Jesus mythicism can now be taken for granted. It makes possible a 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 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 a didactic piece or a religious event.
The Two Gospels of Mark reconstructs much of the play from a theater director’s point of view. Oder uses her knowledge of playwriting and theater performance to identify editing in the received text.
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 prevented a restaging. Mark added literary features like chiasms and narration. That literary text was a candidate for his sect to preserve as Scripture. His text–a step away from a play–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 particularly of interest to theater professionals and scholars of ancient theater.
“A fascinating exploration of possibilities behind our gospel text….A seriously fresh approach to the Gospel” – Review on Vridar, March 4, 2020.