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The turn in chapter nine is decidedly different from the ending in chapter eight: the kingdom of God that has been described as near (1:14) is now described as imminent, with some standing present not to die until "the kingdom of God has come with power" (9:1).


Summary  Jesus, instructing the disciples, says some there will not die until God's kingdom has come with power. Following this, Mark records the transfiguration, Jesus going to the mountain accompanied by Peter, James, and John. Elijah and Moses appear and talk with Jesus.  Peter wants to build three buildings--one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus. The disciples are terrified; a voice from heaven testifies, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!"  As the disciples look around, they find no one there except for Jesus.


As they come down from the mountain, Jesus orders the disciples not to tell anyone what they have seen until the Son of Man has risen from the dead. The disciples do as they're told but question what Jesus has meant by dead. Jesus asks the disciples why the scribes say that Elijah must come first, and then he tells them that Elijah has already come, and they did to him what they pleased.


Around some scribes, a crowd has gathered and is arguing with them; the disciples have been unable to cast out a spirit from a boy who apparently has had a seizure. Jesus remarks on their lack of faith, momentarily sighing, "how much longer must I put up with you?"  He questions how long the boy has had this condition and is told from childhood. The man who has brought his son to Jesus asks for pity, if he is able to do anything. Jesus picks up the doubt and replies, "If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes." The father says he believes and asks for help  for his unbelief. Jesus commands the spirit which keeps the boy from speaking and hearing to come out; when the spirit comes out, the boy is left seemingly a corpse, and the people fear he is dead.   Jesus, however, takes him by the hand, lifts him up, and he is able to stand.   The disciples in a private moment ask Jesus why they have been unable to exorcise the spirit, and Jesus tells them that this species can be cast out only by prayer.


Again passing through Galilee, Jesus tells the disciples not to tell anyone they're passing through; he is teaching his disciples that the Son of Man is to be betrayed, to be killed, and after three days, to rise again. The disciples do not understand but are afraid to ask Jesus to explain; instead, they argue about it among themselves.  Jesus overhears the argument, and back in Capernaum, he asks them what the argument has been about. They are silent, not wanting to reveal that they have been arguing over who would be greatest in the Kingdom of God. Jesus knows, nonetheless, the content of the dispute and settles it:  "36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 'Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.'"


Jesus, by this time, has apparently inspired imitators, for John tells him of someone, not a follower, casting out devils in his name and asks if the man should be stopped. Jesus logically replies, " Whoever is not against us is for us" ( 40). He then tells John that anyone giving even a cup of water to aid in the mission will be rewarded.


Likewise, the disciples are warned of the drastic consequences to those who obstruct the mission: better to have had a weight tied to them and drowned; better to lose a limb  or even two legs and go maimed in this life than to suffer in hell hereafter; it would be better to enter into the hereafter with one eye than to see with both in this world and then be condemned in the next. Mark describes hell as a place "where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched." Jesus concludes by telling them that they are to live in peace with each other, and for that, they will need a preservative in themselves: salt to help them love and serve each other.


Pasted from <http://crain.english.missouriwestern.edu/Mark/interpre7.htm>


Felix Just has identified the central section of Mark structurally as belonging to Mark 8:22—10:52, and has summarized it in the following way, a structure that emphasizes gradual, partial sight restored in the first healing and an immediate restoration in the second, these framing three passion stories, each followed by a special teaching about what it will mean to follow the Son of Man:


Jesus Journeys from Bethsaida and Caesarea Philippi to Jericho and Jerusalem (built around three Passion predictions, each of which is followed by the misunderstanding of one or more of the disciples, and further teaching by Jesus about the requirements of true discipleship):

[Transition/preface: 8:14-21 - The "blindness" of the disciples!]

8:22-26 - The Two-Stage Restoration of Sight to a Blind Person at Bethsaida, north of the Sea of Galilee

8:27-30 - Peter's Confession near Caesarea Philippi: "You are the Christ"; but Jesus orders them "not to tell anyone about him"

8:31 - First Passion Prediction (Son of Man must suffer, be rejected, be killed, and rise after three days)

8:32-33 - Peter misunderstands and "rebukes" Jesus, who "rebukes" Peter in return 

8:34–9:1 - Jesus teaches: "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel will save it."

9:2-30 - Transfiguration; Coming of Elijah; Exorcism of an Epileptic Spirit

9:31-32 - Second Passion Prediction (Son of Man will be betrayed, be killed, but rise after three days)

9:33-34 - All the disciples misunderstand, arguing who among them was the greatest

9:35-50 - Jesus teaches: "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all."

10:1-31 - Teaching on Divorce; Blessing of Children; the Rich Man

10:32-34 - Third Passion Prediction (Son of Man will be handed over, condemned to death, mocked, spat upon, scourged, put to death, but will rise after three days)

10:35-40 - James and John misunderstand, asking for the seats of honor when Jesus is in "glory"

10:41-45 - Jesus teaches: "Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

10:46-52 - The Immediate Restoration of Sight to Blind Bartimaeus outside of Jericho, on the way to Jerusalem


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


The New Interpreter's Study Bible remarks that the third Passion Prediction follows the pattern of the first: prediction, misunderstanding, teaching, and concluding healing story. The second is similar, too, in that the prediction is made, the disciples misunderstand and argue about greatness, teaching about "Whoever is not against us is for us" (40),  a teaching about sin (42-49); this time, though, the teachings continue in the next chapter with teachings about divorce (10: 1-10), the true children of the kingdom of God (13-16), and the teaching involved in the story of the Rich Man (17-31).  It may be noted, too, that the first prediction is preceded by Peter's declaration that Jesus is the Messiah, the second by the Transfiguration in which a voice from a cloud declares "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him" (9:7), and a discussion about Elijah that predicts the "Son of Man" will rise from the dead accompanied an explanation that suffering must first be endured.  The third, the longest and most detailed, introduces and summarizes the actions to come--that Jesus must be handed over, condemned, mocked, spit on, flogged, and killed, but will victoriously, rise again. It is not then surprising to find that chapter ten concludes on the theme of Jesus' serving and giving his life as a ransom for many and with the healing of a blind Bartimaeus, who acknowledges Jesus of Nazareth as "Jesus, Son of David." This first use of "Son of David" is precisely and strategically placed.


It may be well, at this point, to recall and reassess the structure suggested by The New Interpreter's Study Bible  in the introduction:


Interestingly, The New Interpreter's Study Bible divides Mark geographically into an introduction, Galilean ministry, and Jerusalem ministry. The Galilean is divided into four sections: first major section (1:14-2:12)--the good news of God and  (2:13-3:6)--call story and four controversy stories, second major section (3:7-6:32)--designation and mission of twelve, (6:33-8:21)--two feedings, boat trip, and growing conflict with scribes and Pharisees, (8:22-10:52)--surrounded by giving of sight stories, organized around three teaching sections following major misunderstanding by the disciples, with each of the teaching sections introduced by a predictions of Jesus' upcoming arrest, trial, death, and resurrection. The last part of the Gospel (11:1-16:8) is also divided at another point (14:1-16:8).


Although geographical, certainly two main sections make up the Gospel: Galilean ministry (1:12-10) and Jerusalem (11-16:8). No reader misses the geographical turn in the story, although what happens in between may not be fully understood. Many see a further division into "insiders" and "outsiders" marked in the calling and commissioning of the disciples, who comprehend only vaguely who it is that has called them, and the rejection of Jesus by his family (who become the first clear "outsiders," a growing conflict with the scribes and Pharisees (also becoming "outsiders," and a movement into Gentile territory (indicating a move to make "outsiders" into "insiders"). The second feeding clearly indicates "obduracy," "incomprehension," and failure "to recognize the miraculous" on the part of the "insider" disciples.


Even given this, the structure can be reassessed. While the first section can be 1:16-3:6 "composed of two parallel units, each of which begins with a calling of disciples episode...followed by stories  of similar type (healing, controversy) with each ending with a mixed healing/controversy;  the second major section (3:7-6:32) containing a summary of Jesus' actions, the designation and mission of the twelve disciples, and a long teaching speech could be further divided.  Clearly, the summary remains just that--summary (3:7-12). This summary includes Jesus' growing popularity, a confession by unclean spirits that he is the "Son of God), and Jesus' urgent order "not to make him known." Following the appointment of the twelve, three controversies are addressed: Beelzebul, blasphemy  (calling the Holy evil), and "insiders/outsiders," the family of Jesus being identified as those who do the will of God(3:34). What next follows is a long parable (4:1-9), a teaching about the purpose of parables (emphasizing secrecy/mystery and "insiders" and "outsiders"), a point by point interpretation of "The Sower" (which some think to have been added at a later date) and three short parables: a lamp under a bushel basket, a growing seed, the mustard seed--all these showing the purpose of a secret is that it become revealed in time. Next comes a short section on the use of parables (4:33-34) with the parables being used  as people are able to listen and hear (4:23) and the disciples being taught in private. This is then followed by three miracles: Jesus stills a storm (4:35-41), heals Gerasene demoniac (5:1-20)--this connected to a recognition of "Jesus, Son of the Most High God")--and a girl restored to life and a woman healed (4:21-42)--these two connected with life issues, twelve being the age of marriage and fertility and the flow of blood from the woman for twelve years being a life threat. This could also contrast successful healing to the growing failure of the disciples demonstrated in their being unable to exorcise a demon (9:18). Next comes the rejection of Jesus' hometown, who know Jesus only as a carpenter, son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon (6:1-6), this being a second outright rejection multiplying from family to hometown. This is now followed by the mission of the twelve and the death of John the Baptist, a move logical in light of rejection by so-thought "insiders" and a move to "outsiders" that will move far beyond what John has accomplished.



The section containing the two feeding stories may also be viewed as a section.  The first feeding story(6: 30-44) occurs in private while the second  is public (8:1-10); notable, too, is the decrease from feeding five thousand to four thousand with a remaining twelve and seven baskets--the last still tied to a "great crowd" and Jesus' popularity perhaps somewhat diminished and those fed--the "insiders" fewer in number. Readers will note, too, that the second feeding takes place in Decapolis area and could perhaps suggest a growing response among gentiles. Painfully obvious, however, is the disciples' failure to understand that the people, whatever the number, can be fed (8:4). The first feeding is followed by the miracle of Jesus' walking on water and the terrified disciples' thinking him to be a ghost. The first feeding focuses on water in the form of the boat that take the disciples to a private spot and the walking on water that demonstrated their continued failure to understand who Jesus is or how it is that Jesus feeds the people--"for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened" (7:52).  Even the intimate "insiders" have a difficult time understanding the mystery that is Jesus.


The New Interpreter's Study Bible describes chapter six and chapter seven as reporting "the incredible success of Jesus' healings sandwiched between his difficulty with his disciples (45-52) and his conflict with the Pharisees and scribes (7:1-13). The conflict is over ritual purity and human precepts taught as doctrine (oral law and tradition). The outwardly "religious" are contrasted to the Syrophoenician woman  of faith (a gentile) and the cured deaf man of the region of Decapolis--a healing effected by touch and command. The healing ends with a caution not to tell that ends in proclamation.


The second feeding ends with a demand from the Pharisees for a "sign from heaven" (8:11), a warning about the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod, the disciples' interpreting this literally and showing once again how completely they misunderstand the man they follow, to the point that Jesus asks, "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand?" He goes on to say, "Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and fail to see? Do you have ears and fail to hear?" Jesus then reminds them of the twelve and seven baskets (8:14-21). It simply should not be surprising to find that a literally blind man is healed or that Peter declares , in answer to Jesus' question of who he is, that "You are the Messiah" (8:29).


What next follows is a section that contains the three predictions about arrest, trial, death, and resurrection that culminates in the healing of yet another blind person, Blind Bartimaeus, who recognizes Jesus of Nazareth as "Jesus, Son of David," the first time Jesus is called "Son of David" and connects the entire Galilean mission to the City of David and the triumphal entry of Jesus into it (chapter 11).  The first section ends then with a suggestion--proximity--of a connection between "Messiah" and "Son of David." What must inevitably follow is what Jesus does in Jerusalem.


Michael Turton in his historical analysis suggests a possible source for the story of Bartimaeus:


Timaeus is the name of a well-known dialog of Plato. In this dialog, Socrates -- who will be executed -- sits down with three of his friends, Critias, Timaeus, and Hermocrates. The dialog involves a discussion of why and how the universe was created:


"When the father creator saw the creature which he had made moving and living, the created image of the eternal gods, he rejoiced..."(Jowett translation)


Plato's Timaeus also contains a long discussion about the eye and vision:


"And of the organs they first contrived the eyes to give light, and the principle according to which they were inserted was as follows: So much of fire as would not burn, but gave a gentle light, they formed into a substance akin to the light of every-day life; and the pure fire which is within us and related thereto they made to flow through the eyes in a stream smooth and dense, compressing the whole eye, and especially the centre part, so that it kept out everything of a coarser nature, and allowed to pass only this pure element. When the light of day surrounds the stream of vision, then like falls upon like, and they coalesce, and one body is formed by natural affinity in the line of vision, wherever the light that falls from within meets with an external object. And the whole stream of vision, being similarly affected in virtue of similarity, diffuses the motions of what it touches or what touches it over the whole body, until they reach the soul, causing that perception which we call sight. But when night comes on and the external and kindred fire departs, then the stream of vision is cut off; for going forth to an unlike element it is changed and extinguished, being no longer of one nature with the surrounding atmosphere which is now deprived of fire: and so the eye no longer sees, and we feel disposed to sleep." (Jowett translation)


It is not difficult to see the parallel between Jesus -- about to be executed -- and Socrates, as well as Peter, James, and John, and Socrates' three friends. Socrates, like Jesus, is a tekton. Bar-Timaeus is blind, and Timaeus has a discussion of optics and the physics of the eye. Like Jesus, Socrates will enlighten his companions as to the truth. The parallel may be pushed further, but that would take us outside our task here. The name stinks of literary invention, and this would make it the only pericope in Mark with an origin in Plato or other Hellenistic literature. All in all, considering the odd structure (see below), this periscope is probably not from the hand of the original writer of Mark.


Bar-Timaeus also recalls the blind seer Tiresias, the famous Greek prophet, who sees truth though blind, just as Bar-Timaeus knows the truth that the King, the Son of David, is passing by, though he is blind. Although the text implies that Bartimaeus becomes a follower of Jesus, he disappears from the story after this incident.    

Most exegetes relate this to the previous pericope, relating the blindness of Bar-Timaeus to the blindness of the disciples. Note how Jesus greets the beggar with the same words he met the disciples' request in Mk 10:36: "What do you want me to do for you?" But disciples' lack of understand is met with scorn, while the faith of the beggar, the fertile ground of Tolbert's analysis, is met with healing and a will to followership. 


Pasted from <http://www.michaelturton.com/Mark/GMark10.html>


Following the general structure identified in The New Interpreter's Study Bible, this chapter belongs with the fourth segment of Jesus' Galilean mission:


(8:22-10:52)--surrounded by giving of sight stories, organized around three teaching sections following major misunderstanding by the disciples, with each of the teaching sections introduced by a predictions of Jesus' upcoming arrest, trial, death, and resurrection. The last part of the Gospel (11:1-16:8) is also divided at another point (14:1-16:8).


Chapter eight in this text has outlined possible views of Jesus as a Hellenistic miracle worker, God's servant, and a Christological figure, also suggesting that the point at which Jesus becomes Son of God can be traced to significant moments: birth (not in Mark), baptism, transfiguration, cross, and resurrection, and ascension (not in shorter ending of Mark). Chapter eight in Mark concludes with the first Passion prediction. Readers may wish to recall that very definite time references in Mark preclude the mistaken or misunderstood question of Jesus' identity: in Mark 4:35,  "On that day when evening had come, he [Jesus] said to them [disciples] , 'Come, let us go across to the other side.'" What has preceded is teaching at the sea, some short parables, a discussion of the purpose of parables,  and this nature miracle that causes the disciples to ask, "Who then is this, that even the wind and sea obey him?" Upon Peter's confession that Jesus is the Messiah (8:29), Jesus then began to teach them (first Passion prediction). Chapter 9:1, as already discussed, begins with the announcement of the imminent Kingdom of God. I there suggested that this announcement was not apocalyptic but introduces the Kingdom of God as coming with power to be experienced in the living. Not surprisingly, this announcement precludes the definite "Six day later" that introduces the transfiguration. This is clearly a divine manifestation; NISB notes remark that scholars argue that" the' six days' refer to crucifixion and burial" and constitute a "misplaced ' resurrection appearance story."


Michael Turton finds the transfiguration as related to Exodus and Elijah and Moses as representing Prophecy and Law:



v2: McNeile (1927) sees a close relationship with Exodus 24:13-18:



13 Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. 14 He said to the elders, "Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them." 15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud. 17 To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. 18 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. (NIV)


4: And there appeared to them Eli'jah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus. 

v4:  Elijah plays an important role in Mark's gospel. Heil (1999) writes:



"Whereas Matt 17,3 and Luke 9,30 mention Moses first and coordinate him with Elijah in the expression, "Moses and (kai\) Elijah", Mark 9,4 mentions Elijah first and seems to subordinate Moses to him in the expression, "Elijah with (su\n) Moses" 1. But a close examination of all the instances where Mark uses the preposition su/n indicates that this is not the case. On the contrary, the object of the preposition su\n in every instance represents the more notable party."

v4: One way to interpret this is to observe that Moses and Elijah represent Law and Prophecy, respectively.


v4: It should also be pointed out that the disciples have no way to recognize Elijah or Moses. This comment is clearly aimed at the reader/hearer of the book. 



5: And Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah." 6: For he did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid. 


v5-6: Timothy Wiarda (1999) has argued that the writer of Mark here shows Peter as an individual, explaining from the inside what his feelings were. 



9: And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of man should have risen from the dead.

v9: As Thomas Sheehan (1986, p281) observes, in Mark Jesus never tells his disciples that he is the Christ, and when God announces the fact to Peter, James, and John during the heavenly vision in v9, Jesus enjoins them to silence, as he did in Mark 8. 

10: So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.


Pasted from <http://www.michaelturton.com/Mark/GMark09.html>


He also points out that verse ten has been toned down so as not to show the disciples arguing about what the words of  Jesus mean, the author poking fun at them. If, as Turton suggests, the first verse about the imminent Kingdom of God is directed to readers/hearers, then what they hear is "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him (7). What follows in verse nine is Jesus' command not to tell anyone about the experience until he had "risen from the dead." This connects discussion of the transfiguration to the resurrection, although decidedly, the two record different experiences--the first, miraculous in nature, a theophany; the second, equally miraculous, but Christophany bringing together the body of the man Jesus and this body restored from a time-in-death to a reappearance as material body in divine manifestation.


One may certainly pause to consider what Jesus says here to the disciples; emphasis is clearly upon a resurrection, this an important part of all three Passion predictions. As remarked, Jesus calls himself "Son of Man," not "Son of God," just as he did after Peter's confession, "You are the Messiah" (8:29). What must be remarked is that Jesus clearly envisions rising from death. The problematic resides in the question of what it means to "rise" from the dead. In a review of N.T/ Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God, Richard N. Ostling concludes concerning a material resurrection that Wright says the following:


What difference does it make whether resurrection involves material bodies?


First, Wright says, because the church should teach what the first Christians believed. Second, the physical reality of a future world after death shows "the created order matters to God and Jesus' Resurrection is the pilot project for that renewal."


Pasted from <http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/resurrection/wright_resurrection.htm>


Ostling quotes Wright directly concerning the current dominant paradigm in addressing the matter of Jesus' resurrection:


I intend to challenge this dominant paradigm in each of its main constituent parts. In general terms, this view holds the following: (1) that the Jewish context provides only a fuzzy setting, in which 'resurrection' could mean a variety of different things; (2) that the earliest Christian writer, Paul, did not believe in bodily resurrection, but held a 'more spiritual' view; (3) that the earliest Christians believed, not in Jesus' bodily resurrection, but in his exaltation/ascension/glorification, in his 'going to heaven' in some kind of special capacity, and that they came to use 'resurrection' language initially to denote that belief and only subsequently to speak of an empty tomb or of 'seeing' the risen Jesus; (4) that the resurrection stories in the gospels are late inventions designed to bolster up this second-stage belief; (5) that such 'seeings' of Jesus as may have taken place are best understood in terms of Paul's conversion experience, which itself is to be explained as a 'religious' experience, internal to the subject rather than involving the seeing of any external reality, and that the early Christians underwent some kind of fantasy or hallucination; (6) that whatever happened to Jesus' body (opinions differ as to whether it was even buried in the first place), it was not 'resuscitated', and was certainly not 'raised from the dead' in the sense that the gospel stories, read at face value, seem to require. [1



Concerning resurrection, Wright makes important distinctions:


Thus, when the ancients spoke of resurrection, whether denying it or affirming it, they were telling a two-step story. Resurrection itself would be preceded (and was preceded even in the case of Jesus) by an interim period of death-as-a-state. Where we find a single-step story — death-as-event being followed at once by a final state, for instance of disembodied bliss — the texts are not talking about resurrection. Resurrection involves a definite content (some sort of re-embodiment) and a definite narrative shape (a two-step story, not a single-step one). This meaning is constant throughout the ancient world, until we come to a new coinage in the second century. [74]

The meaning of 'resurrection' as 'life after "life after death"' cannot be overemphasized, not least because much modem writing continues to use 'resurrection' as a virtual synonym for 'life after death' in the popular sense. [75] It has sometimes been proposed that this usage was current even for the first century, but the evidence is simply not there.


Wright places the resurrection in its appropriate historical era, explaining that Jews, pagans, and Christians shared a common view but only Christians believed this event had already happened:


Sense (a) is not what 'resurrection' meant in the first century. Here there is no difference between pagans, Jews and Christians. They all understood the Greek word anastasis and its cognates, and the other related terms we shall meet, to mean (b): new life after a period of being dead. Pagans denied this possibility; some Jews affirmed it as a long-term future hope; virtually all Christians claimed that it had happened to Jesus and would happen to them in the future. All of them were speaking of a new life after 'life after death' in the popular sense, a fresh living embodiment following a period of death-as-a-state (during which one might or might not be 'alive' in some other, non-bodily fashion). Nobody (except the Christians, in respect of Jesus) thought that this had already happened, even in isolated cases.


Thus, when the ancients spoke of resurrection, whether denying it or affirming it, they were telling a two-step story. Resurrection itself would be preceded (and was preceded even in the case of Jesus) by an interim period of death-as-a-state.":


What is obviously clear in the context of Mark is that the disciples are puzzled about what Jesus has said about "rising": " So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean" (10).



Wright, of course, questions a historical approach that culminates in a denial of the resurrection as a material reembodiment. He spends much of his time working through definitions and the exactness needed in the use of terms such as death, resurrection, and history itself. He concludes concerning current historical approaches in the study of the resurrection with a wry observation that history wants its "win" to be the denial of faith:


There seems to be an implicit argument in his work (and in that of some others) according to which (a) historical-critical scholarship has thoroughly deconstructed the events of the first Easter but (b) anyone attempting to engage with this scholarship on its own terms is told that to do so is to cut the resurrection down to size, to reduce it to a merely mundane level. Historical work, it seems, is fine, necessary even, as long as it comes up with sceptical results, but dangerous and damaging — to genuine faith! — if it tries to do anything else. [6] Heads I lose; tails you win.



And ultimately, he endorses a way of using history that, in the end, will not lead, necessarily, to a denial of faith:


I described and defended my preferred historical method in Part II of The New Testament and the People of God, and exemplified it in Parts III and IV of that work, and in Parts II and III of Jesus and the Victory of God. This method recognizes that all knowledge of the past, as indeed of everything else, is mediated not only through sources but also through the perceptions, and hence also the personalities, of the knowers. There is no such thing as detached objectivity. (To say, therefore, that we can investigate other historical claims in a neutral or objective fashion, but that with the resurrection an element of subjectivity inevitably creeps in, is to ignore the fact that all historical work consists of a dialogue between the historian, in community with other historians, and the source materials; and that at every point the historians' own worldview-perspectives are inevitably involved.) But this does not mean that all knowledge collapses into mere subjectivity. There are ways of moving towards fair and true statements about the past.


Osling, in his review of Wright, rightly captures the conservative viewpoint:


In the New Testament portrayal, Jesus rose with a different, glorified body, which is promised to all believers as part of the Easter hope.


Wright's acceptance of that point runs into objections from Alan F. Segal, a Jewish historian at Barnard College who is completing a major work titled Life After Death covering Judaism, Christianity and Islam.


Segal and Wright agree on many basic issues, including that the Gospels teach a material, physical concept of resurrection. But Segal opposes Wright's contention that first-century Jews and Christians all meant the same thing when they spoke about resurrection.


According to Segal, they "all talk about a bodily resurrection but not all believe it is physical," and the Apostle Paul conceived of a "spiritual" body in the pivotal passage, 1 Corinthians 15, written about 20 years after the Easter events.


In this crucial and rather technical argument, Wright insists that what Paul meant by "spiritual" was that after Resurrection the body is "animated by the spirit," not that it is a nonmaterial body.


Wright says Christianity has always believed that after death and an undefined period in the presence of God, each individual will receive a resurrection body like that of Jesus.


Yet another view of the transfiguration is to see in it the traditions associated with Elijah and  Moses and one that would explain it in relation to Jesus in the Son of Man tradition:


This scene is both entirely supernatural, and a riff on the OT based on the ascension of Elijah: 


Mark 9:4-13


unearthly light

(five references to Elijah)


2 Kings 1


Elijah is carried by fire into heaven

unearthly light

fire from heaven



Another possible origin is in Josephus' description of Moses' ascension to heaven in Antiquities of the Jews, where Moses goes to the mountain of Abarim and is taken up to heaven in the presence of the seventy elders of Israel, Eleazar and Joshua (Joshua is the Hebrew name represented by "Jesus").


Crispin Fletcher-Louis (1997) has pointed out that the Transfiguration may also represent Jesus' ascension as High Priest, a position connected to the Son of Man imagery. The "booths" would then suggest New Years holiday, three separate holidays, among which was the Day of Atonement, on which one denies oneself (Mark 8:34).


It should not be surprising that what follows the transfiguration is another significant healing miracle (14-30) effected by Jesus only after the disciples who had not been witnesses at the transfiguration have failed to cast out an unclean spirit; Jesus responds to the arguing scribes and disciples rather sharply:  "'You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me'" (19). The father coming to Jesus reveals hesitation when he requests,  if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us" (22), Jesus picks up on the hypothetical "if" and replies, "If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes" (23). The father cries out immediately that he believes and asks help for his unbelief. The unclean sprits come out at Jesus' command, and Jesus instructs the disciples that "This kind can come out only through prayer." The section ends with the teacher and disciples going from there to Galilee and with an admonition that Jesus "did not want anyone to know it [what he had accomplished], echoing the secrecy motif already noted throughout Mark.



The second Passion prediction immediately follows. Esther Ling (The Passion Predictions in the Gospel of Mark, Theology Annual, 1985-86) has given significant attention to Mark's use of the three Passion predictions as an important structural device in Mark, culminating in stressing a theological point:


1.Mainly on linguistic grounds, evidence speaks for a pre-Markan origin of the first prediction in Mk 8:31.

2.Though it has not been possible to trace the historical substratum underlying the prediction logia. it seems certain they have a historical core. In fact, it can be demonstrated convincingly that Mk 8:31 may very well have its origin from the earthly Jesus.

3.On structural and theological grounds it seems likely that the first prediction in Mk 8:31 is repeated three times by the evangelist in the present context immediately before Christ's entry into Jerusalem. The repetitions are for theological and apologetical purposes.

4.The chief concern of Mark is the passion and suffering of the Messiah, for without the cross, neither Jesus' works nor his words can be genuinely and properly understood. Indeed, the exousia of the Messiah is to be proclaimed from the cross: "Truly this man was the Son of God" (Mk 15:39). Thus the gospel of Mark is christological. and its theology is a theology of the cross, a true understanding of which includes an understanding of the cross embraced in Christian discipleship. The passion predictions are part of this theology as well as the key to this theology. Therefore it is not surprising that each prediction of passion, as discussed earlier, is followed by a unit of Jesus' teaching on discipleship (Mk 8:34ff; 9:35ff; 10:38ff). To be a disciple means readiness to take up the cross, readiness to be servant of all and smallest of all. and readiness to sacrifice oneself.

Finally, we conclude our study by proclaiming with Mark: "Whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it" (Mk 8:35).


Jeanie Crain at 3/29/2012 7:57 AM

Pasted from <http://www.xhchina.org/sxnk/annaul/A009e.htm>


A similar conclusion is reached by Jack Dean Kingsbury in The Christology of Mark"s Gospel (Fortress Press, 1983). Kingsbury provides an analysis that is largely structural and thematic and that concludes that the titles of Son of Man and Messiah are not contradictory--that Son of Man is the public title with Messiah being a confessional title. Structurally, Kingsbury  outlines three main sections in Mark:


  1. Mark :1-13 presents John and Jesus.
  1. Mark 1:14-8:26 depicts the public ministry of Jesus.
  1. Mark 8:27-16:8 proceeds in stages of progressive disclosure of the identity of Jesus through specific scenes.


Kingsbury says the three passion predictions control the plot of Mark's story (8:31, 9:31, 10:33-34) and that the theme of the book is the suffering and death of the messiah. Suffering and death, he points out, runs the full length of the story. It is found in 1:14, where John as "forerunner" is "handed over," in 3:19, where Judas is identified as the one who will betray Jesus, in 2:20, where the bridegroom will be taken away, and in 3:6, where Jewish leaders take council to destroy Jesus.  Further, in 1:14-8:26, Jesus undergoes a progressive alienation from family, who thinks he is mad (3:20-21), from the crowds, who can receive the teachings of Jesus only in parables because they are blind, deaf, and without understanding (4:1-2, 10-12). The passion highlights the theme pursued throughout: 11:18 is an echo of 3:6 with a consideration of how to destroy Jesus; in chapter twelve, the priests, scribes, and elders tried to arrest him but feared the crowd. After the apocalyptic Mark 13, the writer narrates the events found in the three passion predictions. The theme of suffering and death is through intertwined with the motif of secrecy..


Kingsbury finds different patterns in the long second section ( 1:14-8:26) and the third section, with the first following a pattern in which characters react to the words and deeds of Jesus' identity becomes focal for human characters, who evidence some insight, the disclosure coming in stages and through pivotal scenes: in 8:29, Peter confesses Jesus to be the messiah; in 10:47-48, Bartimaeus appeals to Jesus as Son of David; the Roman Centurion (15:39) declares Jesus to be Son of God; in 14:28 and 16:6-7, the disciples learn they will see Jesus in Galilee following his resurrection. Debate, Kingsbury remarks, has been hot about whether the point of insight into Jesus' identity is prior to the Centurion's declaration of the resurrection (14:28, 16:6-7), with some scholars denying that Peter's confession is valid or that Bartimaeus's appeal to Jesus as Son of David is positive Christological evidence. Kingsbury stays with the idea of gradual disclosure of identity, where characters are correct but insufficient in the way they understand Jesus' identity.  Kingsbury see Mark 8: 27-30 as a first stage in the disclosure of identity followed by 8:31-9, where Jesus speaks of himself as Son of Man and foretells the passion and parousia, the transfiguration, and the disciples engage in discussion of what it is that has occurred. The confession of Peter begins the third main part of Mark (8:27-16:8), where the writer addresses Jesus' identity in and around Galilee. Here, it is revealed that Jesus is not John, Elijah, or a prophet--and rather that he is messiah.  Importantly, the confession comes from "inside," not "outside" and alerts readers to evaluated Peter's admission against the backdrop of the larger part of the story (1:14-8:26).  In this section, Jesus teaches, heals, preaches, and exorcises demons with authority and the approval of God; as early as the first verse, Jesus is designated as the messiah, and Jesus so designates himself in 9:41.  The motif of silence (8:30) attests to the correctness of the demons' knowing Jesus and loudly proclaiming his identity--these followed by attempts to suppress the knowledge (1:34, 1:24-25; 3; 11, 12). Peter's confession, however, does not mesh with the envisaged passion. The passion sections teach a "new word"--that Jesus must suffer, die, and rise--this beyond Peter's purview. Thus, Peter's confession may be viewed as correct but insufficient--denoting a national, political king or divine man. Jesus is not, however, these and debunks them: he is the Son of Man (8:31) and the "suffering man of Mark."


Kingsbury points out, important to Christology, that Son of Man and messiah should not be assumed to be two contradictory or alternative titles; in 14:61-62, the "I am" is given to the question of messiah ship, not Son of Man, a referential title outlining destiny; Kingsbury says the titles have two functions--one to what Jesus must endure and another to identity. He says Son of Man is a public title used when Jesus teaches his disciples in the oversight of Jewish authorities (8:31), when he addresses the wider audience and his disciples (8:38), where Jesus addresses the crowd and scribes (2:10-2:28) and the Pharisees (2:24).  Kingsbury concludes "messiah" is confessional.


The discussion of this chapter may be somewhat dramatically closed by anticipating some of the argument of chapter sixteen concerning the Resurrection by Richard Carrier: "The belief that the soul rests three days before departing also suggests during these three days, individuals could go to the cemetery to inspect the dead for any sign of life. Jesus' resurrection on the third day would then be evidence that death had been defeated."