Hearing Mark's Endings

Listening to Ancient Popular Texts through Speech Act Theory


Hearing Mark’s Endings has two foci: it represents an attempt to show that ancient popular texts are written to be read aloud, and further, develops an aurally attuned hermeneutic to interpret them by.
The contents of the book include rhetorical readings of the ancient popular texts, by Xenophon of Ephesus: An Ephesian Tale, and the ending of Mark’s Gospel. These readings, which highlight the aural nature of the texts, are followed by a methodological justification for using Speech Act Theory as a hermeneutical tool, and further readings, of Xenophon’s romance, and three endings of the Gospel of Mark. The book concludes that Speech Act Theory has, indeed, much to offer to the interpretation of these texts.
The particular usefulness of this work lies in the contribution it makes to New Testament hermeneutics, in the testing of a particular, underused methodology to illuminate ancient popular literature. It will prove to be useful to all those interested in interdisciplinary methodological studies of biblical and other ancient popular literature.


EUR €135.00USD $168.00

Biographical Note

Bridget Gilfillan Upton received her Ph.D. from the University of London, studying at King’s College. She is currently teaching New Testament at Heythrop College, also in the University of London, where her main research interests lie in the application of aspects of film narratology to gospel texts, and to the four gospel tradition as a unit. She is, at present, Secretary of the British New Testament Society.

Review Quote

' Bridget Gilfillan Upton has given us a lucidly and cogently argued study of Mark in the context of ancient reading practice. Drawing on the resources of speech act theory, she invites us to consider how the Gospel would have sounded to ancient listeners who would for the most part have accessed Mark through the offices of a lector. This study could change the ways in which we understand the reception of ancient texts. A delight to read; full of insight and originality.' John Riches, University of Glasgow. ' The use of Speech Act Theory as a tool for reading the different endings of Mark’s Gospel is an innovative and thought-provoking approach. It demonstrates how much there is to be discovered in manuscripts when they are read coherently, and shows the value of combining the traditional data of textual criticism with broader approaches to ancient texts. This volume makes a significant contribution to the growing field of narrative textual criticism, and offers an example of the rich opportunities available to the scholar who is willing to read the multiple text forms produced in antiquity rather than working from a single printed text.' David C. Parker, University of Birmingham. ' There is much in Dr Gilfillan Upton’s book that is of interest to Biblical scholars; firstly the clarity of the author in introducing readers to the complexity of speech act theory (an hermeneutic for aural texts) is to be highly recommended. Secondly the author’s presuppositions, namely the Gospel of Mark as a literary product of the Greco Roman world, although undisputed, is often paid lip service to by NT scholars: not so by this author. Indeed this aspect is given a new dimension through the analysis of a Greek novel, Xenophon’s Ephesian Tale which is taken as a ‘control text’. Lastly the author’s most telling contribution is in the setting out of a subtle methodology, helpful for reading ancient popular texts, and in particular the ending of the Gospel of Mark. The multidisciplinary character of Hearing Mark’s Ending is undoubtedly an important contribution to Markan studies.' Ann Jeffers, Heythrop College. ' Displaying hermeneutical sophistication, balanced historical judgement, and exceptional clarity, Bridget Gilfillan Upton not only establishes the essentially oral/aural nature of Mark’s gospel but demonstrates what this means in practice. Her study will doubtless prove an invaluable contribution not only to Markan studies, but also to students of communication theory and the history of biblical interpretation more generally.' Helen K. Bond, Edinburgh University. ' Written not only with commendable precision but also with unusual clarity, the book will prove valuable not only for Markan scholars but also for those with hermeneutical interests and/or engaged in interdisciplinary study of biblical and ancient popular literature.' W. R. Telford, Durham University.


All those interested in interdisciplinary methodological studies of biblical and other ancient popular literature