Organization and Structure
Updated: Feb 15
Taking on a task of writing an historical fiction novel requires a tremendous amount of organization and vision of how the story will flow from beginning to end. Although the word fiction leads one to think it is an “imaginary” story, a certain amount of truth must be embedded in the narrative. It is apparent that there is now way we could recreate the actual day to day reality and the personal relationships that the evangelist who wrote the gospel of Mark encountered. At best, speculation and imagination is a reality. However, we do have the end result, albeit several generations from the original that provides us with what he was thinking. In addition, we have the gospels of Matthew and Luke and other writings who used Mark as a source and edited that writing to meet their own theological needs. Finally, there is hundreds of years of analysis and commentary from which one can draw upon as well. So then, the idea here is to create a fictional story about a “fictional” character(s) from whom we can approach the writing of Mark from a different aspect. This idea is not to replace the gospel, but to look at what we have from a new approach. The purpose would be to tell this story and attempt to make the social dynamics, the collection of traditions, the organization of those traditions and finally the process by which the work became written down. This process might not be too far off from what Mark faced in his own day. He possibly had firsthand knowledge, he might have also heard various oral traditions and he most likely collected written stories, hymns, and creeds of the early church. From there, he took what he had and created his story, his good news, his gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
So here is the organizational approach. First is the general organization of the story from beginning to end. Next, which is perhaps the most difficult and will require the most research is trying to understand what Mark was thinking. What were the social dynamics and what was going on in his life at the time? These ancient thoughts and points of emphasis need to be included in the narrative and the voices within the characters in the story.
The overall outline, chapters of the story are:
Section one - Introduction
1. The Exam
2. The Trip
Section two - Traditions
5. Traveling to Rome
6. The Necessity of a Standard
7. Collecting Traditions
8. Organizing Traditions
Section three - The Canon
10. The Copies
After the general organization has been established, the next focus and the central aspect of the book is what was Mark’s underlying theme. This emphasis should lie with the twelve intercalations that are included in the gospel. Theses literary techniques (as defined by George Wright) which are “sandwiched” into the narrative act as the road map of Mark’s thinking. Therefore, a close analysis and understanding is imperative to inclusion in the story of Justus and Alex, the two main characters of the story.
The intercalations that reflect the emphasis of Jesus authority and identity along with the response of certain enemies or followers are:
1. Mk 1:21-28 As authoritative teacher with the crowd response of amazement.
2. Mk 2:1-12 The authority over sickness and sin with claims of blasphemy by
3. Mk 3:1-6 An authoritative interpreter of Sabbath regulations with anger and
plotting by religious leaders.
4. Mk 3:20-35 The authority to redefine family with the disciples who do the will of God.
5. Mk 4:1-20 The authority to establish criterion for insiders and outsiders with those
who hear and understand the word of Jesus are insiders.
6. Mk 5:21-43 The authority over sickness and death with Those who see Jesus as their
only source of hope and help.
7. Mk 6:6b-30 Determining the correct identity of Jesus with The absence of the
disciples pointing to the close relationship between John the Baptist and
8. Mk 11:12-21 The authority of Jesus over the Temple with the crowds amazed; the
Jewish leaders; and the disciples hear.
9. Mk 14:1-20 Jesus’ true identity shown through the woman’s anointing with the
contrast between the response of the woman and the disciples.
10. Mk 14:53-72 Jesus reveals his identity while Peter hides it with those closets to Jesus
11. Mk 15:6-32 The titles of Jesus portrayed ironically in mockery with the way of Jesus
represented in the cross.
12. Mk 15:40-16:8 The responses to an authoritative Jesus with the noble deed of
requesting and burying the body of Jesus in contrast to the inappropriate
response of the women.
Since these intercalations drive the narrative, Mark also includes themes that hold the story together. These themes would be:
The opening purpose statement, the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ
Discipleship and the lack of understanding on the part of the disciples.
This lack of understanding, I believe is driven by their abandonment of Jesus.
The community of faith in Rome does not understand, like the disciples, what discipleship means.
They are being persecuted, like Jesus, they want the easy way out by awaiting a miracle to save them, (the second coming) and do not realize that true discipleship is the way of the cross, which Jesus exemplified on the cross
Theo messianic secret, the disciples do not understand and neither does the church.
It also important for Mark’s to understand that there is hope. Mark’s Christological presentation of Jesus presents him as an apocalyptic prophet (Bart Ehrman). To understand that one must understand the four aspects of what an apocalyptic prophet believes:
1. Dualist, believed that the people in the world were control by evil influences or
2. Pessimist, the world will not get better, there is no hope.
3. Vindication, those who choose the righteous way of Jesus will be saved.
4. Imminent return, Jesus second coming was imminent and could happen any day.
All of these elements must be brought out in the story for it to be an accurate representation of what was going through the mind of the evangelist.