The scope of flashback in Mark 3:21-31 (reposted)

Moon-Ryul Jung moon at
Sun Jan 12 18:41:20 EST 2003

Thank you, Carl,
your answers are really helpful. 

By the way, do you think that the narrative about the scribes
in 3:22-30 happened between the event of 3.21a and the event of 3.31?
Most translations seem to agree to this view.

For example, consider RSV:

3:21 And when his family heard it, they WENT OUT (EXHLQON) out to seize
him, for people were saying, "He is beside himself."
3:22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed
by Be-el'zebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons."

3:31   And his mother and his brothers CAME (ERXETAI);  and standing
outside they sent to him and called him.

3.21a describes the departure of Jesus's family and 3.31 describes the
arrival of his family. Inbetween the departure and the arrival, the debate
with the
scribes seems to happen. 

Is there no way to take the inserted narrative in 3:22 - 30 as a
information, that is, as a situation that happened before the event that
involves Jesus' family? In that case, the gap between the departure and
arrival of  Jesus' family is not exploited for another narrative.

Moon R. Jung
Sogang Univ, Seoul, Korea

I> At 3:59 AM -0500 1/12/03, Moon-Ryul Jung wrote:
> >It seems that Mark 3:31 resumes 3:21a, with 3:21b - 3:30 explaining
> >the background for the event of 3:21a.
> >This reading is plausible because the situation of 3:31 looks
> >the same as that of 3:21a, because EXW in 3:31 should be the
> >outside of the house mentioned in 3:20. It is reasonable
> >But the problem with this reading is that the passage 3:21b - 3:30
> >seems to be too long to describe the background for the event of
> >3:21a.
> >
> >But if we take only 3:21b as flashback for 3:21a, and take
> >3:22 - 3:30 to follow 3:21a, then we should treat 3:31 to
> >describe a situation different from that of 3:21a. But then
> >how can we account for EXW in 3:31? It should be taken to be
> >OUTSIDE [of the house mentioned in 3:21a], shouldn't it?
> For my part, I don't think this is a discourse matter at all, but rather a
> distinctive feature of Marcan narrative style that has been remarked on by
> Marcan scholars: the "narrative sandwich"--or a more elegant name for it
> might be "Marcan triptych"--whereby a story is split into halves and a
> second narrative unit is "sandwiched" between those halves, yielding the
> fascinating consequence that the two narratives interpret each other, as in
> this instance, the curious parallelism of Jesus' family supposing he's out
> of his mind while the scribes from Jerusalem think he's demonically
> possessed. Other examples are: Mark 14:1-12, where 1-2 and 10-11 constitute
> a framing narrative linked by the device of repeatd imperfects of ZHTEIN
> (EZHTOUN in 1, EZHTEI in 11) for the plot to arrest and execute Jesus,
> while in the inner narrative Jesus interprets the anointing as an anointing
> for his death. Other examples: Mk 11:12-20, where the two halves of the
> "withered-fig tree" narrative enclose the account of the ejection of the
> merchants from the temple; Mk 2:1-12, where the two halves of the story of
> the healing of the paralytic enclose a controversy with scribes over the
> power to forgive sins. I don't think it is appropriate to enter into a
> discussion of Redaction-critical perspectives on B-Greek, but I call
> attention to this Marcan device because it does have a bearing on the
> narrative technique of the passage originally in question.
> -- 
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
> 1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
> cwconrad at OR cwconrad at
> WWW:

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