God’s Kenotic Economy of Space in the Gospel of Mark

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Space in the modern period has predominately been conceived as a “thing,” a setting for human action, ontologically separate from the body. Studies of space in the Gospel of Mark have largely assumed such a “common sense” view. What has resulted from this view of narrative space in Mark has been the multiplication of Markan geographies that have secured and conformed Jesus’s narrative body. Such studies, however, continue to hide the consequences of space that Mark is attempting to expose through the spatiality of Jesus’s narrative body. Rather than representing Jesus’s body as determined by the spatial configurations of imperial scribal cartographic practice, this dissertation will show that Mark portrays Jesus’s body as a living production of space that troubles the dominate maps. Against readings of Mark that argue that Jesus is either an imperial or anti-imperial figure (an insider or outsider), through Henri Lefebvre’s theory of lived space as appropriated by Edward W. Soja’s theory of thirdspace, the present study shows, via a reading of three key Markan passages (3:20-35; 11:1-25; and 15:37-39), that Mark presents Jesus’s body and thus his spatiality as both inside (and insider) and outside (and outsider) simultaneously. Mark ultimately portrays neither an imperial nor anti-imperial spatiality, but a thirdspatiality. Mark’s presentation exposes the consequences of spatial production within an ancient temple cosmology represented by the Markan scribes and chief priests whereby insider-outsider binaries replicate the power of imperial (i.e., centering) institutions throughout the land. Rather than presenting an imperial or anti-imperial economy of spatial production, Mark presents a thirdspatial economy associated with Jesus’s body as kenotic, a thirdspatial production that makes (i.e., creates) space by means of a royal emptying that manifests the divine spatiality of creation.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Theology (PhD in Theology)

First Advisor

Green, Joel B.

Document Type





Bible, Mark, Jesus Christ, Space perception in the Bible, Space


Missions and World Christianity


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