Re: Marcan Leitmotifs

From: Jim West (jwest@Highland.Net)
Date: Wed Jun 17 1998 - 14:31:48 EDT

At 02:04 PM 6/17/98 -0400, you wrote:
>The discussion of hODON POIEIN has been extraordinarily fascinating to me,
>the more so since (as I admitted in an earlier posting) I'd always been
>somewhat troubled by the strangeness of this phrasing in this particular
>pericope. Now let me ask: Has anyone ever noticed, or have ever been any
>studies of the Marcan use of ARTOS, "loaf" as a sort of leitmotif (I don't
>have to use German spelling, do I?) in Mark?
>I first noticed this in the usage of ARTON FAGEIN in Mark 3:20 and 7:2 & 5;
>I'm not aware of ARTON ESQIEIN as a distinct idiom, yet many versions seem
>to translate it in these passages as simply "eat" or "dine." In 7:2 & 5 the
>ARTOUS seem superfluous--unless this really is an idiom, as, for all I
>know, it may in fact be in Aramaic, although I don't believe it is in
>Greek--nor do I believe there's a distinctive Latinism PANEM EDERE involved
>More interesting to me was the discovery that ARTOS seems to be a leitmotif
>binding together the entire Marcan sequence beginning with the first
>feeding narrative in chapter 6 and continuing down through the second
>post-feeding crossing of the lake:
>6:37,38,41,44,52;7:2,5,27;8:4,5,6,14,16,17,19. Certainly there is the
>deliberate linking of the feeding narratives with the Last Supper by
>AUTOU ... But the teaching about "what goes into the body and what comes
>out of the heart" in the first pericope of 7 is introduced by the
>deliberate phrase ARTOUS ESQIOUSIN. And then there is the bread/crumbs
>motif in the pericope of the Syro-Phoenician Woman, and finally in the last
>pericope of this sequence, which proves that Mark's telling of TWO
>wilderness feedings (Jewish & Gentile--with 12 and 7 baskets of crumbs?) is
>quite deliberate, there is the typically Marcan demonstration of disciples'
>misunderstanding (if not outright witlessness) in Jesus' questions to them
>about the left-over bread fragments.
>There's no way that all this can be fortuitous. I'm just wondering if there
>have ever been any studies of this ARTON FAGEIN motif as such. It is surely
>another piece of evidence of what Edward so utterly rightly calls attention
>to: the painstaking care of Mark as a composer of his gospel narrative. And
>also, Edward, isn't this a piece of your "Exodus Traditions" in Mark?
>Carl W. Conrad


The motif of "eating", etc, has been examined By John Dominic Crossan in his
recent "The Birth of Christianity", (p. 330-331), and in his earlier "The
Historical Jesus" , passim, especially ch. 13. Briefly, he sees something
extraordinarily important in the very clues you have seen.

I think that if his sociological paradigm is applied to Mark, "eating,
bread", etc. turn out to be very important motifs, as you have seen.



Jim West, ThD
Pastor, Petros Baptist Church
Adjunct Professor of Bible,
Quartz Hill School of Theology

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