Re: Boundary Marker in Mark

From: Joe A. Friberg (
Date: Thu May 18 2000 - 19:10:17 EDT

And Clay has asked a very well-stated, pertinent question regarding the
boundary markers and the resultant major sections of Mark. Well,
unfortunately, I cannot give much of an answer at this point. This topic
happens to be one of my unfinished projects that I wish I could get to! And
I am operating from memory right now, for my partial-analysis notes, while
incomplete, are also sizeable but not summarized or organized. My apologies
for being extremely sketchy. All I can offer at present seems to be vague

I am not aware of any other formal boundary criteria which would operate at
a high level. I suspect there are several formal narrative boundary
criteria which operate at a mid-level, which would also be found near the
purported high-level boundaries listed below.

As for coherence, in addition to a number of thematic motifs, it is
developed by the spans of characters and their roles, geographical and
temporal references.

As I alluded below, most or many commentators agree with the boundaries at
1.14 (at least many) and 3.7 (some choose 3.1).

When it comes to the boundaries proposed below at 8.27 and 9.2, most (all?)
commentators choose only one boundary (some choose 8.27, some 9.2, others
some other division nearby), and most see this as a division of the book
into two halves. If these are both seen as valid boundaries, what we have
is (I suggest) a *hinge* section 8.27-9.1, which serves to divide the rest
of the book into two halves.

Well, enuf unsubstantiated suggestions for now! Wish I were more prepared
to defend the analysis. (I was lured into presenting it by Carl's subtle
challenge that the 'bread motif' discussed earlier could not be tied into
discourse analysis :-) I don't know that I succeeded in doing much more
than putting at least my big toe in my mouth! :-p )

Praise God anyway!
Joe F.

----- Original Message -----
From: "clayton stirling bartholomew" <>
Sent: Thursday, May 18, 2000 4:17 PM
> on 05/18/00 8:21 AM, Joe A. Friberg wrote:
> > The boundary marker to which I allude is:
> >
> > 'Nominative articular explicit reference to Jesus (the main character)
> > name as the (Nominative) Subject of the first finite verb of a
> >
> > Or, to put it differenly, whenever Mk uses hO IHSOUS at the beginning
> > 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
> > the normal course of the narrative, Mk can (and does) simply refer to
> > with a 3ms pronoun or corresponding verb inflection/agreement, and the
> > reader immediately knows it is the main character who is thus
> > But, when Mk begins a new major section of his gospel, he reintroduces
> > by name.
> >
> > This marker occurs at:
> >
> > 1.14
> > 3.7
> > 8.27
> > 9.2
> > 12.35
> > 14.27
> >
> > Several of these earlier divisions are fairly well agreed upon (on
> > 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,
> > other things, thematic motifs.
> Joe,
> What other criteria for identifying textual "spans" have you used to test
> these boundaries. In other words, are there some other textual features
> characterize these large discourse units that lend support to seeing the
> > 'Nominative articular explicit reference to Jesus (the main character)
> > name as the (Nominative) Subject of the first finite verb of a pericope'
> as a boundary marker?
> My understanding at this point is that textual spans and boundaries are
> identified by a combination of formal, syntactical and semantic patterns
> which work together to signal continuities and discontinuities within the
> units and at their borders.
> Therefore, to establish a macro level structure for Mark we would need to
> see more than one pattern of features that would lend supported to our
> proposed structure.
> Clay
> --
> Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
> Three Tree Point
> P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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