Jesus mythicism can now be taken for granted. It is the basis of a revolutionary new proposal for the origin of the Gospel of Mark. In The Two Gospels of Mark: Performance and Text, Danila Oder proposes that “Mark” was a playwright in Rome in 90–95 CE. He wrote a play in which his Judean congregation’s heavenly Jesus comes to earth. Jesus is on a mission to die, then return to the heavens. Satan, the heavenly antagonist, tries but fails to prevent Jesus from carrying out his mission. The play was performed on a stage before an audience. It was an entertainment, not an educational or evangelical drama, or a ritual event.
Oder approaches the Gospel of Mark from a theater director’s practical point of view. What are the stage directions in the text? When does each actor enter and exit? What parts of the text are not stageable and therefore edited?
Oder asserts that Mark “preserved” the performance of the play in a text that omitted much of the original dialogue and therefore prevented a second performance. Mark added literary features like chiasms, narration, and references to his Scriptural sources. That literary text was a candidate for his sect to preserve as Scripture. It was the original form of the received Gospel of Mark.
These theories about The Two Gospels of Mark: Performance and Text place Mark in a real place and time. Mark had a real motive to write a complex work based on scenarios from Scripture. Some sociological features of his congregation can be inferred from their acceptance of the performance. Oder provides a tentative reconstruction of (some of) the action of the play, in an appendix.
Danila Oder’s insight into the Gospel of Mark has many implications for the history of early Christianity. The Two Gospels of Mark: Performance and Text is also of interest to theater professionals and scholars of ancient theater.
Reviews of The Two Gospels of Mark
“Tightly argued….A fascinating exploration of possibilities behind our gospel text….A seriously fresh approach to the Gospel” – Neil Godfrey, Review on Vridar, March 4, 2020.
“The most elaborate and well-argued version” of the theory that the Gospel of Mark was originally dramatic – Robert M. Price, “The Source for Mark’s Gospel must have been a mystery play?” Mythvision Podcast, August 11, 2020.
“What she knows and brings to bear on it, it is really thought-provoking” – Robert M. Price, “The Gospels are a Greek Theatre Production,” Mythvision Podcast, December 15, 2020.