How the site relates to the book:

This website has recordings of Mark’s passion-resurrection narrative in English and in Greek that are correlated with the stories in the commentary. The [insert symbol] symbol after chapter and story headings indicates corresponding recordings on this website.

Book Synopsis:

The Messiah of Peace: A Performance-Criticism Commentary on Mark’s Passion-Resurrection Narrative

This book is a performance-criticism study of Mark’s passion-resurrection narrative as a story that was composed for performance to audiences rather than for reading by individual readers. This multimedia exegesis combines detailed analysis of the sounds of the story with a recorded performance of Mark’s story in English and in Greek. The exegesis is based on a “sound map” of the story that graphically presents the cola, periods, and episodes of the story. It then seeks to identify the specific impact of the words, images, and gestures of the individual stories for audiences who heard the story told or read by storytellers in the Diaspora communities of the Roman Empire in the immediate aftermath of the Judean-Roman war (66-70 C. E.).

The analysis of the dynamics of audience address reveals that the story was addressed to a primary audience of Judean non-believers. This evidence contradicts the widely held conclusion that Mark was addressed to early “Gentile Christian” churches. Mark also takes the unusual step in Israelite literature of including Gentiles in the audiences of the Gospel. His story was an appeal to follow Jesus’ way of non-violence and reconciliation between Israel and its Gentile enemies. The Gospel was composed in order to empower the telling of the story of Jesus to Judeans and Gentiles.

Mark was an Israelite storyteller who told the story of Jesus as the Messiah of peace. In contrast to the dominant traditions and hopes of a warrior Messiah in Israelite tradition, Jesus was wholly non-violent and performed acts of healing, exorcism, and food provision for both Israelites and Gentiles. His actions and teachings were a proclamation of the Kingdom of God as a universal and peaceable Kingdom. His suffering, death and resurrection were climactic signs of the victory of non-violence and love over violence and hatred as the way of the redemption of the world from the powers of evil.

The hearing of Mark’s Gospel in this post-war context also indicates that the Gospel was not “anti-Jewish” as has often been concluded. The “anti-Jewish” understanding of the impact of Mark’s story is based on the conclusion that the story’s “readers” were members of Gentile Christian churches. From this perspective, Mark’s passion narrative has often been perceived as an appeal to “Christian” audiences to be alienated from and to condemn “the Jews” as the primary agents of Jesus’ death. However, when heard in the post-war context by audiences of both Judeans and Gentiles, the rhetoric of Mark’s story is what can be called “the rhetoric of involvement” rather than the “rhetoric of condemnation.” The story’s impact was not “the Jews killed Jesus” but was “we were involved in the death of the Messiah.”.

Mark’s story was an appeal to recognize “our” involvement as Israelites and Gentiles in the death of the Messiah of peace. It was a passionately pro-Israelite story of a peace party in the post-war community of Israel that advocated belief in Jesus as the Messiah who rejected violence and advocated community with Gentiles.