Concentric Structures in Mark 1:14-3:35 (4:1) With Some Observations on Method

TitleConcentric Structures in Mark 1:14-3:35 (4:1) With Some Observations on Method
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsVan Iersel, B. M. F.
JournalBiblical Interpretation

The various divisions suggested for Mark 1:14-3:35 (4:1) show that the problem of the delimitation and arrangement of concentric structures calls for a criterion by which it is possible to decide between conflicting divisions. The Gospel of Mark originated in a semi-literature culture where texts were read to an audience from manuscripts written in scription continua. The criterion required is based on the assumption that concentric structures were designed to structure the reading/hearing process by distinguishing between segments. Since concentric structures consist in the repetition of elements used before, easily recognizable repetitions take priority over those less identifiable. On the basis of this criterion indicators of macro-divisions are preferred to those of micro-divisions, so that, e.g., the parable discourse in 4:2-34 is regarded as an individual section and thus becomes the centre of the second main part. The criterion is also used for segmenting the text at micro-level, e.g., in Mark 3, where 3:7-9 + 4:1 is preferred to 3:21 + 3:31-35. With the help of the usual criteria 1:14-4:1 is analyzed and identified as the first section. It consists of three segments, each concentric in structure. Standing in the centre of the middle segment, 2:18-22, the discussion about fasting and the two sayings related to it are about the relation between old and new, which is the theme of the whole section.

Mark 1:14-45, ABCXCBA; 3:7-4:1, ABXBA; compares W. Stenger
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