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Family Relations in the Gospel of Mark

Narry F. Santos

 The social values of honor and shame, which have attracted much research from cultural anthropology and New Testament studies for the past five decades, is the main focus of the book. This book proposes the need to combine major contributions of narrative, rhetorical, and cultural anthropological approaches to trace the development of the twofold honor-shame concept throughout the Marcan narrative—with special attention to family relations. Though adequate social-scientific and socio-rhetorical studies in Mark’s Gospel (even in relation to honor and shame) have been conducted, there are still few scholarly monographs that trace the honor-shame motifs from the start to the end of the narrative through the use of helpful insights from literary methods and heuristic models (e.g., challenge-riposte; patron–client relation). Thus, this book seeks to undertake this kind of research. It argues further that Mark intends to reverse the content of the honor-shame value system of his audience by means of narrative reversal and family relativization. Such dramatic redefinition basically turns this value system upside-down, especially in relation to the natural family and the new fictive family of Jesus. Finally, the book unpacks how Mark persuades his readers to reverse their value system—what they consider as shameful must now be valued as honorable, and what they view as honorable must now be seen as dishonorable. NT scholars, seminary professors, and graduate students will benefit from reading this book, which offers a fresh integrated honor–shame approach in studying Mark’s Gospel from start to finish.

“In Western culture, honor and shame discussions are almost foreign territory, yet its presence is deeply embedded in the biblical world and culture because our individualism obscures our connections to others and issues tied to those links. Narry F. Santos’s study of honor and shame in Mark reintroduces us to that perspective and takes us through an illuminating journey in how Mark teaches us through such concerns. Not only do we get to see Jesus’s teaching from a fresh angle, we also see how he challenged us to change how we live in the world as a result.”—Darrell L. Bock, Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

“The early church was accused of turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6). According to this well-written and well-researched book by Narry F. Santos, that was, in part, Mark’s point in writing his Gospel. Mark wanted to create a radical redefinition (a turning upside down) of the honor-shame value system of his world. This is an important book; after all, our present broken world also deserves to be turned upside down through the teaching of Jesus.”—Joel F. Williams, Professor of New Testament Studies, Biblical Seminary of the Philippines

“I commend Narry F. Santos for attempting several important tasks in this volume: the use of honor and shame as a sustained interpretive framework in conjunction with other recently developed methods, and his sustained effort to interpret the entire Markan narrative. As a result, he provides a useful lens for discriminating a number of features of Mark, including how to understand a variety of passages in relation to each other. In the final chapter, he provides a useful summary of how his reading re-orients the Jesus story in Mark.”—Stanley E. Porter, President, Dean, and Professor of New Testament, McMaster Divinity College