(March 4, 2009)

Contact: Rick DelaHaya, Centenary News Services, 318.869.5073

The Gospel of Mark Alive Comes to Centenary College For One Night

Rev. Bert Marshall

Shreveport, La.—The Christian Leadership Center at Centenary College brings The Gospel of Mark Alive to Brown Chapel, Monday, March 9 beginning at 6 p.m.

Hosted by both the CLC and Broadmoor United Methodist Church, The Gospel of Mark Alive is a live storytelling performance by Rev. Bert Marshall, New England Regional Director for Church World Service, the international disaster relief and economic development agency. Audience members will have the opportunity to hear Mark's whole mysterious, enigmatic story from beginning to end as it may have been told in the early years of the Jesus movement...before the rise of institutional Christianity...and experience the power of his gripping tale through the medium of oral tradition.

The Rev. Bert Marshall is a native of Weeping Water, Neb., and is a graduate of Yale University Divinity School, where upon graduation he was awarded the top prizes in "religion and the arts" and in "the public recitation of scripture." Among his more important and highly-favored studies were two years of Biblical Hebrew and courses in the art of storytelling, narrative preaching, and the performance of Biblical texts. The musical setting for the Syro-Phoenician Woman story in the Gospel of Mark was conceived and written while he was a student at the Divinity School.

According to Rev. Marshall, most people know the Gospel of Mark as a written narrative; it was not passed down to us through oral tradition. In order to learn to speak it from memory, Rev. Marshall had to memorize it from a written text. In classical oral tradition, the storytellers are illiterate and they learn the stories — many of them extremely long — by listening to other storytellers.

The stories are never repeated verbatim, but are always tuned to the moment, to that day's particular performance. Identical repeat performances are unheard of; so are fixed written texts. For the great bards of oral cultures, writing kills the word. The word lives only in the space between the storyteller's performance and the audience's hearing. It exists only there.

When the story is over, it ceases to exist until the next time it is told aloud. No chapter and verse numbers, no subtitles, no footnotes, nothing to consult later — only the sound and sight of the living word, a live experience in a living community. For these reasons alone, it is highly recommended that audience members not follow along in their Bible during the storytelling.

For more information on these events or the Christian Leadership Center at Centenary College, call 318.869.5156 or e-mail email.

About Centenary College of Louisiana

Centenary College is a private, four-year arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Founded in 1825, it is the oldest chartered liberal arts college west of the Mississippi River and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Centenary is one of 16 colleges and universities constituting the Associated Colleges of the South and is regularly rated as one of the top colleges in the South. In 2008 Centenary College celebrated 100 years in the Shreveport and Bossier City communities.