Historical Commentary on the Gospel of Mark
Home Topical Index Chapter 1 of Mark

I do not think, after two hundred years of experimentation, that there is any way, acceptable in public discourse or scholarly debate, by which you go directly into the great mound of the Jesus tradition and separate out the historical Jesus layer from all later strata. You can, as mentioned above, do so if you have already decided who Jesus was. That works, of course, but it is apologetics rather than research. -- John Dominic Crossan, The Birth of Christianity, p149.

Are criteria the same as method? -- John Dominic Crossan, The Birth of Christianity, p144.

To sum up my argument: Present Jesus research appears to flounder either on the Scylla of liberal bourgeois Jesus research or the Charybdis of canonical orthodox Jesus theology. -- Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Jesus and the Politics of Interpretation

Methodology of this Commentary

This commentary and its conclusions were constructed in a four-step process, inspired by my experience with Action Research methodologies in other fields. In Action Research the reseach effort, usually conducted by a team, goes through a formal process that has four simple stages: planning, acting, observing, and reflecting. The process is a spiral, however, and feeds back on itself, so that the next stage of action research is informed by the reflections on the previous stage.

In my experience, the use of criteria in historical Jesus research suffers from four very serious problems. First, there is the problem of their inherent subjectivity. Second, when researchers deploy criteria, they invariably deploy citeria that clash with each other, without any clear method for resolving such clashes. Frequently exegetes even seem unaware that their methodological critera are in conflict. Third, scholars usually lay out a limited number of criteria at the onset of their works, but then in the body of the works deploy a much greater number of criteria, none of which are made formally explicit. Fourth, scholars frequently do not explain why they reject certain criteria but adhere to others. Thus, my own goals were threefold: (1) to reduce subjectivity as much as possible; (2) to avoid criteria that clash with each other; and (3) to make all the criteria I am using formally explicit and clearly explained.

1. Planning
The planning stage of my project consisted of determining what kind of criteria would be used in the Commentary. From the outset I realized that eliminating the positive criteria NT scholars typically appeal to would kill two birds with one stone. It would remove a great deal of subjectivity while at the same time eliminating the problem of clashing criteria.

Positive Criteria
For the purposes of this discussion, I define "positive criteria" as criteria used to confirm historicity, and "negative criteria" as criteria used to disconfirm it. Scholars generally identify four (Brown 1994), five (Meier 1987), or six (Ludemann 2001) such criteria, often called "criteria of authenticity." They are:

1. Embarrassment (or Offensiveness):

Meier (1987) defines it thus, a definition echoed by Brown (1994):

"The criterion of embarrassment (so Schillebeeckx) or "contradiction" (so Meyer) focuses on actions or sayings of Jesus that would have embarrassed or created difficulty for the early Church."(p168).


2. Difference

Ludemann (2001) defines this as:

"Its use relates to the question of whether sayings and actions of Jesus can be derived from the post-Easter communities. If the answer to this is negative, when there is a difference between the communities and Jesus, the latter may be taken to have spoken the words or performed the action in question. One example is Jesus' rejection of fasting, which differs from the community's later practice of fasting (cf. Mark 2:18-22)."(p4-5)

3. Growth

Ludemann (2001) defines this as:

The older a unit of text is, the more densely it is covered with later tradition.(p5)

4. Rarity (Discontinuity)

Defined by Ludeman (2001) as those sayings which have few parallels in the Jewish sphere. Meier (1987) describes this as those words or deeds that fit neither Judaism or the early Church

5. Multiple (wide) Attestation

This one is widely used, and simply says that if many independent sources have a story, it is likely to be authentic. Many scholars also subscribe to a variant of this criterion that argues that when stories are attested to in multiple genres their historicity is strengthened.

6. Coherence

Meier (1987) describes this one as sayings that events and sayings that fit in well with the preliminary database established by other criteria have a strong probability of being historical.

7. Plausibility

This criterion is rejected by Ludemann (2001, p5) who considers it to be "too woolly," but is championed by Theissen and Merz (1998, p116), and implicitly, by other exegetes.

These positive criteria have been mercilessly exposed by critics for being assumptive and subjective. Substantive discussions are available in Crossan (1998) or Porter (2000).

1. Embarrassment:
The Embarrassment Criterion as Meier and others define it above suffers from several flaws. First, it focuses on things which would have embarrassed the early Church. The Gospels were not written by the early Church, however, but by specific individuals whose attitudes are often unclear. Whatever the early Church thought, it cannot apply to what the writer of Mark wrote. Secondly, even assuming that a story is embarrassing tells us nothing about whether it is true. For example, an embarrassing story might be invented to cover up or mitigate an even more embarrassing story, or for reasons now lost. A third problem with this criterion is that it assumes that history underlies the Gospel of Mark. Instead of finding out whether anything in Mark is history, it assumes there is history in Mark and then proceeds to sort out fiction from fact. Thus, it simply discovers its own premises about the writer of Mark and his relationship to his sources. If the stories are inventions of Mark, then this criteria cannot apply. Fourth, the entire of an "early Church" is a construct that implicitly assumes the very history it is trying to establish. Finally, even assuming that it is correct to deploy this criterion in the face of everything above, judging whether a particular story is "embarrassing" contains a strong element of subjectivity.

2. Difference
The criterion of difference is closely related to the Embarrassment Criterion, focusing also on whether an event or saying differs from what later communities stated. Once again we run into the problem of subjectivity: how much distance between an event attributed to Jesus and a posture of the later Christian communities is required to satisfy this criterion? Further, both this and the previous criterion of Embarrassment presuppose an early Christianity whose boundaries are identifiable, a supposition many would deny. And again, that something is "different" does not at all mean that it contains history. Both communities and traditions evolve, and "difference" may simply relate to difference stages in the evolutionary process. Theissen and Merz (1998), rightly criticize this criterion as "dogmatics disguised" (p115), that favors the development of an anti-Jewish Jesus.

3. Growth
It may be true that older traditions are covered with a greater layer of growth, but this criteria offers us no way to determine where the tradition ends and the growth begins. Consider the men crucified with Jesus. In later traditions they are given names, and even become involved with the Jesus story. Now reflect on names like Simon of Cyrene or Bar-Timaeus. Would a scholar be justified in arguing that thus names should be struck from history, as they are secondary accretions on top of some traditional story? The fact is that this criteria only works if one has access to the entire tradition (in which case one does not need the criterion). For Mark, in almost every case, when we meet an incident, it is the first tale of the tradition (since the other writers copied Mark). Hence, how can we tell when we are looking at accretions? Ludemann offers us no way to do this. Finally, of course, like this criterion assumes, like the other criteria, that "traditions" go back to Jesus one way or another. If they do not, then "growth" is useless.

4. Rarity/Discontinuity
Several probems suggest themselves. Why limit the discontinuity to early Judaism? Doesn't that assume what it is trying to prove? Is there something out there that can be identified as "early Judaism?" Who defines it? How? Who defines how much difference is required to make a discontiuity? What constitutes such a difference? Similarly, Lüdemann offers the criterion of rarity, "which relates to those actions and sayings of Jesus that have few parallels in the Jewish sphere. Jesus' absolute prohibition against judging (Matt 7.1) is a candidate for this." The critical reader will note several problems. First, how many parallels constitute "few?" Second, what is the "Jewish sphere?" Do we count only those who resided in Palestine? Do sophisticated Hellenized Jews influenced by Stoic philosophies who live outside Palestine, like Philo, count? Lüdemann gives us no clue in setting boundaries, so ultimately criteria like this lose all meaning. 

5. Multiple Attestation
The power of this criterion depends on the assumption that the sources are independent of one another, as well as assuming that the sources go back to events and sayings in Jesus' life. Both of these assumptions are iffy. For most exegetes, multiple attestation may only be used in conjunction with other criteria. By itself it is meaningless. Eric Eve (2003), after reviewing John Meier's discussion of multiple attestation, describes the problem:

"This is also suggested by our earlier survey of the sources to which Meier appeals: in order for them to be useful as independent sources of multiple attestation they have first to be assessed on other grounds, but then it is this prior assessment that carries most of the burden of the argument. Logically all multiple attestation can show is that material must be older than the sources in which it is independently attested, but if the putative sources first have to be scrutinised on other grounds to show that they are the bearers of older independent traditions, there seems to be little work left for the criterion of multiple attestation to perform."

Fredriksen (2002) puts it pithily:

"Multiple attestation of itself demonstrates not authenticity, but antiquity: a given tradition predates its various manifestations in different witnesses, if those witnesses are independent."(p9)

6. Coherence
Of the positive criteria this one is probably the least useful. Originally developed by Perrin to extract possible authentic sayings of Jesus from the tradition, it has been extended to broader domans. Theissen and Merz (1998), note that this criterion is based on the difference criterion and is thus equally illegitimate (p115). It suffers from severe problems. First, coherence is entirely in the mind of the beholder. Jack Sanders (1998) has written a strong critique of scholarly misuse of this criterion. After surveying the work of several major scholars, he concludes that coherence is essentially a construct of the exegete, for each exegete creates a coherent picture of Jesus by ignoring the sayings that don't fit the picture. Second, it assumes what it is trying to prove: it assumes that Jesus taught a coherent body of material, when in fact he might not have. What if he preferred Zen-like sayings that brought enlightenment in sudden doses? What if he never taught at all, and the teachings stem from later Christianity? Sanders also addresses this point, saying that if Jesus really was a charismatic, than Jesus probably spoke in contradictions as a way of enhancing his charisma. As Sanders observes, "If Jesus had sought such a coherence, than he would not have been the leader that he was"(p24). One should also keep in mind that human beings are complex and contradictory, and rarely offer a coherent body of thought.

"Coherence" in a sayings tradition is more probably a sign of a tradition that has already been reworked to discard what does not cohere to the mainstream view of what the tradition should be. For example, in many stories about Francis Drake he is presented as a pious Christian working for the good of England, who helped establish the English Navy. Yet as one of his biographers has demonstrated, Drake appears not to have been religious at all, worked largely for his own advantage, and had nothing to do with building the Elizabethan naval organization (Kelsey, Sir Francis Drake: the Queen's Pirate). The traditions about Drake are nationalistic fantasy and have been reworked into a coherent tradition through the lens of 17-19th century English nationalism. Finally, the coherence of sayings in the Jesus tradition may well be due to their origin in a common sayings tradition of Cynic sayings or a common matrix of Hellenistic education, not to their origin in the sayings of Jesus himself.

7. Plausibility
Plausibility cannot function as a criterion of historicity. In fact, it may well indicate the opposite, since history does not have to be plausible, while invention may have to be in order to be creditable.

Criteria in General
Scholars have also identified the problem of such criteria at the general level. Crossan (1998) has argued that there is no theoretical foundation for the establishment of such criteria and thus, their deployment lacks the legitimacy of a model. Porter (2000) writes:

"Meier recognizes that the criterion of Embarrassment must also be used in conjunction with others, although he does not expand on what he means by that statement. As we have seen in Chapter 2, however, a similar statement could be made for virtually every one of the criteria for authenticity. Virtually every one of the criteria that still seems to have validity has the limitation that there is a perceivable gap between what the criterion seems to establish and what can be grounded in the life of Jesus, so that a given criterion cannot provide an absolute bedrock for grounding the traditions of the historical Jesus, but is in some way dependent upon other criteria used in conjunction. One cannot help but note that this may well create a vicious circular agument, in which various criteria, each on in itself insufficient to establish the reliability of authenticity of the Jesus tradition, are used to support other criteria."(p109-10)

The Fundamental Axiom
Most importantly, all of the positive criteria assume that there is history down there to begin with. For New Testament historians who deploy such criteria, historicity is an axiom rather than a discovery. Thus, the positive criteria are essentially circular in nature. To grasp this point, imagine if two thousand years from now someone tried to use these ideas on the corpus of material written around Tolkien's Middle Earth. Does Frodo toss the Ring into Mt. Doom? No, in the end, he fails. How embarrassing! It must be history.... A more suspicious exegete looks in the Return of the King and uncovers the story told at the King's coronation, where the Halflings are held to have fought the Dark Lord and destroyed him themselves. "Aha!" the exegete exclaims to himself. The Ring is a layer of tradition over the real story! By the criterion of growth....this must be history!" And so on. We know of course that The Lord of the Rings is fiction. But we do not know whether the Gospels are. Clearly, before any of these criteria are deployed, it must be established that the writer is at some level reporting history, and not relating some kind of fiction. Otherwise one is merely discovering one's presuppositions about the historicity of the story.

Conservative scholar William Farmer (1998) has laid out the presuppositions undergirding historical Jesus studies. These include:

1. Historical existence: Jesus actually existed, and is not a myth.
2. Sanity of Jesus: historical studies assume Jesus was a sane individual.
3. Integrity of Jesus: Jesus did not intentionally deceive his followers.
4. individuals in the primitive Church remembered Jesus: Of this Farmer writes:

That Jesus was remembered in the Church by those who had known him is intrinsically probable from virtually every point of view, but since it has never been demonstrated it needs to be listed as something assumed in any investigation of the "aims of Jesus."(p61-2)

5. late date of gospels : written at least a generation after Jesus
6. within the tradition preserved in the gospels, the memory of Jesus is preserved
7. It is possible to distinguish between what was remembered about Jesus and what has been added.

None of these presuppositions has any force in this commentary. All of these are conclusions that should be deduced from the data and not brought to it as presuppositions by scholars. Another problem is these presuppositions shape the way the reader of the text responds to it -- an underlying assumption is that we read Mark to obtain information about Jesus. This motive is ultimately theological, not critical.

Crossan and the Sayings Tradition
John Dominic Crossan has attempted to develop an alternative method of detecting historicity in the sayings. This methodology focuses on sifting through the narrative and sayings for sociopolitical data, and then comparing them to the conditions of the day in Palestine. I have written on this elsewhere and will not repeat the discussion here. Suffice to say that Crossan's methodology is fraught with unwarranted assumptions and other problems, and produces no better results than anyone else's.

Negative Criteria
In a striking advance over other exegetes, Gerd Ludemann (2001, p4) also proposed five "negative" criteria.

1. Risen Jesus

Basically, anything attributed to the Risen Jesus must be inauthentic, unless there is good reason to think it is not.

2. Supernatural

Nothing that violates natural law can be historical.

3. Answering the Problems of a Later Era

Nothing that looks like the answer to a problem of a later era can be historical.

4. Redactional

Nothing from the hand of the final author of a source is historical

5. Pagan

Words and actions that presuppose a pagan audience are unhistorical. "For it is certain that Jesus was active exclusively in the Jewish sphere."

Although I applaud the inclusion of negative criteria, in general I have rejected all of these but the second. The first criteria does not apply to Mark, since the Risen Jesus does not speak in our current version of Mark. Criterion 3 is subjective, in that it is entirely possible that Jesus left words about troubles he anticipated would occur, or that later communities took sayings, and, removing the context, applied them to their own problems. Criterion 4 assumes that everything by a later redactor is unauthentic, a manifestly unsupportable assumption, for history offers many examples of texts altered to conform to history by later redactors. Even if we discover or deduce that the Bethsaida section of Mark is interpolated, that does not mean it contains no history. Finally, Criterion 5 contains a massive a priori. There is no reason to assume that Jesus addressed only Jews, for according to the Markan narrative he was from the least Judaized place in Palestine, Galilee, and must have come into constant contact with numerous non-Jews during his travels across Upper and Lower Israel. Whether or not Jesus ever ministered to Gentiles has to be deduced from study of the text, not imported into by one's criteria of historicity.

In addition to the problem of subjectivity inherent in the positive criteria, Ludemann's explicit juxtaposition of negative criteria posed another problem. Where criteria clash Lüdemann offers no way of resolving the conflict. For example, in the famous pericope about the Syro-Phoenician women Mark 7:24-30), Jesus terms her a "dog." Ludeman reads this anecdote as deriving from debates in the early Christian community about the role of gentiles, declaring that a historical core is undetectable. Yet, one might well argue that it falls under his criterion of offensiveness (Lüdemann apparently rejects this) in that Jesus behaves immorally in insulting a woman who has come to beg his help. One could take this another step, and argue that the underlying structure is a typical Cynic chreia with the form of setting-challenge-response:

Setting: Master, I need your help!
Challenge: Forget it! Should I give to dogs!?
Response: But even the dogs eat when the children are fed!

In other words, we could view Jesus here as simply setting up a teasing or challenging situation common in human interactions, that forces the hearer to push themselves to justify their demand. Parents do this all the time with their children, as I did with my own son recently:

Sebastian: Dad! I want an electronic game for Christmas.
Dad: If I buy you that, you won't read anymore!
Sebastian: But Dad, you play computer games and you read books!

This brings us up against another criteria clash, though. Does Jesus' use of Pagan Cynic argument forms satisfy the criterion that Jesus is addressing a Pagan audience and thus, is inauthentic? Or can it satisfy the criterion of discontinuity with the later Church? If we find Cynic strands in other early Christian writings, does that mean that mean this has satisfied the Coherence criterion? Or can we dismiss the whole event because it is, after all, a supernatural healing at a distance of a child Jesus never sees? Ludemann offers us no way through this thicket.

With all this in mind, I decided from the outset that I would simply abandon all positive criteria and simply go with negative criteria. I reasoned that whatever was left over after careful sifting might be regarded as having potential for historicity.

2. Action, Observation, and Reflection
The second move I made during this commentary was to gather the criteria that I was using as I did the research, rather than prior to it. Thus during the information gathering phase I attempted to uncover why, when I felt something to be inauthentic, what criteria I was using, and to spell them out clearly for myself and others.

Frequently during the information gathering phase I found exegetes using implicit criteria which they did not make clear. For example, many exegetes rely on the criteria of "midrash," or creation off of the Old Testament and other sources, as an indicator of inauthenticity. The scene of Jesus' arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane strongly parallels the scene of David's flight from Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 15-17. It is hard to see this section, with both its structure and details taken from the Old Testament, as anything but invented. Yet often exegetes fail to state outright and formally that the demonstration of probable creation from the OT strongly impairs authenticity. Another example of this is Raymond Brown's (1994, p148-9) argument for the historicity of "Gethsemane" on the grounds that its likely derivation, from the Hebrew/Aramaic Gat-semani ("oil press"), has no known theological significance. This implicitly invokes a criterion that where a place-name has theological significance, its historicity is impaired. Yet Brown never makes that criterion plain in his list at the beginning of his work.

Thus, as I went through the sources for this Commentary, I attempted to collect all the criteria that I and others were using and apply them to the Commentary. This was a continuous process that meant constant reflection and re-evaluation. I hope to have the input of you, the reader, as well.

3. Results
Here are the Criteria which I have accepted for use in this Commentary.

Criteria 1: No events that violate natural law are historical.

This is a standard scholarly criterion and need not be discussed or defended.

Criteria 2:
No anachronisms are historical.

This definition is restricted only to those events or words that refer to events at a date later than the putative time of Jesus. For example, Christians were not persecuted during the lifetime of Jesus, so any reference to such persecutions is an anachronism. I have specifically excluded any interpretive position from this definition, such as "Jesus did not go to the gentiles."

Criteria 3: No events in which the logic of order precludes historicity are historical.

Where event B depends on event A, but A is not historical, then B cannot be history either.

Criteria 4: Where an event is disconfirmed in outside history, or where outside sources are silent on events that they apparently should discuss, historicity is severely impaired.

Criteria 5. Where themes and motifs occur that are common in stories from antiquity, historicity is severely impaired.

Criteria 6: Signals of creation from the Old Testament, such as parallels, citations, and allusions, severely impair historicity

Criteria 7: Themes and motifs that appear to be creations of Mark severely impair historicity.

Criteria 8:
Markan style/redaction impairs historicity.

Criteria 9:
Anything with a source in earlier non-Christian literature impairs historicity.

Criteria 10:
Anything that indicates erroneous understandings or ignorance of Jewish and Roman law and custom impairs historicity.

Criteria 11:
Where events are implausible, historicity is impaired.

Criteria 12: Where a place name or character name appears to have theological significance, history is impaired.

I also identified some other possible criteria, which, after reflection, I decided not to use in the analysis. These include:

Possible 1:
Violations of common sense

Possible 2:
Stories addressed to the later community

Possible 3:
Sayings that have no source in earlier non-Christian literature are unhistorical, because there is no way to separate those that go back to Jesus from those that accreted to his name.

Possible 4:
Where event A is contradicted by something elsewhere in the Gospel. 

Possible 5:
Where a tradition is unsupported save in Mark, then it cannot be considered historical.

In each case, there was something wrong. Living in Taiwan as a long-term expat, not in the US where I am from, I am often brutally reminded that my assumptions of what is "common sense" are entirely cultural and subjective. Thus, (1) above was not acceptable to me. Possible Criterion 2 suffered from a double problem. First, it required that I adopt an a priori position and definition about the needs of the later community. Second, it effectively would banish the whole gospel, since Mark was written long after Jesus' death, presumably for reasons relevant to the writer's time. I gave up (3) as unnecessary, since almost all sayings could be located, one way or another, in some earlier literary or oral tradition. Possible Criterion (4) I rejected because it can be sidled around by clever interpretation. For example, when the Pharisees demand a sign, and Jesus refuses, saying that this generation isn't getting a sign, that looks like a flat contradiction with the rest of the Gospel where he showers Palestine with miracles. Yet there are explanations for it. Possible criteria (5) had its attractions, but turned out to be unnecessary. Usually where a tradition is unsupported save for Mark, it is derivable from the Old Testament or shows unmistakeable signs of the hand of the writer. Thus, (5) was redundant.

Limitations and Weaknesses
A weakness of any criteria-based approached is that no theory or model ties them together. My work is no exception. Further, there remains an element of subjectivity that cannot be eliminated.

4. Application

Having gathered the data I then proceeded to write the commentary portion for each pericope. In addition to using only negative criteria, this Commentary is governed by the following models. First, Mark was the first narrative Gospel written. Only a tiny band of religiously conservative scholars disputes this, while occasional mavericks identify John (Evan Powell) or Luke (Lindsey and the Jerusalem School) or some other Gospel as the first Gospel written. Further, I believe that Luke, Matthew, and John all depend on Mark, along with Thomas, Peter, and the other Gospels.

I support the minority position that rejects the idea of Q and did not use it as a possible source for Mark in this Commentary. Non-use of Q does not appear to have affected judgments of the historicity of the words and events the writer of Mark depicts.

I have also attempted to keep literary and allegorical interpretations out of the analysis. I personally accept Tolbert's reading of Mark (Sowing the Gospel) as probably the correct one, but since her reading the Parable of the Sower interprets the Gospel in a certain way, I have not permitted it to interfere in the analysis, though I often refer to it simply because I find it so illuminating. Similarly, the constant references to eating, hunger, bread, fasting, food, and feeding are clearly allegorical in nature. However, allegorical meanings are notoriously subjective, so I decided not to incorporate any in the analysis.

In this Commentary I do not proceed from the axiomatic assumption that there is history in the Gospel of Mark and then work to pare down specific pericopes in search of the historical kernel. That trajectory, while intuitively satisfying, utterly lacks sound methodological foundation. In other words, as the various arguments over historical methodology make clear, NT scholars are without a reliable, wide accepted methodology for extracting fact from fiction in the Gospels.  Instead, I have decided to proceed by eliminating everything whose historicity cannot be supported, in order see what, if anything, is left over.

This move has led to the awkward conclusions of the Commentary. Fundamentally, after years of reading on the New Testament and many months of close study, I believe that the Gospel of Mark is a fiction from the hand of a brilliant writer. However, proving that is surprisingly difficult. It is obvious that the negative criteria place enormous obstacles in the way of anyone seeking to find historicity in Mark. For example, if you want to argue that Jesus really did stage a ruckus in the Temple, you must account for the fact that everything in that story is historically implausible, and each verse can be traced back either to some source in the Old Testament or to the hand of Mark, while the plot of the event also parallels an Old Testament structure. Those obstacles, in my view, are insurmountable.

However, by the same token, it is equally obvious that the negative criteria do not automatically give you fiction. If you want to use creation off of the OT to demonstrate that the Gospel of Mark is fiction, you must squarely face the fact that the writer occasionally casts historical events in OT terms. Mainstream scholars counter the claim of fiction from the OT by pointing out that both the Crucifixion and John the Baptist are cast in OT terms. Non-mainstream scholars have disputed the historical existence of both. Let me point out something that has eluded both sides: the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem is indisputably historical. Yet, I have discovered (possibly) that the author of Mark incorporated it into his set of Elijah-Elisha Cycle parallels. The appearance of this indisputably historical event inside the writer's Elijah-Elisha parallels constitutes prima facie evidence for the possible historicity of other events depicted in Mark by that cycle.

Hence, I have retreated to a safer position than declaring things fictional or historical in the Commentary itself. Rather, I have piled up my criteria to make a judgment about whether someone who wanted to support the historicity of the events under discussion could actually do so. The judgment runs: is historicity supportable? Could I use this pericope/event/saying and connect it back to Jesus? This judgment is usually contained in the last paragraph of the commentary on each pericope. I have provided a separate Excursus giving my opinions on historicity and fiction in Mark; take it or leave it, as you please. I certainly shall.

Home Topical Index Chapter 1 of Mark

Historical Commentary on the Gospel of Mark

Chapter 1 Chapter 9 Home
Chapter 2
Chapter 10
Chapter 3 Chapter 11 Topical Index
Chapter 4 Chapter 12
Chapter 5 Chapter 13 References
Chapter 6 Chapter 14
Chapter 7 Chapter 15 Contact Author
Chapter 8 Chapter 16