Tracing the Gospel of Mark’s full narrative trajectory, this project provides a socio-literary investigation of Jesus’s honor in the Gospel, in order to explore the relationship between honor and shame in the narrative as well as how first-century notions of honor relate to Mark’s endorsement of Jesus. For much of the narrative, the Gospel of Mark overwhelmingly features Jesus’s honor—or his status, reputation, and virtue. Beginning about halfway through the Gospel, this emphasis is paired with another: anticipation of a change of fortunes for Jesus. Then, Jesus’s fortunes do change in the spiraling shame he experiences during his arrest, trial, and crucifixion in Mark 14–15, when he is rejected and abandoned by everyone around him, seemingly even God. Nonetheless, in the final few scenes of the Gospel, from the moment of Jesus’s death through his resurrection, the Gospel features the selectively resurgent divine and human affirmation of Jesus, which restores Jesus’s honor for the narrative audience and partially rebuilds his reputation among characters in the story. Overall, after firmly establishing Jesus’s honor, the Gospel highlights Jesus’s intensely shameful suffering and loss of public status in order to differentiate between popularity and fame on the one hand and virtue on the other. Ultimately, Mark promotes Jesus as an honorable agent of God who merits following regardless of the conclusions of human courts of opinion, though characters from all sorts of groups (e.g., disciples, Jewish leaders, Roman agents) do recognize Jesus’s honor even after his horrific crucifixion. In its analysis, this project emphasizes the multivalent relationship between Mark and culture, pushing back against a current trend in some scholarly circles to read the Gospel as simply countercultural.
Graduate Program in Religious Studies
Language and Literature, General/Other, Religion
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Simpson, April, "Honor Gained, Lost, and Restored: The Honor and Shame of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark" (2021). Religious Studies Theses and Dissertations. 26.
Available for download on Friday, May 05, 2023