Lord of the Cosmos: Mithras, Paul, and the Gospel of Mark

Lord of the Cosmos: Mithras, Paul, and the Gospel of Mark

by Michael Patella, OSB


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In Lord of the Cosmos, Patella demonstrates the ways in which the Roman Imperial religion imbues Paul's letter and subsequently Mark's Gospel. Mark resonated in the imperial capital and beyond because of its inherent participationist theology, a theology probably augmented by Paul and possibly introduced by him. In his own writings, Paul draws from Mithraic vocabulary and symbolism. Mithraism itself functions within the cosmic framework outlined in Plato's Timaeus. Pauline theology, with its Mithraic overtones, coheres with the Markan theme of Christ's cosmic victory over Satan; Paul and Mark share a similar view of Christ's salvific act. With the Bartimaeus pericope (10:46-52), the Markan Gospel demonstrates that believers, by their call to discipleship, participate in that victory. This whole process is signaled by the baptism with its divine communication and actions of descent and ascent, a strong Pauline concept. Patella shows that the Markan presentation of Jesus' death, the climax of the narrative, brings the act of divine communication full circle. At the baptism, God communicates to creation, and with Jesus' cry from the cross, creation replies in despair. Jesus' death is not the end of the story, however. The women at the tomb realize this fact and are awestruck at its significance, which is the reason that they do not tell anyone what they have witnessed. The notice to meet Jesus in Galilee is an affirmation of the resurrection. By moving from the area of the dead, that is the tomb, to the land of the living, Galilee, Mark echoes the cosmic theology in Paul, which moves from life to death, and back to eternal life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780567025326
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
Publication date: 04/24/2006
Pages: 146
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.31(d)

About the Author

Michael Patella, OSB, is Associate Professor of New Testament at Saint John’s University and the author of The Gospel of Luke.

Table of Contents


Methodological approach

Part One The Cosmological context of Paul and Mark

Chapter One Hellenistic cosmology

· Timaeus

· Mithraism

· Mithraism, a cosmology

· Mithraic cosmogony

Chapter Two Hellenism and Judaism, an interwoven thought

· Pseudepigrapha

Chapter Three Paul and the Gospel of Mark

· Paul


· Evaluation

· Conclusion


Part Two The Gospel of Mark

Chapter Four Markan Themes

· Divine communication

o Mark 1:9-13 Baptism

o Mark 9:2-13 Transfiguration

· Divine authority

o Mark 1:1-8 Introduction

o Mark 1:21-28 Exorcism

o Mark 3:13-19 The Twelve

o Mark 10:35-45 Authority and glory

o Mark 11:27-33 Authority

· Eschatology

o Mark 1:14-20 Jesus in Galilee

o Mark 13:1-13 Eschatological discourse

o Mark 13:14-23 The temple

o Mark 13:24-27 Son of Man

o Mark 13:28-36 Conclusion of the eschatological discourse

o Mark 16:1-8 Resurrection

· Messianic secret

o Mark 4:10-12 On parables

· Discipleship

o Mark 8:31-35 First passion prediction

o Mark 9:31-32 Second passion prediction

o Mark 10:32-34 Third passion prediction

· Cosmic battle

o Mark 1:12-13 Temptation in the desert

o Mark 1:16-20 Call of disciples

o Mark 1:21-2:12 Exorcising and healing, a microcosm

o Mark 2:13-22 Levi

o Mark 2:23-28 Sabbath

o Mark 3:1-6 Synagogue

o Mark 3:7-12 Gentiles

o Mark 3:13-19 The Twelve

o Mark 3:20-30 Beelzebul controversy

o Mark 3:31-35 True family

o Mark 4:1-20 Sower and the seed

o Mark 4:26-34 Parables

o Mark 4:35-41 Calming of the storm

o Mark 5:1-20 Gerasene demoniac

o Mark 5:21-43 Jairus' daughter and the hemorrhaging woman

o Mark 6:1-13 Rejection at Nazareth and mission

o Mark 6:14-44 Death of John the Baptist and multiplication of loaves and fish

o Mark 6:45-52 Walking on the Sea

o Mark 6:53-56 Curing of the sick

o Mark 7:1-23 Purification and defilement

o Mark 7:24-30 Tyre and the Syrophoenician woman

o Mark 7:31-37 The Decapolis

o Mark 8:1-26 Feeding of four thousand and curing a blind man

o Mark 8:27-30 Peter's confession

o Mark 8:31-9:1 First passion prediction

o Mark 9:14-29 Exorcism of a mute spirit

o Mark 9:30-37 Second passion prediction and true greatness in discipleship

o Mark 9:38-41 In Jesus' name

o Mark 9:42-50 A warning

o Mark 10:1-16 Questions on divorce

o Mark 10:17-31 Rich young man

o Mark 10:31-45 Third passion prediction and true discipleship

o Mark 10:46-52 Curing blind Bartimaeus

· Précis

Chapter Five Passion,
Death, and Resurrection in Mark

· Mark 11-16

o Mark 11:1-11 Entry into Jerusalem

o Mark 11:12-25 Cleansing of the temple

o Mark 12:1-12 Parable of the vineyard

o Mark 12:13-34 Questioning by religious and political leaders

o Mark 12:35-37 Son of David

o Mark 12:38-44 Warning about scribes

o Mark 14:1-9 Plot and anointing

o Mark 14:10-21 Judas and Passover preparation

o Mark 14:22-31 The Passover meal and prediction of Peter's denial

o Mark 14:32-42 Prayer in Gethsemane

o Mark 14:43-52 The Betrayal

o Mark 14:53-65 Hearing with the Sanhedrin

o Mark 14:66-72 Peter's denial

o Mark 15:1-15 Before Pilate

o Mark 15:16-32 Mockery and crucifixion

o Mark 15:33-41 The death

o Mark 15:42-47 The burial

o Mark 16:1-8 The same women who witness the death are at the tomb to anoint

o [[Mark 16:9-20]] Longer ending of Mark

o Shorter ending of Mark

Chapter Six Summary

· Cosmic battle

· Divine communication

· Divine authority

· Eschatology

· Messianic secret

· Discipleship


Part 3 Interplay of Mithras, Paul, and Mark


Chapter 7 Mark's Baptism of Jesus

· Baptism

· Baptism and discipleship

· History of Baptism

Chapter 8 Participation in Christ, a Pauline and Markan view

· Rom 5:12-21

· Rom 8:12-17

· 1 Cor 15:12-28 (see also 1 Thess 4:13-18)

· Phil 2:3-11

· Col 1:11-14

· Précis

Chapter 9 Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus (Mark

· The Bartimaeus passage

· Background

· Markan vocabulary

· Blindness and sight

· Son of David

· The name, "Bartimaeus"

· Plato's Timaeus

· The Cross

· Timaeus and Bartimaeus

· Discipleship

· Bartimaeus and Markan Christology

· Précis


Chapter 10 Death and resurrection of Jesus
(Mark 15:33-16:8)

· The death cry (Mark 15:34, 37-38)

· The baptism (Mark 1:9-11)

· Heaven and the heavens

· Markan picture

· Markan resurrection account (16:1-8)

· Wisdom tradition

· Fear and awe

· Interpretation of Mark's resurrection account


Chapter 11 Conclusion

· Summary


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