In what is surely one of the saddest tales in the Bible, Jephthah vows that if granted success in battle, he will sacrifice the first person to cross the threshold of his home upon his return. Tragically, it is his only child, a daughter, who hurries out to meet him (Judges 11:29-34). New Testament scholar Mary Ann Beavis shows that this harrowing text has many similarities to the story of Jairus ...
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ghter in the Gospel of Mark (5:21-24 and 35-43). Mark’s story, however, has a joyous outcome: Jairus intercedes for his daughter, and Jesus raises her from the dead. Beavis calls this a motif inversion, meaning the text in Mark establishes similarities to Jephthah’s story to encourage the audience to compare the events, only to reverse course and have the story end on a very different note. In other words, Mark suggests correspondences but then shows how, when the story plays out in Jesus’ life, it has a dramatically dissimilar ending. Beavis also discusses another widely recognized example of motif inversion in Mark: in the story of the calming of the sea (Mark 4:35-41), there are many echoes of the story of Jonah (1-4). Jesus, like Jonah, is asleep in a boat and is awakened by questions when a terrifying storm threatens. But Jesus, of course, is no Jonah. The motif is inverted as Jesus, who initially parallels Jonah, takes on the role of God, and, being the only one who can, calms the storm.