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Narrative Christology and the Son of Man: What the Markan Jesus Says Instead

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image of Biblical Interpretation

From the point of view of "narrative christology," not only does the Markan Jesus attempt to deflect attention and honor away from himself and toward God, but he also refracts—or bends—the "christologies" of other characters and the narrator. The image comes from the way a prism refracts "white" light and thus shows its spectral colors. When a thing is bent and looked at from another angle, something different appears. The most obvious way in which the Markan Jesus bends the "christologies" of others is by his statements about the "Son of Man," especially in juxtaposition with "christological titles" offered by other characters and the narrator. No other character or the narrator speaks of the "Son of Man," thus "Son of Man" depicts the Markan Jesus' distinctive point of view. The implied author of Mark challenges the implied audience to deal with the tension between an assertive narrator who proclaims "Jesus Christ, the Son of God" and a reticent Jesus who deflects attention and honor, challenges traditional views, and insistently proclaims not himself but God. To resolve the tension in favor of the narrator (as does Kingsbury) or in favor of the Markan Jesus (as does Naluparyil) would be to flatten the implied author's multi-dimensional narrative and its multi-layered "christology." The implied author of Mark sets up this tension to draw in the implied audienc —not to resolve the tension but to enable hearing of the story of Jesus in its full complexity and mystery.

Affiliations: 1: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


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