Boundary Marker in Mark

From: Joe A. Friberg (
Date: Thu May 18 2000 - 11:21:41 EDT

Dear Dr. Carl:

You wrote:
----- Original Message -----
From: "Carl W. Conrad" <>
Sent: Thursday, May 18, 2000 5:48 AM
Subject: Re: Mark 7:2 TOUS ARTOUS

> At 12:49 AM -0500 5/18/00, Joe A. Friberg wrote:
> >On the subject of thematic coherence/motif of the 'bread' in this
> >section of Mk, if I recall, this starts w/ the feeding of the 5000, runs
> >through the section we've been discussing, crops up in the Syrophoenician
> >woman's meeting with Jesus (7.28-29), runs through the feeding of hte
> >and carries through to the warning against 'leaven of hte Pharisees and
> >Herod' (8.15). I may have missed some points in between.
> >
> >You are right about what this implies for preaching in this section!
> >might seem to be a dry technical observation actually serves to develop
> >reinforce the themes of a number of pericopes through the interplay of
> >motif!
> Which is to say,it is a LITERARY theme: loaves, crumbs, the Greek words
> which, ARTOI, KLASMATA, KTL., sustain I theme that I have called "the
> mystery of the wilderness feedings and feeder." I don't think this is
> something that either syntactical analysis nor discourse analysis properly
> concerns, unless either one is conceived in very broad terms.

WHile I did not explicitly tie the above aside to a discussion of the
discourse structure of Mark, it can, and IMO, it should be a part of the
discussion of the higher level structure of Mk. While I can state the
criteria for a high-level boundary marker in Mk in largely syntactic terms,
in order to show that the syntactic peculiarity I thus isolate has any
relevance, I must also look at high-level (literary) semantic
considerations, such as the above outlined motif, to show that the
high-level 'units' thus demarcated actually hold-together and function as a

The boundary marker to which I allude is:

'Nominative articular explicit reference to Jesus (the main character) by
name as the (Nominative) Subject of the first finite verb of a pericope.'

Or, to put it differenly, whenever Mk uses hO IHSOUS at the beginning (in
the first clause) of a pericope, this marks the beginning of a new major
section of his gospel. The logic behind the uniqueness of this form of
reference to Jesus lies in the fact that he is the main character, and in
the normal course of the narrative, Mk can (and does) simply refer to him
with a 3ms pronoun or corresponding verb inflection/agreement, and the
reader immediately knows it is the main character who is thus referenced.
But, when Mk begins a new major section of his gospel, he reintroduces Jesus
by name.

This marker occurs at:


Several of these earlier divisions are fairly well agreed upon (on literary
grounds), but the latter ones are more disputed. The above partially
syntactic criterion gives an objective means to pinpoint the later
divisions. But the validity of these divisions must be determined by, among
other things, thematic motifs. (That is how and why I first noticed the
'bread' motif above. It lies within the major section 3.7-8.26, possibly
within a subdivision of that section--I have not sifted through all my notes
just now.)

The distinction between discourse analysis and literary analysis lies (at
least in part) that discourse analysis considers not just (literary)
semantic themes and apparent structures, but places these considerations
alongside syntactic and other grammatical considerations; in fact, it places
greater emphasis on the more-objective latter considerations in order to
discern more clearly the precise structure of the former. Thematic
coherence is only one consideration placed alongside of referrential and
grammatical coherence, syntactic disjunction, etc.

Joe Friberg

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