March 19, 2009

John Mark's Memory - 2

Continued from yesterday...

Can we assess John Mark's potential mneumonic abilities by indirect methods? That could depend on whether or not we can produce a plausible reconstruction of that young man's life, within reasonable limits. I'll let you be the judge, but to illustrate my point better, please allow yourself to imagine this dramatic scenario, at least for starters...


It's 33 AD and YOU are a young teenage boy named John Mark. It's the week before Passover and you've been sleeping on the mountain of olives every night with Jesus and his disciples. The men even let you have one of their sheets. When you hear them talking, they sound like upcoming world beaters. When you see them standing together, you want to be with them and like them. Your mind is fully fixed on everything that's happening, because you're so excited to be part of whatever it is that's about to happen. It's not just all about Jesus. It's about Jesus and all of them.

One night that week, after sunset, under a heavily waxing moon, you're sitting with Jesus and all of them. You're excited simply to be there. And then, Jesus starts saying wild things and predicting they're all going to come true.

Remember, you're a young teen. Your mind is fixed on your heroes and their leader. Your brain is firing on all synapses, so to speak. This is one of the most wonderous nights of your impressionable young life.

A night or two later, Jesus is taken and all of them scatter. Three nights after that, all of them get together once more and Jesus appears. Seven weeks after that, YOU are involved in the start of something you wind up devoting the rest of your life to. Over the next several months, YOU meet thousands of people who never met Jesus. YOU met him. YOU saw him - briefly. YOU are young. And YOU are eager to tell everyone you meet about the week you spent with him before he died (and rose again!)

Yes, YOU practice telling that story dozens or hundreds of times. Many parts of it remain vividly in your mind for years to come. When Stephen is killed, Jesus' words about the Temple take on new significance. When Caligula threatens to claim it, you wonder again. You don't understand everything Jesus said - and so - you keep telling others just in case one of them knows how to respond. At least, some parts of it seem clearer than others.

Roughtly twenty years later, one day, you write it all down.


Obviously I can imagine a lot, but is this so far fetched? I don't think so. At any rate, whatever we reconstruct about Mark himself is valid fodder for consideration of Mark's mneumonic ability.
I'll share my own concluding thoughts in the next post. Any comments on this one?

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"If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient observation than to any other reason."

-- Isaac Newton