The Gospel of Mark as a Therapeutic Ritual Script

Document Type

Book chapter/entry

Publication Date



John H. (Jack) Elliott, Professor Emeritus of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Francisco, is one of the founding figures of social-scientific criticism and its application to biblical interpretation as well as to the interpretation of other ancient literature.

In this tribute 21 well-known practitioners of social-science criticism build on and advance various aspects of Elliott’s work and methodology. Norman Gottwald retraces the evolution of social-scientific criticism and its significance, David Aune examines the term magic as a socio-religious category, Scott Bartchy writes on Paul’s tenuous authority in Corinth, Alicia Batten looks at the characterization of the rich in the Epistle of James, Stephen Black studies the ethnic identity of John Chrysostom’s congregation in fourth-century Antioch, Zeba Crook explores memory theory in Luke’s Gospel, Richard DeMaris applies ritual studies to Mark’s Gospel, Jonathan Draper examines the role of purity and pollution in the story of the rich ran and Lazarus, Dennis Duling explores smell as a neglected dimension of social-scientific studies in ancient and biblical literature, Philip Esler looks at the possible role of Psalm of Solomon 17 in the death of Jesus, David Horrell re-examines aspects of the social strategy of 1 Peter, Ralph Klein explores attitudes to imperial authority in Bel and the Dragon and Daniel, Stuart Love applies anthropological studies on spirit aggression to Luke’s Gospel, and James Mackey challenges traditional theological notions of Jesus’ divine identity as well as traditional historical interpretations of Jesus’ trial.

In other chapters, Bruce Malina examines the term ‘author’ and questions its appropriateness as a term for ancient writers, Halvor Moxnes looks at the historical Jesus beyond the traditional ethnic and nationalist identity models that have informed scholarship on the subject, John Pilch establishes a model for understanding the social and psychological development of ancient figures like Jesus, Richard Rohrbaugh looks at the role of genealogy in the New Testament and its world, Herman Waetjen argues that the Jubilee stands as background and context in the parable of the wicked tenants, Robert Wilken demonstrates the role and use of 1 Peter 2.13-17 in second-century martyr accounts, and Ritva Williams advocates an ideological critique in examining the parable of the shrewd steward