I have written several posts that support the essential historicity of the events that are recorded in Mark’s Gospel (no less than those that are recorded in the other three Gospels).
I have found it interesting, however, to consider the views of Robert M. Price (one of the contributors to The Historical Jesus: Five Views), who takes the polar opposite view. For Price, the ‘events’ recorded in Mark’s Gospel (no less that the others) have virtually no basis in history, but were invented by the Christian community on the basis of their reading of (what we call) the Old Testament scriptures.
To put it in slightly more detail, Price’s view is that the ‘Christ-myth’ was just one of many myths involving a dying-and-rising god in the ancient world. In the earliest documents of the Christian faith (the letters attributed to Paul) we see the beginnings of a process of historicisation of Jesus. Then, in the later documents (the Gospels), this process is taken much further, so that an entire narrative (or, rather, four entire narratives) have been created out of an imaginative reading of Old Testament texts.
Here the, in outline, is how Price thinks that the story of Jesus as told in Mark’s Gospel has been constructed:-
Jesus’ baptism (Mk 1:9–11) conflates Psalm 2:7, Isaiah 42:1 and Genesis 22:12 (LXX).’
The temptation narrative (Mk 1:12–13) recalls 1 Kings 19:5–7.
The call of the first disciples (Mk 1:16–20; see also Mk 2:14) comes from 1 Kings 19:19–21.
In the Capernaum exorcism story (Mk 1:21–28) the cry of the demoniac comes from 1 Kings 17:18.
The story of Peter’s mother-in-law (Mk 1:29–31) comes from 1 Kings 17:8–16 and 2 Kings 4.
The account of the healing of the paralyzed man (Mk 2:1–12) is based on 2 Kings 1:2–17
The healing of the man with a withered hand (Mk 3:1–6) is borrowed from 1 Kings 13:1–6.
The stilling of the storm (Mk 4:35–41) is based on Jonah’s adventure, supplemented from some of the Psalms.
The Gerasene demoniac (Mk 5:1–20) derives from Psalm 107:10, 4, 6, 14.
Jairus’s daughter and the woman with the issue of blood (Mk 5:21–24, 35–43) are a another retelling of the story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4).
Jesus’ rejection at home (Mk 6:1–6) harks back to the story of Saul in 1 Samuel 10:1–27.
Mark’s version of the mission charge (Mk 6:7–13) borrows from 2 Kings 4:29; 5:22).
The story of the death of the Baptizer (Mk 6:14–29) picks up Esther 5:3, and possibly Daniel 6:6–15.
The two miraculous feeding stories (Mk 6:30–44; 8:1–10) are based on 2 Kings 4:42–44.
The walking on the sea (Mk 6:45–52) is constructed from Psalm 107:23–30 (LXX 106:23–30); 23–30; Job 9:8.
In his debate with the scribes over purity rules (Mk 7:1–23), Jesus is given words lifted from Isaiah 29:13 (LXX); see also 1 Kings 18:30.
In Mark 7:24–30 the account of Jesus’ meeting with a foreign woman in the district of Tyre and Sidon comes from 1 Kings 17:8–16, borrowing also from 2 Kings 8:7–15, Isaiah 29:18 and Isaiah 35:5–6.
The story of the transfiguration (Mk 9:1–13) is a version of Moses’ ascent of Mount Sinai in Exodus 24 and Exodus 34:29. The account is also influenced by Malachi 2.
In the story of the deaf-mute epileptic (Mark 9:17-29), 2 Kings 4 is again the source.
The disciples’ argument about which of them is greatest, (Mk 9:33–37) draws on Num 12 and/or Num 16. The same source is used in the story of the exorcist (Mk 9:38–40/Num 11:24–30).
Jesus reaction to the children who were brought to him (Mark 10:13–16) is modelled on 2 Kings 4.
The request of James and John in Mark 10:36f comes from 2 Kings 2:9f.
The stories of the preparation for the entry and the supper (Mk 11:1–6; 14:12–16) derive from 1 Samuel 9. but drawing also on Zechariah 9:9 and Psalm 118:26–27.
The cursing of the fig tree (Mk 11:12–14, 20) comes from Psalm 37:35–36.
The cleansing of the Temple (Mk 11:15–18) is prompted by Mal 3:1–3 and Zechariah 14:21
The parable of the wicked tenants (Mk 12:1–12) has grown out of Isaiah 5:1–7.
Mark’s apocalyptic discourse is a patchwork of paraphrases and quotations: Mark 13:7 comes from Daniel 11:44; Mark 13:8 from Isaiah 19:2 and/or 2 Chronicles 15:6; Mark 13:12 from Micah 7:6; Mark 13:14 from Daniel 9:27 or 12:11 and Genesis 19:17; Mark 13:19 from Daniel 12:1; Mark 13:22 from Deuteronomy 13:2; Mark 13:24 from Isaiah 13:10; Mark 13:25 from Isaiah 34:4; Mark 13:26 from Daniel 7:13; and Mark 13:27 from Zechariah 2:10 and Deuteronomy 30:4.
The Last Supper story (Mk 14:17–31) harks back to Psalm 41:9.
The fate of Judas comes from Zechariah 11:11 and 2 Sam 17:23.
Peter’s assurance that he will not forsake Jesus may be drawn from 2 Kings 2:2, 4, 6 or 1 Sam 15:21.
The Garden of Gethsemane scene (Mk 14:32–52) is based on 2 Samuel 15–16.
Judas’s kiss of betrayal (Mk 14:44–45) may come from 2 Samuel 20:7–10.
The scene involving false accusations against Jesus (Mk 14:55f) is borrowed from Daniel 6:4 (LXX).
Mark 14:65, where Jesus suffers blows and mockery as a false prophet, comes from 1 Kings 22:24.
Jesus’ silence before his accusers comes from Isaiah 50:7; 53:7.
The story of crucifixion, Mark 15, is lifted from Psalm 22, with some elements coming from Amos 8:9 and Psalm 69:21. ‘How odd’ (Price remarks) ‘that the first written account of the major event of the Christian story should be composed not of historical memories but of Scripture passages out of context.’
Joseph of Arimathea (Mk 15:42–47) borrows from the story of Joseph Gen 50:4–5.
The story of the empty tomb originates in Joshua 10:18, 22, 26–27.
The vigil of the mourning women was suggested by Ezek 8:14; Zech 12:11 and Song 3:1–4.
The ‘evidence’ that Price adduces to support his theory that the Gospels were created out of materials found in the Old Testament is more plausibly explained by the hypothesis ‘that early Christian narrators were telling stories about events in Jesus’ mission but were doing so in order to bring out such Old Testament echoes and parallels as they discerned.’
Minimises or ignores the external evidence for the historical Jesus (Josephus,
Fails to reckon with the fact that what the Gospels present is not a dying-and-rising god, but, rather, a crucified-and-resurrected Messiah.
Price’s claim that the Epistles demonstrate no awareness of or interest in an historical Jesus is ‘ludicrous’ (Dunn).