The messianic miracle story foundational to Markan
epistemology and psychology, and therefore fundamental to the
soteriology of this particular gospel, is the story of The
Feeding Of The Five Thousand. Its subject is acoustic memory,
that single radical of consciousness responsible for the
sovereign form of the intentional mode, knowing. The Genesis
rubric which announces the corresponding conceptual radical,
space : time, is Day 5. The perceptual radical, acoustic
memory, and conceptual radical, space : time, and their
corresponding modes of intentionality, knowing and the
will-to-believe respectively, dominate the gospel of Mark in
just the same way as the perceptual and conceptual categories,
haptic memory and mind : body respectively, pervade the gospel
of Luke. In examining the contents of the acoustic semiosis,
we shall see that the haptic and acoustic modes are mutually
consonant. The same structures are operative within each, but
in different ways according to the categoreal paradigm.
Whereas the haptic semiotic series accentuates neither
transcendence nor immanence, the acoustic semiosis is weighted
in favour of transcendence. The texts integral to this first
section dealing with the gospel of Mark, and which we must
consult, are the following:
CONCEPTUAL RADICAL - SPACE : TIME
RADICAL - ACOUSTIC MEMORY
|Genesis 1.20-23: Day 5
||Mark 6.30-44: The
Feeding Of The Five Thousand
|Mark 5.24a-34: The
||Mark 7.32-37: The Deaf
And Dumb Man
Other versions of the messianic miracle and healing
event are extant. We have for example, a story in John 5.1-18,
The Healing At The Pool, which reiterates the (Markan)
conceptual category, space : time. It is given immediately prior
to the Johannine version of The Feeding Of The Five Thousand in
that gospel, (John 6.1-12). Before we address any of
these texts, since we have just previously outlined the
twelvefold haptic semiosis in discussing the first section of
the gospel of Luke, here is an ideal point to present in
similarly cursory outlines, the acoustic semiosis.
And when it grew late ( h!dh w(/rav pollh~v), his disciples came to him and said, "This is a lonely place, and the hour is now late; ( h!dh w(/ra pollh/, Mark 6.35)The only reference to time in the Johannine version of the narrative is:
When it was evening ( (Oyi/av de\ genome/nhv), the disciples came to him and said, "This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; ( h( w(/ra h!dh parh~lqen, Matthew 14.15a)
Now the day began to wear away; ( (H de\ h9me/ra h!rzato kli/nein, Luke 9.12a)
Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. (John 6.4)
The Markan tradition attests a sign, in the word 'green', essential to the theology of semiotic forms. It does not merely add to the case for the time of the event being the interval immediately after midday, spanning approximately 2 P.M. until 6 P.M. Mark's inclusion of the epithet accordingly stresses the same important fact. For the optic semiotic forms are not in the first place connected with time, as are the acoustic forms. If they are to be so linked with any conceptual form, it is that of the anthropic, just as the haptic semiotic forms sustain the same relationship with the conceptual form of the body. The link between the acoustika of acoustic memory and the conceptual form space : time is complete in this gospel, which contains the most thorough tally of the messianic series of any gospel, and contains the twelvefold schema of healing events, reiterating the categoreal forms. Acoustic memory and the conceptual form space : time are the two categoreal entities on which the soteriological and eschatological perspectives of this gospel, and no other, are predicated. So the acoustic rather than the optic semiotic forms, are innately connected to the spatiotemporal. But Mark cannot specify an acoustic sign any more than he can actually verbalize, that is speak aloud, his gospel. In this way, the congruent semeioptika act as pointers to the semeiacoustika, just as the written word transfers the spoken word. Whereas the spoken word is primordial, being first in terms of both phylogeny and ontogeny, the written word becomes final, teleological, and eschatological. In this way, Mark's gospel veers more towards a theology of creation rather than salvation, a respect in which it differs from the gospel of Luke.
Then he commanded them all to sit down by companies upon the green grass. ( e)pi\ tw~? xlwrw~? xo/rtw? - Mark 6.39)
Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; (xo/rtou Matthew 14.19)This semeioptikon thus answers the question of the temporality of this particular event. By temporality we do not mean only the specific interval within the frame of the diurnal/nocturnal cycle, here, that of early to late afternoon, even though as far as the messianic series itself is concerned, that is what the sign indicates in the first place. We have already seen that the serial order of the optika ranks them relatively to one another referentially to more than just a single temporal cycle. There is no one single temporal cycle to which the optic semeia are exclusively referent. The analogous relation between the messianic events and the Days at once ensures this. The Days series certainly connects each rubric with a day, whereas the messianic miracle series connects each corresponding episode to durations within the nocturnal/diurnal cycle or 'day'. The same signs which designate temporal intervals constitutive of the week of seven days also designate parts of those parts, intervals within a twenty-four hour cycle. That is, they signify equally intervals within the day itself as well as those of the intervals within the lunar cycle, days. Moreover the semeioptika also designate periods within the annual or solar cycle to which both of these aggregated components, the week, and the day, belong. The expression 'green', like any of the other terms referring to component members within the visible spectrum, is polysemous in respect of several temporal cycles. This is of crucial importance from the practical point of view, that is to say, from the 'religious' point of view. In a profound sense, 'religion' accepts time as among its primary subjects, if not its primary subject, not merely because of its association with death, but so also because of religious observances, the recurrently obligatory performance of ceremonial or ritual acts. Periodicity in its various shapes and sizes is paramount here.
Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass (xo/rtov) in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. (John 6.10)
In those days, when again a great crowd gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him, and said to them, "I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and if I send them away hungry to their homes (ei)v oi!kon au)tw~n), they will faint on the way; and some of them have come a long way." (Mark 8.1-3)In passing we should not ignore Mark's note sounding the theme of the economic, since it accords fully with the second sign in John, which mentions 'all his [the official's] household' (h( oi)ki/a, John 4.53); nor Matthew's fitting use of both verbs, 'to desire', here translated 'to will', and 'to fast', here rendered 'to be hungry'. If there remains any doubt about the precise location of The Feeding Of The Five Thousand within the nocturnal/diurnal serial order, it is removed by the miracle immediately following it, The Walking On The Water, which specifies the time of the event. The triadic and chiastic form of the series defines this as the complement to the feeding miracle:
Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and I am unwilling to send them away hungry (nh/steiv ou) qe/lw), lest they should faint on the way." (Matthew 15.32, 33)
And about the fourth watch of the night (peri\ teta/rthn fulakh\n th~v nukto\v) he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them. (Mark 6.48b)The specified period marks the interval preceding dawn, and is the first of its kind, intervals in which the light is increasing rather than decreasing. It begins the three diurnal intervals, and the miracle story with its predecessor, its complement, occupies the centre of the chiasmos, being the 'third' miracle of virtual transcendence reckoning from the outside to the centre. Counting from the centre of the chiasmos outwards, and counting according to their binary division, confirms the reckoning of the miracles of both kinds as we have illustrated them in the mandala. The 'second' such event was The Stilling Of The Storm, which designates the ensuing interval, that of morning, and the 'first', The Transfiguration, designates the period centred on midday. In understanding the chiasmos thus, we are acknowledging the complementary relation of the three immanent messianic miracles, to the three miracles of virtual transcendence; or what is the same thing, the relation of the three 'feeding' miracles to the three 'identity' miracles. Of course it is the former which effectively denotes the series as immanent; the perceptual polarity of consciousness, standing in opposition to its conceptual polarity, the transcendent, defined in the Days series.
And in the fourth watch of the night (teta/rth? de\ fulakh~? th~v nukto\v) he came to them, walking on the sea. (Matthew 14.25)
Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, "How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?" This he said to test (peira/zwn) him, for he himself knew (au)tov ga\r h!?dei) what he would do. (John 6.5, 6)John's forthright mention of the intentional mode is perfectly in accord with the explicit references to the same in the synoptic recapitulations of both miracles of loaves:
And being aware (gnou\v) of it, Jesus said to them, "Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand (ou!pw noie~te ou)de\ suni/ete)? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see; and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? (Mark 8.17, 18)Thus it is here in the synoptic recapitulations of the miracles of loaves and fish that we have abundant, literal and explicit warrants for the psychological and epistemoligcal hermeneutic of these narratives. These texts reinforce to an extraordinary degree not only the theme of appetition qua desire and subsequent satisfaction, confirming to tie to the first messianic event, but also the necessary and indubitable connection between sense-percipience and cognition. In the conclusions of both synoptic recapitulations we find another reference to 'understanding'. John lacks the discourse recapitulating both miracles of loaves, since he lacks also the second of these, as does Luke. But John's discourse on The Words Of Eternal Life ends on a note in harmony with the conclusion of the recapitulations in Mark and Matthew, more so with the former, the severity of whose censoriousness the latter seems to mollify:
But Jesus aware (gnou\v) of this, said, "O men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive (ou!pw noie~te? Do you not remember the fie loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? (Matthew 16.8, 9)
But Jesus knowing (ei)dw\v) in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, "Do you take offense at this?" (John 6.61)
"But there are some of you that do not believe." For Jesus knew (h!?dei) from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. (John 6.64)
And he said to them, "Do you not yet understand?" (ou!pw sunie/te, Mark 8.21)
Then they understood (sunh~kan) that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16.12)
Round the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clad in white garments, with golden crowns upon their heads. From the throne issue flashes of lightening, and voices and peals of thunder, and before the throne burn seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God; and before the throne there is as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.These 'sabbatical' events are teleological or final in the literal sense of the word, and emphatically so, due to the avowed eschatological compass of The Apocalypse. So much so, that the six prior occurrences, or all seven letters in the case of the first sevenfold series, are preparatory to each of these four respective consummations. That the first of the four sevenfold series, the series of seven letters, corresponds to the basic premises of Markan soteriology is a postulate we shall develop in what follows. The consideration of The Apocalypse in league with the gospel of Mark, as was the case of its connection with Luke, will not override the most immediate purpose of this essay, which is the doctrine of the acoustic semiotic forms, and the intentionality of both knowing and will-to-believe.
And round the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind; the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the four living creature, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all round and within, and day and night they never cease to sing, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty. who was and is and is to come." Apocalypse 4.4- 8)
Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth; and there were peals of thunder, voices, flashes of lightening, and an earthquake. (Apocalypse 8.5)
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever." And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God ...
Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, and earthquake and heavy hail. (Apocalypse 11.15-16 and verse 19)
The seventh angel poured his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne saying, "It is done!" And there were flashes of lightning, peals of thunder and a great earthquake such as had never been since men were on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered great Babylon, to make her drain the cup of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found; and great hailstones, heavy as a hundredweight, dropped on men from heaven, till men cursed God for the plague of the hail, so fearful was that plague. (Apocalypse 16.17-21)
When he opened the fourth seal, I heard a voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come!" And I saw, and behold, a pale horse ( i(/ppov xlwro/v), and its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed him; (Apocalypse 6.8a)Belonging to the same system of meaning is the mention of the same two personified entities just before the first of the letters. Even though the recapitulation of the formula occurs within the second quartet, comprising the seven seals, this literary device constitutes an inclusio marking the beginning and end of the first quartet, and confirms the relation between one of the four riders and the particular living creature who dispatches him:
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand upon me, saying, "I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades (Apocalypse 1.17, 18)As part of the same semantic project telling for the congruence between the eschatology of the letters to the churches set out in The Apocalypse and the eschatology proper to the gospel of Mark, that of knowing and the will-to-believe, we should note the musical repetition of the clause after the initial address to the angel of each church:
I know ( oi!da) ... (Apocalypse 2.2, 9, 13, 19, 3.1b, 8, 15)Similar to this is the equally rhythmical incantation of the same formula at the conclusion of each letter:
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." ( O( e!xwn ou~)v a)kousa/tw ti/ to\ pneu~ma le/gei tai~v e)kklhsi/aiv), Apocalypse 2.7a, 11a, 17a, 29a, 3.6a, 3.13a, 3.22a)And it is reminiscent of the exhortation to 'understand' exclusive to the Markan apocalypse:
"But when you see the desolating set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand ( o( a)nagi/nwskwn noie/tw)), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; (Mark 13.14)The chief characteristic of this form of intentionality, the defining attribute of conscious knowing as of aconscious will-to-believe, is heteronomy. These intentional forms bind us together into the social rather than the personal mode of being. And so the churches or 'assemblies' - e)kklhsi/av - addressed in the seven letters do the same. In moving from the gospel of Luke to that of Mark, following the designated serial order of the messianic events themselves,we have shifted radically. The gospels of Luke and John, so divergent in other respects, are in accord on this issue; the central and guiding lights of them both are belief and desire, in their conscious and aconscious permutations. Whatever the instrumentality of desre to knowing, whatever links these forms of perceptual intentionality, they nevertheless differ in this very regard. Knowing constitutes us precisely as us; to know is to belong as a member of a class or phlyum, somewhat similar to a family. The word ekklesia best expresses this fact. But if the author of the seven letters to the churches is inclined to touch upon the sociology of knowledge; he is clearly far more inclined to ponder the moral psychology of knowledge. The letters essentially address this aspect of knowing, and allude to its concurrent if aconscious parallel, the will-to-believe. We can thus frame the first part of Markan eschatology according to the same syllogistic reckoning as we did in the case of Luke:
All acoustic sentience is cognitive;
All cognition is heteronomous
All acoustic sentience is heteronomous.
In using the dichotomous terms phylogeny and ontogeny, and also heteronomy and autonomy to distinguish the Transcendental and Christological categories, it is appropriate here to point out that the Pneumatological character of The Apocalypse inclines it to the first of these if the content of the categoreal series is any guide. We find in each case, the subdivision of the Days, and those of the messianic miracles, that the Transcendental and Pneumatological events are of a certain kind; thus for example the two feeding miracle of loaves and fish. The effective focus of The Apocalypse is Pneumatological; it begins with a substantial number of references to 'the Spirit', and the subsequent angelology is of a piece with this. Its main categoreal focus is correlatively the conceptual forms symbolic masculine/symbolic feminine and the optic modes of sense-percipience. There is a significant difference immediately proposed in the numbers of the two miracle, which we should not ignore, and for this reason the Transcendental event represents the phylogenetic end of a spectrum which the Pneumatological categories mediate. At the opposite end, is the Christological.
... and they [the twenty-four elders] sang a new song saying, "Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation ( e)k pa/shv fulh~v kai\ glw/sshv kai laou~ kai\ e!qnouv), and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth." (Apocalypse 5.9,10)The same or similar formulae recur at 7.9, 10,11 (in the form '" ... peoples and nations and tongues and kings"'), 11.9 , 13.7, 14.6, and 17.15; in the last the form used is '"... peoples and multitudes (o!xloi) and nations and tongues"'. The word here translated 'multitudes', sometimes given as 'crowd(s)' or 'throng(s)', is used in all recensions of both feeding miracles. Mark and John qualify it in their record of the first event with the expression 'great' (Mark 6.34 polu\n o!xlon, John 6.2, 5 o!xlov polu/v, polu\n o!xlov), and Mark uses a similar expression of the second event (Mark 8.1 pa/lin pollou~), while Matthew reserves it for the first (Matthew 14.14 polu\n o!xlon). The term 'tribe' (fulh~n) is used throughout The Apocalypse, notably in the description of the sealing of God's servant on their foreheads (7.1-8).
And I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals (bibli/on gegramme/non e)/swqen kai\ o)/pisqen katesfragisme/non sfragi~sin e(pta/); and I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?" And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or look into it, and I wept much that no one was worthy to open the scroll or look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, "Weep not; lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals." (Apocalypse 5.1-5 emphasis added.)I shall argue that the biblion to which John refers here is most clearly nothing other than what concerns us ultimately throughout The Markan Mandala; namely the disclosures of both the sevenfold series of Days of 'beginning' and the seven messianic events of 'end' recorded in the gospels. If that is so, then this passage as well as functioning a propos of the theology of religions which the book as a whole addresses, contains an incipient doctrine of so-called 'special revelation'. For here it adverts to the 'special' nature of the Judaeo-Christian canon. It is also worthwhile pointing out here also, the very remarkable description of the author himself in terms of the aconscious form of intentionality native to the gospel of John, which I am linking with the series of seals; namely the desire-to-know.