Recognizing penguins: audience expectation, cognitive genre theory, and the ending of Mark’s Gospel

Elizabeth Evans Shively

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Abstract

This study exposes shortcomings of arguments that view an "open ending" theory of Mark as a modern construct that would have made little sense to an ancient audience. I look at first-century genre expectations in light of cognitive genre theory and argue that a reader-response approach to Mark's ending is not only appropriate but also desirable. First, I describe and assess interpretative issues surrounding Mark's ending. Second, I discuss ways of approaching Mark's ending in light of genre expectations, building on a literary approach to genre with a cognitive (psychological) approach. Third, I offer an interpretation of Mark's ending in light of its fit with Greco-Roman biography (Greek bios; pl. bioi) and in terms of cognitive models. I show how Mark develops a pattern of imitation between Jesus and his disciples that, at the end, invites the audience to reflect on and respond to the person of Jesus and his role as the exemplar of discipleship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-292
JournalCatholic Biblical Quarterly
Volume80
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018

Keywords

  • Genre theory
  • Greco-Roman bios
  • Gospel of Mark
  • Ending of Mark
  • Cognitive theories

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