218 Commentary

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This page forms part of the resources for 218 To Other Places in the Jesus Database project of FaithFutures Foundation

Crossan Inventory | 218 Literature | 218 Parallels | 218 Commentary | 218 Poetry | 218 Images


Jesus Seminar

The Seminar's views on this passage can be represented as follows:

  • Mark 1:38b

While the Seminar treated this passage as an editorial transition designed to create a sense of Jesus as moving about various parts of the Galilee, the Fellows also agreed that it preserves several items of reliable information about Jesus:

  • Jesus practiced prayer in seclusion.
  • Jesus preached in the synagogues of Galilee.
  • Jesus drove out what were thought to be demons.

Two of these items have since been challenged:

In Jesus Before God. The prayer life of the historical Jesus, Hal Taussig has observed that the representation of Jesus as someone who spent time in secluded prayer prior to making important decisions is mostly the creation of Luke, whereas Mark gives little attention to Jesus at prayer and includes no tradition of Jesus teaching his followers to pray:

The consistency with which the writers have pursued their own vision of Jesus at prayer had made it rather easy to conclude that much of what they have written was neither historically accurate nor even intended to be. Everything from John's divine Son Jesus in inimitable union with the Father, to Luke's cameos of Jesus at prayer at pivotal moments in the story, to Matthew and Thomas linking of fasting and prayer—all these have clearly shown the fingerprints of the particular gospel writer clearly on the image of Jesus at prayer. (p. 47)

Research on the history of the synagogue in second Temple Judaism has also suggested that there may not have been any synagogue buildings in Galilee during Jesus' lifetime. While it is possible that Jesus taught in the synagogue gatherings (as distinct from synagogue buildings), it is more likely that the gospel accounts reflect tension between Jesus missionaries and the Torah-observant synagogue communities later in the 1C.