The Rich Young Ruler

October 28, 2009

In a post titled “The Formerly Rich Young Ruler” Halden Doerge of suggests that the Rich Young Ruler who leaves Jesus “sorrowful” and “looking sad” (Mk. 10:22) may actually have some redemption in the story.  You can read the whole post here for Doerge working out the implications of what I have represented here, but this is the part I really wanted to get your input on:

In a previous post about the story of the rich young man (Mark 10:17-21) I suggested that there’s no reason to think that the man did not indeed go away intending to do as Jesus commanded, by selling all his possessions and following him. In the comments someone suggested that there is a tradition that suggests Barnabas may be the rich young man in question here. I did some digging and couldn’t find much of anything on that point, but I did find another possibility that actually has support from the text of Mark itself.

Could it not be that the young man in question is simply Mark himself? I think we may catch a hint of this conclusion in Mark 14:51-52 where the narrative tells us that “A certain young man was following [Jesus], wearing nothing but a linen cloth.” This unidentified young man is generally thought — at least in all the commentaries I’ve come across — to be Mark.

Now, it could be that Mark just wanted to throw in some superfluous information by describing the nature of the young man’s (lack of) clothing, but given the intentionality that characterizes the narrative patterns of Mark I’m inclined to doubt it. Why tell us that the young man was dressed only in a sheet that he had wrapped around himself? Why make a point of the fact that he was following Jesus? Could it be that the complete lack of possessions, even clothing, his young age, and his description as actively following Jesus are meant to point us back to the story of the rich young man? Seems like a pretty valid connection to me. I don’t think there’s anyone else mentioned in the gospel of Mark who might qualify for this. Let us follow this line of thought. . .

Here are my questions: What do you think of this possibility?  Is Mark making purposeful connection or is this beyond the text’s intention?  Please add your own questions to this as well.


Heaven is Torn

February 13, 2009

Listening in Gospels class the other day, and mostly drawing connections that weren’t made or stated, I stumbled across something pretty interesting today in Mark. During Jesus’ baptism we get this little bit of information:

  And just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

Keep in mind the idea that the heavens are splitting open and the Holy Spirit is descending onto Jesus, bringing an end to the seperation of God from his people. Keep that in mind for a really long time. Heck, keep that in mind until you get to the end.

 But Jesus cried out with a loud voice and breathed his last.  And the temple curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom.

Foreshadow? Yeah, I think maybe Mark was doing something like that.

Nothing too big, just thought it was pretty cool.


OT in Mark

October 2, 2008

With an ultimate view toward building a comprehensive understanding of Mark’s dependance on and use of the Hebrew Bible, I’m writing now to just quickly record the various locations Mark quotes from.  Be forewarned that the following quotes come only from the most superficial survey of the book.  So, while I am sure that Mark’s dependance extends far beyond the present listing, I figure this is at least a start.

Hebrew Bible Passages Quoted in Mark:

Genesis 1:27, 2:24; 5:2

Exodus 3:6; 20:12-16; 21:17; 23:20

Leviticus 19:18; 20:9

Dueteronomy 4:35; 5:16-20; 6:4-5; 24:1, 14

Joshua 22:5

Psalm 22:1; 110:1; 118:22-23

Isaiah 29:13; 40:1; 56:7

Jeremiah 7:11

Daniel 7:13

Zechariah 13:7

Malachi 3:1

Hebrew Bible Quotations as They Appear Throughout Mark

Mark 1:2-3 (Ex. 23:20; Mal 3:1; Is. 40:1)

Mark 4:12 (Is 6:9-10)

Mark 7:6-7 (Is. 29:13)

Mark 7:10 (Ex 20:12; Dt 5:16) and (Ex 21:17; Lev 20:9)

Mark 10:4 (Dt. 24:1)

Mark 10:6 (Gen 1:27; 5:2)

Mark 10:8 (Gen 2:24)

Mark 10:19 (Ex 20:12-16; Dt 5:16-20; 24:14)

Mark 11:9 (Ps 118:25-26)

Mark 11:17 (Is 56:7; Jer 7:11)

Mark 12:10 (Ps 118:22-23)

Mark 12:19 (Dt 25:5)

Mark 12:27 (Ex 3:6)

Mark 12:29-30 (Dt 6:4-5; Josh 22:5)

Mark 12:31 (Lev 19:18)

Mark 12:32 (Dt 4:35)

Mark 12:33 (Dt 6:5; Leve 19:18)

Mark 12:36 (Ps 110:1)

Mark 14:27 (Zech 13:7)

Mark 14:62 (Ps 110:1; Dan 7:13)

Mark 15:34 (Ps 22:1)

Any good understanding of the Gospel of Mark that we come up with will inherently make room for Mark’s perspective of the OT, including questions like: “Why does Mark draw so much from the Torah?”  “Why start with the Isaiah/Exodus/Malachi quote he starts with in Mark 1:2-3?”  etc.  Hopefully this post helps us all become better readers over time.

Studies in Mark Part II – “Passover Lamb” Mk 14:12-52

September 24, 2008

Having brought freedom, healing and truth to the houses of Israel, Jesus’ ministry culminates in his final teaching and cleansing of “the house of Prayer for the nations” (11:17).  After a period of teaching in the Temple (note the absence of miracles, showing the lack of faith, cf. Mark 6:5-6), Jesus directs his Disciples to prepare the Passover (note that the lamb is never mentioned) in one of the city residents’ homes (Mark 14:13–as a poor person would have, cf. Ex 12:3f).  Once “they prepared the Passover” (14:16), “he [Jesus] came…with the twelve.”  Now that the Passover had arrived (i.e. Jesus), they consume the offering–his body (14:22) and blood (14:24)–in anticipation of Jesus immanent death (14:21).  Once betrayed (14:18) the Passover Lamb would “go as it is written about him” (Is. 53:7-8–“Like a lamb to the slaughtering block.”).  This divinely pleasing one (1:11) would be presented by the priests (Mark 8:31; 10:33; 14:43, 53, 55; 15:1, 3, 10, 11, 31-32) in Jerusalem (10:33) as Malachi 3:1 explained would happen.  From There Jesus and his disciples go out (Ex 12:22) where only Jesus will stand fast (14:27-31, 43-52) to keep vigil (14:32-42; cf. Ex 12:42).


Thinking yet more over Marks’ portrayal of Jesus as the Passover lamb, I got to thinking of the happenings in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Here again, having gone out of the house (as Ex 12:22 prohibits), Jesus stands in the place of the Passover Lamb as he absorbs all of the mob’s attention.  When judgement comes (again in the middle of the night–cf. Ex. 11:4)–i.e. the mob (instead of “the destroyer” in Ex. 12:23)–Jesus alone is arrested, (even though one of the bystanders clearly should be arrested for cutting off the High Priest’s servant’s ear; Mk 14:47!) while the others are “passed over.”  Even further than the other Gospel writers, Mark points out not only that “all the disciples left him and fled” (Mk 14:50) but that “A young man was following him, wearing only a linen cloth. They tried to arrest him, but he ran off naked, leaving his linen cloth behind.” (Mk. 14:51-52), further highlighting just how alone Jesus is in his role as Passover lamb.

Studies In Mark Part I – “House”

September 24, 2008

As the head of the Davidic house (Mark 12:35-37), Jesus redefines leadership through the willing denial of his rights as King (9:30-32 vs. 9:33-37; 10:32-35 vs. 10:36-45).  Instead of consolidating power, Jesus invites people into the family of God (3:31-34).  Those who follow will find healing and freedom (1:29; 2:1, 5:38; 7:24) and instruction (2:1; 3:25; 7:17; 9:28, 33; 12:1-13:36) in Jesus house.  They will also find that division is not tolerated in the house, but cleansed (2:1; 3:25; 6:4, 10; 11:17) and that Jesus does not reside in a divided house (11:11, 19; 13:3, 14:3 all show Jesus exiting Jerusalem to stay in Bethany–cf. Mark 6:10; also, note how careful Mark is to point out that Jesus does not enter the High Priest’s house in Mark 14:53 as he does in Mt 26:57 and Luke 22:57).

It is no coincidence that accepting Jesus invitation to become part of his family requires the loss of all (8:34-9:1).  Rather, it is only as we submit ourselves to the willing loss of all our wealth that we will be eligible to share in the great Passover sacrifice made available in and through Christ, because those whose means were great enough were expected to provide their own lamb.

Exodus: 12:3-4

Tell the whole community of Israel, ‘In the tenth day of this month they each must take a lamb for themselves [Heb: according to the house of their fathers”]–a lamb for each [Heb: “house”].  If an household is too small fo a  lamb, the man and his next-door neighbor ar to take a lamb according to the number of people…

Mark Progress

August 30, 2008

I haven’t written for a while or reache any huge conclusions, but I wanted to let you know what I am currently studying.  Last week, after quite a while in Genesis and Philemon, I decided I would like to revisit one of the Gospels, finally settling on Mark (which I just haven’t read for a long time).

Just barely in to the book (two verses to be exact) Mark quotes Exodus 23:20, Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3 lumping them all under the introduction, “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet…”  Sidestepping Marks strangely singular label on this clearly multi-referent  quote I have been considering Mark’s use of Malachi in particular.

Following the portion Mark quotes in Malachi 3:1 the author goes on to note how the Levites, Judah and Jerusalem will face the purging judgement of God when he comes, resulting in their reformation and the bringing of an acceptable offerings.

Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can keep standing when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire, 4 like a launderer’s soap.  He will act like a refiner and purifier of silver and will cleanse the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will offer the Lord a proper offering. The offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in former times and years past.

What I have been wondering as I have continued to read through the book is this: Is Mark building his book on any of these ideas?  How does Jesus place in the book portrayed as God’s refining coming?  How are the Levitical figures of Mark portrayed as offering unacceptable offerings?  Does Mark want us to see Jesus as the acceptable offering of the Levites, Judahites and Jerusalemites?

Right now I am at about chapter five, working to chronicle the interactions of Jesus and the religious elites.  We’ll see how things go…