Participant Reference and Discourse Boundaries

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (
Date: Sat Mar 18 2000 - 17:35:09 EST

<x-charset ISO-8859-1>I was reading in Mark 6 and when I came to verse 16-17 I noticed that a
major transition transpired. Mark 6:17-29 seems to be an embedded narrative,
a story within a story used to provide some explanatory detail for the main
story line that ends in Mk 6:16 and starts again in 6:30.

Reading this over several times I was trying to discover what language
features were used to mark this transition between the top level narrative
and the embedded narrative. One feature that grabbed my attention was the
participant references to hHRWiDHS in Mk 6:16-17. To make this point clear I
will use a breakdown of participant reference presented by Gustavo

#1 Full Explicit Subject (proper noun used)
#2 Abbreviated explicit subject (pronoun or article used)
#3 Non-explicit subject (e.g., verb inflection for person)
#4 Non-subject participant (e.g., direct or indirect object)

I would suggest that what we see in Mk 6:16-17 is two level #0 participant
references to hHRWiDHS. The first is EGW in verse 16 and the second is AUTOS
hO hHRWiDHS in verse 17. I would label these level #0 participant
references because I think they have a higher degree of salience than level
#1 shown above.

What difference does this make? I would suggest that what we see in Mark
6:16-17 is a "spike" in participant reference salience which garbs our
attention and prepares us for a transition to the embedded narrative on the
death of John the Baptist. The combination of EGW followed closely by AUTOS
hO hHRWiDHS alerts the reader that a shift in participant focus is about
to take place and that what is coming next is going to focus on hHRWiDHS.
This "spike" does not tell us that the following is going to be an embedded
narrative, but it does serve as a wake up call the the reader, marking a
transition of some significance.

Here is the question:

What other language features can you folks who do discourse analysis detect
in Mark 6:17-29 that sets it off from the top level story line in Mark?

Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

*Please note that I am just using Gustavo Martin-Asensio's breakdown without
any reference to the use he makes of this breakdown. In other words this
post should not be construed as interacting with the ideas presented in his
article since I am addressing discourse boundaries.

*this breakdown is fond on pages 240ff in Porter, Stanley E. & Jeffrey T.
Reed „Discourse Analysis and the New Testament, Sheffield Academic Press,

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