Negation as a Level of Meaning in Mark's Gospel
It is the thesis of this study that a basic level of negation exists in the Gospel of Mark. This level of negation is at least as important to the literary structure as is the level of affirmation. The level of affirmation has been recognized for twenty centuries. During all of that time it overrode the negative. The procedure of subsuming negative elements of the gospel under the affirmative has been so obvious that no one could seriously attempt to discredit it. However, the negative level has not been allowed to carry the weight it actually bears within the text. Scholars have been reluctant to allow the weight of the negations to assume full significance.
In this study Mark's presentation of Jesus has been examined on the affirmative and on the negative levels. Then supporting evidence for the negative levels. Then supporting evidence for the negative level has been examined. The first task results in a Markan portrait of Jesus which provides a sequential look at each of the two levels. This is a single portrait the negative aspect of which is taken seriously.
Following the portrait, the major part of the work involves presenting evidence of the negative level. This negative level is examined beginning with the most obvious and easily acceptable arguments and ending with evidence and easily acceptable arguments and ending with evidence which can only be considered possible. Chief among the soundest arguments are the contrast with John the Baptizer and the study of various groups who fail to understand Jesus. Evidence which is strong but less definitive includes the enigma of the final pericope (16:1-8), the lack of resurrection narratives, the treatment of miracles, and the limiting of witness. Evidence which can only be considered possible is found in the secrecy commands, in the role of the crowd and in the passive portrayal of Jesus in key episodes.