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Characterizing the Non-Human: Satan in the Gospel of Mark

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


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This essay investigates the portrayal of non-human characters in the Gospel of Mark. Most studies of characters and characterization in Mark treat figures that represent human beings. What are we to do with non-human figures? I answer in two parts. First, I lay a theoretical foundation for expanding the concept of character using the work of Thomas Docherty and Mieke Bal as a point of departure. I evaluate criteria by which scholars determine what is a character; I offer a way to classify non-human agents (are they characters, or not?); and I suggest an approach by which to analyze their portrayal. Second, I perform a narrative-critical analysis by looking at the characterization of Satan in Mark. I determine what kind of actor Satan is in Mark, and trace Mark’s plot in order to fit Satan’s role within it; I determine the authorial audience’s expectations by considering portrayals of Satan in ancient Jewish narratives; and I examine the characterization of Satan in Mark as the narrative unfolds. I conclude the essay by noting the importance of treating Satan as a character for understanding Mark’s plot and purpose and by suggesting implications for the analysis of other non-human agents.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCharacter Studies and the Gospel of Mark
EditorsChristopher Skinner, Matthew Hauge
PublisherT&T Clark
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NameLibrary of New Testament Studies

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ID: 27841295