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Chapter 2 of Mark may be summarized as follows:

Synoptic Parallels to Mark

Click on the links to see the passages in the New American Bible






The Preaching of John the Baptist




The Baptism of Jesus




The Temptation of Jesus




The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry




The Calling of the First Disciples




The Man with an Unclean Spirit




The Healing of Many People




A Preaching Tour




The Cleansing of a Leper




Pasted from <http://www.silk.net/RelEd/gospelmark1.htm>  This link provides additional parallels for the rest of the chapters in Mark.



I have found The New Interpreter's Study Bible  (NISV) an extremely useful guide for studying Mark and will begin my work in each chapter by first indicating the topical structure provided in the chapter then giving attention to the extensive notes. Topically, chapter one is outlined in the following way in NISB, agreeing generally with the outline above.


The Proclamation of John the Baptist--1-8

The Baptism of Jesus--9-11

The Temptation of Jesus--12-13

 The beginning of the Galilean Ministry--14-20

The Man with the Unclean Spirit--21-28

Jesus Heals Many at Simon's House--29-34

A Preaching Tour in Galilee--35-39

Jesus Heals a Leper--40-45


1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, "See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; 3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,' " 4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." 9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." 12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God,


Pasted from <http://www.biblestudytools.com/nrs/mark/1.html>


In a prior work, I summarized Mark 1 in the following way, then moved into commentary:


Summary The first chapter of Mark opens with a declaration of who Jesus Christ is: the Son of God, written about by Isaiah as one who has been prepared for by his messenger;  the messenger is to make straight the paths of the Lord.  John is introduced as the messenger, and there follows the account of people going out to John to be baptized, coming from Judea and Jerusalem and being baptized in the Jordan for the forgiveness of sins. He tells his followers that while he baptizes with water, the one who follows will baptize with the Holy Spirit.  Shortly, Jesus of Nazareth of Galilee is baptized, sees the heavens opening and the Spirit descending.   A voice from heaven acknowledges him.  Jesus then departs into the wilderness for forty days.   When the narrative picks up, the reader learns John has been arrested; Jesus goes into Galilee preaching, "The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."  Passing by the Sea of Galilee,   (other names are Sea of Tiberias and Lake of Gennesaret. It is 12¾ miles long by 7½ miles wide. Jesus calls Simon and Andrews, fishermen brothers, and then brothers James and John, sons of Zebedee, also fishermen in the work of mending their nets. These four accompany Jesus into Capernaum, where Jesus immediately begins teaching in the synagogue, astonishing those who listened with his authority.  He heals a man of unclean spirit, who acknowledges him as Jesus of Nazareth, the "Holy One of God." This further amazes those who observe that this man has authority over evil, and thus, his fame spreads.  At Simon's house, Jesus and His followers find Simon's mother-in-law with a fever; Jesus takes her by the hand, and she is healed.  By sundown, others have gathered: the sick and those possessed with demons--in fact, the whole city, it would seem.  The demons acknowledge Jesus as authority.  How long the day was is not revealed, but very early the next morning, Jesus departs to pray, pursued by Simon and others.  With little respite, Jesus says, ":Let us go on to the next towns...to preach...for that is why I came."   Throughout Galilee, Jesus continues to preach in synagogues and to cast out demons.   In the process, he heals a leper, who talked freely and spread the news of his healing with the result that Jesus was so beset by crowds that he could not freely enter into the cities but had to stay in the country. It should be noted that Jesus does not oppose current religious practice:  he says, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."


Pasted from <http://crain.english.missouriwestern.edu/Mark/interpre.htm>


This succinct summary will help to launch us into our discussion of this chapter. It should be noted at the outset that Mark has generated much controversy and scholarly discussion, and the easy identification that Jesus is Son of God has been part of this ongoing discussion, this already seated in historical and textual criticism with the possibility for short and long readings, the shorter omitting the phrase "Son of God":


The long reading has the earliest and strongest support by manuscripts, as well as versional and patristic witnesses and the text-types to which the witnesses have traditionally been assigned. The short reading has early and widespread, but much weaker, support.


The internal evidence, to which the defenders of the short reading have normally appealed, is actually ambiguous. The traditional intrinsic argument from Markan style in favour of the long reading is possibly balanced by the corresponding possibility of a stylistic scribal addition.


In regard to transcriptional probability, an early accidental omission, even in the opening of a book, cannot be ruled out, since this apparently happened on several occasions in the history of transmission in Mark 1:1 and elsewhere. This argument, however, is balanced by the general tendency to expand book titles as well as divine names and titles.


In conclusion, the balance of probabilities favours the long reading in Mark 1:1—the ‘Son of God’ was indeed in the beginning.



The first fourteen verses have been identified as presenting a prologue.  NISV  remarks on the nature of prologue in ancient use "to orient the reader unambiguously to what they were about to hear" and contrasts this to the ancient view that doing so would suspend suspense and keep the hearing mind focused on what is being presented. This is probably a good point to remind readers that narrative was considered by the ancients as a form of argument, this commented on later. According to NISB, the prologue has Jesus of Nazareth of Galilee come to John in Judea, replicating the overall structure  of the movement of the Gospel from Galilee to Jerusalem. It also presents the hero of the story and his divine association, letting readers understand this clearly even if secrecy becomes  a developing motif. Jesus comes preaching the good news of God.


John Lightfoot (English Biblical critic and Hebraist; born at Stoke-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, Mar. 29, 1602; died at Ely, Cambridgeshire, Dec. 6, 1675)

explained the reference to Isaiah in verse two in the following way:


The whole knot of the question lies in the cause of changing the reading; why, as it is written in Esaias the prophet, should be changed into, as it is written in the prophets. The cause is manifest, saith that very learned man, namely, because a double testimony is taken out of two prophets. "But there could be no cause (saith he) of changing of them." For if Mark, in his own manuscript, wrote, as it is written in the prophets, by what way could this reading at last creep in, as it is written in Esaias, when two prophets are manifestly cited?

Reader, will you give leave to an innocent and modest guess? I am apt to suspect that in the copies of the Jewish Christians it was read, in Isaiah the prophet; but in those of the Gentile Christians, in the prophets: and that the change among the Jews arose from hence, that St. Mark seems to go contrary to a most received canon and custom of the Jews: "He that reads the prophets in the synagogues let him not skip from one prophet to another. But in the lesser prophets he may skip; with this provision only, that he skip not backward: that is, not from the latter to the former."

But you see how Mark skips here from a prophet of one rank, namely, from a prophet who was one of the twelve, to a prophet of another rank: and you see also how he skips backward from Malachi to Isaiah. This, perhaps, was not so pleasing to the Christian Jews, too much Judaizing yet: nor could they well bear that this allegation should be read in their churches so differently from the common use. Hence, in Isaiah the prophet, was inserted for in the prophets. And that they did so much the more boldly, because those words which are cited out of Malachi are not exactly agreeable either to the Hebrew original or the Greek version, and those that are cited from Isaiah are cited also by Matthew and Luke; and the sense of them which are cited from Malachi may also be fetched from the place alleged out of Isaiah.


Pasted from <http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/lightfoot-new-testament/mark/1.html>



Almost at every line, the prologue, and this is typical of Mark in general,  should cause readers to stop and ask questions: What do we mean by good news? Why is this "The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ"? Who is Jesus Christ? What is meant by "Son of God"? Who is the messenger? What is the relationship between Jesus and John?  Why does John so quickly disappear from the action? What are the differences between the two baptisms? Why is Jesus baptized by John, if he is proclaiming  a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins"? Why does Jesus come from Nazareth? What is the wilderness, and why is Jesus tested? What does it mean that the time if fulfilled? Why is it important "to repent and believe in the good news"? With just these questions, readers have plenty to consider. Unfortunately, inattentive reading as well as reliance upon traditions of theology all interfere with getting to the bottom of such questions.


Several patterns of structure may be remarked in this prologue. First, use of the rhetorical device of inclusio--"the use of a phrase or theme at both the beginning and end of a passage"-- "good news"-- marks the beginning of the first major section of the Gospel (1:14-10:52). Whereas I address readers, Mark was originally meant to be" heard with the ear rather than read with the eye" (Introduction to Mark, NISB). This accounts for repetitions, summaries and rhetorical devices used in aural narratives. The narrator uses narrative "to draw audiences" into the story's action and helps them "align their responses to those of the hero and narrator."  To be noted, too, is a journey described as taking Jesus from Nazareth to John in the wilderness which "foreshadows the overall movement of the Gospel from his ministry in Galilee to his trial, death, and resurrection in Jerusalem (completing the circle is the final prediction in 16:7 that he would be seen again by his followers in Galilee" (Notes, NISB). The "heavens torn apart" (10-11) at Jesus' baptism have a counterpart in the curtain of the temple torn apart at the death of Jesus (chapter 15).


The Blue Letter Bible supports variation in the views that have been taken to finding structural patterns in Mark:


There is not much consensus on how to divide up Mark's Gospel. The first thirteen verses designate the beginnings of Jesus' ministry. Following that is Jesus' ministry in Galilee. Jesus then goes to Caesarea Philippi, after which he makes his way up to Jerusalem where the passion takes place. The story ends with and the resurrection of Christ. Many have noted that Peter's confession in 8:27-30 constitutes a structural turning point in Mark, because this is the first recognition of who Jesus is within the Gospel. After this point, Jesus puts an emphasis on things that pertain to his Messiahship. This would involve such things as Cole points out: "rejection, suffering, death, apparent failure and ultimate vindication by God in resurrection." [10]

The greatest textual issue in Mark's Gospel is the ending (16:9-20). There are a couple manuscript deviations affecting the conclusion that have led to a plethora of literature on the subject. In short, the 16:9-20 ending and the ending at 16:8 both hold merit. The former is found in a large amount of manuscripts, and even appears to have been known by Tatian (ca. 170) and others. [11] On the other hand, two of the most important manuscripts (Sinaiticus and Vaticanus) end the Gospel at 16:8. Besides the manuscript evidence, many who hold to the second view also look to Mark's theology and writing style for support.


Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/study/intros/mark.cfm>


Certainly,  what can be readily agreed to is that the ministry of Jesus begins  with 1:14, 15 after the arrest of John and when Jesus comes to Galilee proclaiming "good news" and asking that people to repent and believe that "the Kingdom of God has come near." What follows is the calling of disciples" Simon, Andrew, and John. Felix Just outlines the first chapter in the following way:

  • Evangelist's Literary Introduction - "The beginning of the good news (gospel; euangelion) of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." (v. 1)
    • As written by the prophet Isaiah (and Malachi), John the Baptist preaches repentance in the wilderness (vv. 2-6)
      • John speaks about Jesus coming after him: "I baptize with water; he will baptize with holy Spirit" (vv. 7-8)
        • Jesus comes from Nazareth and is baptized by John in the Jordan river; heavens open; the Spirit descends (vv. 9-10)
      • A voice from heaven speaks to Jesus: "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." (v. 11)
    • The Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness, where he remains for forty days, tested by Satan (vv. 12-13)
  • Jesus' Initial Preaching - "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news." (vv. 14-15)
    [The first words of Jesus in Mark's Gospel proclaim the urgency of his message, his focus on God, and the response expected from the listeners.]

Some Typical Events in Jesus' Ministry (1:16-45):

  • The first Vocation story: Jesus calls four fishermen, who follow him as his disciples (vv. 16-20)
    • The first Exorcism:  Jesus exorcises an unclean spirit in Capernaum (vv. 21-28)
      • The first Healing narrativeJesus heals Simon's Mother-in-law of a fever (vv. 29-31)
      • The first Healing summary: Jesus heals many sick people and drives out many demons (vv. 32-34)
    • The first Journey:  Jesus expands his preaching beyond Capernaum (vv. 35-39)
  • The first Restoration story: Jesus cleanses a leper, restoring him to health and to society (vv. 40-45)


Pasted from <http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Mark-Outlines.htm>


Theology  Library The Gospel of Mark provides a wealth of material for the study of Mark (http://www.shc.edu/theolibrary/mark.htm ); among these can be found a comprehensive list of structural patterns for Mark; among the more useful are paratactic style, thematic groupings, encapsulating or summarizing action, threefold patterns with progressive heightening, inclusios and intercalations:


Paratactic Style:

  • Parataxis - stringing together (lit. “placing next to”) short loosely connected episodes, like pearls on a string.
    • An amazing 410 of the 678 verses in the original Greek version of Mark’s Gospel begin with the word “And” (Gk. kai)!
  • Immediacy - Mark’s Gospel emphasizes action, as seen in the frequent use of the Greek word euthys (“immediately, right away, at once, as soon as”), used an astounding 42 times, especially near the beginning of the Gospel (1:10, 12, 18, 20, 21, 23, 28, 29, 30, 42, 43;  2:8, 12;  3:6;  4:5, 15, 16, 17, 29;  5:2, 29, 30, 42;  6:25, 27, 45, 50, 54;  7:25;  8:10;  9:15, 20, 24;  10:52;  11:2, 3;  14:43, 45, 72;  15:1).
    • One could feel exhausted after reading Mark’s Gospel, so quickly does the action seem to occur!

Thematic Groupings:

  • Mark sometimes places similar stories together for thematic continuity, even if the events related might not have occurred one right after the other, chronologically speaking. Examples:
    • Several miracle stories interconnecting Jesus’ preaching and healing activity are in the first chapter (1:21-45)
    • Five controversy stories involving various opponents are in a connected block (2:1—3:6)
    • Three parables and further teachings about Jesus’ parables are in one chapter (4:1-34)
    • Four more miracles stories (of different types) are found together (4:35—5:43)
    • Three “passion predictions” are near the middle of the Gospel (8:31—10:45)
    • Seven controversy dialogues with or about Jesus’ opponents in Jerusalem (11:35—12:44)
    • Many of Jesus’ eschatological teachings are collected in one chapter (13:1-37)
  • Mark also periodically encapsulates or summarizes the action, in contrast to telling individual stories:
    • 1:14-15 - Jesus’ initial preaching about the Kingdom/Reign of God
    • 1:32-34 - Jesus heals many different people one evening
    • 1:39 - Jesus goes throughout Galilee preaching and exorcizing
    • 3:7-12 - Great crowds acknowledge Jesus’ power
    • 6:6b - Jesus goes throughout the villages of Galilee teaching
    • 6:12-13 - Jesus’ disciples go out preaching, exorcizing, and healing
    • 6:53-56 - Mark summarizes Jesus’ healing activity

Three-fold Patterns, with Progressive Heightening:

  • Three times Jesus calls his core disciples to follow him (1:16-20; 2:14-17; 3:13-19)
  • Three times Jesus predicts his suffering, death, and resurrection (8:31; 9:31; 10:32-34)
  • Three times Jesus warns, “If your hand/foot/eye causes you to stumble…” (9:43, 45, 47)
  • Three times Jesus returns and speaks to the sleeping disciples in Gethsemane (14:32-42)
  • Three times Peter denies knowing Jesus or being his disciple (14:66-72)
  • Three groups of people deride Jesus as he is hanging on the cross (15:29-30, 31-32a, 32b)
  • Other groups of three: Peter, James, John (9:2; 14:33); priests, scribes, elders (11:27; 14:43); women (15:40; 16:1)

Inclusios and Intercalations:

  • Inclusio - bracketing or “enclosing” a story or section by using the same or similar words, phrases, or themes at the beginning and the end
  • Intercalation - enclosing or “sandwiching” one story in the middle of a different story (forming an A1, B, A2 pattern), so that each affects the interpretation of the other
  • Examples of inclusio and intercalation in Mark, some of which involve larger blocks of material:

A1)  2:1-5 – A paralytic is brought to Jesus

    B)  2:6-10 – Dispute over Jesus’ authority to forgive sins

A2)  2:11-12 – Jesus heals the paralytic

A1)  3:20-21 – Jesus’ family goes out to restrain him

    B)  3:22-30 – the Beelzebul controversy

A2)  3:31-35 – Jesus’ family arrives; who is his “true family”?

A1)  4:3-8 – Jesus tells parable of the sower and the seed

    B)  4:10-12 – Why does Jesus speak in parables?

A2)  4:13-20 – Jesus explains parable of the sower and the seed

A1)  5:21-24 – Jairus asks Jesus to heal his dying daughter

    B)  5:25-34 – a hemorrhaging woman touches Jesus’ clothes

A2)  5:35-43 – Jesus raises the daughter of Jairus to life

A1)  6:7-13 – Jesus sends out the twelve apostles on a mission

    B)  6:14-29 – the death of John the Baptist is recalled

A2)  6:30-31 – the apostles return, reporting what they had done

A1)  8:22-26 – Jesus gives sight to a blind man near Bethsaida

    B)  8:28—10:45 – three passion predictions; discipleship teachings

A2)  10:46-52 – Jesus gives sight to blind Bartimaeus near Jericho

A1)  9:1 – the coming of the Kingdom of God in power

    B)  9:2-8 – the Transfiguration of Jesus

A2)  9:9-13 – the coming of Elijah and of the Son of Man

A1)  11:12-14 – Jesus curses a fig tree outside of Bethany

    B)  11:15-19 – Jesus expels sellers and buyers from the Temple

A2)  11:20-25 – the fig tree is withered; the importance of faith

A1)  14:1-2 – chief priests want to arrest and kill Jesus

    B)  14:3-9 – a woman anoints Jesus at Bethany

A2)  14:10-11 – Judas arranges to betray Jesus to the chief priests

A1)  14:54 – Peter enters the courtyard of the high priest, and sits by a fire

    B)  14:55-65 – Jesus is interrogated by the council of the chief priests

A2)  14:66-72 – in the courtyard, Peter denies knowing Jesus three times


Pasted from <http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Mark-Literary.htm>


James R. Edwards has called the above patters "sandwiching" and given the several other names for the pattern: intercalations, interpolations, insertions, framing, and Schiebungen.  He then outlines his criteria for a sandwich and identifies nine, these varying from those identified above:

Each Markan interpolation concerns a larger (usually narra­tive) unit of material consisting of two episodes or stories which are nar rated in three paragraphs or pericopes. The whole follows an A1-B-A2 schema, in which the B-episode forms an independent unit of material, whereas the flanking A-episodes require one another to complete their narrative. The B-episode consists of only one story; it is not a series of stories, nor itself so long that fails to link A 2


the    with

A1.17 Finally, A2 normally contains an allusion at its beginning which refers back to A1, e.g., repetition of a theme, proper nouns, etc.

1. 3:20-35

A Jesus’ companions try to seize him, vv 20-21

B The religious leaders accuse Jesus of being in league with Beelzeboul, vv 22-30

A Jesus’ family seeks him, vv 31-35

2. 4:1-20

A Parable of the Sower, vv 1-9

B Purpose of parables, vv 10-13

A Explanation of the Parable of the Sower, vv 14-20

3. 5:21-43

A Jairus pleads with Jesus to save his daughter, vv 21-24

B Woman with a hemorrhage touches Jesus, vv 25-34

A Jesus raises Jairus’s daughter, vv 35-43


  1. A    Mission of the Twelve, vv 7 -13

B Martyrdom of John the Baptist, vv 14-29

A Return of the Twelve, v 30


  1. 11:12-21

A Cursing of the fig tree, vv 12-14

B Clearing of the temple, vv 15-19

A Withering of the fig tree, vv 20-21

  1. 14:1-11

A Plot to kill Jesus, vv 1-2

B Anointing of Jesus at Bethany, vv 3-9

A Judas’s agreement to betray Jesus, vv 10-11

  1. 14:17-3119
    1. Jesus predicts his betrayal, vv 17-21

B Institution of the Lord’s Supper, vv 22-26

A Jesus predicts Peter’s betrayal, vv 27-31

  1. 14:53-72

A Peter follows Jesus to the courtyard of the high priest, vv 53-54

B Jesus’ inquisition before the Sanhedrin, vv 55-65

A Peter’s denial of Jesus, vv 66-72

  1. 15:40-16:820

A Women at the cross, vv 15:40-41

B Joseph of Arimathea requests Jesus’ body, vv 15:42-46

A Women at the empty tomb, vv 15:47-16:8


Edwards then makes the important point  that the technique is used theologically:


J. Donahue is correct in regarding the purpose of Markan sandwiches as theological and not solely literary, although, as our investigation evinces, their purpose cannot be limited, as Donahue sup­poses, to the way of Jesus’ suffering and the necessity of dis cipleship .They are equally concerned with the meaning of faith, bearing witness, judgment, and the dangers of apos­tasy.


Just further lists literary echoes and repetitions:


Use of “Literary Echoes” for retrospectives or foreshadowing:

  • Literary Echoes within the Gospel narrative:
    • 1:7 – someone will come who is “more powerful” than John the Baptist (see 1:21-28; 3:27)
    • 1:14 – “after John is arrested” (imprisonment narrated more fully in 6:14-27)
    • 2:20 – “the bridegroom will be taken away” (cf. Passion narrative, 14:43—16:3)
    • 3:6 – Pharisees and Herodians plot to destroy Jesus (cf. 8:15; 11:18; 12:13; 14:1)
    • 8:19-20 – Jesus recalls previously feeding the 5000 & 4000 (cf. 6:30-44; 8:1-10)
    • 8:27-28 – a discussion of Jesus’ identity recalls previous opinions of his being a prophet (6:14-16)
    • 8:31; 9:31; 10:32-33 – Jesus predicts his upcoming passion (cf. 14:43—16:3)
    • 9:7 – a voice from heaven again declares that Jesus is God’s beloved Son (cf. 1:11)
    • 14:17-21 – Jesus foretells his betrayal by Judas (cf. 14:10-11; 14:43-50)
    • 14:26-31 – Jesus foretells the disciples’ desertion and Peter’s denial (cf. 14:50-52; 66-72)
  • Foreshadowing of events beyond the narrative:
    • 1:8 – “He will baptize with the Holy Spirit”
    • 1:16-20 – “I will make you fish for people”
    • 10:38-39 – the deaths of James and John
    • 13:2 – the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple
    • 14:25 – “until that day… in the Kingdom of God”

Repetition of Key Words and Phrases:

  • Key Words used throughout Mark’s Gospel:
    • Gospel / Good News – 1:1, 14-15; 8:35; 10:29; 13:10; 14:9; [16:15]
    • Christ – 1:1; 8:29; 9:41; 12:35; 13:21; 14:61; 15:32
    • Son of God – 1:1; 3:11; 5:7; 15:39; cf. 1:11; 9:7; 13:32; 14:61
    • Authority – 1:22, 27; 2:10; 3:15; 6:7; 11:28-33; 13:34
    • Kingdom of God – 1:15; 4:11; 4:26, 30; 9:1; 9:47; 10:14-15; 10:23-25; 12:34; 14:25; 15:43
    • Believe / Faith – 1:15; 2:5; 4:40; 5:34, 36; 9:23, 24, 42; 10:52; 11:22, 23, 24, 31; 13:21; 15:32; 16:13, 14, 16, 17
    • Follow / Behind – 1:17, 18, 20; 2:14, 15; 3:7; 5:24; 6:1; 8:33, 34; 9:38; 10:21, 28, 32, 52; 11:9; 14:13, 54; 15:41
    • The Way / Road – 1:2-3; 2:23; 6:8; 8:3, 27; 9:33-34; 10:17, 32; 10:46, 52; 11:8; 12:14
  • Phrases repeated in close proximity:
    • “rise, take up your mat, and walk/go” (2:9, 11, 12)
    • “he appointed twelve” (3:14, 16)
    • “healed of her disease” (5:29, 34)
    • “the head of John the Baptist... on a platter” (6:24, 25, 28)
    • “Don’t you understand?” (8:17, 21)
    • “If your [x/y/z] causes you to stumble…” (9:43, 45, 47)
    • “How hard it is... to enter the Kingdom of God” (10:23, 24, 25)
    • “Son of David, have mercy on me” (10:47, 48)
    • “Call him... They called him... He is calling you” (10:49)
    • “their testimony did not agree” (14:56, 59)


Pasted from <http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Mark-Literary.htm>



Likewise, Dom Henry Wansbrough (Pasted from <http://www.textweek.com/mkjnacts/mark.htm>  provides the following list of literary features used by the writer of Mark:


Here is a list of the more prominent features of Mk’s writing. They need to be understood and remembered, since they will be widely used in what follows.

The ‘and’ and ‘and at once’ with      the historic present gives a breathless speed to the narrative which      emphasizes the urgency of Jesus’ message.

Mk repeatedly uses two phrases of      similar meaning for emphasis, e.g. 1.32 ‘at evening//when the sun had      set’, or 1.42 ‘the leprosy left him//and he was cleansed’, or 2.20      ‘then//on that day’. Particularly frequent are double questions: 4.30:      ‘What can we say that the kingdom of heaven is like? What parable can we      find for it?’ (or 3.13; 4.40; 6.2). This repetition is a technique of oral      teaching.

Mk zooms in, to focus on one      memorable material object: 4.38 Jesus was asleep in the stern, his head      on the cushion’, or 5.27 ‘she touched his cloak from behind’,      or 6.28 ‘he brought the head on a dish’.

A delayed explanation with      ‘for…’, rationing the information till the reader asks a question, when it      could have been logical to explain earlier: 1.16; 2.15; 5.8; 16.1, 8.

5. The sandwich-technique, by which Mk inserts a piece between two halves of   another piece in such a way that the outer halves and the central piece illustrate and clarify one another. Thus

2.1-4 Story about physical healing

            2.5-11 Story about healing of sin

2.12  Story about physical healing

3.20-21 Jesus’ family fail to understand him

            3.22-30 The scribes misunderstand him

3.31-35 Jesus’ family fail to understand him

4.1-9 Parable of the Sower

            4.10-12 Jesus’ use of parables

4.13-20 Parable of the Sower explained

11.12-14 The fruitless figtree cursed

            11.15-19 The Temple rubbished

11.20-25 The figtree found to be withered

6. The controversy-technique. This occurs in the controversies about divorce, about              Jesus’ authority in the Temple, about paying tax to Caesar and about the yeast of the Pharisees.

(1) The opponents put a question to Jesus      10.2   11.27    12.14   8.16     

(2) Jesus replies with a counter-question        10.3   11.30    12.15   8.17

(3) The opponents give inadequate answer     10.4   11.33a  12.16   8.19

(4) Jesus clinches the matter                           10.5   11.33b  12.17   8.21


Wansbrough then provides the following overall map of Mark's structure:


These seven instances of pattern show that Mk is a real author, receiving his material in an oral and flexible form, and shaping this material consistently according to his own patterns of thought in such a way as to bring out the lessons and emphases which he wishes to underline. For the understanding of Mk as a whole, however, it is important to be aware of the architectonic lines of the whole story:



The gospel begins with an Introduction, in which the reader/listener is told – still somewhat mysteriously - who Jesus is, namely, that he is ‘son of God’, whatever that may mean (see p. 40-41). First comes the witness of scripture, then the witness of John the Baptist, then the overwhelming witness of the Voice from heaven. This witness is all the more overpowering because it uses the conventions of apocalyptic (see p. 45), and alludes especially to Is 42.1 (‘my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased’ is a possible alternative translation to ‘my chosen one in whom my soul delights’). Finally the Testing in the Desert shows Jesus in the messianic peace with the wild animals (as Is 11.6-9) and ministered by angels (Ps 91.11), a return to the peace of the Garden of Eden.


Next begins the first half of the diptych, two panels, hinged in the middle (8.29), one matching the other. The curtain comes down, so to speak, and the actors on stage have no idea who Jesus is – only we, the privileged readers, know that. The actors discover slowly and painfully who Jesus is from a crescendo of incidents in which they are repeatedly bowled over by Jesus’ charismatic authority. They still, however, fail to understand what this means, and three times are rebuked, each time on the Lake of Galilee, for their lack of understanding (4.40; 6.50-51; 8.17). This leads up eventually to Peter’s declaration at Caesarea Philippi, which, however, is immediately preceded by the symbolically-placed gift of sight to the blind man of Bethsaida. At Caesarea Philippi Peter’s eyes are at last opened, and he declares (8.29), ‘You are the Christ’. This is the turning-point of the gospel.


Peter has reached the truth that Jesus is the Messiah, but he immediately fails to understand what this implies, what sort of Messiah Jesus is. So in the second half of the diptych there follow the three great formal prophecies of the Passion. Each of these is misunderstood, the first by Peter’s rebuke to Jesus (8.32), the second by the squabble about precedence (9.33), the third by the sons of Zebedee asking for the best places (10.35-40). After each of these failures Jesus re-iterates that his followers must share his Cross.


Finally comes the climax at Jerusalem. At they leave Jericho and enter the Wadi Qilt for the final three-hour walk up to Jerusalem (look at a map!), the other cure of the blind man, Bartimaeus, signals that the disciples, too, are about to receive their full sight. The full revelation of who Jesus is occurs in two scenes, first the scene before the High Priest, where Jesus for the first time accepts the three great titles, son of God, Christ and son of man. The second scene is the acknowledgement of the centurion, the first human being to give Jesus the title, ‘son of God’ (15.39). Whatever the centurion meant by that formula, Mk must read it with Christian eyes. So the declaration of the Voice at the baptism has returned again with the declaration of the centurion. This title therefore functions as a bracket which binds together the whole gospel, showing that the whole gospel is precisely about the revelation of the personality of Jesus as son of God.


There are other balances between the two halves of the diptych, for example the group of controversies with the Jewish leaders in Galilee at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (2.1-3.6) and at the end in Jerusalem (12.1-37). Mk has gathered these two groups of controversies together.


Mk’s practice of gathering incidents together at least raises the question whether Mk’s presentation of the ministry at Jerusalem in a few days is not itself a gathering together of incidents which in fact occurred over a wider time-span. The overall arrangement of Jn differs widely from that of the synoptic gospels, which ultimately stems from Mk. Conventionally preference is given to the synoptic arrangement, in which Jesus makes only one visit to Jerusalem, at the end of his ministry. Jn presents four visits to Jerusalem over the course of Jesus’ ministry, beginning with the Cleansing of the Temple. Each time Jesus goes up to Jerusalem in Jn the authorities attempt to get rid of Jesus, but they succeed only when Judas gives them the opportunity on the eve of Passover. This offers at least as plausible a scenario as the single short visit to Jerusalem given by Mk. Just as at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry Mk offers a sample day of his activity (1.21-38), so his careful time-indications serve Mk to knit together Jerusalem incidents into a tight time-frame: ‘next day’ (11.12), ‘next morning’ (11.20), ‘two days before the Passover’ (14.1), ‘on the first day of Unleavened Bread’ (14.12). The traditional placing of the messianic entry into Jerusalem on ‘Palm Sunday’, six days before the Passover, comes, however, from Jn 12.1, and Jn allows a considerably less packed timetable by placing at least some of the incidents in previous visits to Jerusalem.


Because the first chapter of Mark is largely an introduction, having these structural devices up front will help with the discussion to come in the following chapters. Taken together, Just's list makes a compelling argument for a view of Mark as carefully, and artistically, structured, a structure nothing short of amazing.


Beginning of Good News


The Introduction has already remarked that Mark 1: 1-3 may be read as "one extended sentence," this making Jesus the referent and the messenger of  the coming of God ( NISN Notes), this reading lending possible new ways of viewing the work of both John and Jesus.  Already, too, readers should begin to ask questions: Why is it  "the beginning of good news? " What is the good news? Is it the good news of Jesus Christ, as found in the NRSV? What does it mean to be "the Son of God"? Does it make any difference to interpretation to know that "the Son of God" was left out of ancient manuscripts? What does one make of the fact that ancient authorities replace the reference to Isaiah with "in the prophets"? What is meant by "messenger"? What way is being prepared?  Does it make any difference that 1:1 has been viewed as a title?


In my earlier work on Mark, in the tradition of the other Gospels, I stated emphatically that John was the messenger, a position clearly open for question if Jesus is the referent of the quotation; I quote what I wrote in this early work:


John clearly is the messenger who is to prepare "the way of the Lord."   The scriptural tie is to the books of Isaiah and Malachi. Malachi reads thus:

3.1: Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

4.4: Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.

5: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

It's clear that John is to be identified with Elijah as the messenger indicated by Malachi, not the name of a person but a name meaning "my messenger." Jesus is securely located within the tradition of Jewish predecessors. It should be recalled that Zechariah, preceding Malachi, proclaims that the Lord of Hosts will return to Jerusalem to initiate the Kingdom of God.  Mark is aware of this tradition and places Jesus Christ clearly as this Lord of Hosts. Baptized by John, he is immediately declared  as God's revelation: 1.11: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.


In summary, the Son of God designation seems to have undergone some metamorphosis: used at first to designate divine being or a human being in special relationship to a divine figure; a king who has his kingdom from God; God as Father and His followers as sons of God; the pious or suffering righteous; connected to the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus; Jesus' unique addressing of God as Father and a connection with the kingship relationship:

The origin of the title seems, in the first place, to be Jesus’ unique addressing God as father (see especially Mark 14.36, where the Aramaic abba is preserved), and second, its connection with kingship ideology in view of the conviction that Jesus was the anticipated son of David. Yet characteristically in the New Testament it stands beside the usage of the phrase sons of God, referring to those whom Jesus has brought to salvation (Romans 8.14–21Romans 9.8Romans 9.26Galatians 3.26Matthew 5.9Matthew 5.45John 1.121 John 3.1). (ON)


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I concluded, somewhat ambiguously, "The relationship of Christ is, according to Mark, then that of being a human being/servant identified with God, or said in another way, God-presence lived out in the life of a human being. The two are so closely identified as to become one: that is, the Son is God." Part of my aim in the current study is to delineate more carefully the person of Jesus and the Christology of theology.


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It may be useful at this point to be reminded that this voice from heaven occurs on three strategic occasions in Mark:

1:11 Three times during Christ’s earthly ministry a voice came from heaven. It was the Father’s testimony to Christ’s unique and divine Sonship. The other two confirming incidents were at the Transfiguration (9:7) and on the day of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (John 12:28).

Radmacher, E. D. 1999. Nelson's new illustrated Bible commentary. T. Nelson Publishers: Nashville



Turton, concerning "Son of God," addresses the possible heresy involved:


v1: "Son of God." In Judaism before, during, and after the time of Jesus there was a heresy of "two powers" in heaven that was opposed by later rabbis, and which Christians were accused of. This consisted of interpreting scripture to say that there was a principal angel or entity in Heaven that was equal to God. This "heresy" was common enough that those who advocated it did not feel the need to justify their beliefs, indicating that they were writing to audiences comfortable with such beliefs. James McGrath (2001) writes:


Let us begin with the earliest evidence available to us, namely the writings of Philo and the NT. What is immediately striking is that there is no real indication in the writings of Philo and Paul that they felt their beliefs, which resemble the ‘two powers’ belief in rabbinic literature, were controversial.


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In their Commentary Critical  and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871), Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown  explain that critical editors have preferred  "As it is written in Isaiah the prophet" which refers to the whole prophetical matter, including Malachi's later development of Isaiah's perspective:


2, 3. As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee--( Malachi 3:1 , Isaiah 40:3 ).

3. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight--The second of these quotations is given by Matthew and Luke in the same connection, but they reserve the former quotation till they have occasion to return to the Baptist, after his imprisonment ( Matthew 11:10 , Luke 7:27 ). (Instead of the words, "as it is written in the Prophets," there is weighty evidence in favor of the following reading: "As it is written in Isaiah the prophet." This reading is adopted by all the latest critical editors. If it be the true one, it is to be explained thus--that of the two quotations, the one from Malachi is but a later development of the great primary one in Isaiah, from which the whole prophetical matter here quoted takes its name. But the received text is quoted by IRENÆUS, before the end of the second century, and the evidence in its favor is greater in amount, if not in weight. The chief objection to it is, that if this was the true reading, it is difficult to see how the other one could have got in at all; whereas, if it be not the true reading, it is very easy to see how it found its way into the text, as it removes the startling difficulty of a prophecy beginning with the words of Malachi being ascribed to Isaiah). For the exposition,


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Turton summarizes the matter of prophets and messenger  by quoting Helms to the effect that Mark has used Exodus and Malachi:


You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, "Here is your God!" (NIV)

"Good tidings" is of course euangelion (gospel) in Greek.


v2: Helms (1997, p3) points out that this verse is built out of Exodus 23:20 and a paraphrase of Malachi. 3:1.



Here is my herald whom I send on ahead of you 

Idou, apostello ton aggelon mou pro prosopou sou

taken directly from the Greek of the Septaugint version of Exodus:


Idou, apostello ton aggelon mou pro prosopou sou

The passage in its entirety reads:


Exodus 23:20 "See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. 21 Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. (NIV)




v2: Malachi 3:1 says:



"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty. (NIV)


The last section of Malachi's prophecies, Mal 4:5, contains a reference to Elijah:



"See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse." (NIV)


Elijah will play an important role in the gospel of Mark.


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Authorship relates directly to how readers interpret this very first, and important verse, in Mark. I have agreed generally with those who date the composition to the 60s CE;  Eusebius, quoting Papias of the first half of the second century,  to the effect that the composition was written after Peter's death and the persecutions of Nero, the writer being a follower of Peter; Jerome, the translator of the Bible into Latin, identified the writer as John Mark, an associate of Paul's. At stake, theologically, is the message conveyed by a Gospel written after Peter's death and certainly, after Paul's proclamation to the Gentiles. In the Preface to Mark, the NISB says, "It may well be that in addition to encouraging faithfulness in those Christians facing persecution, the Gospel of Mark was also intended to reach out to others interested in Christianity but not yet committed to it." Given the possibility that "The Gospel of Mark, like the other canonical Gospels, probably originally circulated anonymously among Christian groups"  and the reality that early church fathers identified the author, is it possible that the title is a Christian interpolation? Turton has summarized scholarship on this matter in the following way:


v1: Ehrman (1996, p72-5) makes a strong case that the phrase "Son of God" in v1 is a later interpolation. See also Head (1991). Adella Yarbro Collins (1995) concludes in her review article that the field is evenly split on the matter. It is important to keep in mind, as Koester once pointed out, that texts are generally far more variable before they are canonized. Several exegetes have argued, based on the grammar of v2 and other arguments, that the beginning of the Gospel has been lost (see discussion in Willker 2004, p9-10).


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 If one moves far in this direction, it soon becomes possible to ask what else in Mark belongs to the earliest traditions? If the title is a Christian interpolation, that certainly explains the use of "Jesus Christ" as well "Son of God"; it explains, too, perhaps, why the traditional messenger is identified as John. Interestingly, of course, after the prologue and at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, Jesus is described as coming to Galilee "proclaiming the good news of God" and saying, "the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news." Thus, productively, readers can ask what difference does it make to read this gospel as the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of Jesus, the gospel about Jesus,  or the gospel of God (NISB Notes). Turton asks this question in the following way:

"Does the opening phrase "Gospel of Jesus Christ" mean the Gospel about Jesus, or the Gospel preached by Jesus? Or some combination of both? Weeden (1971) along with other exegetes, argues that for the writer of Mark, Jesus is the Gospel. "


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One could add, or is it the gospel that is Jesus?


A tradition of reading Mark as an early apostolic witness is described by G. A. Chadwick:


  1. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way; The voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ye ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight; John came, who baptized in the wilderness and preached the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the country of Judea, and all they of Jerusalem; and they were baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and had a leathern girdle about his loins, and did eat locusts and wild honey.” MARK 1:1–6 (R.V.)
  2. THE opening of St. Mark’s Gospel is energetic and full of character. St. Matthew traces for Jews the pedigree of their Messiah; St. Luke’s worldwide sympathies linger with the maiden who bore Jesus, and the village of His boyhood; and St. John’s theology proclaims the Divine origin of the Eternal Lord. But St. Mark trusts the public acts of the Mighty Worker to do for the reader what they did for those who first “beheld His glory.” How He came to earth can safely be left untold: what He was will appear by what He wrought. It is enough to record, with matchless vividness, the toils, the energy, the love and wrath, the defeat and triumph of the brief career of “the Son of God.”
  3. In so deciding, he followed the example of the Apostolic teaching. The first vacant place among the Twelve was filled by an eye-witness, competent to tell what Jesus did “from the baptism of John to the day when he was received up,” the very space covered by this Gospel. That “Gospel of peace,” which Cornelius heard from St. Peter (and hearing, received the Holy Ghost) was the same story of Jesus “after the baptism which John preached.” And this is throughout the substance of the primitive teaching. The Apostles act as men who believe that everything necessary to salvation is (implicit or explicit) in the history of those few crowded years. Therefore this is “the gospel.”

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Allow me to return to several points I made in the Introduction to this work:


  1. Kingdom of God is imminent (:1) and "comes with power" and Transfiguration--the latter associated with Ezekiel and Merkavah (throne chariot: analogy of the way YHWH works in the world). Note the inner circle of Peter, James, and John, who see Jesus talking with Elijah and Moses, two prophets believed not to have died but to have been taken up directly to heaven; according to Malachi (4:5-6) Elijah was to come as precursor to the Messiah. Notes to the NRSV says some have viewed the transfiguration as a "misplaced resurrection." Mark may also be read as an initiation story: the initiates must be prepared for inclusion in the mystery of the coming Kingdom of God, this touching on how one reads--whether literally or metaphorically--as well as defines who is inside or outside the mystery. The throne of God, Merkavah, represented the vortex of creative energy which determines significance of any given historical period; this tradition of thinking dates back to Mesopotamia (twenty-third century BCE) and to Babylonia (Cambridge Companion to the Bible, 520). Readers must remember that the ancient view of the world was that of multiple, hard shells that had to be rended by the divine, thus the decension of the Spirit at the baptism of Jesus (Mark 1: 9-13). The term son of god, often used to describe angels and their relationship to God, expressed, not biological relationship but revelatory relationship (Companion, 521). By this view, Jesus may be viewed as a practitioner of divine presence.


The last point states succinctly: "Jesus may be viewed as a practitioner of divine presence" as well as makes the point that Jesus proclaimed "the good news of God" saying, "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near" (1.14); people are being asked to repent and believe the good news.  Jesus "as practitioner of divine presence" in the Transfiguration  demonstrates a close relationship that perhaps can be associated with the throne chariot and "the way YHWH works in the world." According to NISB Notes, "one sign of the end times was to be a new outpouring of God's Spirit (Acts 2:17-21; Joel 2:28-32) and some within the early Christian community understood the presence of the Spirit to be the necessary proof of community membership."  One suspects Christian interpolation in John's remark that "he [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit" (1:8). At the baptism of Jesus by John, it is the Spirit of God that descends "like a dove on him" 1:10). Jesus seems to be the only one hearing this voice here, but at the Transfiguration, "the disciples are addressed as well" (NISB Notes), perhaps preparing for the disciples' preparation to become human messengers concerning the mission of Jesus.  Addtionally,  Turton explains the traditional numerology that can be associated with the dove as well as the descent:


v10: The Marcosians and perhaps certain other gnostic groups saw the "dove" here as representing "God." In Jewish alphabetical numerology, the Greek letters for 'dove' total 801, same as for "alpha" (1) plus "omega" (800) (Ehrman 1996, p142). The underlying numerological meaning may well be a pointer to the constructed nature of the passage.  

v10: The writer of Mark uses the Greek preposition eis (into) while Matthew and Luke use epi (upon) to describe how the Spirit comes to Jesus. Robert Fowler (1996) pointing out that the understanding of the later writers is often read back in Mark, observes:


"...Mark is portraying for us a person being invaded and possessed by a spirit. In Mark, Jesus becomes spirit-possessed."(p16) 


Fowler also points out that in Mark the Spirit is not specified as Holy, though Matthew and Luke are careful to make that clear.

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The dove has also been associated with the start of a new creation (Oxford Bible Commentary 889).Turton quotes Joel Marcus (1995) as wondering why Jesus does not afterward refer to himself more often as "Son of God":


v11: Joel Marcus (1995) points out that it is odd that, if Jesus really heard this voice, we don't hear him refer to himself as "Son of God" more often in the Gospel. If Jesus presumably told this to his followers, why do they not show more awareness of it?


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Turton further explains  that "Son of God" may be connected to later Christology:


v9: Jesus simply appears, without parents or antecedents. Many exegetes interpret the Christology of Mark as Adoptionist (Jesus is a human adopted as God's son) as opposed to Matthew and Luke, who posit Jesus as the Son of God from the beginning. Brenda Schildgen (1999), commenting on the silences in Mark, and the early lack of interest in, and low reputation of, the Gospel of Mark among the Patristic Fathers, notes:



"The 'absences' in the Gospel of Mark may well have been responsible for its egregious early reputation. The lapses are linguistic, literary, and narratival. That is, Mark has grammatical errors, it lacks any sophistication in rhetorical style, and, as noted above, it has specific narrative gaps. For example, there is no genealogy, no motivation for Judas, no reconciliation between Peter and Jesus after Peter's denial, no concrete teaching like the Sermon on the Mount or the Lord's Prayer. These absences may well have been disconcerting to early readers...but our own era finds Mark's gaps and silences precisely the source of its interest, as commentators seek to understand these absences literarily or intellectually."(p21)


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Yet another question lies at the heart of this discussion: is the imminent Kingdom of God eschatological (end time) or does it refer to a utopian and idealistic rule rooted in justice? Turton provides a possibility for the latter interpretation in his  reference to  Thompson:


v15: Thomas L. Thompson (2005) observes: 



"Like the 'kingdom of God,' the metaphor of my father's kingdom is not apocalyptic in the sense that it implies expectations of the end of the world as Schweitzer thought. It is rather a utopian and idealistic metaphor for a world of justice. In ancient Near Eastern and biblical literature, it is related to the figure of the savior-king who, by reestablishing divine rule, returns creation to the original order."(p198)


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Given what is recorded of Jesus in action and words--the Great Commandments to love God and love people, his ministry to the marginalized, Mark's presentation of Jesus as servant--Thomas's view that the "Kingdom of God" is a metaphor for just rule would seem to be justified. Interpreted in this way, Jesus begins his mission with "just rule" has come near, and it has something to do with people who need to repent and believe. The NISB Notes makes the point that "the Kingdom of God, which Jesus proclaims, precedes Jesus' own ministry; indeed, Jesus' ministry may be toward the culmination of this process," basing this explanation on the use of the perfect tense in Greek. After a brief remark on belief (pistis in Greek), NISB says belief "becomes a standard for those who hear Jesus' message" and "The Kingdom of God  refers to the period or place in which God reigns as undisputed King over the people and the creation."


What is the "good news"? Turbins quotes Aichele (2003):


"In the Old Testament, euaggelion appears only in 2 Samuel (LXX 2 Kings) 4:10, where David kills the messenger who brings the “good news” of Saul’s death. In addition, the plural form, euaggelia.appears four times in 2 Samuel 18:20, 22, 25, and 27, where it is used in the description of David’s reception of the “tidings” of Absalom’s death, and in 2 Kings (LXX 4 Kings) 7:9, where lepers discover the abandoned camp of the Syrian army. With the exception of this last instance, the message that is brought is not clearly a good one. None of these texts throws much light on the gospel of Mark’s use of the term, unless one wishes to argue that Mark is using the term ironically."


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Certainly, the messenger is crucified, but in this case, the "good news" probably should be accepted, based on earlier discussion, as the good news (gospel as genre, a later development)  of God brought to the world by Jesus, a world that continues to see in Jesus a "practitioner of divine presence" whose ministry was all about God's just rule as opposed the political hegemony in place in the first century; certainly, in the controversy about paying taxes (12:13-17), Jesus replies in such a way as to remind individuals that they bear the image of God and, thus, belong to God. The NISB notes provides the following information about the use of Greco-Roman rhetoric:


An enthymeme, a more convincing form of proof than example, according to Aristotle (Rhetoric 1.2.10-11). An enthymeme… drew conclusions from widely believed major and minor premises (like a syllogism); but suppressed parts of the argument," letting the audience fill them in: the coin bears the image of the emperor; the emperor, as human being, bears the image of God. And consequently, "give to god that which is God's."


The "good news" and "Son of God" discussion lead naturally to the discussion of  Messiah- ship.  Rudolf Bultman may be of help; the following is extensive but critical.  Bultman begins by describing the Jewish hope for a time  when  "the misery of life, its poverty and sickness, will end; the foreign rule of the heathen will be over." He next shows the prophets as influenced by Oriental mythology which results in  " a new and peculiar literary form, apocalyptic, which sought to unravel the secrets of the divine plan for the world, to recognize the signs of the end, to calculate the time of its arrival, and to invent fantastic elaborations of the heavenly glory" (http://www.religion-online.org/showchapter.asp?title=426&C=278 ). Bultman describes rabbinical Judaism as abandoning this apocalyptic vision and returning to concentrate on Law.


 one particular expectation especially filled many minds: the hope that God would destroy the rule of the heathen, that He would again make of Palestine a completely holy land in which only the law of their fathers would prevail. It is true that the official class of the Jewish people welcomed the Roman rule, which gave peace to the land and, in the very act of depriving the race of its national existence, allowed the religious man to work in peace and live faithful to the Law. In the temple at Jerusalem, too, sacrifices and prayers were offered regularly for the Caesar, and Jewish leaders were satisfied so long as the Romans showed a certain consideration for the holiness of Jerusalem. But among the people themselves, and especially in the strictly legalistic group, the Pharisees, there grew out of the Messianic hope a flaming activism, which itself undertook to end the rule of the heathen. From the time of Herod the Great the Messianic movements did not cease, until they finally culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem and the annihilation of the Jewish state in so far as it could be called a state.

2. The Messianic Movements

Herod had already had to use force to suppress a conspiracy which had begun when he had aroused religious antagonism by setting up trophies in the theatre at Jerusalem. As he lay on his deathbed, Jewish youths tore down and destroyed the golden eagle which he had brought into the temple. At the beginning of the reign of Archelaus, to avenge the execution of these offenders, there was a revolt at the feast of the Passover; it was put down by violence. Similarly after the death of Herod an insurrection broke out in Galilee under a certain Judas; it was merely the continuation of earlier disturbances with which Herod had had to deal. In Perea a certain Simon proclaimed himself "king." In Judea a brawny shepherd assumed a crown and began war against the Romans and Herodians. The Jewish historian Josephus calls the rebels "bandits"; the context shows however that without exception these were Messianic movements. When in 6 A.D. the Syrian legate Quirinius took a census in Palestine, there was a revolt in Galilee, and the Judas before mentioned together with the Pharisee Zadok founded the party of the Zealots; religiously the Zealots belonged with the Pharisees, but they made their Messianic hope into a political program. They considered it shameful to pay tribute to the Romans, and to endure mortal men as lords instead of God, the only Lord and King. As they accepted willingly for themselves any kind of death, so also was the murder of relatives and friends a matter of indifference to them, if only they need not call any man their lord. Until the fall of Jerusalem these Zealots continued to defy the Romans, and with them were the like-minded Sicarii, who did not shrink even from the murder of the high priest. Pilate had to suppress in Judea two smaller uprisings, called forth by the offending of Jewish religious feeling; in Samaria he was forced to resort to bloodshed in order to put down a Messianic revolt.


After 40 A.D. such movements multiplied. The old unrest continued. Here and there in Jerusalem and in the country insurrections occurred. Here and there Messianic prophets and even "kings" appeared; under Cuspius Fadus, the "prophet" Theudas; under Ventidius Cumanus, the "bandit" Eleasar; under Felix, a "prophet" who came out of Egypt, who led the crowd of his adherents to the Mount of Olives and attempted to enter Jerusalem with them, expecting the walls to fall at his command; under Festus, a "prophet" who promised "salvation" and deliverance from all suffering. In fact, there was a whole succession of prophets who, according to the account of Josephus, "behaving as if they were chosen by God, caused disturbances and revolutions and drove the people insane with their oratory, and enticed them into the desert, as if God might there announce to them the miracle of their deliverance." All these Messianic insurrections the Romans suppressed and crucified their instigators or executed them in other ways whenever they could get their hands on them. Here it must be emphasized that some of these movements had no political character. The crowds stirred with Messianic hopes often used no violence, but expected the end of the Roman rule and the coming of the Kingdom of God to be achieved purely by a miracle of God’s working. The Romans did not distinguish, and indeed they could not; for them, all these movements were suspected as hostile to the Roman authority.

Pasted from <http://www.religion-online.org/showchapter.asp?title=426&C=278>


This summation of Messianic movements leads Bultman to assess the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus as Messianic, explaining that outsiders could not have understood "the essentially unpolitical character of the leadership of both" and that both were suppressed: John, beheaded, and Jesus, crucified:


3. John the Baptist and Jesus

At this time a prophet appeared by the Jordan, John the Baptist. His coming, too, belongs in the series of Messianic movements. It had of course no political character, but it was inspired by the certainty that the time of the end was now come. On the ground of this conviction he preached repentance.

"You brood of vipers! Who has taught you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth then fit fruits of repentance, and think not to say within yourselves: We have Abraham for our father. For I tell you, God can raise up from these stones children to Abraham. Already the axe is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree which does not bear fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire!" (Matt. 3:7-10)

He came as an ascetic, and fasting was characteristic of his sect. (Mark 2 :18, Matt. 11 :18) In addition he practised baptism. Judaism, like the other religions of the east, had long practised the washings which were intended to preserve cultic and ritual purity. At the time of the rise of Christianity, however, there had appeared in that part of the world a whole group of baptismal sects, to which for example the so-called Essenes belong. There was a special significance ascribed to baptism, which was obviously connected with eschatological speculations. Hence the baptism which John proclaimed must be understood as an eschatological sacrament. Whoever submitted himself to it, and to the obligation of repentance bound up with it, purified himself for the coming Kingdom of God, and belonged to the company of those who would escape the day of wrath and judgment. Clearly ancient eastern, non-Jewish conceptions influenced this Baptist movement; old mythology of Persia or Babylon perhaps also influenced the Baptist’s preaching of the coming Judge. But we know little about it from the earliest sources -- the gospel and Josephus. Possibly the Gnostic sect which emerged later is a development of this old Baptist sect, and perhaps many of the Mandæan conceptions go back to the beginning of the movement. It is worth noting that the Mandæns called themselves "Nazarenes"; and that Jesus is often so called in the early Christian tradition. Since this epithet cannot be derived from the name of his own village Nazareth, and since the early Christian tradition has preserved the recollection that Jesus was baptized by John, it might be concluded that Jesus originally belonged to the sect of the Baptist, and that the Jesus-sect was an offshoot of the John-sect. To this conclusion other traces in the gospel tradition point, sayings which stress now the agreement between Jesus and the Baptist, now the superiority of Jesus over John; sayings which show now the solidarity of the two sects as against orthodox Judaism, now the rivalry between them.

But this matter must not be further discussed here. The important point is that among the many Messianic movements of the time, in close relation to the sect of the Baptizer, that movement also grew up which Jesus initiated by his preaching. His followers saw in Jesus the Messiah, whose return after his execution they expected. (We know of something similar in the case of a Samaritan sect.) Both movements, that of John and that of Jesus, were Messianic. Their connection with each other and also with other Messianic movements is recognizable in the fact that disciples of the Baptist came over to Jesus, and that there was even a Zealot among Jesus’ followers.


Outsiders certainly could not recognize the essentially unpolitical character of the leadership of both John and Jesus, especially as both aroused considerable popular excitement. Both movements were therefore suppressed quickly by the execution of their leaders. John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod Antipas. Mark 6:17-29 gives us an entirely legendary account of his death, while Josephus states that Herod, in view of the crowds which flocked to the Baptist, was afraid that John would incite the people to rebellion, and prevented this by executing him. Jesus was crucified by the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate. What role the Jewish authorities, on whom the Christian tradition put the chief blame, actually played is no longer clearly discernible. It is probable that they, as in other cases, worked hand in hand with the Romans in the interest of political tranquillity. At least there can be no doubt that Jesus like other agitators died on the cross as a Messianic prophet


Pasted from <http://www.religion-online.org/showchapter.asp?title=426&C=278>


In keeping with ongoing discussion about the nature of messiah ship, Robert A. Kraft  suggests the notion of messiah-ship, specifically, the connection between Jesus-Joshua, may have been filtered through Christian interpretations: he describes his research:


 The question that intrigued me is indicated by the title of this presentation: was there a pre-Christian Jewish expectation of a "messiah-Joshua" figure? The methodological conundrum presented by such a query should be fairly obvious: once we have Christians proclaiming that their Joshua/Jesus is Messiah and defending the claim in part with reference to Jewish traditions it is difficult to determine from the data that has survived by means of the Christian transmission filters whether such a picture of a Joshua/Jesus Messiah is a Christian creation or not. And most of the data has come to us by means of the Christian filtering process. Thus many of the clearest pieces of evidence are among the most suspect.


Pasted from <http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/gopher/other/courses/rels/535/4.%20Articles/Joshua%20Messianology%20%28RAK%29>


He further says:


It is not surprising that Christian interpreters should rather quickly capitalize on the name identity between their Joshua/Jesus Messiah and the successor of Moses in "Jewish" tradition, broadly defined so as to include Samaritan. They also picked up on other Joshua/Jesus figures, especially the high priestly personage in the Zechariah materials. Our earliest extensive witness to these developments is Justin, a non-circumcized Greek speaking native of the Palestinian Samaritan area. Later authors including Clement and Origen "of Alexandria" developed the theme in their own ways. I find these materials fascinating, but will not detail them here. The conceptual and terminological context that emerges from such a study includes references to the "prophet like Moses," to the "angel" who arises to lead God's children out of the desert and into their promised terminus and who somehow bears God's "name," to the victor in the visible and "hidden" battle with the diabolic Amalek, and to the high priestly anointed partner with Zerubbabel (Zech 4.14), among others.


Pasted from <http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/gopher/other/courses/rels/535/4.%20Articles/Joshua%20Messianology%20%28RAK%29>


It may be useful to review Mark's use of Messiah, these directly addressed only twice by Jesus, one of these perhaps attesting to the possibility of several conflicting messianic claims; certainly, the expectation for a Messiah seems to be at the threshold of the age.

  • Mark 14:61 NRS
    But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?"

Mark 15:32 NRS

Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.

Read Mark 15 | View in parallel | Compare Translations


Pasted from <http://www.biblestudytools.com/search/?q=Messiah&t=nrs&s=Bibles&p=3>


Readers will note that Jesus rebuked Peter, questioned the scribe's understanding of the Messiah, warned about false messiahs, did not answer the high priest about being "the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One," and was mocked at the crucifixion for being anything but a Messiah. George Eldon Ladd in A Theology of the New Testament understands the last entrance of Jesus in to Jerusalem as a symbolic act; he also sees " a strong element of historical control over the gospel tradition in the Christian community" and believes Christ did not appear in the early verses of Mark where the original may well have read "because you are mine" (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1974, revised 1972, pp, 139, 141).  Ladd  understands Peter as having in mind "the contemporary Jewish hopes of a divinely anointed, supernaturally endowed Davidic king who would destroy the contemporary evil political power structure and gather Israel into God's kingdom" (139). He notes that some scholarship interprets Jesus as flatly rejecting messiah-ship.


With respect to Jesus and John, attention must be paid to two baptisms: the baptism of John (confession and purification) and the baptism of Jesus (Spirit). Theologically, it has been noted that Mark seems to have no embarrassment that Jesus should be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Oxford Bible Commentary 888).


The above, of course, points to questions about the relationship of Jesus to John the Baptist, but it may well to address the baptism itself prior to the relationship since what is at stake Christology as well as how people read and interpret Mark:

As Jesus is being baptized, he has a vision of the Holy Spirit descending from the opened heavens and hears a heavenly voice (Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, "Why Jesus Went Back to Galilee" in The Galilee Jesus Knew © 2008 Biblical Archeology Society 30 Scala/Art Resource, NY) Did these things really happen? Or are they a theological interpretation of Jesus’ baptism? The second alternative is the more probable, because Jewish theologians were using the same technique at this time to interpret events in their scriptures. To appreciate this fact, simply contrast the text of Genesis 22:10 with the midrashic expansion in the Targum, an Aramaic paraphrase/translation of the biblical text used in synagogues at the turn of the era. In the Hebrew text, Abraham raises the knife to sacrifice his son Isaac, in accordance withGod’s direction, when an angel of the Lord calls to him from heaven and tells him to desist. In the Aramaic Targum (the text known as Pseudo-Jonathan), the heavens apparently open at this point for, we are told, “the eyes of Isaac were scanning the angels on high” and “a voice came forth from the heavens.” In the Targum, the original text of Genesis 22:10 is expanded to include an interpretation of the sacrifice of Isaac as involving a vision and a voice.

How would first-century Jews, hearing this version in the synagogue, have understood it? Would they have taken the vision and the voice as a description of something that really happened? I think not. They knew the Hebrew text of their
scriptures, which contain nothing like that. Similarly, when Christian theologians wanted to bring out the meaning of the baptism of Jesus, of which everyone had heard, they naturally turned to a familiar interpretive technique, whose implications would have been understood immediately by their first-century hearers/readers. The people hearing and reading these accounts would not have taken the vision and the voice literally. Their training in the synagogue would have led them to ask what the symbols were meant to convey. In all probability, the cluster of highly charged terms in the evangelists’ descriptions were designed to evoke the great prayer of Isaiah 63:7
through 64:11. Note the correspondences between the italicized words in the following quotation from Isaiah and the descriptions of Jesus’ vision in the first sidebar to this article, especially in Mark’s version of Jesus’ vision when John baptized him:

Then they remembered the days of old and Moses, his servant. Where is he who brought
up out of the sea the shepherd of his flock? Where is he who put his holy spirit in their
midst…A spirit from the Lord descended guiding them…Look down from heaven and
regard us from your holy and glorious palace! O Lord, hold not back, for you are our father.
Were Abraham not to know us, nor Israel to acknowledge us, you, Lord are our father, our
redeemer you are named forever…Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before you…All that was dear to us was laid waste. Can you
hold back, O Lord, after all this? Can you remain silent, and afflict us so severely?
(Isaiah 63:11, 14, 15–16, 19; 64:10–11)

The number of the correspondences excludes coincidence. Christian theologians
intended in the Gospels to present the beginning of the public life of Jesus as the
response of God to the petition of his people. His people are no longer alone because
God is no longer silent. God has spoken about Jesus, and God acts in and through Jesus.
This interpretation, however, presupposes the whole ministry of Jesus culminating in
his death and resurrection. The interpretation grew out of the experience of divine
grace in the early Church, which was the medium by which the first believers gradually came to know who Jesus really was. Our concern here, however, is with the historical question. What did Jesus’ baptism mean to Jesus?

The same article quoted above says the following about the relationship of Jesus and John the Baptist and includes a carefully articulated rationale for the conclusion: "I shall argue here that Jesus went to Galilee to replace John the Baptist after the latter had been arrested by Herod Antipas. As we shall see, the Baptist had been preaching in Galilee. His arrest put a stop to this. Jesus felt it was his responsibility to takeover where the Baptist had been forced to leave off." Once there, Murphy-O'Connor understands Jesus as going through a second conversion and changing his message from "Repent" to "Follow Me."  To get to this point, the reader must follow Murphy-O'Connor's reconstruction of events, noting that some in the early Church must have found some embarrassment in Jesus' being baptized by John and sought to correct the theology, with John having Jesus say, "I need to be baptized by you" (3:14).  John, Murphy-O'Connor says, started his work in Samaria while Jesus worked in Judea, both building upon passages in Isaiah 63 and 64  that indicated God was breaking silence and effecting a eschatological judgment. After time, John went to Galilee, the remaining Jewish province. Jesus followed and continued the work with a changed message.


Felix Just in his discussion of literary structures in Mark remarks on the secrecy motif:


The “Messianic Secret”:

  • In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus frequently tells people not to tell others about his healings or exorcisms:
    • After performing exorcisms, he silences the demons and forbids them from speaking (1:23, 34; 3:11-12)
    • He warns a leper not to speak publicly about his cleansing (1:43-45)
    • He tells the family of Jairus not to tell of their daughter’s raising (5:43)
    • After healing a deaf man, he orders the witness to tell no one (7:36)
    • He tells a blind man to go home, rather than going into his village (8:26)
    • One exception: Jesus tells the Gerasene demoniac (a Gentile!) to tell his relatives (5:19)
  • The Markan Jesus also admonishes his disciples not to tell others that he is the Messiah:
    • After Peter’s “Confession of Faith” at Caesarea (8:30)
    • After coming down from the Mount of the Transfiguration (9:9)
  • Somewhat related is the distinction Jesus makes between his disciples and “outsiders”:
    • “To you has been given the secret (or mystery) of the Kingdom of God, but for those outside everything comes in parables...” (4:10-12)
    • Similarly, while Jesus is teaching his disciples inside a house, his family remains “outside” (3:31-32)


Pasted from <http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Mark-Literary.htm>


This discussion will be taken up later in the discussion of some of the parables,  but readers can be alert, even at this point, that the disciples had to be prepared to understand  the power of God that presented itself  in Jesus in the baptism and would have to learn what "Baptism by Spirit" meant. Many have noted that Mark is not hesitant to reveal the disciples' lack of understanding, their slowness in learning to understand what Jesus is about in his ministry in the world. The Oxford Bible Commentary(2001)  notes that a characteristic of Mark is the introduction of " characters that fail to understand who Jesus is or what his ministry is about" (888). It also relates secrecy to the evolving "full significance of what it means to be a/the true Son of God." Noted, too, is the fact that readers have been let in on the secret from the beginning. The issue of what is the beginning plays into this: if, as found in older editions and commentaries, the introduction is found in verses 1-8, then 9-13, or the identity, have been left out. And again, Son of God is left out in some Greek manuscripts.


Concerning "The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God," William Loader in The Gospel of Mark concludes God is doing something, about to do something, the reign of God is at hand, and this is the "good news":


The Beginning 1:1-15

When the writer commences with the words, 'The beginning of the good news', it is obvious that he is writing about something which is more than interesting. It is news that he thinks will benefit people and from which he has benefited. 'Good news' can be translated 'gospel' and this has given rise to an understanding of verse one according to which the author is talking about the beginning of his book. But 'gospel' as a description of a book or writing comes first to expression in the second century. Mark is speaking about 'good news' and tells us how it all began.


The obvious content is given: 'of Jesus Christ, the Son of God'. The news is not that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God. We see this when we compare 1:14. Here we find the word, 'good news', appears again. It is in the phrase, 'the good news of God.' Again it is not that there is a God, but that God is doing something, about to do something. 1:15 explains: 'The reign of God is at hand.' That is the good news. These two references to good news explain each other. It was common in a culture where what people wrote would be read aloud, that the beginning and ends of sections or the beginning of one and the beginning of another, were signalled to the hearer by the repeating of key words and ideas. What we see as paragraph markers, indentation or a blank line, they heard as a repeated theme, a closing of the circle and a beginning again.


1:1 clearly identifies the good news with Jesus and it is connected with his identity as Christ and Son of God. In 1:1 we are not told more than that. We have to wait. But there is much more. The word, good news was loaded. It was a word associated in Old Testament passages, likely to be known to hearers, with the hopes of Israel. It carries echoes of the famous prophecy of Isaiah 52:7, 'How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the one who brings good news, who declares to Israel: your God reigns!' It also echoes Isaiah 61:1: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.' In other words, this is not just good news. It is good news which people have been expecting and they have been expecting it in the light of God's actions in the past, recorded in the Scriptures. 'Good news' is a theologically loaded term. It is the 'good news of God', of what God is doing and will do and it is clearly connected to Jesus who is Christ and Son of God.


Thus already the first verse indicates that this writing is addressing what it sees as human longing for God's action and assumes that this is to be expected. It is about hope and fulfillment of hope. It invites us to read and hear it in the light of human yearning and hope and to expound it with that in mind.

The sense of promise and fulfilment comes strongly to the fore in what follows.


Pasted from <http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/mark.html>



Loader further explains that the good news is Jesus is coming to baptize with the Spirit, that the Spirit descends at his own baptism, and that  "The divine has broken through into our space in Jesus. " As for the beginning, Loader concludes:


 "The baptising in the Spirit has begun. God's rule has begun. Mark speaks of it in process. He is not declaring that whereas God did not rule, now from a particular moment God does rule. Rather the good news is the beginning of a reality in space and time and he locates it in Jesus. It has a future. It has a struggle. It has a victory. It is reality and hope. It is present and to come. 


Pasted from <http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/mark.html>


Loader continues by remarking "Son of God" as designating a special relationship:


The words of the first verse find their echo in the words from heaven: 'You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.' This, too, is a small tapestry of biblical allusions. The prophet of Isaiah 42:1 reported God's call in the words, 'You are my servant in whom I am well pleased.' The psalmist spoke for the king who reported God's word at his coronation: 'You are my Son. Today I have made you my child.' (Ps 2:8). The imagery of 'beloved son' echoes Abraham's affection for Isaac and will find an echo in the parable of the vineyard where a landlord sends his 'beloved son' who is murdered by tenants (12:1-12). Possibly all of these images play a role in the passage. The primary focus in Mark's narrative is the special relationship between Jesus and God. This is why he endows him with the Spirit for his task. The language of family stands beside the language of time and space: here in Jesus we are close to God, here God's reality breaks through, here the hope for God finds fulfilment. If we ask: doing what? So far our answer is: baptising with the Holy Spirit. We have just been told of his status and his equipment for that task. His fulfilling it is the good news. That, Mark is about to tell.


Pasted from <http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/mark.html>


And finally, Loader understands "the Spirit leads Jesus to the wilderness" for preparation and heightened expectation.


1:12-13 makes us wait, but in a way which gives us further important information. The Spirit leads Jesus. That is what we might have expected: the Spirit is the driving force and basis for what Jesus is to do. But first a spell in the wilderness - of biblical proportions. The place, the wilderness, the figure forty, the fasting, all underline preparation and heighten expectation. Again we can too easily read Matthew and Luke's version into the story and reflect about Israel in the wilderness, but that is only a hint in Mark. The primal character of the wilderness, the wild animals, suggests, if not a return to the reality of creation, at least exposure to ultimate danger. That comes to expression primarily in the temptation or testing encounter with Satan. Here is the power of darkness. Here are also angels supporting Jesus. The scene foreshadows what is to come: Jesus with the Spirit facing the powers of evil. The good news must, therefore, entail the positive aspect of this struggle. The baptising with the Holy Spirit must indicate a successful countering of the powers of evil.

We are now ready to begin. It may well be that Mark sees 1:14-15 as a new beginning. In any case it echoes the beginning of the gospel as we have seen. Now we are ready to have the good news presented. We know it is about God's action. We know it reaches fulfilment and finds presence in Jesus. We know it is about his role as baptiser with the Spirit and that it belongs in the context of struggle against the powers of evil. Now we have Jesus' first words, but before that, in a subordinate clause, there is a foreshadowing of rejection as Mark tells of John's arrest. Just when we were getting ready for the triumphant good news, we have this earthing reminder, which helps us recall what will also be Jesus' fate. Mark will return to John's arrest and execution when he turns again to the sending out of the disciples in 6:7-29. John's fate, Jesus' fate and theirs are closely connected.


Pasted from <http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/mark.html>


When Jesus returns from the wilderness (desert), his mission and the possibility of "new creation" begin.


Through Loader's interpretations, readers catch a glimpse into the relationship of John and Jesus: John prepares people for  a reality in space and time" located in Jesus:


Mark now presents Jesus' first initiatives: he comes out of the wilderness, for now is the time of fulfilment. He declares this time. He proclaims 'the good news of God'. He announces that the kingdom of God is at hand. This is the language of power, and this is what we might have expected from listening closely to Mark. The good news is, as it was for Isaiah, that God reigns, and that now means: he is about to establish his rule through Jesus' activity. This is what John was preparing people for and so John's exhortations still apply: people should change. They should believe and trust in the kingdom, in God's action in Jesus. They should believe and support Jesus and live accordingly.


The baptising in the Spirit has begun. God's rule has begun. Mark speaks of it in process. He is not declaring that whereas God did not rule, now from a particular moment God does rule. Rather the good news is the beginning of a reality in space and time and he locates it in Jesus. It has a future. It has a struggle. It has a victory. It is reality and hope. It is present and to come. This comes to expression strongly in the first action of Jesus in Mark. He engages four disciples to join him (1:16-20). In doing so he uses the imagery of fishing, a harvest image. It has less to do with throwing in a line and catching numbers of fish, a numbers game, and more to do with what the image of harvest represents: the fulfilment of hope, the victory of God over powers of evil. The gathering of men and women into the safety and responsibility of being God's people and then engaging them in the struggle to set others free. Mark has no sense of Jesus being a solo act. Jesus is always the stronger one, the unique one, but always also the one who gathers others around him who are to share his joy and his task.


Pasted from <http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/mark.html>

Loader concludes:


Good news is then, for Mark, God's transformative power to liberate people from powers which oppress them. In Mark's terms it is what occurred in Jesus through the Spirit. It is the coming near of the kingdom of God. And it is something entrusted to the community of his followers.


Pasted from <http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/mark.html>


Finally, Loader sees Jesus' system of self-giving compassion as contrasted to the world's self-seeking  power and giving of power.  The Oxford Bible Commentary (OBC) leaves open two possible meanings for "beginning": whether it refers only to the introductory verses with the full gospel following or whether  "the whole of Mark's story is only a "beginning', and it is up to each reader to carry on where the story leaves off to find the complete gospel" (888).


At this point, it is useful to stop and reassess our progress thus far: all of the questions asked at the beginning have now been addressed:


  1. Why is it  "the beginning of" good news"? It is a process:  It is the beginning of a reality in space and time" located in Jesus.
  1. What is the good news? Is it the good news of Jesus Christ, as found in the NRSV? The good news is Jesus' coming to baptize with the Spirit.
  1. What does it mean to be "the Son of God"? Does it make any difference to interpretation to know that "the Son of God" was left out of ancient manuscripts?   Jesus may be viewed as a practitioner of divine presence.
  1. What does one make of the fact that ancient authorities replace the reference to Isaiah with "in the prophets"? "'As it is written in Isaiah the prophet.' This reading is adopted by all the latest critical editors. If it be the true one, it is to be explained thus--that of the two quotations, the one from Malachi is but a later development of the great primary one in Isaiah, from which the whole prophetical matter here quoted takes its name."
  1. What is meant by "messenger"? Jesus is the messenger, and in Mark, he is a real human being. Christology belongs to theology.
  1. What way is being prepared?  The way being prepared is that of self-giving compassion enabled through the  transformative power  of God.
  1. Does it make any difference that 1:1 has been viewed as a title? It is a title for the narrative as a whole in which the hero of the story is Jesus and later, the Christ of the Church.


One other approach to the interpretation of Mark should be noted at this point; it makes of Mark, again, a structural wonder: Brenda Dean Schildgen in "A Blind Promise: Mark's Retrieval of Esther" (1994, Published by: Duke University PressStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1773206 ) argues generally that the Markan author seeks 'to establish continuity with the past by showing deference to its most revered textual resources," similar to uses made of the book of Esther:

The Book of Esther's recensions, redactions, colophons, and haggadic commentary tradition show that the story was deployed in numer­ous settings (see Clines [1984] and Aus [1988: 25] for overviews of the range of recensions of haggadic commentaries on the Esther text, which include the Masoretic text, the Septuagint version, the "Lucia­nic" Greek text, Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews XI, Tannaim, and "Amoraim"). A neglected but provocative retrieval of the Book of Esther occurs in the Gospel of Mark's version of the death of John the Baptist. Mark's is the only gospel which specifically summons the Esther story to the context of any event retold in the Gospels. Also, Mark develops the story of John's death with greater detail than any other gospel. Since Mark's is generally briefer and often contains much less narrative elaboration on specific events than the other gospels, this degree of development suggests a special concern with the signifi­cance of both the Esther story and that of John the Baptist. Although Roger Aus has drawn attention to the parallels between Herod's and Ahasuerus's birthday banquets (Aus 1988: 39-74), Mark's emphasis on John has traditionally been attributed to his desire to draw a paral­lel between John's and Jesus' fates, to foreshadow the Crucifixion, and to point out the differences between the two prophets (ibid.: 71-74). Another parallel is suggested by the intriguing intertextual reference to the Book of Esther and to "purim," the celebration of God's inter­cession on behalf of "Israel," which Mark renders as paradoxical in the corrupt era of the Herodian tetrarchy.


Schildgen says the writer's choice " to write a narrative of Jesus' life which shows its connection to Hebraic literary sources sug­gests that he viewed the act of writing itself as an essential mechanism for recording, preserving, and understanding that life," and then concludes, "It also shows the author's desire to maintain cultural continuity with Jesus' Hebraic past, an objective that was to some degree dependent on the act of writing itself (Kelber 1983)." The emphasis upon connection is the important point being made, giving voice to Mark's continuity with the Hebrew past:


The writer may be connecting his work to a literary past, to a canon with which he remains socially, religiously, or culturally affiliated; he may be contrasting the current social/historical situation in which he cites the passage to its original situation. Conversely, he may be call-ing up the former text as commentary on the present situation. In a historically minded culture like Judaism, time is certainly linear, but it moves back and forth in historical linearity, not only forward into the future.


The selections that a writer makes define his textual community, as he relates to a past and establishes his continuity with it, for the act of incorporating earlier texts into later ones, in fact, retrieves a canon of readings that pertain culturally and literarily as well as historically to the time when the later writer is composing his text. In contrast, the "anxiety" and "fulfillment" relationships proposed for textual ref­erences deny this cultural continuity and posit a radical distinction or rupture between authors, texts, and their models that can be healed only through a new act of creation and interpretation by which the later text usurps the original meaning of its precursor. Although this is not the place to discuss the breach reflected in the religious and denomination-directed commentaries on the Hebrew and New Testa­ment Scriptures, on some occasions in the history of the reception of these two texts, the breach has been so extreme that the integrity of both has been undermined; such scholarly marginalization has denied the interconnection of these texts as products of the Hebraic/Jewish cultural continuum.



Schildgen provides an approach that, perhaps, mitigates between the extreme arguments for historicity of the gospel and theology by suggesting that the hegemony of Christianity has not emerged very fully at the time Mark was written:


Mark's gospel emerged in the fragmented world of early Chris­tianity, when the Romans had laid seige to Jerusalem and the destruc­tion of the Temple and the dispersal of the Jewish people were im­minent. The anticipated Second Coming of Jesus had not occurred; Peter and Paul's dispute had divided their missions, the one adopting the gospel for the Jews and the other the gospel for the Gentiles (Acts 15:1-35; Paul, Epistle to the Galatians 2:6-14); Roman rule had tri­umphed, and the original witnesses to the life of Jesus were dead or dying out.


This was not a time for a writer immersed in the present to under­mine and dismantle the past, to sever the stranglehold of oppressive traditions or appropriate the past to a triumphant present; nor was it an age of ebullient optimism about the future of the Christian Church, which saw itself as the fulfillment of prophecy embedded in the Hebraic tradition. The hegemony of Christianity was some three centuries off, when the post-Constantinian Church would reject its charismatic origins and systematically reassess the Hebraic, Roman, and Greek cultures, while co-opting their political and civic structures as well as their texts and methods for interpreting them. Rather, in Mark's period, the religious climate was one of earnest desire and anx­ious hope that these literary fragments of a disappearing past could be preserved and ultimately reassembled into a mosaic that would con­stitute the "Good News."


In contrast to Schildgen,  Benjamin Bacon, "The Purpose of Mark's Gospel (1910, The Society of Biblical Literature

< http://www.jstor.org/stable/3260133 > finds in Mark the kernel of story about which all the gospels form, put together out of unconnected anecdotes, put together in a "highly artificial, a rhetorical, a dramatic character," the ordering principle being the "practical exigency of church conditions." Bacon points to complete agreement about a structure based on two nearly equal parts, a Galilean (closing with Mk. 7:1-8, 26) and a Judean ministry (the latter with the Crucifixion, and in unmutilated form, the Resurrection and Dissemination of the Gospel. Bacon further points to three divisions of two to three chapters in each of these main divisions, and then goes on to explain how Mark is structured to conform with rites and observances of the Church related to Holy Week and Easter:


Some one might say that the very nature of the case made it inevitable that the two great foci of the narrative should be the two sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, since Jesus' career necessarily began with the former and ended with the latter, and that therefore it would be merely fanciful to consider that these two fundamental rites of the Church had anything to do with the main grouping of mate­rial. I am quite prepared to admit that this main grouping may be dictated purely and solely by the historical fact that Jesus' public career was naturally thus divided, the Exile from Galilee compelling him to confront the probability of martyrdom as the outcome of an attempt to win Judaea. It will hardly do, however, in face of the later attempts to carry back the beginnings of the story beyond the limits of Mark, to say that the story of Jesus' career had necessarily to begin with the baptism; and it is quite impossible to ac­count for the evangelist's system of datings at the end of his Gospel, without a recognition of the observances which in the early Church marked the completion of the ecclesias­tical year. It is not a question merely of the well-known framing of the story of the ministry within the limits of a single year, but of a narration of its closing events in such manner that the very days of the great annual observance, and at last even the successive watches of the Passover vigil, of the day of the Crucifixion, and of the Easter dawn, are each marked by their appropriate event. On the " Prepara­tion" of the Passover Jesus directs the arrangements for the Supper, and institutes the rite. The night — " a night of vigil unto the Lord " in that Mosaic ritual which passed over into Christian practice in the form of a night of vigil at the Easter celebration—is devoted to the story of Gethsemane, and the fruitless struggle of the three disciples to obey the exhortation of Jesus to " watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation," and to emulate his example. Cock-crow­ing, dawn, the third hour, the sixth hour, the ninth hour, and sunset, of the great day of fasting are marked each by its separate event. Only the Sabbath remains a dies non; while the Resurrection is set "long before dawn on the first day of the week." The beginning and ending of the story, corresponding as they do, the former with the initiatory rite of the Church, the latter with its annual " Passover of the Lord," are significant of the practical purpose of its con­struction. The more closely we study the ancient ritual the more apparent becomes this practical adaptation.

If the rites and observances of the Church in connection with its " true Passover of the Lord " are here distinctly marked, not merely by datings, but by the form and phrase­ology of the language; if we can here see distinctly reflected the ancient observance of Holy Week and Easter, and the still more ancient observance of the 14th Nisan as the anni­versary of Christ's victory over the gates of Sheol, the Choosing of the Lamb, the Preparation, the Supper, the Vigil, the Periods of the Cross, the Resurrection celebration, the Breaking of fast at dawn of Easter morning, it is no more than we ought to anticipate from the fact that so early as ca. 50 A.D. we find Paul's regulation of Corinthian observance of the Supper beginning with a reference to the story: " I delivered unto you that which I also received (by trans­mission) from the Lord, how that our Lord Jesus, that same night in which he was betrayed, took bread and blessed and brake it and gave to his disciples."


Paul Danove, mixing structure and theology,  has remarked on the inextricable connection between God and Jesus in "The Narrative Function of Mark's Characterization of God," locating a preponderance of references in the first verses of the first chapter:


Table 2 indicates that the narrative unit containing the greatest rel­ative frequency of references to God is 1:1-15. Within this very brief passage (only 2.25% of the whole Gospel), the narration establishes seventeen points of information about God:

  1. God has a son, Jesus (1:1)
  2. God has a prophet through whom God spoke [about Jesus] (1:2)
  1. God initiates the action of the Gospel by enacting the content of what was written in Isaiah by sending  God's mes­senger before Jesus [God] (1:2 [cf. Mal. 3:1])
  2. God has a messenger (a-1,76.0g) who will prepare Jesus' [God's] way (1:2 [cf. Mal. 3:1])
  1. God has a way (6665; cf. Isa. 40:3) which is Jesus' (1:3)
  1. the paths (3ot; cf. Isa. 40:3) for God are for Jesus (1:3)
  1. God has a holy spirit with which Jesus will baptize (1:8)
  1. God undoes God's setting of the firmament (cf. Gen 1:6) by rending the sky at Jesus' baptism (1:10)
  1. God has a spirit  that descends onto Jesus (1:10)
  1. God has a voice  that addresses Jesus (1:11)
  1. God has a beloved son (note the repetition of viol; cf. 1:1), Jesus (1:11)
  1. God is pleased with  Jesus (1:11)
  1. God has a spirit  that drives Jesus into the desert (1:12)
  1. God has messengers who serve Jesus (1:13)
  1. God has a gospel  which Jesus proclaims (1:14)
  2. God fulfills  the time for God's reign which is part of the content of Jesus' proclamation (1:15)
  1. God has a reign  which is part of the content of Jesus' proclamation (1:15)

These seventeen references, which initiate Mark's characterization of God, simultaneously assert information about Jesus and stress Jesus' positive and intimate relationship with God that approaches identifica­tion with God at certain points. The narration of 1:1-15 reiterates that Jesus is God's Son, grants one of only three Marcan insights into God's own experience (delight in Jesus), ascribes to Jesus as benefactive what belongs to God, indicates that God's spirit directs Jesus' actions, places God's messengers in the service of Jesus, and establishes Jesus as the agent who proclaims and makes present what belongs to God. The direct or indirect insinuation of Jesus into every aspect of the charac­terization of God in 1:1-15 engenders an indelible bond between the characters, God and Jesus, that precludes any understanding of either character without immediate reference to the other. Once the direct characterization of Jesus begins in 1:16-8:26, reference to God under all semantic categories diminishes precipitously. The density of refer­ences then builds from this low, more than doubling in 8:27-10:52 and reaching a crescendo in 11:1-13:7. With the onset of Jesus' passion in 14:1-15:41, the density of references to God again decreases sharply, reaching a nadir in 15:42-16:8 (25-26).


Danove, in summary, shows how the characterization of God, which intensifies the relationship of Jesus with God, also helps readers to identify with Jesus and to establish ongoing fidelity with him:


Even as the earliest references to God (1:1-15) assert God's initiative in and centrality to the following narration, their focus on attributes of God that are defined primarily in relation to Jesus serves to introduce Jesus and establish his close alignment with God. The initial frequency of references (1:1-15) followed by a paucity of refer­ences (1:16-8:26) first engenders expectations concerning God's pres­ence and involvement in the story and then encourages their transfer to Jesus, resulting in an identification of Jesus with God that far exceeds the demands of the content of the narration to that point. The grad­ual increase in references to God and repetition intensifying the rela­tionship of Jesus with God through 11:1-13:37 and paucity of such references and absence of such repetition in 14:1-15:41 engender new expectations whose frustration invites a deeper identification of the reader with Jesus and encourages a more profound apprehension of the rewards and perils that a relationship with God entails. Within Mark, the characterization of God is placed in the service of estab­lishing and redundantly reinforcing the credentials of Jesus, encour­aging the reader's identification with Jesus, especially in his suffering and death, and inviting the reader to a deeper relationship with God grounded in the knowledge that this relationship demands fidelity unto death (30).



The Wilderness


I have already alluded to Loader, who interprets the wilderness as preparation and heightened expectation relative to God's establishing his rule through Jesus' activity. Structurally, "The Prologue opens with a scriptural  prediction of a voice in the wilderness(v. 3), and it ends with Jesus in the wilderness" (NISB Notes) and returning to the wilderness many times (1:35, 45; 6:31, 32, 35; 8:4). Everyone recalls the wilderness period of wandering and  testing in the Old Testament, Moses' experience on Mt. Sinai (Exod 34:28), and Elijah's flight (1Kgs 19:4-8). The important points already made is that the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness and that there angels waited on Jesus. Loader suggests the possibility of a return to primal creation and its dangers as well as" the countering of the powers of evil":


The Spirit leads Jesus. That is what we might have expected: the Spirit is the driving force and basis for what Jesus is to do. But first a spell in the wilderness - of biblical proportions. The place, the wilderness, the figure forty, the fasting, all underline preparation and heighten expectation. Again we can too easily read Matthew and Luke's version into the story and reflect about Israel in the wilderness, but that is only a hint in Mark. The primal character of the wilderness, the wild animals, suggests, if not a return to the reality of creation, at least exposure to ultimate danger. That comes to expression primarily in the temptation or testing encounter with Satan. Here is the power of darkness. Here are also angels supporting Jesus. The scene foreshadows what is to come: Jesus with the Spirit facing the powers of evil. The good news must, therefore, entail the positive aspect of this struggle. The baptising with the Holy Spirit must indicate a successful countering of the powers of evil.


Pasted from <http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/mark.html>


Turton  sorts through  several exegetes and Scripture to cast light on how to view this passage, pointing out the prophetic use of ministering angel, Jesus' human nature, and the possible use of Matthew:


v13: Some exegetes have seen Isa 11:6-9, which posits a paradise in the future, as laying behind this scene.



6: The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. 7: The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8: The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. 9: They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (RSV)


v13: Exodus 23:20 also contains a ministering angel. The writer of Mark has just cited that verse at the beginning of the gospel. 



20: "Behold, I send an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared. . (RSV)


v13: Van Henten (1999) points out that the writer of Mark does not specify that Jesus actually passed the test. Instead, the motif of testing returns at other points in the Gospel, such as in the Garden of Gethsemane. Ven Henten concludes;



"Jesus' testings in the wilderness and in Gethsemane show, of course, that Mark's Christology was far removed from Jesus' status as homo-ousios, 'being of the same nature' with God, as decided during the Council of Chalcendon (451 CE). Although Son of God, Jesus' nature was human; otherwise his testings would have been superfluous."(p365)


v13: A few conservative exegetes believe that Matthew was the first gospel, and argue that the use of the definite article the (angels) indicates that the writer was thinking of Matthew, since no angels have been mentioned in Mark prior to this point.


Pasted from <http://www.michaelturton.com/Mark/GMark01.html>


A complete accounting of biblical use of "the wilderness" results in an extensive list of 280 references and suggests the "universality" of the wilderness experience as symbolic:



3 A voice cries out:

"In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD,

make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

4 Every valley shall be lifted up,

and every mountain and hill be made low;

the uneven ground shall become level,

and the rough places a plain.

5 Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,

and all people shall see it together,

for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."



3 A voice cries out:

"In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD,

make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

4 Every valley shall be lifted up,

and every mountain and hill be made low;

the uneven ground shall become level,

and the rough places a plain.

5 Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed

and all people shall see it together,

for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."


An Oxford search finds 280 hits. Genesis 14.6-- on the edge of the wilderness; Genesis 16.7-- spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. Genesis 21.14-- wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. Genesis 21.20-- up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. Genesis 21.21-- He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Genesis 36.24-- the springs † in the wilderness, as he pastured the donkeys of his father Zibeon. Genesis 37.22-- this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him"—that he might rescue him out of Exodus 3.1-- his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. Exodus 3.18-- days' journey into the wilderness, so that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.' Exodus 4.27-- to Aaron, "Go into the wilderness to meet Moses." So he went; and he met him at the Exodus 5.1-- a festival to me in the wilderness.' " Exodus 5.3-- days' journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to the LORD our God, or he will fall upon us Exodus 7.16-- may worship me in the wilderness." But until now you have not listened.' Exodus 8.27-- days' journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as he commands us." Exodus 8.28-- LORD your God in the wilderness, provided you do not go very far away. Pray for me." Exodus 13.18-- roundabout way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. † The Israelites went up out of the Exodus 13.20-- on the edge of the wilderness. Exodus 14.3-- in the land; the wilderness has closed in on them.' Exodus 14.11-- us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Exodus 14.12-- than to die in the wilderness." Exodus 15.22-- and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and Exodus 16.1-- and Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth Exodus 16.2-- Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. Exodus 16.3-- us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger." Exodus 16.10-- they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. Exodus 16.14-- on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. Exodus 16.32-- which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.' " Exodus 17.1-- the Rock 17 From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed Exodus 18.5-- came into the wilderness where Moses was encamped at the mountain of God, bringing Exodus 19.1-- day, they came into the wilderness of Sinai. Exodus 19.2-- Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; Israel camped Exodus 23.31-- and from the wilderness to the Euphrates; for I will hand over to you the inhabitants of the Leviticus 7.38-- to the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai. Leviticus 16.10-- be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel. † Leviticus 16.21-- it away into the wilderness by means of someone designated for the task. † Leviticus 16.22-- be set free in the wilderness. Numbers 1.1-- spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the Numbers 1.19-- he enrolled them in the wilderness of Sinai. Numbers 3.4-- before the LORD in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children. Eleazar and Ithamar Numbers 3.14-- spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, saying: Numbers 9.1-- spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they Numbers 9.5-- at twilight, † in the wilderness of Sinai. Just as the LORD had commanded Moses, so the Numbers 10.12-- out by stages from the wilderness of Sinai, and the cloud settled down in the wilderness of Numbers 10.31-- we should camp in the wilderness, and you will serve as eyes for us. Numbers 12.16-- and camped in the wilderness of Paran. Numbers 13.3-- sent them from the wilderness of Paran, according to the command of the LORD, all of Numbers 13.21-- out the land from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob, near Lebo-hamath. Numbers 13.26-- the Israelites in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and Numbers 14.2-- we had died in this wilderness! Numbers 14.16-- slaughtered them in the wilderness.'

Numbers 14.22-- did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have tested me these ten times and have not Numbers 14.25-- and set out for the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea." † An Attempted Invasion is Numbers 14.29-- shall fall in this very wilderness; and of all your number, included in the census, from Numbers 14.32-- shall fall in this wilderness. Numbers 14.33-- be shepherds in the wilderness for forty years, and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until Numbers 14.35-- against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die. Numbers 15.32-- Israelites were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the sabbath day. Numbers 16.13-- honey to kill us in the wilderness, that you must also lord it over us? Numbers 20.1-- came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. Miriam Numbers 20.4-- of the LORD into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here? Numbers 21.5-- of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this Numbers 21.11-- at Iye-abarim, in the wilderness bordering Moab toward the sunrise. Numbers 21.13-- of the Arnon, in † the wilderness that extends from the boundary of the Amorites; for the Numbers 21.18-- the staff." From the wilderness to Mattanah, Numbers 21.23-- against Israel to the wilderness; he came to Jahaz, and fought against Israel. Numbers 24.1-- set his face toward the wilderness. Numbers 26.64-- the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai. Numbers 26.65-- "They shall die in the wilderness." Not one of them was left, except Caleb son of Numbers 27.3-- "Our father died in the wilderness; he was not among the company of those who gathered Numbers 27.14-- against my word in the wilderness of Zin when the congregation quarreled with me. † Numbers 32.13-- made them wander in the wilderness for forty years, until all the generation that had done Numbers 32.15-- abandon them in the wilderness; and you will destroy all this people." Numbers 33.6-- is on the edge of the wilderness. Numbers 33.8-- the sea into the wilderness, went a three days' journey in the wilderness of Etham, and Numbers 33.11-- Sea † and camped in the wilderness of Sin. Numbers 33.12-- They set out from the wilderness of Sin and camped at Dophkah. Numbers 33.15-- and camped in the wilderness of Sinai. Numbers 33.16-- They set out from the wilderness of Sinai and camped at Kibroth-hattaavah. Numbers 33.36-- and camped in the wilderness of Zin (that is, Kadesh). Numbers 34.3-- shall extend from the wilderness of Zin along the side of Edom. Your southern boundary Deuteronomy 1.1-- the Jordan—in the wilderness, on the plain opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Deuteronomy 1.19-- that great and terrible wilderness that you saw, on the way to the hill country of the Deuteronomy 1.31-- and in the wilderness, where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, just as Deuteronomy 1.40-- journey back into the wilderness, in the direction of the Red Sea." † Deuteronomy 2.1-- journeyed back into the wilderness, in the direction of the Red Sea, † as the LORD had Deuteronomy 2.7-- through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with Deuteronomy 2.8-- along the route of the wilderness of Moab, Deuteronomy 2.26-- messengers from the wilderness of Kedemoth to King Sihon of Heshbon with the Deuteronomy 4.43-- Bezer in the wilderness on the tableland belonging to the Reubenites, Ramoth in Deuteronomy 8.2-- forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in Deuteronomy 8.15-- the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous † snakes and Deuteronomy 8.16-- and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble Deuteronomy 9.7-- God to wrath in the wilderness; you have been rebellious against the LORD from the Deuteronomy 9.28-- to let them die in the wilderness.' Deuteronomy 11.5-- he did to you in the wilderness, until you came to this place; Deuteronomy 11.24-- shall extend from the wilderness to the Lebanon and from the River, the river Deuteronomy 29.5-- you forty years in the wilderness. The clothes on your back have not worn out, and the Deuteronomy 32.10-- land, in a howling wilderness waste; he shielded him, cared for him, guarded him Deuteronomy 32.51-- Meribath-kadesh in the wilderness of Zin, by failing to maintain my holiness among Joshua 1.4-- From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land Joshua 5.4-- the journey through the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt. Joshua 5.5-- the journey through the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised.

Joshua 5.6-- forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, the warriors who came out of Egypt, Joshua 8.15-- in the direction of the wilderness. Joshua 8.20-- people who fled to the wilderness turned back against the pursuers. Joshua 8.24-- of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them, and when all of them to the very last Joshua 12.8-- in the slopes, in the wilderness, and in the Negeb, the land of the Hittites, Amorites, Joshua 14.10-- journeying through the wilderness; and here I am today, eighty-five years old. Joshua 15.1-- of Edom, to the wilderness of Zin at the farthest south. Joshua 15.61-- In the wilderness, Beth-arabah, Middin, Secacah, Joshua 16.1-- of Jericho, into the wilderness, going up from Jericho into the hill country to Bethel; Joshua 18.12-- and it ends at the wilderness of Beth-aven. Joshua 20.8-- appointed Bezer in the wilderness on the tableland, from the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Joshua 24.7-- you lived in the wilderness a long time. Judges 1.16-- city of palms into the wilderness of Judah, which lies in the Negeb near Arad. Then they went Judges 8.7-- on the thorns of the wilderness and on briers." Judges 8.16-- he took thorns of the wilderness and briers and with them he trampled † the people of Judges 11.16-- Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea † and came to Kadesh. Judges 11.18-- journeyed through the wilderness, went around the land of Edom and the land of Moab, Judges 11.22-- the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan. Judges 20.42-- in the direction of the wilderness; but the battle overtook them, and those who came out of Judges 20.45-- and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, five thousand of them were cut down Judges 20.47-- and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, and remained at the rock of Rimmon

1 Samuel 4.8-- sort of plague in the wilderness.

1 Samuel 13.18-- of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

1 Samuel 17.28-- those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart;

1 Samuel 23.14-- the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul

1 Samuel 23.24-- and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon.

1 Samuel 23.25-- rock and stayed in the wilderness of Maon. When Saul heard that, he pursued David into

1 Samuel 24.1-- told, "David is in the wilderness of En-gedi."

1 Samuel 25.1-- up and went down to the wilderness of Paran. David and the Wife of Nabal

1 Samuel 25.4-- David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep.

1 Samuel 25.14-- messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master; and he shouted insults at them.

1 Samuel 25.21-- this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him;

1 Samuel 26.3-- David remained in the wilderness. When he learned that Saul came after him into the

2 Samuel 2.24-- Giah on the way to the wilderness of Gibeon.

2 Samuel 15.23-- moved on toward the wilderness.

2 Samuel 15.28-- at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me."

2 Samuel 16.2-- drink who faint in the wilderness."

2 Samuel 17.16-- at the fords of the wilderness, but by all means cross over; otherwise the king and all the

2 Samuel 17.29-- and thirsty in the wilderness."

1 Kings 2.34-- his own house near the wilderness.

1 Kings 9.18-- Baalath, Tamar in the wilderness, within the land,

1 Kings 19.4-- day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He

1 Kings 19.15-- on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as

2 Kings 3.8-- "By the way of the wilderness of Edom."

1 Chronicles 12.8-- the stronghold in the wilderness mighty and experienced warriors, expert with shield

1 Chronicles 21.29-- Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering were at that time in

2 Chronicles 1.3-- LORD had made in the wilderness, was there.

2 Chronicles 8.4-- He built Tadmor in the wilderness and all the storage towns that he built in Hamath.

2 Chronicles 20.16-- the valley, before the wilderness of Jeruel.

2 Chronicles 20.20-- and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood

2 Chronicles 20.24-- the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; they were corpses

2 Chronicles 24.9-- laid on Israel in the wilderness.

2 Chronicles 26.10-- He built towers in the wilderness and hewed out many cisterns, for he had large herds, Nehemiah 9.19-- not forsake them in the wilderness; the pillar of cloud that led them in the way did not Nehemiah 9.21-- sustained them in the wilderness so that they lacked nothing; their clothes did not wear Psalm 29.8-- of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. Psalm 55.7-- I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah Psalm 65.12-- 12 The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, Psalm 68.7-- you marched through the wilderness, Selah Psalm 74.14-- the creatures of the wilderness. Psalm 75.6-- west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up; Psalm 78.15-- split rocks open in the wilderness, and gave them drink abundantly as from the uninhabited wilderness, and pitched their tents in untrodden places.

Wisdom of Solomon 17.17-- who toiled in the wilderness, they were seized, and endured the inescapable Sirach 13.19-- Wild asses in the wilderness are the prey of lions; likewise the poor are feeding grounds for Sirach 43.21-- and burns up the wilderness, and withers the tender grass like fire. Sirach 45.18-- and envied him in the wilderness, Dathan and Abiram and their followers and the

1 Maccabees 2.29-- went down to the wilderness to live there,

1 Maccabees 2.31-- hiding places in the wilderness.

1 Maccabees 3.45-- was uninhabited like a wilderness; not one of her children went in or out. The

1 Maccabees 5.24-- days' journey into the wilderness.

1 Maccabees 5.28-- turned back by the wilderness road to Bozrah; and he took the town, and killed every

1 Maccabees 9.33-- and they fled into the wilderness of Tekoa and camped by the water of the pool of

1 Maccabees 9.62-- to Bethbasi in the wilderness; he rebuilt the parts of it that had been demolished, and

1 Maccabees 13.21-- to them by way of the wilderness and to send them food.

2 Maccabees 5.27-- others, got away to the wilderness, and kept himself and his companions alive in the

2 Esdras 1.17-- and thirsty in the wilderness, did you not cry out to me,

2 Esdras 1.18-- you led us into this wilderness to kill us? It would have been better for us to serve the

2 Esdras 1.22-- † When you were in the wilderness, at the bitter stream, thirsty and blaspheming my name,

2 Esdras 9.29-- to our ancestors in the wilderness when they came out from Egypt and when they came into Matthew 3.1-- Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, Matthew 3.3-- one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.' " Matthew 4.1-- by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 11.7-- did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? Matthew 24.26-- 'Look! He is in the wilderness,' do not go out. If they say, 'Look! He is in the inner Mark 1.3-- one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,' " Mark 1.4-- appeared † in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Mark 1.12-- drove him out into the wilderness. Mark 1.13-- He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and Luke 1.80-- and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel. Luke 3.2-- son of Zechariah in the wilderness. Luke 3.4-- one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Luke 4.1-- by the Spirit in the wilderness,

Luke 7.24-- did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? Luke 15.4-- the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? John 1.23-- one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,' " as the prophet Isaiah John 3.14-- up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, John 6.31-- ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' " John 6.49-- ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. John 11.54-- in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples. Acts 7.30-- appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. Acts 7.36-- the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. Acts 7.38-- the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with Acts 7.42-- forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? Acts 7.44-- of testimony in the wilderness, as God † directed when he spoke to Moses, ordering him to Acts 8.26-- to Gaza." (This is a wilderness road.) Acts 13.18-- up with † them in the wilderness. Acts 21.38-- assassins out into the wilderness?"

1 Corinthians 10.5-- were struck down in the wilderness.

2 Corinthians 11.26-- the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and Hebrews 3.8-- day of testing in the wilderness, Hebrews 3.17-- bodies fell in the wilderness? Revelation 12.6-- the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there Revelation 12.14-- the serpent into the wilderness, to her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, Revelation 17.3-- in the spirit † into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast.


Also, useful is what early church fathers said about the wilderness experience, this clearly a marked step away from the historical Jesus to the theological Christ; here, the wilderness is about temptation, the power of the Spirit (interpreted now as Holy Spirit), obedience, victory, and salvation:


12. And immediately the spirit drives him into the wilderness.


13. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.


CHRYS. Because all that Christ did and suffered was for our teaching, He began after His baptism to dwell in the wilderness, and fought against the devil, that every baptized person might patiently sustain greater temptations after His baptism, nor be troubled, as if this which happened to Him was contrary to His expectation, but might bear up against all things, and come off conqueror. For although Goth allows that we should be tempted for many other reasons, yet for this cause also He allows it, that we may know, that man when tempted is placed in a station of greater honor. For the Devil approaches not save where he has beheld one set in a place of greater honor; and therefore it is said, And immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness. And the reason why he does not simply say, that He went into the wilderness, but was driven, is, that you may understand that it was done according to the word of Divine Providence. By which also he shows, that no man should thrust himself into temptation, but that those who from some other state are as it were driven into temptation, remain conquerors. 


BEDE; And that no one might doubt, by what spirit he said that Christ was driven into the wilderness, Luke has on purpose premised, that Jesus being full of the Spirit returned from Jordan, and then has added, and was led by the Spirit in to the wilderness; lest the evil spirit should he thought to have any power over Him, who, being full of the Holy Spirit, departed whither He was willing to go, and did what He was willing to do. 


CHRYS. But the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness, because He designed to provoke the devil to tempt Him, and thus gave Him an opportunity not only by hunger, but also by the place. For then most of all does the devil thrust himself in, when he sees men remaining solitary.


BEDE; But He retires into the desert that He may teach us that, leaving the allurements of the world, and the company of the wicked, we should in all things obey the Divine commands. He is left alone and tempted by the devil, that He might teach us, that all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution; whence it follows, And he was in the wilderness forty days and forty nights, and was tempted by Satan. But He was tempted forty days and forty nights, that He might show us, that as long as we live here and serve God, whether prosperity smile upon us, which is meant by the day, or adversity smite us, which agrees with the figure of night, at all times our adversary is at hand, who ceases not to trouble our way by temptations. For the forty days and forty nights imply the whole time of this world, for the globe in which we are serving God is divided into four quarters. Again, there are Ten Commandments, by observing which we fight against our enemy, but four times ten are forty.


 There follows, and he was with the wild beasts. 


PSEUDO-CHRYS. But He says this to show of what nature was the wilderness, for it was impassable by man and full of wild beasts. It goes on; and angels ministered to him. For after temptation, and a victory against the devil, He worked the salvation of man. And thus the Apostle says, Angels are sent to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation. We must also observe, that to those who conquer in temptation angels stand near and minister. 


BEDE; Consider also that Christ dwells among the wild beasts as man, but, as God, uses the ministry of Angels. Thus, when in the solitude of a holy life we hear with unpolluted mind the bestial manners of men, we merit to have the ministry of Angels, by whom, when freed from the body, we shall be transferred to everlasting happiness. 


PSEUDO-JEROME; Or, then the beasts dwell with us in peace, as in the ark clean animals with the unclean, when the flesh lusts not against the spirit. After this, ministering Angels are sent to us, that they may give answers and comforts to hearts that watch.


Pasted from <http://catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea-Mark1.php>



The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry


We have already remarked that 1:14, 15 relates to the first major section of the Gospel, 1:14-10:52 (NISB Notes). Structurally, too, 1:16 through 3:6 consists of parallel units:


A calling of disciples (1:16-20 and 2:13-14)

Four stories (of healing in the first --1:21-2:12) controversy in the second (2:15-3:6)

Ends with a combined healing-controversy story (2:1-12 and 3:1-16) NISB Notes


Then as introduction into introduction, the section serves as yet another introduction into "all the characters and groups that will take part in the rest of the narrative.


In re-approaching Mark, I have found myself agreeing with Edward Hobbs' (1998) understanding that Mark writes carefully with respect to themes, word choice, and structure:


Mark writes with remarkable attention to his wording! He is often accused of writing poor Greek, and/or of woodenly reproducing his sources. On the contrary, IMHO, he builds theme after theme upon careful choice of words, a characteristic which is usually missed. The commonest reason for missing it, I believe, is that most readers today know Mark in their own language (English or whatever), and then when they read Mark in Greek, are constantly "translating" in their minds, missing the distinctive features of his Greek text. One aspect of this arises from the fact that few of us grow up reading the LXX as our OT--we read it in English, and then some of us learn Hebrew and read it in that language, but ignore the OT in the language used by Mark. Hence, we seldom catch the frequent-in-Mark quotations, allusions, and hints of the OT text, all of which are essential to understand his full meaning.


Pasted from <http://www.michaelturton.com/Mark/GMark01.html>


The Kingdom of God


In my earlier Mark study, I spoke about Jesus' radical message  outlined in Luke that says" the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you"; as I re-approach this work, I have already suggested by the title of my study that I wish to make a clearer distinction between history and theology.  In the case of what follows, I still find it useful to look at all the gospels and what they have said about the "Kingdom of God": a change I would make in the introductory paragraph is to change "The message Christ preached while on earth" to "The message Jesus preached while on earth."


Jesus’ Radical Message: The Kingdom of God Is in the Midst of You (Lu.17:21 nor will they say, 'Lo, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.")


1Co.15:50 I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.


Much like the orthodox of the first century, people today devoutly expect God’s kingdom to come; the emphasis here is that the kingdom is not present and is to come at some future point. This leads to living in expectation rather than with the present. For many, the end of time (which heralds the kingdom of God) is to be preceded by tribulation. As the prophets understood, the end is darkness and not light, at least from the temporal perspective. Matthew calls this the 24:15 the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet. If Christ were present in human form, we might be startled to hear him say, Mt. 22: 13: But woe unto you, churched, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. The message Christ proclaimed while on earth, after all, was the kingdom is here now, in our midst. How differently would we behave if we lived this truth in the present moment: the kingdom of God here now, in the moment: the eternal in the temporal! In some ways, this is the predictable message to come to the Hebrew-Judaic world which has been reshaped by Greek thinking, with an emphasis upon unity, harmony, and the ideal.


Mt.12:28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Mt.19:24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Mt.21:31 Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

Mt.21:43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it."

Mk.1:15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel."

Mk.4:11 And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables; [the secret is known.]

Mk.4:26 And he said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground,

Mk.4:30 And he said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?

Mk.9:1 And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power." [need not taste death to see that the kingdom of God has come.]

Mk.9:47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,

Mk.10:14 But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God.

Mk.10:15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."

Mk.10:23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!"

Mk.10:24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!

Mk.10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Mk.12:34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And after that no one dared to ask him any question. [not far from kingdom of God]

Mk.14:25 Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."

Mk.15:43 Joseph of Arimathe'a, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus.

Lu.4:43 but he said to them, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose."

Lu.6:20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

Lu.7:28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."

Lu.8:1 Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, [brings the good news of the kingdom of God.]

Lu.8:10 he said, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.

Lu.9:2 and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal.

Lu.9:11 When the crowds learned it, they followed him; and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God, and cured those who had need of healing.

Lu.9:27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."

Lu.9:60 But he said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God."

Lu.9:62 Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

Lu.10:9 heal the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' [has come near.]

Lu.10:11 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off against you; nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.'

Lu.11:20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. [kingdom of God has come.]

Lu.13:18 He said therefore, "What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it?

Lu.13:20 And again he said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God?

Lu.13:28 There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out.

Lu.13:29 And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God.

Lu.14:15 When one of those who sat at table with him heard this, he said to him, "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!"

Lu.16:16 "The law and the prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and every one enters it violently.

Lu.17:20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed;

Lu.17:21 nor will they say, 'Lo, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you." [The kingdom of God is in the midst of you.]

Lu.18:16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God.

Lu.18:17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."

Lu.18:24 Jesus looking at him said, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!

Lu.18:25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Lu.18:29 And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God,

Lu.19:11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately.

Lu.21:31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

Lu.22:16 for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God."

Lu.22:18 for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."

Lu.23:51 who had not consented to their purpose and deed, and he was looking for the kingdom of God.

Jn3:1: In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

2: And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Jn.3:3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Jn.3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Jn.3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Mt 4:17: From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mt 4:23: And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

Mt 5:3: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Mt 5:10: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Mt. 9:35: And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.

Mt. 22: 13: But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

Ac.1:3 To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.

Ac.8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Ac.14:22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

Ac.19:8 And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, arguing and pleading about the kingdom of God;

Ac.28:23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in great numbers. And he expounded the matter to them from morning till evening, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the law of Moses and from the prophets.

Ac.28:31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered.

Ro.14:17 For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit;

1Co.4:20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.

1Co.6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts,

1Co.6:10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.

1Co.15:50 I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Ga.5:21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Col.4:11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me.

2Th.1:5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering --


Pasted from <http://crain.english.missouriwestern.edu/Mark/newpage21.htm>



Jesus Calls the First Disciples (1:16-20)


I have previously remarked on the two broad parallel structures in Mark involving "calling, " noting that each is followed by four stories, the first involving healing and the second involving controversies, with a concluding story that explores both healing and controversy.  In this immediate section, what stands out structurally is the "action of James and John in  (Gk. Aphentes) their father" which "foreshadows their last action in the Gospel of deserting (aphentes) Jesus when he is arrested" (NISB Notes). The NISB Notes also points out that immediately occurs forty-times in this Gospel, speeding up the narrative to "breathless pace." Also previously noted has been the structure in Mark that moves Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem and a prediction that he will again be seen in Galilee, a structure that returns full circle to allow the reader to begin all over again to follow Jesus in his ministry.


It may be useful to sort through and summarize Michael Turton's notes from other scholars about Galilee, since this is where it all begins in Mark; these are extensive.  Jesus seems to come into Galilee with no hint that this is a return trip, leading to the possibility that this is the original beginning of Mark before it was interpolated. He says debate continues about the stability of Galilee, noting the origin of several rebels here. He quotes a passage from Burton Mack (1995), which summarizes Galilean history as being added by David with the tribes of Naphthali, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dan settling there; described also is Solomon's giving twenty Galilean cities to Hiram, King of Tyre; what was left of Galilee was the part of the country of the Ptolemies and Seleucids, this run over by the Hasmoneans  of Jerusalem in 104BCE. Galilee, importantly, is Gentile--not Samaritan, not Jews; Galilee was also heavily influenced by the Greeks. In short, at issue is the identity Galilee's people; Turton quotes Mark A. Chancey contention that" the idea of a strongly gentile-influenced Galilee" is a myth. Archaeologically, research shows no residual pig bones characteristic of Gentile diet but does find evidence of Jewish ritual baths and pottery. Turton then suggests little evidence exists for finding a connection between Jesus and Galilee. He concludes by bringing into focus Isaiah 9:1 as a basis for the designation of Galilee. He also points out" Additional influences on the writer of Mark may have been popular ideas of demonology contained in works like 1 Enoch and the Book of Tobit, in which Galilee plays a key role"  <http://www.michaelturton.com/Mark/GMark01.html>.



The Oxford Bible Commentary, while noting that the disciples later get bad press for failing to understand Jesus and in ultimately deserting him, notes the very positive overtones of the four disciple's, called by Jesus, obedience in immediately following Jesus (889).


Turton lays out scholarship to associate the calling with Elijah-Elisha, quoting Brodie, and noting parallels:


The OT source for this story, like so many in Mark, is the Elijah-Elisha cycle. Brodie has shown that this passage is modeled on the Elijah story in 1 Kings 19:19-21:



19   And he goeth thence, and findeth Elisha son of Shaphat, and he is plowing; twelve yoke [are] before him, and he [is] with the twelfth; and Elijah passeth over unto him, and casteth his robe upon him, 

20   and he forsaketh the oxen, and runneth after Elijah, and saith, `Let me give a kiss, I pray thee, to my father and to my mother, and I go after thee.' And he saith to him, `Go, turn back, for what have I done to thee?' 

21   And he turneth back from after him, and taketh the yoke of oxen, and sacrificeth it, and with instruments of the oxen he hath boiled their flesh, and giveth to the people, and they eat, and he riseth, and goeth after Elijah, and serveth him.(YLT)

Note the parallels, listed in Brodie (2000, p91):



*the action begins with a caller...and with motion toward those to be called; 

*those called are working (plowing/fishing); 

*the call, whether by gesture (Elijah) or word (Jesus) is brief; 

*later, the means of livelihood are variously destroyed or mended, the plow is destroyed, but the nets are mended -- a typical inversion of images...; 

*after further movement, there is a leave-taking of home; 

*there is also a leave-taking of other workers; 

*finally, those who are called follow the caller.

Additional parallels, not noted by Brodie, include Elisha plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, just as Jesus will spread his religion with twelve disciples. Further, Elisha drives a pair of oxen, just as Jesus later appoints a pair of brothers.


Pasted from <http://www.michaelturton.com/Mark/GMark01.html>


In keeping with the ongoing argument that the book of Mark is wonderfully structured and always layered in meaning,  Turton explores the possible influences for calling disciples from the Sea of Galilee:


The OT source for this story, like so many in Mark, is the Elijah-Elisha cycle. Brodie has shown that this passage is modeled on the Elijah story in 1 Kings 19:19-21:

19   And he goeth thence, and findeth Elisha son of Shaphat, and he is plowing; twelve yoke [are] before him, and he [is] with the twelfth; and Elijah passeth over unto him, and casteth his robe upon him, 

20   and he forsaketh the oxen, and runneth after Elijah, and saith, `Let me give a kiss, I pray thee, to my father and to my mother, and I go after thee.' And he saith to him, `Go, turn back, for what have I done to thee?' 

21   And he turneth back from after him, and taketh the yoke of oxen, and sacrificeth it, and with instruments of the oxen he hath boiled their flesh, and giveth to the people, and they eat, and he riseth, and goeth after Elijah, and serveth him.(YLT)

Note the parallels, listed in Brodie (2000, p91):



*the action begins with a caller...and with motion toward those to be called; 

*those called are working (plowing/fishing); 

*the call, whether by gesture (Elijah) or word (Jesus) is brief; 

*later, the means of livelihood are variously destroyed or mended, the plow is destroyed, but the nets are mended -- a typical inversion of images...; 

*after further movement, there is a leave-taking of home; 

*there is also a leave-taking of other workers; 

*finally, those who are called follow the caller.

Additional parallels, not noted by Brodie, include Elisha plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, just as Jesus will spread his religion with twelve disciples. Further, Elisha drives a pair of oxen, just as Jesus later appoints a pair of brothers.


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He returns discussion to the question of why the disciples should be called from Galilee, suggesting  they serve as foils to Jesus and provide an opportunity for Jesus to explain his mission or, more negatively, that structurally, when viewed in the light of Elisha's taking time to feed his family, the disciples here show no such responsible behavior:


First, the reason may be narrative and structural. In some interpretations the disciples function in the Gospel of Mark as foils whose stupidity and incomprehension provide opportunities for the narrator or Jesus to explain his mission and ideas. Thus their inclusion at the start in Galilee may simply be a necessary device to ensure that they are present throughout the mission to serve in their important role as foils for Jesus.


Another possibility lies in the writer of Mark's attitude toward the disciples. The Gospel presents them in an extremely unflattering light. Here the writer defines them as men of no particular origin, working-class, probably not very educated, and from a part of Palestine notorious for not being Jewish, who leave their positions without so much as a wave good-bye. Further, the Galileans were lampooned by their southern brethren for being idiots and not understanding Aramaic well (Theissen and Merz, 1998, p169). In Mark 14:70 Peter is identified as a Galilean; perhaps the writer meant to imply this was due to his accent. It doesn't take much to see that the idea that the disciples had come from Galilee might be construed as reflecting negatively on them, at least in some quarters. 


In support of this one need merely compare the passage the writer is paralleling with the passage he created. In the sequence in 1 Kings 19, Elisha stops to kill his oxen and feed them to his family. Not so Peter, James, John, and Andrew. They take off with work unfinished and leave family without a backward glance. The detail about the "father and the hired servants" may be there to emphasize the sudden power of Jesus' call, as well as show that the Christian follower puts aside his family, but it may also be there to make the disciples look bad. 



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Three Healing Stories


What follows next in the first chapter of Mark are three healing stories--that of exorcism in a synagogue in Capernaum on the sabbath, where the unclean spirit (or demons) recognizes Jesus as "the Holy One of God" (24); the healing of Simon's mother-in-law (29-34,) followed by other healings; and the cleansing of a leper (40-45). Concerning the exorcism, Turton remarks on the similarity to  passages in Kings:

 1 Kings 17:18, where the woman rebukes Elijah as her son lies dying:



17 Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. 18 She said to Elijah, "What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?" (NIV)

The significance of this relationship between Mark 1:24 and 1 Kings 17 is simple: 1 Kings 17 is the chapter where Elijah makes his first appearance. The writer is linking Jesus and Elijah in a subtle and striking way.


The same theme occurs with Elisha in 2 Kings 3:13:



13 Elisha said to the king of Israel, "What do we have to do with each other? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother." (NIV)

The function of such a phrase is to deny that the speaker and listener share a common community (Donahue and Harrington 2002, p80).


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Turton has, in his Introduction, has already noted  the many references to the Tanakh (over 150) and the use of Elija and Elisha stories in 1 and 2 Kings as a key structural element,  indicating that these have " generated an enormous controversy among scholars. Does the writer of Mark use the OT to interpret the history of Jesus, or to create it? If the answer to either is "sometimes," when does he do which, and how do we know? "  <http://www.michaelturton.com/Mark/GMark_intro.html#intro>  Even in "the Holy One of God," allusions may be to Psalms:


"holy one of God" Grant (1963) observes that "this title may be based on Psalm 16:10 ("thou wilt not suffer thy holy one to see corruption") or Psalm 106:16 (Aaron as the holy one of God). Later Jesus will be raised, his body uncorrupted)   <http://www.michaelturton.com/Mark/GMark01.html> .


Concerning the synagogues, NISB Notes their presence and popularity as places for the study of scripture and for sacrificial rituals., although Turton states we have no solid evidence for the presence of synagogues other than house synagogues in the first century,  a point in opposition to the one taken by Nelson's Commentary, quoted fully here:

In Jesus’ day, synagogues (Mark 1:21) were common throughout Palestine. Synagogues (from the Greek sunagoge, meaning “a leading or bringing together”) were local congregations of Jews that met for the reading and explanation of Scripture and for prayer. The original emphasis was not on preaching but instruction in the Law of Moses.

Synagogues began during the Babylonian captivity experience. Lacking a temple but longing for communion with God, Jewish captives in Babylon met in local groups for worship and Torah reading. Some of the captives eventually returned to their land, where Zerubbabel rebuilt the temple and Ezra the scribe promoted the reading of the Law and prayer (Neh. 8). But many Jews remained in Persia and spread elsewhere, notably to Alexandria, Egypt. Both in and outside of Palestine, Jews continued to meet in synagogues, which became centers of community life.

Some synagogues functioned as local courts of justice which could sentence offenders as well as inflict the punishment of scourging (Matt. 10:17; 23:34). They also became grammar schools teaching children to read. And much of Jewish social life revolved around synagogue activities.

By Jesus’ time, synagogues were well established and had customary officials, including:

Elders, a board made up of devout and respected men who regulated the policies of the synagogue. Custom seated the elders in the chief seats at the front of the synagogue (Matt. 23:6).

A ruler of the synagogue, appointed by the elders, whose duty was to attend to matters concerning the building and the planning of the services. There could be more than one ruler. On one occasion, a ruler named Jairus approached Jesus about healing his daughter (Mark 5:21–43).

The minister (chazzan), who had charge of the sacred scrolls kept in the ark, attended to the lamps, and kept the building clean. If an offender was found guilty by the council of elders, this official was the one who administered the number of lashes prescribed for the scourging. During the week he taught children how to read.

The delegate of the congregation. This was not a permanent office. Before each service the ruler chose a capable person to read the Scripture lesson, lead in prayer, and preach or comment on the Scripture. Jesus was selected for this office in the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16–20).

The interpreter. The Scriptures were written in Hebrew, but by Jesus’ day most Jews in Palestine spoke Aramaic, a language related to Hebrew but different enough to call for an interpreter.

Almoners, two or three persons who received money or other necessities for the poor.

A synagogue could not be formed unless there were at least ten Jewish men in the community—apparently a condition met in a great many towns throughout the Roman world, as Paul found synagogues at Damascus (Acts 9:2), Salamis (13:5), Antioch in Pisidia (13:14), Iconium (14:1), Thessalonica (17:1), Berea (17:10), Athens (17:16, 17), and Ephesus (19:1, 8). Indeed, whenever Paul entered a city to preach the gospel, he invariably spoke first in the synagogue before reaching out to the larger community.

Not surprisingly, synagogue worship had a profound influence on Christian worship. The Jewish service began with a recitation of the shema by the people. Shema (“Hear”) is the first Hebrew word in the passage, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deut. 6:4–9). The speaker for the day then led the congregation in prayer as they stood facing Jerusalem with hands extended. At the close of the prayer the people said “Amen.”

The chosen speaker stood and read the Law while the interpreter translated it into Aramaic. Then a passage from the Prophets was read and translated. For the commentary or sermon, the speaker usually sat down. After the sermon, a priest, if one was present, pronounced a benediction and the people said “Amen.” Since the earliest Christians were Jews, they tended to follow this synagogue pattern in their own assemblies.

Radmacher, E. D. 1999. Nelson's new illustrated Bible commentary. T. Nelson Publishers: Nashville


 Turton also notes   the relation of Jesus (authority) to scribes (wise men) as perhaps referencing Jeremiah:

 Jeremiah 8:8-9 says:



8: "How can you say, `We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us'? But, behold, the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie. 9: The wise men shall be put to shame, they shall be dismayed and taken; lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD, and what wisdom is in them? (RSV)


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With this first healing comes a first  whisper of the urgency of silence in the face of Jesus' growing popularity. NISB Notes indicate that the purpose of keeping the identity of "the Holy One" is much debated.


Readers may want to note the emergence in this healing of  a miracle story:


Bultmann noted the story "displays the typical features of a miracle story, especially the conjuration of a demon: 1. the demon senses the presence of the exorcist and struggles; 2. threat and command by the exorcist; 3. the demon departs with a demonstration; 4. the impression on the on-lookers." (cited in Ludemann, 2001, p.13). Ludemann (2001, p13) also notes that v24 contains a formula of the demon to ward off the miracle worker.  


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What one makes of this is that, once  again, Mark is no careless writer: he is picking and choosing among the tools that he has at hand to structure carefully this interpretation or creation of the work of Jesus.


Catholic Resources on Mark online has provided the following  structural outline of Mark under the general title of Typical Events in Jesus' Ministry:


Some Typical Events in Jesus' Ministry (1:16-45):

  • The first Vocation story: Jesus calls four fishermen, who follow him as his disciples (vv. 16-20)
    • The first Exorcism:  Jesus exorcises an unclean spirit in Capernaum (vv. 21-28)
      • The first Healing narrativeJesus heals Simon's Mother-in-law of a fever (vv. 29-31)
      • The first Healing summary: Jesus heals many sick people and drives out many demons (vv. 32-34)
    • The first Journey:  Jesus expands his preaching beyond Capernaum (vv. 35-39)
  • The first Restoration story: Jesus cleanses a leper, restoring him to health and to society (vv. 40-45)


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What should probably be noted, in addition to the Messianic Secret already commented upon, is that the first exorcism and what is called here  the first healing summary is that sections are linked by opposing powers (demons) recognizing Jesus  in contrast to reactions of astoundment at teaching and authority and the push of crowds to be healed. NISB Notes remark that the knowledge of Jesus which the Demons throughout Mark seem to have can be related either to fight Jesus, related to gaining power over someone by identification, or as a cosmic recognition of Jesus' power.  Turton, by way of Crossan, has questioned the history of the entire set of healings, saying that the entire day (v 21-39) is a Markan creation

 <http://www.michaelturton.com/Mark/GMark01.html> . Crossan has also suggested that when Simon and his companions come hunting for Jesus, it is to call him back to the task of ministering to the people who come to him (fixed position) in contrast to an itinerancy in Jesus' going forth to neighboring towns (38).  More importantly, I think, is the fact that the "good news of God" and a time fulfilled and a kingdom come near (14) is linked to the message that must be proclaimed (39). The chapter ends with the spreading fame of Jesus (28) linked to the people crowding Jesus at every quarter (45).


Before leaving chapter one of Mark, two other points should be made: these relating to Jesus' interaction with the marginalized and his attention to the demands of law. Turton quotes Meyers (1998) concerning the first:


"Mark's story of Jesus stands virtually alone among the literary achievements of antiquity for one reason: it is a narrative for and about the common people. The Gospel reflects the daily realities of disease, poverty, and disenfranchisement that characterized the social existence of first-century Palestine's 'other 95%.'"(p39)


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He further quotes Meyers concerning the attention Jesus gives to Mosaic requirements:


Myers (1988, p153) interprets the command for the leper to show himself to the priests as an injunction to become a witness on behalf of Jesus that the old order has been overturned and the new one announced by Jesus has begun. The Greek translated here as "for a proof to the people" is actually a technical term for bearing witness in a hostile situation. Most exegetes see this as Jesus carefully following the precepts of Mosaic law, which calls for a healed leper to prove it to the priests so that he may be considered ritually clean again.


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