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Customer Review

52 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dense and Sequential, November 13, 2005
This review is from: The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark (Hardcover)
If we were to count all of the examples MacDonald gives to demonstrate that the author of Mark used Homeric epics as literary models, they'd number around 100. Explaining all of these instances away is, as the author demonstrates, hardly possible.

What I found particularly fascinating about this book is the way Homeric literary models explain characteristics of Mark that were otherwise enigmatic. For example, why did Jesus intend to pass his disciples by when he was walking on the water? For that matter, how did Jesus see his discples on the boat at night when he was on top of a mountain? Why did the Roman centurion call Jesus the son of God? MacDonald answers these questions and more.

I originally wondered why this book costs so much. After reading it, it appears to me that there are at least two reasons. First, MacDonald's contributions are revolutionary. His research is no doubt extensive. In other words, this book is valuable. Second, perhaps charging $40+ limits the amount of people reading the book exclusively for the purpose of debunking it. I'm sure MacDonald is aware people will criticize his conclusions, but the price helps makes sure those people who are legitimately interested in New Testament scholarship--not just apologetics--will read it.

So if you're one of those people interested in New Testament scholarship, I don't think your view of Mark will be the same after reading this book. Don't miss it.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 16, 2007 12:28:50 PM PST
"If we were to count all of the examples MacDonald gives to demonstrate that the author of Mark used Homeric epics as literary models, they'd number around 100. Explaining all of these instances away is, as the author demonstrates, hardly possible."

That depends on how strong each example is. Otherwise, this is analogous to the political technique of mudslinging, in which 20 allegations are made against one's opponent, followed by the statement that "if only 25% of these allegations are true, that would be damning enough."

For example, one "similarity" is found in the following passage from the Odyssey, in which Odysseus returns home and attacks the suitors of his (presumed) widow:

But Odysseus aimed and shot Antinous square in the throat
and the point went stabbing clean through the soft neck and out--
and off to the side he pitched, the cup dropped from his grasp
as the shaft sank home, and the man's life-blood came spurting
out his nostrils -- thick red jets -- a sudden thrust of his foot --
he kicked away the table -- food showered across the floor,
the bread and meat soaked in a swirl of bloody filth.
The suitors burst into uproar all throughout the house
when they saw their leader down. They leapt from their seats,
milling about, desperate, scanning the stone walls --
not a shield in sight, no rugged spear to seize.

What passage in Mark does this battle scene remind you of? Most of us would say no passage in Mark is reminiscent of this scene from Homer. But the author (p. 34) cites Jesus cleansing the temple in Mark 11:15-17. Read the passage in Mark and note the enormous differences, such as Jesus not hurting anyone vs. the gore and blood in Homer, Jesus defending the spiritual integrity of the temple vs. Odysseus claiming his material rights, etc. But, both of them overturned tables! There is the big similarity. Even the same Greek word for "table" is used by both authors! Wow! What a similarity!

But, of course, if there are 100 similarities such as this one, it is too many to be a coincidence, right?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 14, 2008 12:23:01 PM PDT
Jay Young says:
You miss the point entirely. The author is not saying that Mark is constructing a story parallel to the Homeric epics; just that they provided literary templates for his story.

Posted on Apr 18, 2009 12:51:29 PM PDT
Enjoyed the book cost theory - Macdonald would likely be proud.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2010 1:02:46 PM PST
You should probably read the book a little more carefully. The author has skillfully described how sequences in each story follow the same plot line or are using a particular method of appropriation common in that period,
No one is saying that they are mirror images of one another.
Some people just do not want to believe something like this could happen. So they don't....

Posted on Jun 30, 2014 9:41:02 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 30, 2014 9:42:32 PM PDT
Benny Booker says:
The gospels are a passion play, astrotheological symbolism, yet another saviour myth, Egyptian mythology, Babylonian mythology, a retelling of Old Testament tales, Judaic wisdom literature, an account of Titus' campaign in the 1st Judeo-Roman War, an account of the life of Julius Caesar, Gnostic, Stoic, and Cynical philosophy, a rewriting of Homer, and a product of mushroom hallucinations. It seems they are pretty much anything you want them to be. Apparently they were written to be all things to all people.

And the gory, graphic stories in Homer and the gory, graphic "entertainment" in Roman arenas are similar to the gory, graphic "entertainment" in modern moveys n TV. There was a drug culture in Antiquity n there's a drug culture now. We still have tyranys n wars. Nothing much has changed--mostly the costumes n the technology.
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