Friday, June 18, 2010

Living Mark

In Mark’s gospel the narrator is what is called an “omniscient” narrator. This kind of story teller can be inside people, know their thoughts, how they feel, as well as being in private scenes where no one else is around, or even be in two places at the same time. Furthermore, we as readers usually assume the trustworthiness of the narrator who is telling the story – we stick to the storyline – or we stop reading.

How about narrative? What is narrative? Umberto Eco, of the Name of the Rose fame, suggests that to tell a story or write a narrative you have to construct a world. On this view, Mark’s gospel is not merely information, but it is a created story world – of course, in my perspective related to, but distinct from the real world.

Yet, Eco’s suggestion, while helpful, needs to be supplemented by another feature of story. Stories connect actions – narrative creates causal relations between one action and another. Think about this. “She sees a cow in the field” is not a narrative – “she sees a cow in the field and milks it” is.

One last feature of narrative, brought to light by Paul Ricoeur, is time. What is recounted in narrative takes place in time and takes time. Stories have a temporal character that is not to be missed or ignored if we are to better understand them.

But surely there are at least a few other important elements of narrative: plot, point of view, characters, intrigue, suspense, drama, audience-reader all require due consideration when reading the gospel of Mark.


Living Spiritual Rhythms For Today