Gathered Around Jesus: An Alternative Spatial Practice in the Gospel of Mark

By Eric C. Stewart

An analysis of the portrayal of space and geography in Mark’s Gospel, and the Kingdom of God as an alternative social space centred on the person of Jesus.

ISBN: 9780227173176


Modern scholars are virtually united in understanding that space encodes social practices and power relations. Those who control space exert their control by means of particular spatial practices. Models of critical spatiality, such as that of territoriality, show how social relationships are predominant in the classification, communication, and control of space. Space is seen as a relational category rather than an absolute category.

In this innovative study, Stewart addresses Mark’s editorial and/or compositional control over the geographic presentation of Jesus’s ministry. He makes the case that Mark presents the world spatially in a manner widely consistent with geographic traditions found in Greek and Roman texts. In Mark, Stewart argues, Jesus offers an alternative spatial practice, one that is centered on himself. The kingdom of God exists spatially in the area around Jesus in which the new community “gathers”.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

Eric C. Stewart is Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Notre Dame. He is co-editor of two volumes: In Other Words: Essays on Social Science Methods and the New Testament in Honor of Jerome H. Neyrey and The Social World of the New Testament: Insights and Models.



1. Mark and Space in Recent Discussion
2. Critical Spatial Theory
3. Space in Ancient Texts
4. Categories for Understanding Ancient Space
5. The Spatial Presentation of Mark’s Gospel
6. Conclusion



Endorsements and Reviews

In a splendid presentation, Eric R. Stewart guides the reader through the intricacies of critical social theory of spatiality and argues that Mark eschews the space of the synagogue, house, and city in which to locate the movement of Jesus, and instead founds Jesus’s movement in the borderland territories of the wilderness/desert, the sea, and the mountain. There Jesus creates the new space of the kingdom of God in gathering people around himself. This is an important book.
Dietmar Neufeld, Associate Professor of Christian Origins, University of British Columbia

For the first time in the long scholarly discussion of Mark’s problematic geography, Stewart uses both modern spatial theory and an exhaustive review of ancient evidence to demonstrate how Mark’s spatial perceptions reflect Greek, Roman, and Jewish understandings of human geography. Moving well beyond the anachronistic studies that have dominated the discussion to date, he has provided a significant advance in the study of the Gospel of Mark.
Richard Rohrbaugh, Professor Emeritus of New Testament, Lewis and Clark College

This is an important contribution to Markan studies. Mark’s historical geography may be sketchy, but if it is, it is because Mark is using the whole notion of space and place to re-define the locus of purity. It is no longer centred on the temple but rather on Jesus.
Kent E. Brower, in Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Vol 33.5

The study of first-century Jesus movements has focused almost exclusively on questions of time, says Stewart, to the exclusion of space. To help rebalance the scholarship, he brings a critical social theory of spatiality to bear on one early text, the Gospel of Mark. He covers Mark and space in recent discussion, critical spatial theory, space in ancient texts, categories for understanding ancient space, and the spatial presentation of Mark’s gospel.
Reference & Research Book News, October 2011