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The Centurion, Son of God, and Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles

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Contesting Narrative and Commemoration with Mark

Against a longstanding tradition of ascribing religious conversion to the centurion who witnesses Jesus’s death in Mark 15:39, I argue that his acclamation of Jesus as υἱὸς θεοῦ is better understood within the narrative as the words of a conquered enemy. The centurion’s confession parallels the responses of unclean spirits and Legion, two other vanquished enemies who, in the moment of defeat, see and name Jesus υἱὸς θεοῦ. By framing the centurion as a defeated enemy, Mark contests the meaning of Jesus’s crucifixion: rather than remembering it as a performance of Roman rule, Mark commemorates it as the summary victory of the rule of God. Turning from an ancient capital offender to a contemporary one, I recast the memory of Kelly Gissendaner, who was executed in Georgia in 2015, and attempt to narrate and commemorate her state-sanctioned death in light of the Markan Jesus’s.

Affiliations: 1: University of Denver & Iliff School of Theology Denver, coUSA dyencich@gmail.com

10.1163/18712207-12341341
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/content/journals/10.1163/18712207-12341341
2017-03-20
2017-12-14

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