Paul Danove, «The Rhetoric of the Characterization of Jesus as the Son of Man and Christ in Mark», Vol. 84 (2003) 16-34
This article investigates the semantic and narrative rhetoric of Mark’s characterization of the Son of Man and the Christ and the contribution of the portrayal of the Son of Man to the portrayal of the Christ. An introductory discussion considers the role of repetition in characterization, the nature of semantic and narrative frames and their implications for describing the implied reader of Mark, and the rhetorical strategies apparent in characterization. The study of characterization investigates the manner in which the semantic and narrative rhetoric introduces and reinforces frequently discordant content concerning the Son of Man and Christ and then relates developments concerning the Son of Man to the Christ. The study concludes with a consideration of the narrative function of the characterizations of the Son of Man and Christ.
The initial coordination of Christ (Xristo/j) and Son of God (ui(o_j qeou=) in 1,1 indicates pre-existing beliefs that identify both designations with Jesus and that recognize Jesus’ positive relationship as the Christ with God15. The context (1,2-15) presents further assertions concerning Jesus’ positive relationship with God: God spoke through God’s prophet about Jesus (1,2); God sends before Jesus [God] God’s messenger who will prepare Jesus’ [God’s] way (1,2 [cf. Mal 3,1]); God’s way and paths are Jesus’ (1,3 [cf. Isa 40,3]); Jesus will baptize with God’s holy spirit (1,8); God rends the sky at Jesus’ baptism (1,10); God’s spirit descends onto Jesus (1,10); God’s voice addresses Jesus (1,11); Jesus is God’s beloved son with whom God is pleased (1,11); God’s spirit drives Jesus into the desert (1,12); God’s messengers serve Jesus (1,13); and Jesus proclaims God’s gospel (1,14) and the fulfillment of the time for God’s reign (1,15)16. The straightforward narration of these assertions without extended narrative preparation or warrants indicates either that the pre-existing content of the narrative frame evoked by Christ accommodates this content or that this content coheres with pre-existing beliefs about Jesus as the Christ.
The narration provides less access to pre-existing beliefs about the Son of Man (ui(o_j tou= a)nqrw/pou). Its initial occurrence (2,10) evokes pre-existing beliefs about the Son of Man’s present exercise of divine prerogatives in forgiving sins on earth and his positive alignment with God who forgives sins (2,7; cf. Ps 103,3; Isa 43,25). Subsequent straightforward narration evokes pre-existing beliefs about the Son of Man’s present exercise of divine prerogatives in regulating Sabbath practice (2,28) and his positive relationship with God who regulates Sabbath practice (e!cestin, 2,24) and about his parousaic identity and activity (8,38)17.
The fact that 1,1 bears the initial burden of asserting the narration’s