Pilate and the Cosmic Order in Mark — 2

An earlier post here discussed thoughts arising out of the unlikely combo of Carrol’s “Existential Jesus” and Patella’s “Lord of the Cosmos.” One set of responses was too lengthy to be carried out in the tiny comment boxes so am extending the discussion here. (more…)


Baptism: Another Markan trap? Or, The Gospel of Perfection

“I think the whole story of Jesus is a parable, an allegory. If you insist on making it literal you destroy it.” — Vridar’s thoughts in Vardis Fisher’s Orphans in Gethsemane (Vol.1, For Passion, For Heaven)

Why does Mark leave readers hanging right through to the end of his gospel and never show the fulfilment of John’s proclamation that Jesus would baptize with the holy spirit?

I indeed baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the holy spirit (Mk.1.8)

Or is this another one of those “Markisms” where he sets up the reader (and characters in his gospel) to expect one thing while he really means the words in a different sense? (more…)


John Carroll on the Existential Jesus (live this time) — (podcast/transcript)

Mark’s Greek according to John Carroll (The Existential Jesus):



(pics nicked from here. Two faces or one vase?)

This is how Mark’s Greek works — surface text vs subtext — according to John Carroll: (more…)


Pilate and the cosmic order in Mark

Filed under: Carroll: Existential Jesus,Gospel of Mark,New Testament,Pilate,Religion — Neil Godfrey @ 7:45 am

This is a disorganized collage of thoughts stimulated partly by the unlikely combo of John Carroll’s The Existential Jesus and Michael Patella’s The Lord of the Cosmos. (more…)


Existential Jesus extract

Filed under: Book Reviews & Notes,Carroll: Existential Jesus,Religion — Neil Godfrey @ 4:17 pm

The Age has published an extract from The Existential Jesus by John Carroll. See Judging Pilate.

existential jesus

I have said a few things I like and don’t like about this book, but what I do like the most is that the ideas expressed in it are the result of years of collaborative discussion and study of the Gospel of Mark. I can’t resist exploring the insights of anyone else who has made that type of study and comparing notes. Only wish his Jesus wasn’t so much what I suspect John Carroll himself is, an existentialist. But what else should I have expected from the title! :-/


Existential Jesus — another review

Filed under: Book Reviews & Notes,Carroll: Existential Jesus,Religion — Neil Godfrey @ 9:02 pm

youngalexander has alerted me/the iidb list to a new review of John Carroll’s book.

It’s in The Age, a review by another sociology professor, Gary Bouma. Promising an extract next week. (more…)


Link to Alison Cotes’ review of “The Existential Jesus”

Filed under: Book Reviews & Notes,Carroll: Existential Jesus,Jesus,Religion — Neil Godfrey @ 8:58 am

Have fixed the link to Alison Cote’s review of “The Existential Jesus”. Depending on your browser settings you may need to enlarge the image to read it. It’s a 1.4 mb pdf file.

This is the one review that captures best what John Carroll was attempting to do with his book.

Original Post


The Young Man in the Tomb in “The Existential Jesus”

Filed under: Carroll: Existential Jesus,Gospel of Mark,Young man in the tomb — Neil Godfrey @ 3:24 pm

Wow, I love it when I read of an idea I have often wondered about being picked up by someone else who has obviously wondered the same things, but then gone on to develop that idea in a way that forces me to start reading the basic text again from scratch.

John Carroll does not allow for the young man who appears in the tomb at the end of Mark’s gospel to be an angel.

He is not an angel, as some have speculated; if we were, Mark would have said so. (p.127 of The Existential Jesus)

Mark reads more like a Greek tragedy in prose than a Christian text: (more…)


A few of the intriguing thoughts provoked by The Existential Jesus

Filed under: Book Reviews & Notes,Carroll: Existential Jesus,Religion — Neil Godfrey @ 8:47 am

Someone asked me what I found “daring and original” about “The Existential Jesus” by John Carroll. My replies, based on a reading of only 3/4 of the book, follow: (more…)


Alison Cotes’ review of Existential Jesus (John Carroll)

Filed under: Book Reviews & Notes,Carroll: Existential Jesus,Religion — Neil Godfrey @ 4:20 pm

This review that was published in the Brisbane Anglican newspaper, in John Carroll’s words, “quite brilliantly catches the flavour of what I have attempted to do” (email correspondence: 13/03/07)

Link is to a PDF file — 1.4 MB.

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Existential Jesus is what the title says

Filed under: Book Reviews & Notes,Carroll: Existential Jesus,Religion — Neil Godfrey @ 7:39 pm

Picked up John Carroll’s “The Existential Jesus” today. It is written more for those with a philosophical or religious mind. This book is John Carroll’s philosophical journey through Mark’s Jesus. An existential interpretation of Mark’s Jesus. It is not a verse by verse study analyzing the historical literary or religious background evidenced in the text. Will write more later.


First-thoughts on Review of “Existential Jesus”

Filed under: Book Reviews & Notes,Carroll: Existential Jesus,Religion — Neil Godfrey @ 8:41 am

Disappointed in the Australian review of Carroll’s Existential Jesus. Have tried to track down a little on the reviewer, Andrew Rutherford, and closest I can find is that he’s “a Melbourne based reviewer”. His review does not demonstrate deep awareness of the issues involved. He says, for example, that Crossan has “shown” how a Galilean peasant like Jesus might become the focus of a religion. Well, Crossan has certainly attempted to show as much (that his Jesus is a fellow Irish freedom-advocate), but only from the basis of so many questionable assumptions and being content to leave so many inevitable questions unaddressed — check out Doherty’s review for starters. Rutherford’s review seems to be saying little more than Carroll is up the creek because he does not conform to respectable scholarly questions and established scholarly conclusions.

I have still to read the book, but pending its arrival I have to confess to some parting of ways at John Carroll’s own commentary. It goes further than the impressions I was left with over his Religion Report interview. I can handle Mark as an historical and literary document, but I feel less comfortable with seekers of “truths” behind human existence. I find nothing fearful at all, and everything richly meaningful, in base biological and physical explanations for everything. That, to me, is the only foundation of human cooperation that I can see holding when all else has failed, as fearful dreaming and searching for other “Truths Out There” always will.


Review of “Existential Jesus” by John Carroll

Filed under: Book Reviews & Notes,Carroll: Existential Jesus,Religion — Neil Godfrey @ 7:18 pm

For a little more on where John Carroll is coming from as the author of the Existential Jesus;

and for a link to a review (not a deep one — one of those by a regular newspaper reviewer) of Carroll’s Existential Jesus by Andrew Rutherford —



New book on Gospel of Mark

Anyone who is a fan of Mark’s gospel will be absolutely mad if they don’t catch up with the podcast or transcript of interview with author of a new book (The Existential Jesus) on Mark’s gospel, John Carroll (yep, he’s a sociologist, “out of his field” and all that) at the Religion Report program site.

He argues that “Mark is one of the pinnacles of Western literature” (Vork, we’re not alone!), “I don’t think there’s anything like it in Western culture”, he’s a fan of Frank Kermode’s “Genesis of Secrecy” (I’ve already referred again to my notes on that, and how its a story that works on its sub text.)

Carroll says Matthew and Luke are boring by comparison — they want to tie Christianity in with the OT (missing Mark’s point entirely, or rejecting it), but that John was the only one who came close to understanding what Mark was saying.

Mark’s Jesus is not a teacher of morals and ethics, he gives up on trying to teach his disciples anything, Simon was named Peter to caricature him as the rocky ground (always jumping in with enthusiasm then withering at the first problem) — nice to find someone else who agrees with Tolbert on that, too! — Peter wants to build a church but Mark is anti-church, a fascinating interpretation of the transfiguration! He’s solitary, alone, angry, those closest to understanding him are Pilate and Judas. He’s not anti-Jewish and takes Jewish religion as a “prototype” for all religion, but is anti the whole Jewish culture that had to end. And his end is alone, without God, on a stake prefigured by the withered fig tree.

I’m sure I’m not going to agree with everything but I won’t be reading it to “agree” or “disagree” but to explore another perspective and think afresh!

Mark’s Jesus / John Carroll — Kermode

Filed under: Carroll: Existential Jesus,Gospel of John,Gospel of Mark — Neil Godfrey @ 8:22 am

Just heard snippets of the broadcast I mentioned in previous post. Loved bits I heard. So John Carroll is also another Frank Kermode fan! That’s surely one of the best reads on the gospel of Mark — check out Interpreting Mark like any other work of literature.

One reason I want to read Carroll’s book, The Existential Jesus, is to follow up his intriguing idea that the Gospel of John understood the Gospel of Mark and was an exposition of the mysteries coded in Mark. I can’t imagine more two totally opposite gospels so this is surely (hopefully) going to be an interesting read. (About the only thing in common that immediately hits me is their apparently less than “orthodox” provenance.)

I just know our public broadcaster the ABC is a secret front for book publishers.

Existential Jesus: Mark’s gospel / John Carroll – broadcast

Filed under: Carroll: Existential Jesus,Gospel of John,Gospel of Mark — Neil Godfrey @ 6:26 am

This morning there’s a radio program (web accessible) on Mark’s Gospel — John Carroll sees Mark’s gospel as “up with Homer as the great Western storyteller; the other gospels are inferior. . . .”

This can be heard live from http://www.abc.net.au/rn/

but podcast will be available for 4 weeks at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/religionreport/default.htm (Transcript will be there forever)

The announcement from last week:


Stephen Crittenden: Welcome to the program.

Before we get under way, a reminder that next week on the program we’ll be reading the strangest and most troubling of the four gospels, St Mark’s gospel. It’s the one with the angry Jesus who frowns at the fig tree because it’s not in season, and turns it into a black stump; who gives up trying to teach his disciples because they don’t get it, and who dies alone and in despair.

Sociologist John Carroll has written a new book about Mark, ‘The Existential Jesus’. He says that Mark is up with Homer as the great Western storyteller; the other gospels are inferior, just footnotes, although at least John’s footnotes are better than Luke’s and Matthew’s. So, it’s time to refresh your memory of a great Western storyteller, the man who invented Jesus. That’s next week.

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