Performance Criticism at
SBL 2015 International Meeting
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Philip Ruge-Jones, Texas Lutheran University
Discovering Where the Bodies are Hidden
The end of Mark’s Gospel leaves its hearers with an empty tomb and a promise to see Jesus in Galilee. Eschatology erupts geographically. Resurrection does not reside in the end of the narrative where the women fear that Jesus has become one more of the desaparecidos. Resurrection occupies another terrain, occurring throughout the whole narrative wherever those hidden in the margins erupt into view as agents of God’s reign. This paper brings Brazilian theologian Vítor Westhelle’s “latitudinal eschatological perspective” into conversation with Mark’s narrative construction showing how Mark’s marginal characters (Simon’s mother-in-law, the man with the withered hand, the paralyzed man, the bleeding woman) become the threshold through which God’s reign “takes place” (Westhelle). While these characters may be passed over quickly when the narrative is limited to a printed page, in performance they rise to the center and take on flesh as dramatic exemplars of God’s transforming work. In a critical performance of their “dangerous memory” (Metz), the narrative is raised off of the two-dimensional page and takes up space. In performance, more is discovered than an additional dimension to add to the other two dimensions. Rather, dimensionality itself is restored to the narrative! It occupies space. When storytellers from the margins of our world perform the narrative, their enactment becomes a “rehearsal of revolution” (Augosto Boal) or, as the evangelist might say, a rehearsal of God’s reign. They occupy a place of precarious potentiality, the “margins in which possibilities can be born but where the tragic, the terrible lurks, and annihilation impends (Westhelle).” Raising up these hidden bodies opens up a way for the community to move in new directions. Their telling “takes place” and we find ourselves in Galilee where the risen Jesus promises to be found.