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Sample Essay Assignment--Anointing Story[1]

Sample Essay Assignment--Anointing Story[1] - (SAMPLE ESSAY...

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(SAMPLE ESSAY) The Story of the Anointing in the Four New Testament Gospels by Ima Wiseman A story about Jesus being anointed by a woman appears in all four of the New Testament gospels, though with some notable differences in detail and context. The following analysis assumes the Two Source theory as its working hypothesis, but leaves uncertain whether the parallels in John result from dependence on Mark, Matthew or Luke, or instead derive from other common sources. Mark’s version of the anointing story includes several elements that are typical themes in this gospel. First of all, the author makes it clear that anointing is symbolizing Jesus’ burial—and therefore his death. The Gospel of Mark is full of irony, and this passage is one of the examples of this. The readers of the gospel, as well as the disciples by this time (see Mark 8:29), know that Jesus is “Christ” = “Messiah” = “anointed one.” But the anointing that Jesus receives is from this nameless woman, and it foreshadows his suffering and death. This is reminiscent of the triple prediction section in chapters 8-10, where the author of Mark stresses the suffering of the Son of man. This necessity of suffering before messianic glory is a leading theme in Mark. The truly striking pronouncement in Mark 14:9: “wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in her memory,” is odd in a sense, since the woman is remembered (if we have only Mark) not even by her name by only for this one action. Perhaps this remarkable statement is the author’s way of underscoring the important of the association of anointing/messiahship and suffering (because it is preparation for burial). Secondly, one notices that only this anonymous woman seems in this moment to know what is the right thing to do. Others present at the meal are angry and protest. The text of Mark does not actually say that these are the disciples (as Matthew does), but this might be the logical inference
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Wiseman—Analysis of the Anointing Story 2 since one presumes that they were present. If so, it would illustrates Mark’s consistent theme of the wrong-headedness of the disciples. Finally, it is interesting to note a possible parallelism between the story of this woman and the story in Mark 12:41-44 of the anonymous poor widow, who gave “everything she had, even her whole life/living.” Immediately following that poor widow story is the apocalypse in Mark 13, and then the anointing by this woman, who “has done what she could” (Mark 14:8). The placing of the apocalypse, with its prediction of coming trials and suffering, perhaps amounts to a Markan “sandwich.” But in any even, there appears to be a parallel in theme. However, there is a striking contrast: The poor widow has only a couple of coins to offer, while the woman who anoints Jesus spends something worth more than 300 denarii--perhaps equivalent to almost a year’s wages for many laborers of that day! An anointing suitable for a Messiah—but here, for burial!
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