This dissertation is a study of the spatial presentation of Mark’s Gospel. The first chapter of the dissertation treats previous studies related to Mark’s presentation of space. These studies are concentrated largely on Galilee and Jerusalem as they are presented in the Gospel.
The second chapter deals with space as it is presented in ancient works of geography, epic, history, philosophy and rhetoric. These works demonstrate several remarkable consistencies in the presentation of space among ancient authors, in particular the idea that certain spaces are inhabited by certain types of people because the place makes the person. This understanding of space is perhaps most clearly seen in the image of the oikoumene, or inhabited world, and its edges, where terrifying and subhuman peoples are thought to exist. The grotesque at the edges of the earth serve to reinforce that those who inhabit the center of the oikoumene (be they Greeks, Romans or Jews) are, by contrast, the height of civilization.
Chapter three examines modern theories concerning space. These theories highlight the cultural elements of the creation and maintenance of space. Understandings of space take effort and power to generate, and power is necessary for the maintenance of these understandings. Most often, spatial practices go unchallenged, though occasionally people behave in ways that are outside of the normal patterns of behavior for a particular place. Texts frequently challenge understandings of places since texts create their own worlds.
Chapter four reexamines ancient spaces in light of the material discussed in chapter three. Spaces that are central (such as cities, temples, etc.) are usually seen as civilized and civilizing, while uninhabited (or under-inhabited) places are considered dangerous, wild and uncivilized.
Chapter five examines the Gospel of Mark from the perspective of this spatial information. It concludes that Mark presents the space where people “gather around" Jesus as an alternative to the spaces in which Jesus encounters his opponents. These spaces are frequently to be found in wilderness and/or mountainous areas, places in which the control of civilized centers often does not extend.