Crowds follow Jesus)
    does have a parallel in Mt
    12:15-21. But deciding whether that’s real or not depends on having a
    clearer set of criteria than i have (i’m not sure what the UBS
    criteria are).

    While it’s useful to think about what HP pericopes Mark has and Matt
    doesn’t, it’s also true that overall, there’s very little in Mark
    that’s unique to Matthew. By my count (which is of course difference
    from the UBS scheme), there are 123 pericopes in Mark, only 16 of
    which don’t have a correspondence in Matthew. If there are so few
    overall, is it significant that 3 of them use the HP parallel (if i’ve
    followed your point correctly)? I’m not sure, but it’s an interesting

  3. Steve Runge / Jan 4 2009

    Thanks for the correction, Bob. I will get it taken care of. It was a hasty post.

  4. Steve Runge / Jan 4 2009

    Sean, You are very correct in raising the possibility of more parallels. My purpose is not to solve the synoptic problem, nor to propose some new proposal to the priority issue. I want to find legitimate minimal pairs/triads of the same propositional content, and to consider the impact of the different wording or use of discourse devices. I will work more closely with Aland’s synopsis as I begin the exegesis, UBS simply provides a basic oragnization to get started. I am not sure what criteria they used for the pericope divisions. Many of them seem more determined by the presence of a parallel saying than by the continuity/discontinuity of the discourse.

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