DOI: 10.3390/rel14080972 ISSN: 2077-1444

Questioning the Questions around Jesus’s Authority in Mark 11:27–33: A Performance Perspective

Michael R. Whitenton
  • Religious studies

The rise of performance criticism prompts questions about its relationship to other disciplines, most notably narrative criticism. While narrative critics traditionally focus solely on the textual elements within their cultural context, performance critics adopt a broader understanding of the term “text”, encompassing not only the cultural context but also performative aspects, such as the setting for public reading, the involvement of a skilled performer, and dynamics introduced by a diverse performance audience. This article demonstrates the distinctiveness of a performance-critical approach through a reappraisal of Mark 11:27–33, showing how such an approach yields different interpretive results when compared to traditional narrative criticism. More specifically, whereas traditional narrative readings generally conclude that Jesus is merely evading his interlocutors, I argue that a performance-critical approach suggests that many ancient listeners would have concluded that the lector-as-Jesus was insinuating, for those with ears to hear, that Jesus’s authority derives from God and was granted at his baptism.

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