Chapter 17 The Anointing at Bethany: A Buddhist Reading of Mark’s Gospel

In: A Companion to Comparative Theology
James L. Fredericks
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This essay compares a Christian text, the account of the anointing of Jesus by the unnamed woman at Bethany in Mark’s Gospel, with a Buddhist text, the Bodhicaryāvatāra by Śāntideva. More precisely, the essay argues that reading Mark’s Gospel with a hermeneutic attentive to bodhisattva practice, as construed by Śāntideva in the Bodhicaryāvatāra, will allow Christians to see more of the paradox of Easter faith as Mark constructs it with his Gospel’s narrative. Specifically, this Buddhist reading of Mark allows us to connect the anointing at Bethany with Peter’s ambiguous recognition of Jesus as the Messiah at Caesarea Philippi and Mark’s view of the relation between the Davidic Messiah and Isaiah’s Suffering Servant.

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