Sandwiches Anyone?

Readers of Mark’s gospel may, or may not, be familiar with the writer’s convention of breaking up a story by inserting a second story.  Some identify this technique as intercalations, interpolations, or insertions.  I prefer the term “Markan sandwiches.”  Mark will begin a story (top piece of bread), insert a story (meat), and complete the original story (bottom piece of bread).

Sandwich Pic

Markan sandwiches are a literary technique but they also have a highly theological purpose.  The sandwiches emphasize major theological themes of faith, discipleship, evangelism, and the dangers of apostasy.  Here’s a list of sandwich examples:

Forgiveness Sandwich
a. Healing of Paralytic 2:1-5
b. Authority to Forgive Sin 2:5-10
c. Healing of the Paralytic 2:10-12

Miracle Sandwich
a. Withered Hand Miracle 3:1-3
b. Sabbath Controversy 3:4-5
c. Withered Hand Miracle 3:5-6

Family Sandwich
a. Rejection by Jesus’ Family 3:20-21
b. Rejection by Jewish Leaders 3:22-30
c. Rejection by Jesus’ Family 3:31-35

Parable Sandwich
a. Sower Parable 4:1-9
b. Purpose of Parables 4:10-13
c. Explanation of Sower Parable 4:14-10

Healing Faith Sandwich
a. Jairus’ Daughter 5:21-24
b. Issue of Blood 5:22-30
c. Jairus’ Daughter 5:35-43

Discipleship Sandwich
a. Sending Out the Twelve 6:6-13
b. Death of John the Baptizer 6:14-29
c. Sending Out the Twelve 6:30-31

Hand Washing Sandwich
a. Unwashed Hands 7:1-5
b. Corban Controversy 7:6-13
c. Unwashed Hands 7:14-23

Kid Sandwich
a. Blessing Children 9:36-50
b. Teaching on Divorce 10:1-12
c. Blessing Children 10:13-16

Fig Tree Sandwich
a. Cursing of the Fig Tree 11:12-14
b. Cleansing of the Temple 11:15-19
c. Cursing of the Fig Tree 11:20-25

Antichrist Sandwich
a. False Christs 13:5-6
b. Jerusalem/Temple Destroyed 13:7-20
c. False Christs 13:21-23

Killer Sandwich
a. Plot to Kill Jesus 14:1-2
b. Anointing at Bethany 14:3-9
c. Plot to Kill Jesus 14:10-11

Denial Sandwich
a. Peter’s Denial 14:53-54
b. Jesus’ Trial 14:55-65
c. Peter’s Denial 14:66-72

Resurrection Sandwich
a. Women 15:40-41
b. Burial of Jesus 15:42-46
c. Women 15:47-16:1

A quick Google search will provide lists that include fewer passages, some might include more.  Yet, this is more than enough for a starting point.  Read through the sandwiches and see how the technique not only provides structure to the gospel but highlights key theological themes.

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