Mrs Jennifer Wilkinson
My research involves examination of the historical, cultural and religious circumstances of the early Markan community and its social and cultural milieu, through examination of the Gospel of Mark. A central section of Mark's text reveals a marked interest in Gentiles and the Gentile mission thus presenting an interface between Jesus and polytheistic religions. The primary focus of this research is exegesis of this section of the Gospel. The appropriate level at which any background material will be applied (viz. historical Jesus/pre-Markan tradition or early Christian community/Markan redaction) will be determined by the results of traditio-critical analysis. I will use the historical-critical methodology to determine the variety and nature of Gentile polytheistic religious life in the first-century RNE. The Gentile cities in close proximity to Galilee (including the Phoenician hinterland and the Decapolis which Mark records as having been part of Jesus itinerary) defy simple homogenization as social, cultural, political and religious conditions differed in various cities and towns. It is my intention to research these individual areas within their own local contexts, treating them in a systematic manner in order to develop an insight into the social and religious background of the Gentile communities which the evangelist records Jesus as visiting and influencing and who possibly represented a major part of the Markan target audience.