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Rel 121 Paper 2

Rel 121 Paper 2 - Yuen 1 Jonathan Yuen Professor Hock...

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Yuen 1 Jonathan Yuen Professor Hock Religion 121 6 November 2008 New Testament Society: Power, Deception and Guts Within the Aristocratic Household Life comes to an end for one of the most dedicated followers of Jesus, John the Baptist. In Mark 6:17-28, the author Mark describes John’s final moments on earth. He establishes and sets forth the chain of events that lead to his tragic death. In this essay we will analyze and address the issues, the characters involved, how they thought, behaved, and how their interactions affected society. Our analysis of verses seventeen through twenty-eight, will allow us to enhance our understanding of the New Testament world during the time period in which the gospel of Mark was recorded. The three conventions of New Testament society: Cynic philosophy, the “hetairai”, and the symposia, addressed in the previous essay will allow us to set the foundation in our analysis in the story of John’s beheading as described in Mark 6:17-28. We will correlate these three aspects of the New Testament world to how each character thought and the individual’s social role within society, particularly within the powerful aristocratic household. Mark chapter six, verses seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen introduces the three main characters in the story: Herod, John, and Herodias. The verses, present to us the back-drop to the course of events that set the scene leading to the climax in the beheading of John. In the
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Yuen 2 introduction of presenting Herod as a character, we get a sense of his social role within society at the time. He was a powerful king and had authority over many officers. He was obviously, within the aristocratic class and was head of the household. We have John, also known as John the Baptist and John the Baptizer, as he is also referred to within the story. His role, gives us a sense that he was an outspoken individual that holds strong to Cynic-like beliefs in which we will discuss. Last but not least we have Herodias. The introduction of her, if one was to start reading from verse seventeen, one would get the perception that she is the villain. She plays the role of the aristocratic mistress, or the “hetaira-like” figure from the aspect of her conniving ways. We learn that she is Phillip’s, Herod’s brother’s wife, at the same time she marries Herod. We also get a sense of the spiteful bitterness that she holds against John for being such an outspoken individual of his viewpoint in the marital situation between her and Herod. She despises him immensely, so much that she wanted to annihilate him. Eventually throughout the story she gets her way. In Mark 6:18, John expresses his viewpoint of her incestual relation with Herod. He states, “It is not lawful for you to have you brother’s wife.” Having the remark being overheard by Herodias, she was not pleased and bore an immense grudge against him. As we step aside to analyze what has gone on throughout the story so far, we notice that John, analogous to Paul, one of the most important figures in the New Testament, had a strong sense of sexual ethics. He
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