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Gospel of Mark centers on the controversies of the Little Apocalypse and the narrative of Jerusalem Barabbas. At heart, it is the soulful Christian struggle between the good symbolized at the heart of Old Testament philosophy and made personally physical in the Christ. As in all Christian texts, the conception of evil is posited against the Good News of Jesus. Steeped in Palestinian and Roman tradition in a way not seen in the Epistles of Paul, Mark's gospel presents an audience-specific version of evil, where lack of devout, blind, and holy initial faith in the Christ, witnessed by the Zealots choice of Barabbas over Jesus, was symbolic for the evil of the anti-Christ. (Mark 13:1-2) Lacking in support for the Christ, the people of Jerusalem represented a secular evil to Mark.
Paul struggles with the same empirically Christian evil symbolized by those standing against Christ, but expands it to those being led away from the Gospel. " ... But there are obviously men who are upsetting your faith with a travesty of the Gospel of Christ," (Galatians 1:7) he writes, these "false teachers and preachers," will come in the back door to steal away the Christian spirit and lead people down the path towards evil. (4:17-20) This evil was all too well-known to Augustine, who occupied himself continuously with the memory of having stolen pears in his youth, remembering that by abandoning his godly path for sinful acts, he "became to [him]self a wasteland." (Book 2) Heretical infatuation with the Manichean way plagues him further, yet it became the solid ground for his understanding of the Christian god as good, as the direct opposition to evil, and as inherently incorruptible. (Book 7)
Boethius draws a less concrete path than his peers in his definition of Evil; instead of associating it with the purely ungodly, he immediately transforms the concept of evil to include those living in a manner unlike that of Christ; instead of just being diametrically opposed to him, they are personified with real characteristics: enmity, greed, quarrelsome, harried, barbarian, unjust. (p. 11) In this case, a Christian leader in the free world who seeks to protect and sanctify what we term the inalienable rights of divine providence -- Lockean liberty, life, pursuit of property -- but does so by invading and taking land from another would be sorely evil; his foundation in the Christian faith would avail him of moral harm in the views of the others.
On the other hand, if Augustine were presented with a crooked preacher, whose deeds were largely good but whose fingers proved too sticky, an understanding of evil would preside over the general Christian goodness he otherwise accomplished. If Paul were faced with someone whose acts were holy but not nominally Christian, he too would deem the sufferer evil; Boethius, for example, would strongly disagree. The case for Mark is most unique -- unlike his peers, his definition of evil is based in a very simple of root of ignoring the Christ, someone who failed to acknowledge Christ as lord would be evil in Mark's eyes, even if he embodied those qualities so esteemed in the Christian church and by the other writers.
While Mark struggles with the political dissidence of the Roman empire and its effects upon the livelihood of the Christian church and the messiah himself, Paul occupies himself with the greater concern of authority through religious and governmental regime. In Romans and particularly Galatians, he stresses that by moving away from the "justification of faith" (Galatians 1:1-5), the people of the early Christian church have one stark choice, to blatantly accept the slavery of Law or find instead a new freedom in Jesus. (12:8) Paul stresses that his authority comes not from a crown nor scepter, but instead from the direct power of the Lord above, a sort of divine right of philosophical aptitude.
Augustine concurred; Book Eight of his Confessions tells the story of a man whose solid grounding in the world comes only of the word of God, even as relayed through an orator in Paul. Unlike the previous religious and existential trips prior to his exploration of the Christian faith, the doctrine provided a firm documentation in the moral authority provided by Jesus, embodied in the citizens of "heavenly Jerusalem." (Book 9) To Augustine, authority is born of and begot by its solid foundation in the Trinity. (Book 13) Boethius likewise demands an authority based upon the concepts of Trinity, something not seen in the rule of Caligula., whose exercise of harshness was solidly unjust. (p. 15)
The modern spectrum provides a full arsenal of characters who claim authority based on provisions of moral integrity. Bush heralds the cries of the conservative Christian right; across the globe, the leaders of the Muslim world hail that of Allah. Most recently, Pat Robertson employed the use of Christian ground to stress his political givings for authority, proclaiming that the United States ought just simply dispose of leaders with whom it disagreed. In a retro-1960s appeal for lack of authority, what would seem, should it be heard from the mouth of any other political pundit, largely heretical to the American doctrine, presented itself with an arguable degree of integrity to the public; Pat Robertson says he is a man of the cloth; working as such, it is incomprehensible that he would corrupt the authority vested in him by the Bible and the Word for his own political ends.
In his letters to the Romans, Paul stresses the importance of belief as the galvanizer of religion, the faith-in-action that supports the very system that provides for the faith and salvation of those who are willing to subscribe to its doctrine. Belief, in the eyes of Paul in his epistles to the Romans, was an action of substantiation, dedication to the deeds and goals given holiness by the Christian theology, and the actualization of the ideals taught by Scripture. Belief was the key to the Kingdom.
Mark agreed, but further postured this fundamental Christian ideology against the political ethos of the day. He defines belief with a limned conversation of its rejection; in accepting the salvation of a thief over what the Jews claimed was merely an outspoken heretical was an act of disbelief. For Mark, nothing could be more sinful.
Belief leads to salvation not only by God, but an earthly salvation from the fabled pigs that drive the armies of occupation in this gospel.
Galatians supports a teaching of Paul's theology of "justification by faith," in which Jesus Christ's gospel structures the ultimate law, a holy law, one frequently not witnessed on earth. Paul condemns those who run a non-Christian government as those teaching in a false way, declaring that they lack any moral authority for their dearth of belief. Chapter 12 furthers this perspective, stressing that the Galatians have this moment in time to choose between believing in the new gospel, accepting Christ, and achieving true freedom, or instead being slaves to the old law.
Saint Augustine adds to this declaration in belief as the fundamental Christian crux, leading a life of religious ecstasy, baptism, and the "confessions" that seek to bring men to the God that - in truth - needs to be recognized -- by belief. Belief is epitomized by a holy life, prayer, and is the necessary mediator between God and man. By contrast, the disconnect of which Augustine warns is that which Boethius witnesses in his life texts; through his exposure and investigation of other beliefs, he finds that the belief to which he will ultimately hold fast is the ability to preserve a man his fortune, savor his happiness, and support his values; belief in God, a trusting and prayerful respect, is what allows for belief to be realized in life's recompense.
Each writer suggests a form of belief understandable at any religious level, but each is replete with limitations. Paul's version of belief in Romans is one of pedantic simplicity, it lacks a form of action by which the verb of believing might be achieved. Mark demands a belief that is frequently incongruent with society, and in all reality, the development of the early Christian church, holy in its belief and dedication, happened in great schism with the exterior world. Galatians teaches a belief that is as politically limited, and fails to provide the application to a life in which a burgeoning Christian might be living. TheConfessions, however, provides for the connect, using prayer, daily biblical study, and reverence to God as the means by which a life of belief can be achieved; it is this very life that Boethius actualizes and familiarly extends to the reader as one of secular experience and holy limitation.
Mark's experience of conflict is based upon his recounting of the trials of Jesus and the Little Apocalypse of Jerusalem at the hand of the Jews. Fundamentally, the conflict arises out of disbelief in God. While the Jews saw their God as…[continue]
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