Lectionary Year B
June 22, 2003
Mark 4:35-41

Step II: Disposition


Miracle Story

Antoinette Clark Wire (general statement): "The whole miracle story is in the first place an affirmative statement, not a question or command; a narrative of specific events, not a description, analysis or deduction. The narrative tells a marvelous breakthrough in the struggle against oppressive restrictions on human life."

Sub-categories of the miracle story:

a) exorcism
Jesus' encounter with a demon-possessed person (cf. immediate context, Mk 5:1-13 !). Struggle. Demon recognizes Jesus and becomes defensive. Jesus is in command of situation. Witnesses are astonished or afraid. Pattern: confrontation - expulsion - reaction. (other examples: Mk 1:23-28; 9:14-29)

b) controversy story containing a miracle
Jesus is in conflict with Jewish teachers of the law. He answers their challenge with a key question. Climaxes in final saying, sometimes accompanied by action. that confounds the opponents.

c) healing as response to petition
(Mk 1:40-45 - the leper; 5:21-43 - restoring a dead girl to life; woman with blood flow is healed; 7:31-37 - curing of a deaf person)

d) a provision story
Jesus perceives need and initiates action (feeding miracles in Mk 6:33-40; 8:1-10).

e) rescue story [this Sunday's pericope Mk 4:35-41 !]
situation of distress in which followers find themselves [in this pericope: a storm threatens to sink the disciples' boat]. Includes entreaty or prayer by disciples. Sometimes includes epiphany (Acts 12:1ff.; 16:16ff.) that precedes deliverance.

f) epiphany
Manifestations of Jesus' glory and power as the One who is sent from God. Description of witnesses' reaction (Mk 6:45-52 - Jesus walks on the water).

In order to gain insight into miracle stories, Bailey/Vander Broek suggest a close examination of the "interplay between action and speech in the story." (character study, interaction of characters, the place of the character in the story--does it vary?--where is the dramatic stress of the story? What role does the miracle play? Which place does this story occupy in the Gospel?)

(main source: Literary Forms of the NT. A Handbook. James H. Bailey and Lyle Vander Broek. Westminster/John Knox: Louisville, 1992. pp. 105-114)


- what does this mean, "they took him with them, just as he was?"
- did the disciples have restrictions whom they would and would not take?
- did they leave the crowd behind? How come, then, that there are other boats with them?
- what kind of a storm is this that arises all of a sudden? are such storms common to the region?
- why is Jesus not concerned that the boat might sink? is he not concerned that he might lose his life? that he might lose his friends and companions?
- did he sleep "like a dead person?" (katheudo) is that why they have to wake him, almost forcefully?
- after this emotional scene, is Jesus' reaction not almost anti-climactic? all he says is "Peace! Be still!" and the wind ceases
- why is he asking "why are you afraid?"
- they almost died. how should they know that he could calm the storm?
- would it not have been strange for them not to be scared?
- what has being afraid to do with having no faith?

All of these questions, however, seem to boil down to the one and decisive question of this pericope: tis ara houtos estin? who "the heck" is this person? Even the wind and the sea obey him.

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