The Metaphor of Shepherd in the Gospel of Mark

by Jogy Cheruvathoor George (Author)
©2015 Thesis 266 Pages


This book takes a close look at the theme of the shepherd in the Gospel of Mark and how it relates to different motifs in the narrative. Jesus’ seeing the condition of the crowd and his teaching and nourishing the crowd in the wilderness, allude to the shepherding activities of Yahweh in the Old Testament. The motif of nourishment continues, when Jesus extends his care towards the Gentile woman and later to a crowd in a Gentile region. Interestingly, the motif of «way» introduced in the prologue merges with the theme of the shepherd in the epilogue of the narrative, when Jesus leads his disciples, the «scattered sheep», to Galilee.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Author
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • 1. The Relevance of the Theme
  • 2. Status Quaestionis
  • 3. Contribution of the Research
  • 4. Methodology
  • 4.1 Cohesion
  • 4.2 Coherence
  • 4.3 Pragmatic Elements
  • 5. Outline of the Study
  • Part I: The Care of the Shepherd and the Incomprehension of the Disciples
  • Chapter I: The Care for the Shepherdless: Mark 6,30–44
  • 1. Presupposition of the Reader: 1,1–6,29
  • 1.1 The Prologue: «Way» in the Wilderness (1,1–13)
  • 1.2 Way in Galilee: Followed and Opposed (1,14–3,6)
  • 1.3 Way in Galilee: Those Who are Inside and Outside (3,7–6,6a)
  • 1.4 Way in Galilee: The Mission of the Insiders (6,6b–6,29)
  • Conclusion
  • 2. Jesus, the Disciples and the Shepherdless Crowd: 6,30–44
  • 2.1 Cohesion of 6,30–44
  • 2.1.1 First Scene (6,30–33)
  • 2.1.2 Second Scene (6,34–44)
  • 2.2 Coherence of 6,30–44
  • 2.2.1 Stage Setting (6,30–33)
  • a. The Gathering Together of the Disciples (v. 30)
  • b. Jesus’ Invitation to Rest and Eat in the «Wilderness» (vv. 31–32)
  • c. The Gathering Together of Many (v. 33)
  • 2.2.2 Jesus and his Disciples with the Crowd (6,34–44)
  • a. Jesus Saw the Sheep Without a Shepherd (v. 34)
  • b. The Disciples Raise the Issue of Food (vv. 35–36)
  • c. The Disciples are Asked to Solve the Issue themselves (vv. 37–38)
  • d. Jesus Provides for the Shepherdless Crowd (vv. 39–41)
  • e. The Satisfied Sheep (v. 42)
  • f. The Abundance (vv. 43–44)
  • 2.3 Pragmatic Elements of 6,30–44
  • 2.3.1 Communicative Context
  • a. Reverberating the Shepherding Activity of YHWH
  • b. The Shepherdless Crowd as Israel
  • 2.3.2 Communicative Strategy
  • a. An Invitation to Remember and Experience the Wilderness
  • b. The Crowd as a Model for the Reader
  • c. An Invitation to Partake in the Shepherding Activity
  • d. The Shepherd who Gathers and Feeds the Disbanded
  • 3. Conclusions
  • Chapter II: The Care for the Gentiles and the Uncomprehending Disciples: Mark 6,45–8,21
  • 1. The Manifestation of Jesus: 6,45–52
  • 1.1 Cohesion of 6,45–52
  • 1.1.1 First Scene (6,45–46)
  • 1.1.2 Second Scene (6,47–52)
  • 1.2 Coherence of 6,45–52
  • 1.2.1 Stage Setting (6,45–46)
  • 1.2.2 Manifestation and Incomprehension (6,47–52)
  • a. Initial Situation (v. 47)
  • b. The Disciples in Danger (v. 48ab)
  • c. The Manifestation (vv. 48c–51a)
  • d. The Wind Ceased (v. 51b)
  • e. The Incomprehension of the Disciples (vv. 51c–52)
  • 1.3 Pragmatic Elements of 6,45–52
  • 1.3.1 Communicative Context
  • a. Further Revelation of the Identity of Jesus
  • b. The Disciples Fail to Understand
  • 1.3.2 Communicative Strategy
  • a. An Invitation to Comprehend Jesus’ Identity
  • b. See, Hear, Think and Understand
  • 2. Jesus and the Gentile Woman: 7,24–30
  • 2.1 Cohesion of 7,24–30
  • 2.1.1 Verses 24–26a
  • 2.1.2 Verses 26b–28
  • 2.1.3 Verse 29
  • 2.1.4 Verse 30
  • 2.2 Coherence of 7,24–30
  • 2.2.1 The Gentile Woman Approaches Jesus (7,24–26a)
  • 2.2.2 The Priority of the Children (7,26b–28)
  • 2.2.3 The Children’s Food offered (7,29)
  • 2.2.4 The Gentile «Child» (7,30)
  • 2.3 Pragmatic Elements of 7,24–30
  • 2.3.1 Communicative Context
  • a. The Children’s «Table», Opened Up for the Gentiles
  • b. The Table Fellowship Continued and Extended
  • 2.3.2 Communicative Strategy
  • a. The Shepherd’s Mission Manifesto
  • b. Gentile Response to the Manifesto
  • 3. Jesus’ Feeding of the Gentiles, the Controversy with the Pharisees and the Incomprehension of the Disciples: 8,1–21
  • 3.1 Cohesion of 8,1–21
  • 3.1.1 First Scene (8,1–9)
  • 3.1.2 Second Scene (8,10–13)
  • 3.1.3 Third Scene (8,14–21)
  • 3.2 Coherence of 8,1–21
  • 3.2.1 The Shepherd of the Gentiles (8,1–9)
  • a. Initial Situation (v. 1a)
  • b. The Compassionate Jesus and the Disbelieving Disciples (vv. 1b–5)
  • c. Jesus in Action with his Disciples (vv. 6–7)
  • d. The Satisfied Sheep (v. 8ab)
  • e. The Abundance (vv. 8c–9)
  • 3.2.2 Jesus and the Pharisees (8,10–13)
  • a. In Dalmanutha (v. 10)
  • b. The Demand for a Sign and Denial (vv. 11–12)
  • c. The Hinge Verse (v. 13)
  • 3.2.3 The Incomprehension of the Disciples (8,14–21)
  • a. The Background (v. 14)
  • b. Jesus Warns his Disciples (vv. 15–16)
  • c. Jesus Corrects his Disciples (vv. 17–18)
  • d. The Feedings Revisited (vv. 19–20)
  • e. The Concluding Admonition (v. 21)
  • 3.3 Pragmatic Elements of 8,1–21
  • 3.3.1 Communicative Context
  • a. The Allusions behind the Compassionate Jesus and the Faithful Crowd
  • b. The Bad Shepherds of Israel
  • c. The Disciples like «Outsiders»
  • 3.3.2 Communicative Strategy
  • a. Be with the Shepherd and Join the Banquet
  • b. The Shepherd cares for the Gentile Sheep as well
  • c. Beware of the Bad Shepherds
  • d. See, Hear and Understand
  • 4. Conclusions
  • Part II: The Scandal and the New Communion
  • Chapter III: The Smitten Shepherd and the Dispersion of the Sheep: Mark 14,26–31
  • 1. Presupposition of the Reader: 8,27–14,25
  • 1.1 The «Way» to Jerusalem: Messiah and His Way (8,27–10,52)
  • 1.2 Way in Jerusalem: In the Temple (11,1–13,37)
  • 1.3 The Plot to Kill, Anointing and the Table Fellowship (14,1–25)
  • Conclusion
  • 2. The Prophecies of Scandal, Dispersion and Denial: 14,26–31
  • 2.1 Cohesion of 14,26–31
  • 2.2 Coherence of 14,26–31
  • 2.2.1 The Shepherd’s Prediction of Denial, Dispersal and Re-gathering (14,26–31)
  • a. Introduction (v. 26)
  • b. First Prediction and its Response (vv. 27–29)
  • c. Second Prediction and its Response (vv. 30–31)
  • 2.3 Pragmatic Elements of 14,17–31
  • 2.3.1 Communicative Context
  • a. Will be Stricken but also Will be Resurrected and Lead Forth
  • 2.3.2 Communicative Strategy
  • a. The Scandal, Cause to Scatter
  • b. Stricken by God or by the Bad Shepherds?
  • c. Promise of the Shepherd v/s Promise of the Sheep
  • d. The Paradox of Denial
  • 3. Conclusions
  • Chapter IV: The New Beginning: Mark 16,1–8
  • 1. Presupposition of the Reader: 14,32–15,47
  • 1.1 The Betrayal and Dispersal (14,32–52)
  • 1.2 The Trial, Denial, Death and Burial (14,53–15,47)
  • Conclusion
  • 2. The Shepherd Going Ahead of the Sheep: 16,1–8
  • 2.1 Cohesion of 16,1–8
  • 2.1.1 Verse 1
  • 2.1.2 Verses 2–4
  • 2.1.3 Verses 5–7
  • 2.1.4 Verse 8
  • 2.2 Coherence of 16,1–8
  • 2.2.1 The Women Continue Their Ministry (16,1)
  • 2.2.2 The Stone at the Tomb, a hindrance to the Mission (16,2–4)
  • 2.2.3 The Young Man Announces the Resurrection and Going Ahead of the Shepherd (16,5–7)
  • 2.2.4 The Ministry that Ends in Silence (16,8)
  • 2.3 Pragmatic Elements of 16,1–8
  • 2.3.1 Communicative Context
  • a. Fulfillment of the Prophecy
  • b. Image of God the Shepherd
  • c. He was and is leading
  • d. The Possibility of a New Vision and Beginning
  • e. With Whom Shall the Reader Identify?
  • 2.3.2 Communicative Strategy
  • a. Mend Your Path towards the One Going Ahead
  • b. Flee or Follow?
  • c. See and Follow Him
  • d. An Invitation for a New Beginning with the Resurrected Shepherd
  • e. Announce the Resurrected Shepherd
  • 3. Conclusions
  • Concluding observations
  • 1. The Metaphor of Shepherd in Mark
  • 1.1 Jesus Christ as the Shepherd?
  • 1.2 The Shepherd of Israel
  • 1.2.1 The Disciples Represent the Sheepfold
  • 1.2.2 Shepherdless Israel
  • 1.3 The Shepherd of the Nations
  • 2. Markan Strategy in Presenting Jesus as the Shepherd
  • 2.1 Teaching
  • 2.2 Nourishing
  • 2.3 Guiding/Leading
  • 3. The Metaphor of Shepherd as a Paradigm for Mission
  • 3.1 A Progressive Mission
  • 3.2 Preference for an Inclusive Language
  • Conclusion
  • Abbreviations
  • Bibliography
  • Author Index


The genesis of this doctoral dissertation theme, I owe it to two of my great mentors during the academic formation. While following the Master’s in Biblical Theology in India, Professor L. Legrand sowed the seeds of inspiration for undertaking this academic project with his exigent claim: «In fact, it is Mark who, in the Synoptic tradition, comes the closest to the Johannine interpretation of the shepherd theme». During the course of doctoral studies at Pontifical Gregorian University the topic for research, still embryonic and inchoate, came on me with an impel and irresistibility as I sat through the lectures of Professor Massimo Grilli on «La Via (di Gesù)» (in the Gospel of Mark). It was the latter’s unfailing support and encouragement that enabled me to take up this theme for Doctoral dissertation, which was successfully completed at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome in 2014.

At the conclusion of this important academic event in my life I raise my heart in profound gratitude to the Lord Almighty, the source of my being, who has sustained and led me throughout this academic journey. Praise and glory to His name for ever.

I am especially indebted to my Mother for being a source of encouragement all through my life and particularly during the years of my sojourn in Rome.

I am deeply grateful to Rev. Professor Massimo Grilli, my Doktorvater, who has shepherded me throughout this dissertation work with his valuable insights and encouragement. My sincere gratitude is also due to Rev. Mons. E. Manicardi, the second reader of this work, for his critical reading and valuable comments.

I thank H.H. Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II, who permitted me to pursue the studies in Rome and also H.G. Gabriel Mar Gregorios and H.G. Yuhanon Mar Dimitrios, who are in charge of the Inter-Church Relation Committee, for extending the necessary help and support. I am extremely grateful to the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, whose support has made this work possible. I would also like to thank the Beda College community for the hospitality extended to me throughout my stay in Rome. I owe a special debt of gratitude to Mr Mais Bernad, Mrs Angelina Modl and family and Mr Erhad Köhler and Mrs Herta Köhler for their hospitality and care during my stay in Germany.

I express my gratitude to Sr Assumpta Williams and Mr Kevin Murphy for reading and correcting the language of this thesis and making many valuable comments. My thanks are also due to Fr James Raphael for his valuable advice and suggestions. I am indebted to many for the help I have received in various ways in the completion of this thesis. I thank all my well wishers for their prayerful support. ← 13 | 14 → ← 14 | 15 →


1.The Relevance of the Theme

The metaphor of Shepherd1 applied to Christ is familiar to the NT readers. John 10 uses the metaphor most explicitly in the NT;2 elsewhere the term recurs although not with the same intensity as in John3. However, the presence and relevance of this metaphor in the Gospel of Mark seems to be less explored4. Though there is no direct reference (in Mark) to Jesus as the Shepherd, the author has ← 15 | 16 → used it metaphorically and strategically, to explain the mission and identity of Jesus and to highlight and amplify the different motifs in the narrative. Like the titles of Jesus in the Markan narrative, which come as a part of the «narrative package»5, the metaphor Shepherd is also very much integrated into the narrative and interlaced with different motifs in the Markan account such as «way», «nourishment», «gathering» etc.

This metaphor, in Mark, is interlaced with the motif of «way» which binds the whole narrative6. The Gospel account which begins with the prophecy of the coming of Jesus on the way of God (1,2–3) ends with the «going before/ahead» of Jesus to Galilee (16,7). Mark portrays this προάγω7 of Jesus as a fulfillment of his prophecy (14,28), which was mentioned in the background of the Zecharian prophecy (14,27; Zech 13,7) that presents Jesus as the Shepherd and the disciples as sheep. Therefore, the motif of «way» interlaces with the image of Shepherd in the epilogue when Jesus goes ahead of the sheep to lead/leading them (16,7; cf. 14,28).

The first occurrence of ποιμήν is in 6,348, at a critical juncture in the narrative in the background of the death story of John the Baptist (6,14–29), where Jesus «sees» the crowd (as he «saw» the disciples in 1,16–20; 2,14) and ‘teaches’ them9. ← 16 | 17 → Mark introduces the metaphor at a stage when the crowd is desperately in need of a Shepherd to guide and lead them.

Another important aspect in the Markan handling of the theme, which makes it interesting to study, is that, though all the Gospels narrate the feeding of the crowd with the loaves and fishes (Matt 14,13–21; Luke 9,10–17; John 6,1–15), only Mark introduces the gathered crowd as «sheep without a shepherd». Therefore, the narrator portrays Jesus’ attitude towards the disbanded crowd/Israel, which is desperately in need of a leader to gather and guide them ahead. And hence the subsequent feeding narrative in the Gentile context (8,1–9) and Jesus’ meeting with the Syrophoenician woman, (7,24–30) that turns out to be a discussion on χορτασθναι τὰ τκνα (7,27; cf. 6,42; 8,8) and τὰ κυνάρια...σθίουσιν ἀπò τν ψιχίων τν παιδίων (7,28), come as a progression in the narrative which maintains the theme. Interestingly, it is in the background of the motif of the need of «nourishment» that Mark explains this metaphor, which is an important characteristic of the shepherding activity of YHWH the Shepherd (Ezek 34,13–15; Ps 23)10.

Markan avoidance of the exclusivity of the flock of Israel (7,27; cf. Matt 10,5–6; 15,24) makes the narrative distinct, which was made clear in the mission direction of Jesus to the disciples (Mark 6,7–13; cf. Matt 10,5–6). The «crowd» in Mark seems to be unique in being a group comprising Israelites and Gentiles (cf. 6,34; 8,1). The introduction of this metaphor at a crucial moment (6,34), where the crowd/Israel seems to be shepherdless and its further, implicit but inclusive, development in the background of nourishment (to the Gentiles, 7,24–30; 8,1–9), with allusions to the OT image of the promised Messiah as well as God the Shepherd (especially Ezek 34 and Ps 23), sets forth the Markan Jesus’ mission paradigm. ← 17 | 18 →

2.Status Quaestionis

In our investigation of the theme, we have not come across any monograph that primarily focuses on this topic. However, we have an article of L. Legrand which exclusively treats the Shepherd image of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark. According to Legrand, «it is Mark who in the Synoptic tradition, comes the closest to the Johannine interpretation of the Shepherd theme»11. In his article he analyses three texts (6,34; 14,27–28; 16,7). In the first one (6,34) he sees an image of the good Shepherd of Ps 23 in which Jesus is «leading the sheep to the pastures» and is «laying the table» before them12. According to Legrand, in 14,28, προάγω is a verb of action, in which Jesus is the subject; «It implies leadership. The post resurrectional activity of Jesus in Galilee will be that of the Shepherd gathering the flock scattered by the Jerusalem crisis»13. In his overall treatment of the meta­phor, he envisions Jesus as the Shepherd, who takes care of (6,34), gathers (6,34; 14,28) and leads the flock (14,28; 16,7).

Another article which deals with the theme is that of W. Tooley, where he mentions Mark 6,34 and 14,27 and their Matthean parallels. When considering Mark 6,34 he does not see any connection with the OT image of Shepherd or even with the feeding narrative that follows; On the contrary he sees it as a reference to the teaching ministry of Jesus14. According to Tooley, Mark 14,27–28//Matt 26,31 is intended to refine the nationalistic and political background of this image by referring to the death of Jesus15. This study views the image from the historical critical background and tries to isolate the image from the narrative.

Apart from these articles, yet another remarkable work that deals with the pastoral image in the Markan narrative is a brief study (Loaves and Fishes) on the Gospel feeding narratives by J.A. Grassi16. He not only refers to the significance ← 18 | 19 → of the pastoral imagery in the feeding narratives (6,30–44; 8,1–9) but also points to its continuation in 6,45–52; 7,24–30, 8,14–21; 14,25.27–28;16,7; his line of study leans upon the OT images of YHWH the Shepherd (Exod 16; Ezek 34; Ps 23). Though not a detailed study, Grassi’s work gives noteworthy insights into the connecting elements of the theme.

There are a few Christological studies which treat briefly the title Shepherd. Among them, E.K. Broadhead is worth mentioning because he considers Shepherd as part of the «Titular Christology»17 in Mark. In his five page presentation of the Shepherd title, he gives a general picture of Jesus the Shepherd in 6,34 and 14,27: In view of the failure of the leaders of Israel, Jesus shepherds the scattered flock of Israel (6,34) and Jesus as the abandoned Shepherd (14,27). While he refers to the OT Shepherd imagery (Ps 23 and the Exodus imagery) reflected in Jesus’ characterization in Mark, he also points out the contradiction to the OT pattern and a development in the Zechariah prophecy in the prophecy of Jesus in 14,28, where the risen Jesus will reconstitute the flock (16,7)18. He sees an echo of a Davidic Shepherd in this prophecy of Jesus.

E. Best in his book, The Temptation and the Passion of Jesus in Mark, makes a brief note on the title, «Shepherd»19. Although he mentions the texts 6,34 and 14,27, he gives a very short description of the first (6,34), saying that, it is «an editorial insertion of Mark in which he showed the Shepherd Jesus feeding his people with the word»20. And in his following explanation of 14,27–28, he is emphasizing Galilee rather than the title Shepherd21. Interestingly, Best also supports the view that προάγω is referring to the «leading» activity of the Shepherd. Best acknowledges the title Shepherd in Mark, but his study does not make an ← 19 | 20 → effort in bringing out its significance and inter-connection in the narrative and its OT background22.

J.D. Kingsbury considers the title Shepherd as one of the minor Christological titles and hence he makes a very skimpy reference to it23. Without mentioning much of 6,34 («it is a quotation from the OT to describe Israel as having no leader»24), he refers to 14,27–28;16,7 and says, «one thing the reader can project as taking place at the meeting in Galilee is that Jesus reconciles the disciples to himself and gathers the flock, that through the smiting of the Shepherd has been scattered»25. Considering the treatment under «minor Christological titles», it is unreasonable to expect a more detailed study.

Despite the briefness of these studies on the metaphor of Shepherd in Mark, they offer a platform for further development on this theme. Above all, the insightful article of Legrand and the fascinating study of Grassi provoke us to an advanced research on the same.

3.Contribution of the Research

As we have noticed above, the absence of a detailed study and limited (two articles and some brief studies) attempts to investigate the theme of Shepherd in the Gospel of Mark, allows this research the possibility to have a closer look into the subject.

The first important aspect of this study is that the theme is seen in the entirety of the Gospel narrative and in its interrelation with the different motifs in the narrative. Though the narrator does not make any direct reference to Jesus as Shepherd in 6,30–44, Jesus’ «seeing» the condition of the crowd («sheep without a shepherd», 6,34) and his further actions, such as «teaching» and «nourishing» the crowd in the «wilderness», gives ample evidence of an allusion to the shepherding activities in the OT. Unlike the previous studies which dealt only with texts that mentions the term «shepherd» (6,34; 14,27–28; cf. 16,7), the other ← 20 | 21 → texts (despite the absence of the term) that very much reflect the theme are also taken into equal consideration (6,45–52; 7,24–30; 8,1–21; 16,1–8). The motif of «nourishment» continues, when Jesus extends his care towards the Gentile woman (7,24–30)26, though maintaining the priority of Israel (7,27), and further to another crowd (8,1) in a Gentile region.

Moreover, the metaphor, which demonstrates the care and the mission perspective of the Markan Jesus towards Israel and the nations, reaches a different level with the Zecharian prophecy (Zech 13,7) in 14,27 and the prophecy of resurrection and leading forth (14,28; cf. 16,7) that follows. Mark re-interprets the Zecharian Shepherd with the prophecy of resurrection and leading ahead of the scattered sheep. Jesus’ going ahead in Galilee opens the possibility of a new beginning to the disciples with the resurrected; continuing the «way» with a new vision (cf. 1,2–3).

The second important aspect of the originality of this study is the pragmatic examination of the texts which reveals the communicative character of the narrative. The author, through the narrative, enters into a dialogue with the reader, proposes to the reader certain models of actions and urges him/her to cooperate and identify with the characters of the narrative27. In this study, the reader could identify the salvation of God in Jesus the Shepherd (6,34; Ezek 34,23). Jesus comes in contrast to the bad shepherds of Israel and also in line with the good Shepherd of the OT (Ezek 34; Ps 23). The role of the disciples (as «insiders», 4,11; 14,27, but not under-standing, 6,52; 8,14–21) and the crowd (representing Israel, 6,30–44 and the Gentiles, 8,1–9; cf. 7,24–30), as sheep, encourages and at times warns the reader. The reader could also observe the distinct nature of the Markan interpretation of the messianic Shepherd with allusions to the scattered images from the OT (with only one direct reference, Zech 13,7). It also demonstrates the narrator’s attempt to avoid the exclusive nature of the sheep (7,27) and to portray the inclusive character of the messianic Shepherd and his mission (6,30–44; 7,24–30; 8,1–9; 16,7).


Every text is intended to be communicated28 and therefore it/the author invites the reader to interact with the narrative and moves him/her to take appropriate ← 21 | 22 → action29. In other words, the text not only explains the matters of fact but also instigates the reader/hearer to act upon them. It also has a well knit linguistic unity which exemplifies the narrative and communicative aspects. Hence, in order to examine the communicative strategy of the texts under consideration, the study is developed in three steps; the cohesion, coherence and pragmatic elements of the text30.


The cohesion of the text deals with the construction of the text; it is concerned with the various elements which links or connects the sentences together into a larger narrative unit31. When we consider a text as a narrative it is obvious that there is a logic that connects, which has its own cause and effect between the different elements of the narrative. Therefore, the scope of this study is to reach and reveal the specific communicative strategy the author has used to communicate his message through the narrative32. The examination of the connection between the different elements of the narrative facilitate in seeing how these narrative elements are united together and in turn help to get into the communicative process33 used by the narrator in the text. This is examined on the basis of the narrative theories in which the narrative units are divided into sequences and scenes34. The units are verified as follows: «In determining the main units of a narrative, the chief criteria are dramatic criteria: change of place, change of time, change of characters (characters entering or leaving the “stage”), or change of action»35. The ← 22 | 23 → main focus of this section will be on the narrative construction of the text, which includes the different elements of the narrative36.


The coherence is concerned with the logical relationship that exists within the content of the text37. The semantic study involved is intended to bring out the meaning of this relationship38. The meaning of the text is studied in its specific context as well as in the larger context. As Grilli observes: «La semantica, comunque, fissa il significato delle espressioni, delle frasi e delle unità più ampie. Non si tratta più della combinazione dei filamenti che danno coesione al testo (reticolo testuale), ma degli elementi che ne rendono comprensibile il senso»39. Since the study is intended to bring out the pragmatic elements of the text the communicative situation is also given due consideration while examining the coherence of the text40.

4.3Pragmatic Elements41

The implication of the narrative is examined in the pragmatic elements of the text42. The cohesion and coherence of the text make obvious the pragmatic ele ← 23 | 24 → ments of the text43. In this approach the author is the one who is in dialogue with his reader and the text is the meeting point44. The reading of this dialogue evokes doubts, questions and answers which lead to the pragmatic examination of the text45. In this author-reader interaction, even the silence of characters could have a say in the pragmatic articulation.

This is developed under the communicative context and communicative strategy46. The context is concerned with the situation in which the community (described in the narrative) is and its aspects. In the words of Bianchi: «...in pragmatica ci si occupa dell’influenza che il mondo (o il contesto) esercita sul linguaggio e si mira a determinare il contenuto proposizionale delle frasi in quanto utilizzate in contesto»47. Therefore, a careful analysis of the narrative can throw much light and ← 24 | 25 → insight into its communicative context. The intertextual study involved contributes to a better understanding of the context.

In the communicative strategy48 the author proposes to the reader certain ‘models’49 of actions, which are supposed to be followed and in some cases to be avoided. The «competenza comunicativa»50 of the reader is understood in the reading of the text. Bianchi observes that, «una volta determinato il contenuto proposizionale di un enunciato, ci si interessa dell’influenza che questo può esercitare sul mondo (sul contesto), della sua capacità di modificare stati di cose ma anche l’ambiente cognitivo degli interlocutori, di cambiare, rafforzare o eliminare certe credenze, desideri, conoscenze»51. At the same time, the reader (model reader) assumed by the author is the one who actualizes by cooperating and identifying with the characters of the narrative52. In this context, Eco proposes a «duplice situazione»:

Da un lato, l’autore empirico, quale soggetto dell’enunciazione testuale, formula un ipotesi di Lettore Modello e, nel tradurla in termini della propria strategia, disegna se stesso ← 25 | 26 → autore quale soggetto dell’enunciato, in termini altrettanto “strategici”, come modo di operazione testuale. Ma dall’altro anche il lettore empirico, come soggetto concreto degli atti di cooperazione, si deve disegnare un’ipotesi di Autore, deducendola appunto dai dati di strategia testuale53.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2015 (April)
Hirte Markus-Evangelium Sheperd Jesus Altes Testament
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 266 pp.

Biographical notes

Jogy Cheruvathoor George (Author)

Jogy Cheruvathoor George of the Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Church studied Biblical Theology at St. Peter’s Pontifical Institute, Bangalore and holds a Doctorate in Biblical theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome.


Title: The Metaphor of Shepherd in the Gospel of Mark
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268 pages