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The African Memory of Mark

Chapter 12

When the Mark of History Meets the St. Mark of Memory

Dr. Oden argues that there is an academic imperialism that is still taking place, demonstrated in an unstated but real embargo against accepting as legitimate, traditional information from non-western sources.  Dr. Oden examines some of the presuppositions that underlie this prejudicial treatment, and then answers anticipated ad hominem counter arguments.



Throughout this book, it might be fair to say that there are “two John Marks” that Dr. Oden is dealing with:  St. Mark of the oral tradition and John Mark as historical figure.  Dr. Oden shows that the converging lines of evidence indicate that we can learn more of the historical John Mark from the hagiographies, and that there is a historical core to the St. Mark.  He argues in this chapter that even if there is found, after a fair investigation is made, no connection between the two, that St. Mark is still worth studying because of the impact he has made on the African mind.

Would you agree or disagree with that argument?


Dr. Oden again raises the question of historical agnosticism.  He shows that if the same standards are applied to other famous historical figures, we must dismiss them as well simply because of the paucity of details that we have concerning them, even as compared to John Mark.    Would you agree or disagree with this statement, and why:  The “agnosticism” and skepticism applied to Mark is founded on a different set of reasons and standards than can be explained from “lack of evidence.”


Dr. Oden turns to his own history and presumptions in writing The African Memory of Mark.  He anticipates several responses to his work in this book. 

•   Dr. Oden must be “African” or of African descent

•   Dr. Oden has sold out his mind on an idea of the historicity of John Mark

•   Dr. Oden has bought into an African ideology, which some would call Afrocentrism

•   Dr. Oden is not objective

•   Dr. Oden is bucking the trends of accepted (read “acceptable”) scholarship of the last two hundred years

How does Dr. Oden deal with each of these anticipated rejoinders?