We talked about inclusio.
That’s when a key phrase surrounds an entire narrative, giving hints as to who is really telling the story or who has been part of it the whole time. Phrases like “among us,” “beginning from,” “we are witnesses,” and “first of the signs.” When Luke’s Gospel comes into the picture, it’s keywords make it not so much a historical document as a technical, professional one. We wouldn’t call Luke a historian, primarily. That’s not what he’s here to do. Nonetheless, “from the beginning,” Luke claims that the eyewitnesses, namely, the apostles, were present from the beginning of his Gospel through the end. He’s not presenting some ancient history. This is recent and real to him. It is an investigative report.
In Mark’s Gospel, the inclusio indicates that Peter is the one who was present through the whole story. This makes sense, as Peter seems more present than most of the other disciples, and his role itself is more prominent than Mark’s.
We learned that what is true of the Gospels is what is true about other similar works of antiquity: A genuine witness was not only someone who was there for the events, but someone who had gained understanding and insight into the events.
Our friend the skeptic understood this, but still had some issues with it. As a historian, it is we are supposed to research and tell history merely for the facts. Telling a story with interpretation of meaning is supposed to be dangerous. But even historians do this when it is called for. Powerful stories about history include both the facts and their significance. Nonetheless, our friend agreed that the Gospel writers were wise to point to authoritative witnesses who they claimed saw as many of the events as possible.
So yeah. We talked about inclusio.
[See the next post on The Gospel of Mark.]