MARK


1 KNOWING AND WILL-TO-BELIEVE


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:


ACONSCIOUS CONCEPTUAL RADICAL - SPACE : TIME

CONSCIOUS PERCEPTUAL RADICAL - ACOUSTIC MEMORY
Sevenfold Creation Series
Sevenfold Messianic Series
Genesis 1.20-23: Day 5
Mark 6.30-44: The Feeding Of The Five Thousand
Markan Twelvefold Healing Series
Mark 5.24a-34: The Haemorrhagic Woman
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.

The Miracle And Time

The several indications for this episode are consistent:
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)

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)
The only reference to time in the Johannine version of the narrative is:
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.

The second miracle of loaves, The Feeding Of The Four Thousand, with which the first is nevertheless linked semiologically, and so too in terms of temporality, occurs in the succeeding interval, that of evening proper, extending from approximately 6 P.M. to 10 P.M., and the final feeding miracle, The Transformation Of Water Into Wine, occupies the last of the three nocturnal/diurnal intervals, defined by decreasing light. It gravitates around midnight, between 10 P.M. to 2 A.M.. The seamless integration of these temporal durations, which turns upon the second interval, suggests that no hard and fast distinction between the first and the second, nor between the second and the third can be upheld. It is reflected in that the intervening episode, The Feeding Of The Four Thousand, signifying optic memory, integrates the intentional modes proper to acoustic memory and haptic memory, between which some measure of contrast occurs, as these produce the sovereign or canonical instances of perceptual cognition and perceptual conation respectively. We have already determined that the sovereign instance of the intentional mode proper to optic memory, is that of desiring-and-knowing, their hybrid form. Nevertheless, taken in isolation, knowing and desire maintain a specific contrast which depends upon the opposition between the conscious proximal and conscious distal pasts respectively. The fact that desire is instrumental to knowing does nothing to alter this.

There is more to the topic of this hybridizing radical, optic memory,  for we have passed immediately from the gospel of Luke and the discussion of the last messianic miracle of this scheme. We have moved from the doctrine of desire, and hence belief-in-desire, to that of knowing, and will-to-believe, according to the shift from the first feeding miracle to that which the chiasmos organises as the third. Part of the business of the messianic series is to plot in it outlines, a theory of the epistemological and psychological development of human persons. This requires that some attention be given to the integrative role played by optic memory. This perceptual radical is thoroughly immanent in kind, and since immanence is immediately recognisable as merging, homogenizing, amalgamating what would have otherwise remained distinct and identifiable, its role is to co-opt both intentional modes, the conative one of desire, and the cognitive one of knowing. It has a distinct role in determining the processes in which knowing is emergent. Such processes are synonymous with the transitional relation of the ontogenetic to the phylogenetic selves; that is, the relation of personal to social being. These issues will be explained below, in dealing with the seven signs in the gospel of John, and particularly in the examination of the second sign, numbered as such in that gospel (John 4.54). The same miracle story also explicitly details the time of day when the healing occurred, (John 4.52).

The attribute 'green' is certainly purposeful. Mark contains it, although it is missing from Matthew and John, while Luke makes no reference to grass at all:
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)

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)
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.

If there is any doubt about the time of this first miracle of loaves and fish, since it appears in many ways, so similar to the second, the index, the semeioptikon 'green' removes it. Narratives of The Feeding Of The Four Thousand for their part also contain general references to time, but none as specific as the optic semeion in the former event:
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)

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)
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:
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)

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)
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.

The analogical or isomorphic relation immanence to transcendence is echoed in that of the perceptual polarity of consciousness to the conceptual polarity, just as are set against one another 'end' and 'beginning' respectively. Thus The Transfiguration is indeed not the first, but the last of the six messianic miracles. Nevertheless it is inseparably bound together with what is the first miracle in chronological order, The Transformation Of Water Into Wine. If The Stilling Of The Storm is actually, chronologically, the second miracle, that cements the same chiastic form. The chiasmos is underpinned by the polar alternation of 'feeding' miracles and 'identity' miracles, or miracles of (actual) immanence, and those of virtual transcendence.
So we must take into account not only the complementarity of the six  events which reduces them to a triad, but equally this rhythmic passage from one 'side' to the other; the constant oscillation of the two subsets. So that the mention of 'the fourth watch of the night' then further corroborates the time of its complementary immanent miracle, The Feeding Of The Five Thousand.  This specification further validates as the proper interval of The Feeding Of The Five Thousand the early afternoon-late afternoon, the first of the nocturnal intervals of decreasing light, rather than the very next nocturnal interval. That is to be assigned to The Feeding Of The Four Thousand. The reason for emphasising this chiastic  paradigm here, particularly in the case of The Feeding Of The Five Thousand, is its confirmation of the period denoted by the semeioptikon, green. This immanent miracle and its counterpart, sit at the centre of the chiasmos, and denote the two nocturnal/diurnal intervals which are diametrically opposed to one another, morning (2 A.M. - 6 A.M.) and afternoon-evening (2 P.M. - 6 P.M.). Thus the chiasmos vindicates what is already stated in the two narratives themselves, the semeioptikon 'green' and the nocturnal/diurnal temporal reference.

No synoptic accounts of this narrative mention 'knowing' as such. The Johannine recension however more than amply compensates for this. We have already listed the theme of 'truth' in the extended discourses, The Bread Of Life (John 6.22-59), and The Words Of Eternal Life (John 6.60-71), which follow the two miracle stories in that gospel. Themes touching on 'The Father' (John 6.27, 32, 37, 40, 44, 45, 46, 57, 65); 'heaven' (6.31, 32, 33, 38, 41, 42, 50, 51, 58, 62, the latter being a cognate form); and the 'eternal' (6.27, 40, 47, 54, 58, the latter being a cognate form, also verse 68), are also immediately germane to both the axiological as well as the epistemological and psychological strands in the two miracle narratives, and will avail us in the hermeneutic of the feeding miracle story in particular. Both miracle narratives are theologies of The Transcendent. We should not forget that both acoustic perceptual radicals exemplify this identity.

Notably then, John's telling of the miracle itself does include one very remarkable reference to the cognitive mode, knowing. It is couched in ironic terms, with Jesus feigning ignorance. The scene the evangelist envisages between Jesus and Philip recalls that between Jesus and Nathanael just prior to the miracle at Cana. By means of which John very subtly links this, his second feeding miracle, with the first, so as to underline the transitional relation of desire to knowing, or what is the same thing, the instrumentality of desire to knowing:
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)

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)
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 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)

Serial Order In The Messianic Series, The Johannine Signs, And The Apocalypse

It is appropriate here to examine in more detail the presence of seriality in the three sections of the New Testament which most occupy us. Clearly the messianic series is the most complex of these. We have already noted the one only crossing in the Johannine ordering of the seven 'semeia'. The effect of which is to commend the series as the basis of a developmental psychology, plotting one's trajectory from Eros to Thanatos, subsequently to the introduction of time vis-a-vis consciousness in the creation story. This also must influence in part, any hermeneutic of the messianic series. The clear congruence of the Johannine signs and the messianic series, the fact that both accept in different measure the creation series as a paradigm and precedent, as well as the fact that two of the Johannine signs are identical to two of the messianic series, and the similarity between some of the Johannine healing miracles and those in the gospel of Mark, all these facts affirm the same proposition. In effect then, any reading of the story of salvation in Mark and John from the point of view of a rudimentary structure pertaining to developmental psychology, must deal equitably with both, in spite of their divergences, and must deal equally with the creation series. A significant amount of such divergences are attributable to the disparity between the 'sociological'/psychological perspectives of each evangelist. In previous mandala, this has been clearly illustrated by the juxtaposed terms 'phylogeny' and 'ontogeny'. The dichotomy stems from the variant epistemological-psychological perspectives of the two gospels. If Mark takes his cue from the mode knowing, and its subordinate counterpart, the will-to-believe, this is almost everywhere conceived in relation to the public aspect of existence. It is never more plainly stated than it is in the messianic miracle itself, where 'five thousand' enumerates the greatest gathering of its kind. Knowing according to this theology or as we might say, sense-percipient epistemic consciousness, is consensual. Its justification places the individual within a class, a one among the greatest multitude. For John, matters are clearly otherwise, since he is pre-occupied with belief, and from the start, we see this framed in terms of the individual; in the cameos of Nathanael, Nicodemus, the beloved disciple, Lazarus, Thomas, Peter, and so on. He emphasizes the individual's irreducibly personal response to Jesus. Thus the ontogenetic cast of both belief and the desire-to-know stand in starkest contrast to the phylogenetic modes, knowing and the will-to-believe.

Both perspectives are vital to a comprehensive epistemology-psychology, that is Christology, and we cannot understand the theology of semiotic forms without the singular emphasis that the Markan orientation places on place and time, and that the Johannine answers with an equal attention to the person as individuated. The role of a personalist developmental psychology in John's gospel is vital to understanding his own construal of time, just as in Mark, we find indications of the particular value which that evangelist places on the individual. These cross-referential patterns are at once announced in the subordinate and aconscious modes of intentionality operative in each case; desire-to-know in John and will-to-believe in Mark. (I have italicised the supervening intentional mode rather than its prevenient co-efficient, in order to make this as plain as possible.) The resolution of their apparent disparity occurs in the context of typology, an inherent tendency driving semiotics. Thus Mark takes up the relation of 'the twelve' vis-a-vis the dominant perspective in the Hebrew canon, which in keeping with Judaism itself, writes large the reality of the group, the tribe, the phylum, to any one of which 'we' may belong. This requires for its rationale, the notion of place, or space-time. John on the other hand applies typologies to the nature of existence as defined by the life-course. One passes through diverse stages of life, which themselves are identical to the same tupoi defining particular regions, or locales.

Thus there is no essential argument here. The individual can be accounted for, just as the phlya can. Mark dedicates his focus to the phlylogenetic point of view, as we gleaned from his emphatic positioning of the stories which centre the chiastic structure of the messianic series, the Transcendental miracle stories, The Feeding Of The Five Thousand and The Walking On The Water, the first of which dominates his theological consciousness. It is reaffirmed in the healing episode, The Haemorrhagic Woman, which stands at the apex of another less apparent although similar structure. Alternatively, John begins and ends his gospel with signs that underline the private, 'ontogenetic' facts of existence, love and death, the miracle at Cana and the death of Lazarus, and indeed the messianic series as a whole does the same. Put simply, a mind : body is an 'I'; but it necessarily dwells within a given place, at a given time with other such psychophysical entities, more or less similar to, even if not exactly the same as, itself. In the case of the family, this similarity is greatest, and in the case of identical twins, it reaches its limit. A family then stands as a model of sorts for the class, even though it is poised perhaps paradoxically, midway between the believing and therefore individuated person as a particular self, and the class as the class of knowing subjects. The family is a class of sorts; yet it is also an individuated class. This paradox stems from the contrdictory status of hybridity. Even in the cases of such extraordinary degrees of similarity as that of identical twins however, the certain identity of the individual, the ego, as founded on both Christological phenomena, love and death, correspondingly to the uniqueness of the only begotten Son, is never attained. Of these two overarching points of reference, love and death, death thus remains the guarantee in perpetuity of the authenticity of the ontogentic perspective, and so selfhood. Luther's aphorism "Everyman must do his own believing, and every man must do his own dying." encapsulates the ontogenetic character of the transcendent Christological form of intentionality. The individuality of mortality as criterological for ontogeny is evident in John's last sign, and equally in the last sign of the messianic series. We shall return to the question of a resolution between the phylogeny and ontogeny at a later point. I
ts ultimate explication reverts to Christology, to epistemological-psychological factors, as governed by the distinction between knowing and believing relevantly to the dichotomy of heteronomy-autonomy. Respectively, Mark and Matthew adopt the former stance, as they are guided by knowing and will, whereas Luke and John expound the latter, since their theologies are shaped by belief and desire. These intentional modes constitute their proper and specific soteriological and eschatological concerns. The distinction is tantamount to that between The Transcendent and The Son. What bridges it in scriptural terms, are just those texts identifiable as Pneumatological. The outstanding one in the Hebrew canon is Ezekiel, and in the New Testament it is The Apocalypse.

The Apocalypse as a whole is therefore party to these complex questions, precisely as it brings into a fully intertextual compass each of the four gospels. As far as seriality goes, the thesis put here stems from the analogy obtaining between the four cardinal temporal point-instants of the year: the two solstices and two equinoxes, as the interpretive key in understanding the broadest parameters of this intertextuality. They are outlined for us in both Ezekiel and The Apocalypse. Thus The Apocalypse draws upon the visions of the 'four living creatures' in Ezekiel, pursuant to the deployment of the theme of time (and light), in the creation story. The Apocalypse extends its own far-reaching ambit to us inseparably from its apparent endorsement of the fourfold gospel. In its broader contours it consists of four sections, each marked by a sevenfold series, so invoking the two analogous cycles, creation and salvation, or messianic miracles. There are continuous echoes of both throughout the book. So the seventh sign in the last three sevenfold cycles are consistent with each other, and consistent with the status of the Sabbath : Eucharist. It is of course the very concept of religious worship, whose connection with time we have just noted, which establishes this consistency. Arguably, the same pattern applies to the first of the sevenfold series, the letters to the churches, which is followed by the first description of the heavenly worship. Thus in all four cases, letters, seals, trumpets and vials, the seventh event is congruent with the Sabbath : Eucharist. The initial picture of the worship in heaven certainly takes its cue from the visions of Ezekiel  in chapters 1 and 10, as if to pre-empt the interpretation of the entire book, and seems to conform to the three remaining seventh events. In such a manner, it sets the programme for the further acts of heavenly worship:
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.

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)
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.


There are two more reasons for identifying the series of letters with the gospel of Mark, and we should note these now. Colour terms abound in The Apocalypse; the just meanings of some of which are extremely difficult to fix. In one important passage dealing more specifically with the 'four living creatures', we find particular colours identifying the four horses which implement immediately the opening of the seven seals, at the command of each of the four living creatures in turn, given to each of these four horses and their riders (Apocalypse 6.1-8). The last of the four seals to be opened utilises the same epithet Mark included in the story of The Feeding Of The Five Thousand. It is often translated 'pale', although it signifies the colour of growing grass, that is, 'green':

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.

We should therefore repeat, even if once more, that as many as four distinct terms are used throughout the work to speak of people collectively:
... 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).

The cognates of 'phylum'/'phyla' used in the present work do not correspond to their use in The Apocalypse. We have seen that the first series addresses the human collective in terms of ekklesia. This is phylogeny in sensu strictu as used here, and which I am connecting with the gospel of Mark, due to its concerns with the intentionality of knowing, and the will-to-believe. If there appear to be as many as four different denominations of human collectives in The Apocalypse in addition to widespread use of the word 'tribe' (fulh\), we may attribute to these a link albeit tenuous, with the Pneumatological categories, not the Transcendental ones which occasion phylogeny proper. These four expressions used of collectives in The Apocalypse I am differentiating from the Transcendental, and authentic forms of 'phylogeny' proper. They will answer to the four synthetic or hybrid intentional modes, those which establish the instrumentality of a conative form to a cognitive form, for example, the instrumentality of desire to knowing, desire itself being ontogentic and knowing being phylogenetic. It is important to emphasise just how the Pneumatological modes mitigate clear-cut distinction between cognitive and conative modes of consciousness. In this way they bridge the divide between authentic occasions of phylogeny and ontogeny, parallel to the divide between the Transcendental and the Christological. The formal clarity of the four sevenfold series, beginning with the seven letters to the churches, conforms to the paradigmatic shape of the gospel itself. That there are four hybrid modes of intentionality is the result of their proper canonical modes.
This is not to reduce The Apocalypse in status to the work of an epigone, but to acknowledge its necessarily derivative character, given its integrative purpose. The issue reverts to the habitual tendency of The Apocalypse to adopt and modify its material from various sources,  vital to any understanding of its eschatological/teleological intent is the recapitulative method.

Nor is the characterisation of both Transcendental modes of intentionality, the will-to-believe and knowing as innately phylogenetic by any means intended to derogate them. That is, it is not to argue that the psychology of the crowd is of defining moment for either. But the consensual nature of language itself, since what is foundational to the aconscious mode at least is acoustic memory, and the spoken language is if anything public rather than private, and probably still more universal, and more public than the written language, the equivalent subject of the Pneumatological feeding miracle, marks it as heteronomous. We shall characterize the private categoreal forms, those of the body and the mind, and of the two sense-percipient modes of touch, antithetically. Intentional modes of belief and desire, the Christological ones, thus oppose the Transcendental forms of consciousness. Only we should observe that those  Transcendental and Christological modes which occupy the same taxon, will and belief; knowing and desire and so on, clearly do not oppose one another as we might expect.

The pericope just mentioned, describing the sealing of God's servants in The Apocalypse, would appear to have a certain connection with The Feeding Of The Five Thousand. It belongs of course to the series of numbered seals, not that of the letters, and the exegesis of the former we will undertake in tandem with the gospel of John, and its guiding epistemology-psychology, the Christological modes belief simpliciter and desire-to-know, as well as those of Luke, belief-in-desire, and desire simpliciter. The recurrence of the figure 12, and the square of this number present in the sum 'one hundred and forty-four thousand' which accounts for the full process, the sealing of God's servants, bears rapport with the instance of the same in The Feeding Of The Five Thousand. That said, neither should we lose sight of the connection between the double hexad given in the two Christologies and the feeding miracle. Both the Transcendental and Pneumatological feeding miracles bristle with 'thousands', and these narratives offer themselves as hermeneutical keys to understanding the meaning of The Apocalypse 7.1-8. Each miracle story suggests the completed dodecad: the miracle at Cana by means of the dual six jars of water and six jars of wine, The Transfiguration with its reference to the Days of creation, each of which consists of a 'morning and evening, an nth day'.

But more significant still than these observations regarding the relation of The Apocalypse generally to the fourfold format of the gospel, and the distinct permutations as to the theology of mind or consciousness of the latter, is the introduction prior to the description of the series of seals, of the seals themselves as both seven in number and binary:
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.

   


This page was updated 14th December 2016.

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