Michael Whitenton: Hearing Kyriotic Sonship

Michael Whitenton: Hearing Kyriotic Sonship January 2, 2017

An old acquaintance of mine, Dr. Michael Whitenon (Baylor Uni) has had his PhD thesis published which is a fascinating take on Mark’s christology. The book is: Hearing Kyriotic Sonship: A Cognitive and Rhetorical Approach to the Characterization of Mark’s Jesus (BIS 148; Leiden: Brill, 2016).

In Hearing Kyriotic Sonship Michael Whitenton approaches the characterization of Mark’s Jesus from an interdisciplinary perspective and argues that many first-century listeners probably understood him as a divine Davidic king.

It is an interesting studying combining performance criticism, rhetoric, and orality in the study of the Marcan Jesus. What I found thought provoking is how MW sees Mark as trying to force the readers to think, make inferences that Jesus is the “kyriotic Son.” MW calls this the “rhetoric of inference.” It reminds me of another recent study by Timothy J. Geddert, “The Implied Yhwh Christology of Mark’s Gospel: Mark’s Challenge to the Reader to ‘Connect the Dots,'” BBR 25.3 (2015): 325-40. According to MW:

Put succinctly then, Mark’s Jesus is the kyriotic Son inasmuch as he embodies the royal hopes surrounding a Davidic ruler and healer, who performs these same activities (and more) as a god-in-disguise. Functionally, Mark’s Jesus is characterized as though he were the embodiment of both Yahweh and his Davidic Messiah. This union of the divine and Davidic creates a characterization for audience members in which the Markan Jesus far surpasses anything known in Jewish cultural memory aside from Yahweh himself. The result is that, for sympathetic audience members, the Markan narrative creates its own scripts and forms its own cultural memory, in which Jesus is assimilated to both David and God as a divine and suffering messiah (p. 318).

 This book, along with Daniel Johansson’s  essays on Mark’s christology in JSNT, are some of the best things I’ve read about Mark in recent years.

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