Thursday, March 20, 2008

Max McLean performing Mark's Gospel

Last night a group of us went to Max McLean's performance of (most of) Mark's Gospel using the NIV.

It is a powerful experience, to be sure. And there are lighter moments. Mr McLean creates a humorous portrait of the disciples' incomprehension particularly during the episodes of the feedings of the five and four thousands. This appealed to the audience of which I was a part. But since the two episodes of the healing of the blind in chapters 8 and 10 (the man healed partially and then fully and Bartimaeus--the latter being the last healing of the gospel) there is no pathos in the partially sighted disciples' incomprehension of Jesus' teaching about the suffering and death of the Son of Man.

Since Mr McLean omitted all of Mark 13 in his performance, we are presented with a non-apocalyptic Jesus. Jesus arrives in the temple, leaves it, then returns to predict its destruction in a single verse. There is no aside to the reader. Gone is the fig tree episode and its relation to the temple. Gone too are the parables of chapter 12 about the killing of the son of the vineyard owner and the widow's offering.

What remains is his interpretation of the cry from the cross in which, as Mr McLean explained to us at the end of the performance, Jesus takes upon himself the sins of the world that have been or ever will be committed. From this Jesus God turns away his face. Clearly, a human suffering Jesus in Gethsemane and on the cross is still the stumbling block it was for Peter and the disciples.

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