The New Testament’s messianic interpretation of the Old is an important key to its theology. This book examines the way the author of the Gospel of Mark uses the Old Testament to convey the identity of Jesus. Joel Marcus examines in detail several important Markan passages which use the Old Testament. His central thesis is that Mark’s Old Testament usage follows paths already made by Jewish exegesis, particularly apocalyptic reinterpretations of Old Testament texts. Giving such eschatological exegesis his own characteristic twist, Mark presents Jesus as God’s true Messiah who brings the prophesied victory in eschatological holy war. Unlike the Jewish War against Rome in A.D. 66-72, however, the holy war portrayed by Mark is not fought with conventional weapons but won through the apocalyptic event of Jesus’ death and resurrection. This thoroughly documented and closely argued study is an important contribution to our understanding of the Gospel of Mark.
“Although Yahweh is the subject here, Josephus and rabbinic traditions provide evidence that the passage was read as a reference to the advent of the Messiah; the Markan placement of Jesus on the Mount of Olives may therefore be christologically significant.11 The Zecharian context of eschatological war at first seems to be remote from the Markan one of Jesus’ last night on earth, but as we have already seen in our study of Mark 12:35–37, the notion of Jesus’ passion as an eschatological battle is highly consistent with Markan eschatology. The reference to the Mount of Olives in Mark 14:26, then, is likely to be an allusion to messianic expectations that arose from Zech. 14:1–5.” (Page 156)
“Mark does not efface the military lineaments of the ‘shepherd’ described by Zechariah, but he emphasizes the paradox that this shepherd’s victory involves an element of divinely willed suffering—a suffering in which the ‘sheep’ are also involved.” (Page 164)
“The threat of judgment against Jesus’ persecutors would probably strike a chord among the members of Mark’s persecuted community. Implicit in it is the promise that their persecutors too will be judged at the parousia.” (Page 167)
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