Noted biblical scholar Elizebeth Struthers Malbon asks a literary question in this landmark volume: how does the Markan narrative characterize Jesus?
Through a close narrative analysis, she carefully examines various ways the Gospel discloses its central character. The result is a multilayered Markan narrative christology, focusing not only on what the narrator and other characters say about Jesus (projected christology), but also on what Jesus says in response to what these others say to and about him (deflected christology), what Jesus says instead about himself and God (refracted christology), what Jesus does (enacted christology), and how what other characters do is related to what Jesus says and does (reflected christology). Holding significant implications for those who wish to use Mark's Gospel to make claims about the historical Jesus, as well as for those who wish to use Mark's Gospel to construct confessions about the church's belief, Malbon's research is a groundbreaking work of scholarship.
I'm looking forward to having an opportunity to work through this book. I'm especially intrigued by the various lenses through which she explores Mark's christology, particularly the category refracted christology. I've struggled to explain to my students how to conceptualize the fact that everything Jesus says in the NT is actually Matthew, Mark, Luke, and/or John speaking without giving the impression that Jesus' words in the gospels and Acts are only the evangelists speaking. I think I like the idea that Jesus' words are refracted through the gospels, even more, perhaps, than the (problematic, in my view) idea of the ipsissima vox Jesu.