From: Mark Goodacre (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Mar 26 1998 - 06:48:29 EST
Allison Sanders wrote:
>I have just completed an assignment for my Mark class, and am
>interested to know what other people think of this question. We were
>asked to write a brief paper discussing whether the centurion
>considered Jesus to be THE son of God, or A son of God in Mark
If one reads hUIOS QEOU in 1.1, as many do, then this might incline
the benefit of the doubt in favour of taking it as '*the* Son of
God', in which case 15.39 forms something of an inclusio with 1.1.
Other relevant texts are 1.11 (hO hUIOS MOU hO AGAPHTOS), 1.24 (hO
hAGIOS TOU QEOU), 3.11 (SU EI hO hUIOS TOU QEOU), 9.7 (hOUTOS ESTIN
hO hUIOS MOU hO AGAPHTOS) and 12.6 (EICEN hUION AGAPHTON).
In the light of these, I would suggest that there is no doubt that
the narrator thinks of Jesus as "the Son of God" and that this might
therefore be a legitimate way of translating 15.39.
But the really interesting issue with 15.39 is how are we expected to
take it as readers? Is the centurion being sarcastic? I think so.
Look at the context in Mark; we need to get John Wayne in *The
Greatest Story Ever Told* out of our minds. Jesus has just died in
agony, uttering a last, despairing cry and the centurion looking on
shrugs his shoulders and says "Huh, truly *this* is the son of God".
The dramatic irony is that the reader knows that he is indeed the son
of God, for the reader has been allowed to see TO KATAPETASMA TOU
NAOU ESCISQH EIS DUO . . . (15.38), something the centurion cannot
In this way, the centurion's so-called "confession" is in line with
other elements of irony and dark humour in Mark's Passion narrative,
a crown of thorns, the charge to "Prophesy!", "he saved others; he
cannot save himself" and so on.
This interpretation was first put to me by my tutor Canon John
Fenton at Christ Church, Oxford. I was convinced by it then and I am
convinced by it now.
All the best
Dr Mark Goodacre M.S.Goodacre@bham.ac.uk
Dept. of Theology, University of Birmingham
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