Jesus mythicism can now be taken for granted. It makes possible a proposal for the real context for Mark’s writing 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. He 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.
The Two Gospels of Mark reconstructs much of the performance by approaching the Gospel of Mark from a theater director’s practical point of view. What are the stage directions in the text? How did the actors move? What parts of the text are not stageable and therefore edited?
Mark “preserved” the (single) performance of the play in a text that showed the reader that a performance had occurred, but omitted much dialogue and therefore prevented a second performance. Mark added literary features like chiasms, narration, and references to 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.
Danila Oder’s theory places Mark in a real place and time. Mark had a real motive in his place and time to write a complex work built out of scenarios from Scripture.
This approach to the Gospel of Mark opens new vistas for the study of early Christianity. The book is of interest to theater professionals and scholars of ancient theater as well as Jesus mythicists.
“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 reviews the book on Youtube, “The Source for Mark’s Gospel must have been a mystery play?” Mythvision Podcast, August 11, 2020.