Mark's Gospel has been seen as history, or as literature. The
tensions between these two approaches point to what neither
approach can articulate: the rich and ambiguous connections and
disjuncture's between human experience itself and human retelling,
remembering, and reliving of that experience. This energetic
pulling and resistance between our ordered categories and the chaos
of existence fuels Mark's gospel and arguably Christianity
With the aid of ritual theory this book seeks to explore that
energy in Mark's passion narrative. In particular, Duran uses
Catherine Bell's concept of 'ritualization', the process of
ordinary actions taking on ritual meaning and form, to examine the
ways in which the gospel draws from the chaos of Jesus' death and
the wrong, upside-down order it signifies, a frightening kind of
meaning and hope. Mark sets out to understand his world through the
story he tells, to stake out some area of sense amid what he views
as a chaotic universe. His effort to find or produce sense pushes
against the very medium of language, going as far as language can
into the boundary lands of ritual performance. In his effort to see
and to present the apparently senseless movement of this crisis as
meaningful, Mark is drawn into ritual, where unexplained and
inexplicable actions do have meaning. Defining ritual as an effort
to make order of experience without losing the turbulent truth of
experience itself, Duran points out ways in which Mark's story
engages in such an effort of ritualization.
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