The Centurion, Son of God, and Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles

I am absolutely thrilled to share the news that my article, “The Centurion, Son of God, and Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles: Contesting Narrative and Commemoration with Mark” will be published in Horizons in Biblical Theology in late 2016 or early 2017!

This article grew out of an argument I’ve been trying to articulate about the Markan death of Jesus since I took a seminary course on the gospel in 2010. The argument was renewed and made more urgent for me this past fall, as I returned to Mark’s gospel and read it anew alongside the then-developing story of Kelly Gissendaner, the widespread support for her clemency, and her execution in September, 2016. I blogged about Kelly here. This article is my attempt to make good on that blog-post, to tell Kelly’s story truthfully, despite the counter-narrative given her by her executioners. Here is the abstract for my article:

Against a longstanding tradition of ascribing religious conversion to the centurion who witnesses Jesus’s death in Mark 15:39, I argue that his acclamation of Jesus as υἱὸς θεοῦ is better understood within the narrative as the words of a conquered enemy. The centurion’s confession parallels the responses of unclean spirits and Legion, two other vanquished enemies who, in the moment of defeat, see and name Jesus υἱὸς θεοῦ. By framing the centurion as a defeated enemy, Mark contests the meaning of Jesus’s crucifixion: rather than remembering it as a performance of Roman rule, Mark commemorates it as the summary victory of the rule of God. Turning from an ancient capital offender to a contemporary one, I recast the memory of Kelly Gissendaner, who was executed in Georgia in 2015, and attempt to narrate and commemorate her state-sanctioned death in light of the Markan Jesus’s.

If I am being very honest: this particular article means a lot to me. Mark’s story holds a very special place in my life and continues to tutor me in the way of discipleship and, when necessary, faithful resistance. As I mention in the piece, “this is not ‘disinterested scholarship.'” This is me at my most kerygmatic—my most Christian, my most honest—about how I see the world.  I am happy that it is my first “major” publication in the field.

Once published, I will share the piece here in full. Until then, here’s a portion of my conclusion: