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The Existential Jesus
The Existential Jesus
John Carroll
Counterpoint, 2009
288 pp., $15.95

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Robert H. Gundry

"You Cannot Be Serious!"

The Gospel of Mark, existentialized.

John Carroll's The Existential Jesus, first issued in Australia in 2007 but not available from an American publisher until this year, feeds mainly on the Gospel of Mark, chews especially hard on Jesus' statement, "I am," when he's walking on the water, and treats John's Gospel as a side dish. The menu features some surprises:

Did you know, for example, that Mark opens his Gospel with the words, "In the beginning was the Story"? (Never mind that it is John's Gospel which opens with those words if you allow "Story" to be a legitimate translation of logos.)

Did you know that since Mark's Story, which was in the beginning, has to do with the purely human Jesus rather than with God, the Hebrew Bible's account of creation by God has to be scrapped in that "Jesus replaces God"? (Never mind that Jesus—yes, Mark's Jesus—says, "But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female," and attributes knowledge of the day and hour of his return exclusively to God the Father, so that not even Jesus himself knows.)

Did you know that Mark's Jesus wasn't interested in morals? (Never mind that he said fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, covetings, deceit, and sensuality [among other things] defile a human being.)

Did you know that up on a mountain after feeding the five thousand Jesus met himself, not God? (Never mind that he went up the mountain "to pray.")

Did you know that the Markan Jesus' mission ended with a focus on himself alone? (Never mind his saying on the eve of crucifixion, "This is my blood of the covenant which is being shed on behalf of many.")

Did you know that in Gethsemane Mark's Jesus did not pray to God above—for no longer did he trust his god —but groaningly uttered a curse in anticipation of his nonexistence? (Never mind "Abba! Father! … not what I will; rather, what you [will].")

Did you know that according to Mark's Gospel Jesus never claimed to be the Christ? (Never mind his answer, "I am," when asked, "Are you the Christ, ...

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