Homer or Not Homer? Mark 4:35-41 in Recent Study

by Douglas W. Geyer (Evanston, IL)


From a paper read at the October 14, 2000 meeting of the Chicago Society for Biblical Research.

This year, we have been presented with a new book that generously reviews the Homeric epics and the Gospel of Mark.(1) It's author, Dennis MacDonald, promotes a method to determine the origin of many of the stories in the Gospel of Mark, proposing a hypothesis about why and when these stories were composed in the way they are. His method consists of an examination of Greek epic poetry for the literary origin of the narrative plots and characters in Mark. I will be criticizing his work in this paper, but when all is said and done, I do take the position that comparison of the Gospel of Mark to Homeric materials can indeed produce good results, just not the kind that MacDonald seeks. We should indeed keep Homer in reach and in mind, because it makes for good criticism and interpretation. But, I think that it would be unsatisfying to follow MacDonald for very far down the road he goes, and we do well not to get sidetracked by it. Today I want to outline that road, explore a good example of it from MacDonald, note my disagreements with it, and suggest what might be done differently.


MacDonald proposes that the in the aftermath of the Roman siege upon Jerusalem, there was a compelling need to explain why Jesus had not successfully warned Christians to flee before the Roman devastation. In his view, the destruction of Jerusalem is the primary problem addressed in the narrative we now know as the Gospel of Mark.(2) What's more, the author of this narrative was trained in Greek language and literature, therefore at some previous time had practiced the literary exercises of paraphrase, mimesis, and emulation. Like everyone else of his day, the author would have practiced these exercises specifically upon texts of Homer. With these modest and common literary skills in hand, the Gospel writer composed a solution to the primary problem. A patently fictitious tale about Jesus was composed by means of imitation of Homer's epics. To understand MacDonald accurately, we must grasp that he argues that much of Mark is an exact paraphrastic rewriting of Homeric epic. By paraphrase MacDonald means paraphrase specifically as it was done then, and is now seen in a few scattered bits of papyri evidence and in literary examples and rhetorical theory. The author of Mark accomplished this Homeric paraphrase either by having had direct access the text of Homer, having had an exact memory of that text, or perhaps having had available Homeric outlines or monographs. One may wish that MacDonald not make such an exclusive literary claim about Mark, but make it he does, and on this basis his work is to be evaluated.

MacDonald suggests that the character of Odysseus was a natural solution to Mark's primary problem. Homeric tales about Odysseus emphasize his suffering life, just as in Mark Jesus said that he, too, would suffer much.(3) Odysseus is a carpenter like Jesus,(4) and he wants to return his fatherland (Od 5.301) just as Jesus wants to be welcomed in his native home (Mk. 6:1) and later to God's abode in Jerusalem (Mk.11:17). Odysseus is beset with unfaithful and somewhat dim-witted sailors, who display tragic flaws. They greedily open the magic wind bag of Aeolus while Odysseus sleeps (Od 10.46) and create disastrous storm winds that prevent a proper return home, thereby delaying Odysseus' expected welcome in Ithaca. MacDonald compares the sailors to disciples, who disbelieve Jesus, ask wrong questions, and show ignorance. Eventually, Odysseus does return to his homeland, but alone and only in disguise as if he were the object of some "messianic secret." He finds his house taken over by suitors for Penelope, and while in danger of discovery by these suitors, he plans his revenge. Odysseus remains secret except for his recognition by degrees (at first to Telemachus and then eventually to all), and fully revealed, he does battle, regains his house, and lives a long and prosperous life. Jesus also seeks to remain secret, as he is in danger from competitors and authorities who would kill him if they had the chance. There ensue a variety of Gospel recognition scenes, the primarily one located in a trial. Unfortunately, recognition here results in his conviction and subsequent violent death.(5)

There is no mention of Odysseus or Homer in Mark, but MacDonald argues that Mark's tales about Jesus are explicit imitations of Homeric tales about Odysseus, as well as imitations of tales about other Homeric characters, such as Circe, Polyphemus, Aeolus, Achilles, and Agamemnon and his wife, Clytemnestra. We must bear in mind that the key to this interpretation in MacDonald is the working assumption that the author of Mark used Homeric materials strictly along lines of rhetorical techniques. Rather than simply arguing that Mark's imagination was invigorated by Homer epic, MacDonald much more narrowly suggests that the Gospel's author, apparently after searching for literary precedents, found the precedents needed in Homer. The Homeric poetry was then re-articulated into the prose of a Gospel. More than any other literary observation offered in MacDonald, this is the heart for his theory.

There are liabilities with this position. For such a focused hypothesis about the literary origins of the Gospel of Mark, little evidence is offered by MacDonald about the actual practices of paraphrase, imitation, and emulation, at least compared to the generous conclusions he makes about those practices. Papyri evidence of Homeric school-book exercises is limited, and does not support the kind of conclusions drawn from them.(6) MacDonald refers to the work of Michael Roberts on ancient imitation and paraphrase.(7) If there were materials to be discovered that might support MacDonald, they would be reported in Roberts. Unfortunately for MacDonald, as Roberts shows, ancient paraphrase emphasized the retention of the initial text's message and content, at least in some fashion. An ancient paraphrase was not supposed to have left a listener wondering what text was being re-articulated.(8) Quintilian Institutio Oratoria or Dionysius of Halicarnassus On Imitation reveal what theoreticians of rhetoric thought about paraphrase, mimesis, or emulation, but they give no indication of how extensive specific practices were or how they were received. Dionysius of Halicarnassus hypothesized that if one were to take Homer as a model, then one should imitate not individual sections of epic but the whole in order to glean from it all the passion, virtue, and greatness therein. Longinus On the Sublime 13-14 reviews how to do a proper emulation of Homer, speaking of grandeur and the literary differences between Homer and Stesichorus.(9) These are the kinds of rhetorical observations we find, and they bring to mind traditions of commentary upon Homer, in particular with their speculations about the moral character Odysseus. However, MacDonald offers to us no assistance in understanding how the Gospel of Mark, which is obviously silent about Homer and Odysseus, might have fit into these broader streams of Homeric interpretation, which were by no means silent about either. This is an unfortunate lapse, because there is abundant evidence for the use of Homeric epic by many other writers, along with their thoughts about why they were using the epics. But the one thing all this abundant evidence displays, and what the Gospel of Mark plainly does not, is specific reference either to the author Homer, to epic characters, or to specific phrases and words as found in the epics.(10) It would be better had MacDonald been able to show how Mark, as an alleged Homeric paraphrase, fits into the variety of other known Homeric exegesis of the time.

These are indeed large liabilities of MacDonald's work. He offers no examples of other lengthy imitations of Homer that are like Mark, using Homer but obliterating all evidence of their use. Those who re-wrote Homer, unlike Mark, re-articulated specific material from the Homeric tales, including names, places, travels, myths, and monsters. While doing so they used words different from those in the epics along with original epic words in different forms. Works like the Argonautica could be tremendously creative re-articulations, and indeed such they do overtly appear, sometimes with wildly new meanings. After Mark, various uses of Homer predominated, each one obviously to be seen laboring quite intentionally with figures like Odysseus, and mentioning these characters by name, quoting lines about them from the epics, or giving every indication that Homeric vocabulary and themes are being paraphrased..

Since MacDonald offers no comparisons to other texts like Mark, that allegedly use Homer in the way Mark ostensibly does, he must rely on a set of criteria strictly internal to the textual relationship between Mark and Homer. He argues that paraphrase, imitation, and emulation of Homeric epic by Mark are indicated by consistently high measures along a set of six axes ("criteria"):

This is another large liability of MacDonald's method, since these criteria seem weak, tenuous, wide open to critical reassessment, and basically indications of hypothetical circumstantial evidence. They do not seem a good basis from which to create the huge interpretative house that MacDonald intends to construct. Of what are they measurements? Some of them may simply identify vagaries of narrative chance. For example, when telling stories, what if one ocean-journey story is told like another only because the narrative logic of both independently dictates it?

Finally, I should note that it is not just tales specifically about the man Odysseus that are allegedly emulated by Mark. MacDonald works with a whole panoply of characters. The Gerasene violent man is developed by emulation of the Cyclops, Polyphemus, who lived in "caves" and was violent, needing to be overcome. The death of John the Baptist is an emulation of Homer's tale about the death of Agamemnon, since a woman, Clytemnestra, was the cause of Agamemnon's murder (Odyssey 3.254-308, 4.512-517, 11.404-434) in the way that Salome and her mother instigated John's murder. The fictional story about Jesus on the cross, crying out to God, is an emulation of how Hector recognized, before dying, that he had been abandoned by Zeus and Apollo (Mk 15:34 and Iliad 22.296-297). Watching Hector's death from afar, women lamented him (Iliad 22.405-407) as did women watch Jesus' death from afar (Mk. 15:40) and later seek to lament his death. Like Joseph of Arimathaia, Achilles claims Hector's body for burial. Along with these there are a few other characters whose presentation in Homer is emulated by Mark, but I should think that MacDonald's broad view of Mark as factitious imitator of Homer is evident from this cursory review.


MacDonald's chapter seven, "Sleeping Sailors," is an excellent place specifically to examine his method in general. The chapter starts with some comments about how Mk. 1:16-20, the calling of the fisherman to follow Jesus, is an imitation of Odyssey 2.383-387, when Athena, disguised as Telemachus, goes through the city, bidding sailors come join Odysseus' ship. Then, MacDonald suggests that Mk 4:35-42 is an imitation of Odyssey 10.1-69. Here is his synopsis, taken directly from page sixty-one. I have added the line numbers:
Odyssey 10.1-69

1. Odysseus's crew boarded and sat down.

2. On a floating island Odysseus told stories to Aeolus

3. After a month he took his leave, boarded, and sailed with 12 ships

4. Odysseus slept

5. The greedy crew opened sack, "All the winds rushed out."

6. The crew groaned.

7. Odysseus woke and gave up hope

8. Odysseus complained of his crew's folly.

9. Aeolus was master of the winds.

Mark 4:35-41

1. Jesus boarded and sat down to teach

2. On a floating boat Jesus told his stories to the crowds

3. When it was late, he took his leave; "Other boats were with him."

4. Jesus slept.

5. A storm arose: "[A]nd there was a great gale of wind."

6. The disciples were helpless and afraid.

7. Jesus awoke and stilled the storm

8. Jesus rebuked his disciples for lack of faith.

9. Jesus was master of the winds and sea.

As he does in other comparisons, MacDonald provides Greek terms that seem important because of their appearance in both texts. In this chapter, he intensifies his lexical examination when he includes a review about the importance of the Markan terms lailaps and galênê, since both terms appear in various places elsewhere in Homeric tales, though not in Odyssey 10. An abundance of exact terminological similarities between Homer and Mark like this is rare, even in most of MacDonald's other synoptic comparisons. This might suggest that comparison of these two particular texts could potentially uncover some of the strongest evidence in support of a theory that Mark imitated Homer's text. The more one might show that Homeric terms are specifically re-articulated in a Markan paraphrase, the more one could argue how accomplished is that paraphrase, since good paraphrases kept Homeric terms, used them differently, and added other terms to them. For example, it could be that Mark's thalassa replaces Homer's pontos, or his ploion replaces Homer's naus. MacDonald does note some of these terminological overlaps, but unfortunately he does not note them all or even use to full advantage the similarities he does identify. When he admits that lialaps may have been in such common use that it cannot be shown that Mark lifted it from a Homeric text exclusively, he seems inexplicably not to exercise his own method enough, appearing to lose heart as he pulls back in this way. The question of the use of in Mark takes on a different importance when one notes that there are numerous terminological similarities that could be identified between Mark, Od. 10.1-69, and other Homeric texts with content like them. A full list includes the terms lailaps, anemos, prumnê, kuma, galênê, thalassa, apollumi, egeiro, êmera.(11) This being said, perhaps MacDonald's synopsis should be redrawn.


10.18 Odysseus's crew boarded and sat down.

10.11-17 On a floating island Odysseus told stories to Aeolus

10.18 After a month he took his leave, boarded, and sailed with 12 ships

10.28 sailed nine days, "night and day"

1.98 & 5.48 divinities walk over water and across the boundless land

4.510 Aias sunk deep into the boundless sea

10.33-49 The greedy crew opened the sack and storm. "[A]ll the winds rushed out."

12.312-314 At night, Zeus stirred wind. and sent a storm

12.399-400 the wind ceased from blowing in a tempest

12.403-410 a great storm, blast of wind

5.109. Athena sent evil wind and towering waves

10.31 Odysseus slept

13.74-75 Odysseus spread a rug and linen sheet in stern and slept.

15.285 Telemachus and Theoclymenus sit in stern

10.49 Odysseus woke and gave up hope

10.27 Lost through folly

10.93 In harbor, there is no wave and a bright calm prevails

12.169 Wind ceases, calm ensues, and the daimwn lulls the waves asleep

10.68-69 Odysseus complained of his crew's folly.

10.19 Aeolus was master of the winds.

Mark 4:1-2

Boarding a boat and sitting in the sea [ ]

Jesus taught in parables.

Mark 4:35-42

When it that day it got late [ ], he announced, "Let us go to across" and sailed while "other boats were with him."

A storm arose: "[A]nd there was a great gale of wind, so that waves crashed upon the boat to swamp it."

Jesus was in the stern, sleeping upon a pillow.

The disciples woke Jesus and asked him if he didn't care that they were about to perish

Jesus awoke censured the wind and spoke to the sea ,"Silence, be quiet" The wind ceased and a great calm ensued.

Jesus asks the disciples why they are afraid and if they do not yet have confidence in him.

Subsequently, the disciples have a great fear and they inquire of each other what kind of person Jesus might be, that the wind and the sea comply to his command.

There are numerous detailed elements in the stories that overlap, from sleeping figures, to stormy winds, to ocean calms. One not implausibly asks how all these elements of The Odyssey did not affect the narrative of Mark. And if they affected, how?

That being said, the story about Aeolus and the magic wind bag alone seems too weak to be the exclusive model of narrative plot for Mark 4:35-42. Yes, in Homer there is sleeping and there is blowing wind. But that hardly seems enough. In Homer, Odysseus needs to be asleep so that the sailors can subsequently behave badly. In Mark, the disciples do not cause the storm as do the sailors, a fact which in Homer is a fundamental aspect of the story. Jesus and the disciples are not blown off course as are Odysseus and his crew. Jesus doesn't display any doubt about his safety or mission as does Odysseus, who, once the winds are blowing, does not care if he lives or dies. What's more, MacDonald resorts to reading that at first sees Mark's Jesus as an Odysseus (sleeping; hero with followers), and then as him as an Aeolus (a divine master of the winds). But even with these liabilities, Odyssey 10 and Mark 4 show thematic consistencies, and the consistencies increase dramatically once we look elsewhere in the Odyssey for material from similar stories about boats and ocean troubles. Without taking on the liabilities of MacDonald's approach, which sees behind the plot of Mark the plot of Homer paraphrastically reproduced, what are we to say of the numerous similarities between Homer and Mark?


Departing from MacDonald for a bit, we can look at two texts to begin to our answer our question. The first is by Julius Pollux, who for his patron Commodius produced his Onomasticon which, in 1.82-125, reviews matter of ships and ocean travel. The second is a fragmented inscription, written by Diogenes of Oenoanda. It contains the story of an individual who survived a shipwreck, an individual who possibly was Epicurus himself.(12)


The intent of Pollux was to show Romans how the Greek language was expressive of numerous practical affairs and wise matters. In so doing, he demonstrates how Greek terms were common and in general use to express a great variety of things. Finding terms and phrases in Pollux means that those terms and phrases most likely had a wide circulation. They are representative of Greek language as it was then in use, and likely in use for a good long time before. It so happens that Pollux mentions numerous matters of seamanship, winds, and sailing conditions, and in Book 1.103-106 reviews various kinds of sea voyages (ploi). In Greek, some are described as done by rowing (eiresia plein), others by sailing (anemo plein) (1.103). Of the latter, some voyages are easy and pleasurable (êdus) (1.105). Greek terms to describe these are êdus (pleasant), asphalês (secure), wraios (seasonable), auras (cool-breezed), epipneousês (favored), zephyrias, zephurwn (of southerly winds), and anemo dexiou genomenou ("a fortune wind comes up"). Other Greek ways to describe these are to say that the sky is clear (di' anephelou aeros), the wind is blowing from off land (kationtos ek gês tou anemou), and especially the following: the wind is blowing out of the stern (ek prumnês epipneontos), the wind is standing against the stern (kata prumnên tou pneumatos estêkotos), and the wind is blowing down toward the helm (kata twn oiakwn pneontos). These good voyages have times of sailing through fine weather (di' eudias) and through, I would especially note, calm (di' galênês di' thalattê). Sometimes high sea sailing is through choppy conditions (epipolêntou kumatos diephritte to pelagos [Ocean agitates the surface waves]) (1.107). Seas that were not calm are called cheimwn (wintery)(13) and or kludwn or kludwnion (rough) (1.109). Narrows and straits have very choppy conditions described as kumatias ên or ekumainen (wavey). When the sea is stormy, on it "the wave stands up" (epanistamenon to kuma). Storm wind (anemos biaios) is described as pressing hard against the bow (kata kephalên epeinwn) or the wind standing against the prow (anemou kata prwran estêkotos). A violent thunderstorm (biaios ombros) may drive against the ship (elauomenos)(14) (1.116). One would suppose that it is times like this when extra burden is taken onboard (ta de entithemena phortos [the taking on of a load]), described in Greek with the terms "overloading" or "swamping" (aph' wn rêmata epiphortisasthai kai gemisasthai) (1.99). It doesn't take long to see that Mark's nautical terms - anemos, prumnê, kuma, galênê, thalassa, gemizw, but not lailaps - appear in Pollux, and are fairly representative of what could be considered standard and common Greek usage at that time. Furthermore, Mark's unique description of the sleeping Jesus (Jesus sleeps on a proskephalion, a hapax legomenon in the New Testament) uses a term that Pollux identifies as common Greek for sleeping accouterment (6.9). With this general lexical base in the Greek language, it would be difficult from these terms alone to argue for a literary line a descent from one story in the Odyssey to the story here in Mark. Other Markan terms which happen to be found also in Homer - apollumi, egeirw, hêmera - present the same problem, that they were in such general use that they cannot be used to trace specific traits inherited from Homer in Mark. I would point out that apollumi is especially related to ocean disasters, as it is in LXX Jonah 1:6b, opws diaswsê ho theos êmas kai mê apolwmetha (so that God may save and not destroy us). With its lexically paired term , it appears in a variety of similar contexts, even into metaphorical use. One epithet reads:

"Cypris, you save them in the open sea, would that you save me now, dear friend; I'm shipwrecked on the land. Save that which is being destroyed!)"(15)

We can begin to see that themes of ocean voyages, storms, ocean danger, and nautical safety all have similar lexical stock. Mark's use of lailaps, which is not so common a term after all,(16) appears meant to create a special emphasis on the seriousness of the danger at hand in the story.

All this being observed, I think that it is pertinent to say that the use of lailaps in Mark, although not used because of its previous use in Homer, is indeed used for the similar reasons as its use in Homer. It indicates fierceness, something that creates fear, a problem in need of dire resolution, and a situation in which there is likely to be an invocation of divine powers. The latter usually means characters in the story will be shown trying to figure out the calculus of divine benefaction vs. divine malefaction in their very difficult situation.


In order gain a perspective on what it means that Mark and the Homeric material share so much in common, the second text worth examining is Diogenes of Oenoanda on the shipwreck of Epicurus. Clay translates as follows, and I include notable Greek terms in parentheses:

". . . of the rocks, from which it did not yet wash him in [to dry land], but the sea gulped him down and belched him back up again (anarophêsai hê thalassa kai rêxai palin). It was then that he was lacerated (suntribw), as you would expect, and he swallowed down (kapsen) a great mouthful [of salt water]; he was badly skinned (xainw) when he crashed upon the sea-eaten rocks (alibrwsi llithois). But gradually he succeeded in swimming (dienêche) through to open water (eis hudwr), and just then he was borne along on the waves (kumatwn) to the festival drum [?] and, flayed almost to an inch, he barely escaped (eswthê mogis) with his life. Now he spent the next day in this state upon a high promontory and the following night and the next day until nightfall (to exês diêge tên hêmera outws kai tên epiousan nukta palin hêmeran ews esperas), exhausted by hunger and his injuries. We now understand that events which lay beyond our control (to automaton) are benefits despite appearances -- the very doctrine he commends to you as reasonable. For your herald (kêrux) who brought you to safety (dieswsen humas) has died; for afterwards chance . . ."(17)

Clay compares this to the account of Odysseus being washed up around the island of (Odyssey 5.367-463), an account that among other things mentions:

Clay is right also to identify in this story an effect from terminology in the Od 12 story about the Charybdis which relates how the thalassa is gulped down (anarroibdew), or can itself gulp something down. A good number of Homeric terms and metaphors appear in the story about Epicurus, from its general plot structure, which includes swimming after a wreck, to details about bruises and abrasions and holding on to rocks. Pointedly, there seem more similarities between Homer and Diogenes of Oenoanda than between Homer and Mark 4. From a literary point of view, one easily assumes for Diogenes a working knowledge of the Homeric texts. But, the same assumption cannot be made about the writer of Mark.

The inscription story corresponds more closely to our models of ancient imitation and paraphrase, since even the speciality details from the Homeric tales appear consciously to be included in their re-articulation. This kind of literary use of original terms fits the rhetorical logic of imitation and paraphrase, and the Epicurus story shows clever use, re-use, and alteration of Homeric elements. We should not forget that authors and speakers who used Homeric materials did not generally intend to obscure their use. Instead, they intended to use the Homeric epics in literary production with different ends and meanings, thereby showing their skill in so doing. Furthermore, in Diogenes' writing, the Epicurean message is very much woven into the story. Here, the imitated Homer creates a rhetorical flourish, bringing a recognizable Odyssean story to a new meaning, in order to state a completely different message.


Yes, the story on Mark 4:35-41 has many elements of Homer's Odyssey. But those elements do not appear in a narrative that is an imitation or emulation of any particular plot of the Odyssey or of that epic's unique vocabulary (descriptions of the sea, wind, injuries, etc.). From the perspective of Greek language of the period, Mark's selection of terms could be accounted for by review of Pollux Onomasticon. Diogenes of Oenoanda, who like the author of Mark neither mentions by name Homer or Odysseus nor quotes any Homeric lines, accomplishes a masterful paraphrase by using Homeric key terms and story themes. Imitation is clearly evident. We can see that paraphrase, mimesis, and emulation could be done with some sophistication, though never without losing sight of some salient material from the Homeric epics.

Still, what are we to do with Homer and Mark, beyond stating conclusions such as it seems highly unlikely that Mark is an imitation of Homer? We should recognize that in at least a part of Mark there are substantial overlaps with Homeric vocabulary and story themes, and less likely plot profiles. In some cases in Mark, there is more overlap with Homer than there is, say, with the Septuagint or Josephus. What could this mean?

If we hypothesize literary dependence of Mark upon Homer, as one might hypothesize literary dependence of Mark upon the Old Testament, then we will search for certain kinds of measurements; we would be looking for evidence of textual influence. This is what MacDonald tries to do. In many ways, he offers us something like a Venn Diagram in order to note an overlap between Homer and Mark. The overlap is taken to indicate the presence of the rhetorical techniques of paraphrase and emulation and imitation. He measures variables of lexical similarity and story themes in order to assess specific textual influence of the earlier text upon the latter. The literary problem that is addressed ultimately is determination of a cause of the words and story themes in Mark.

I would propose that, until we have far more information, we not try to determine what caused the Gospel of Mark to be written in the way it is. Leaving this burden aside, lexical and thematic variables from different sources can then be examined, and even accrued for extensive comparative analysis. But what they will be construed to measure will be something more like the meaning of the narratives and less like a history of the narratives' literary genesis. With this perspective, a reader may wonder how it is that so many similarities exist between Homer and Mark, but then also use that observation to better develop a meaning of one or the other stories. This could firmly place the Gospel of Mark in a history of literature without the burden of trying to make that history articulate historical causation.

1. Dennis R. MacDonald, The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000).

2. MacDonald, Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark, 15 and especially 163-164: "If Jesus were the Son of God, why had he failed to warn his followers of the coming destruction? More specifically, if he appeared to his disciples after the resurrection, why did he not tell them how to avoid the slaughter? Much of Mark is an answer to these questions."

3. Mk. 8:31 and Mk. 9:12. On Odysseus see Od. 5.223, "I have already suffered much and toiled much"; cf. 19.118 (I am a man of many sorrows); 5.339 and 20.34 for the descriptor "ill-fated."

4. Od. 5.249-250, ... (a man well-skilled in carpentry). Mk 6:3, .

5. MacDonald, Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark, 50, "Jesus keeps the authorities flummoxed concerning his identity by evasion, metaphors, and sheer wit, much like Odysseus among the suitors."

6. MacDonald refers to the brilliant work of Raffaella Cribiore, Writing, Teachers, and Students in Graeco-Roman Egypt, American Studies in Papyrology, 36 (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1996), who does mention how whole sections of Homer had been more or less "Cliff-Noted" for ancient students. Her example #333 shows a simple exercise of paraphrase, and indeed it looks both simple and mundane. In the form of a table, Homeric lines are in the left column, replacement terms in the right. There is no indication that one would use the terms in the right column to start writing stories about characters other than those in the left column.

7. Michael Roberts, Biblical Epic and Rhetorical Paraphrase in Late Antiquity, ARCA Classical and Medieval Texts, Papers and Monographs, 16 (Liverpool: Francis Cairns, 1985).

8. Roberts, Biblical Epic, 8 with quote from Cicero De Oratore I 334,154. Lucius Crassus says that he used to practice paraphrase, which he describes: "I would set myself a piece of verse of the greatest possible weight or read as much of a speech as I could retain in my memory and then reproduce the content of what I had read, selecting, as far as possible, different words." Theon considered paraphrase a way of saying expressing an identifiable topic in different (p.9), and he pointed to line from Iliad 9.593-594 in third-person narrative, but re-articulated in Demosthenes De falsa legatione 65 and Aeschines Contra Ctesiphontem 157 as questions addressed to listeners. Quintilan I 9,2-3 wrote: "Let them first to resolve the metrical form, next to give the meaning in different words, then to paraphrase more freely, wherein it is allowed both to abbreviate and embellish certain maters provided only the sense of the poet is retained" (p.15). For Quintilian, emulation meant that the original text was surpassed by the quality of the imitation, but its original meaning would remain evident.

9. Dionysius of Halicarnassus 2.1 Text available in Germaine Aujac, Denys d'Halicarnasse Opuscules Rhétoriques, tome V, Collection des Universités de France (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1992). Longinus On the Sublime 13-14 presents an argument for imitation and emulation ( ). It is good to do, because it is one road to sublimity (). There is a definite liability in using ancient rhetoric to get at Mark's narrative, because if one is not careful, one ends up speaking about Mark and its pulchritude and sublimity.

10. I should start with W. B Standford, The Ulysses Theme: A Study in the Adaptability of a Traditional Hero (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1954), who gives a nice history of how the figure of Odysseus changed, from his sated and secure home life in Ithaca at the end of the Odyssey, to traditions that developed in the Telogony about his violent death, to philosophical opinions about his virtues and vices.

11. I could include here, but won't, similarities in metaphors. Night-time is only implied in Mark, but it is specifically bespoken in Odyssey 10.28, as well as in another tale when, during a storm (lailaps), night "rushed down from heaven" (9.69). This phrase about night rushing down appears to be formulaic, occurring also in Odyssey 12.314. I should note that night-time is explicitly identified in the other Markan stormy sea-voyage text (6:48), although is not there mentioned. Plutarch Timoleon 249F has a tale a little bit like the Homeric phrase, in a scene of battle between Greeks and Carthaginians, when "darkness hovering the hills and mountain summits came down to the field of battle." Plutarch reports that this is a lailaps

12. For the Pollux text see Eric Bethe, ed., Pollucis Onomasticon, Sammlung Wissenschaftlicher Commentare: Lexicographi Graeci, 9 (Stuttgart: Teubner, 1987; orig. publ, 1900). For the Diogenes papyrus see Diskin Clay, "Sailing to Lampsacus: Diogenes of Oenoanda, New Fragment 7," Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 14 (1972): 49-59.

13. See Acts 27:20, .

14. See Mark 6:48, .

15. Anthologia Graeca 5.11. For in context of safety at sea in other Greek verse, see Anthologia Graeca 6.164,166,349; 7.269; 9.9. In the same verse contexts for see 7.272. The same use of and its compounds are found in the shipwreck story in Acts 27:20,31,43; 28:1.

16. The term does not appear in Josephus. In Josephus, the word is used four times in War, three of those being strictly metaphorical (1.535, hurricane of feelings; 2.396, hurricane of poorly planned battle; cf. 3.368).

17. Clay, "Sailing to Lampsacus," 50.