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MarkEssay3:IsthereaMessianicSecretinMark?

TheproblemofthemessianicsecretinMarkisposedsquarelybyWilliamWrede,DasMessiasgeheimnisin
denEvangelien(1902,firsttranslated1971[thisisanindicationoftheimportanceofreadingGerman
Bultmann'sgreatwork,DieGeschichtedersynoptischenTradition,wasfirsttranslatedin1968,nearly50
yearsafterpublication]).AccordingtoWredethemessianicsecretisaprohibitiontomakeknownthe
messianiccharacterofJesus.Itistobeseenin

1.Commandstosilenceaddressedtothedemonswhichacknowledgehispower:1.343.12.
2.Instructionsnottomakehishealingmiraclespublic:1.43455.437.368.26.
3.Teachingtothedisciplesinprivate:4.347.17239.288.319.3110.323413.3.
4.Commandstosilenceaddressedtothedisciples:8.30and9.9.
5.Theparabletheory,4.1013,bywhichtheparablesaresaidtobeintendedtoobscurethemessagesothat
outsidersmaynotunderstand.

Wredesawallthisasonephenomenon.Herulesoutfromhistoryanytheorysuchasaprogressioninthe
revealingofJesus'personality,onthecorrectgroundsthatthetimeframeworkofthegospelsisimposedon
thematerialbytheevangelist,andmustthereforebeattributedtohistheologyratherthantohistoricalreality.
Carriedtoitslogicalconclusionthiswouldshowthatwecannotknowhowrevelationprogressedhowever,
itleavesopenthepossibilitythatgradualrevelationwasMk'sintention.Wredeinterpretsthewholeasan
attemptmadebyMarktoaccountforthefactthatJesuswasnotacceptedasmessiah:hesimplymadeno
messianicclaimspublic.WredeheldthattheearliestandmostauthenticChristianbeliefwasthatJesus
becamemessiahattheresurrectionwhence9.9,authorisingpublicationoftheknowledgeafterthe
resurrectionanditwasonlywiththedevelopmentofChristologythathisfollowerscametoholdthathis
wholelifehadbeenmessianic.

OneofWrede'smostpositivereasonsformaintainingthatthe'secret'wasunhistoricalisthatsomeofJesus'
miraclessimplywouldnothavebeenabletobekeptquiet,forexampletheraisingofJairus'daughter,5.43.
OntheonehandthecrowdsgathertobehealedandtoacclaimJesusontheotherheattemptstosilence
them.Buthesimplydoesnotactasamanwhowantstostayhidden!Thecommandstosilencesimplyring
unrealisticallyandunhistorically.Therearealsosomejudderings,e.g.whenthecommandstosilenceare
disobeyed,ornotevengivenafteramiracle.ItisunlikelythathistoricalcommandsofJesuswhichwere
disobeyedwererecorded,andsomenonhistoricalexplanationforthiswouldbepreferable.

ThemajorChristologicalcontentionofWredecannotbeupheld.Evenifthecommandstosilenceafterthe
miraclesofhealingareinventedsubsequently,thefactofthesemiracles(unlesstheytooareinvented)must
constituteamessianicclaimthisismadeclearintheMt11.26//Lksaying,wherethemeaningofthe
healingmiraclesasthefulfilmentofIsaiah'spredictionsisexplainedtothemessengersofJohntheBaptist
butthewholetoneofJesus'proclamation,fromitsfirstopeningwith'ThekingshipofGodhascomenear'
(1.1415),ismessianic.AmuchlargerdemolitionjobneedstobedoneonthehistoricityofMarkifall

publicmessianicindicationsaretoberemovedfromthelifetimeofJesus.Themiraculousfeedingsareasign
thatJesusisasecondMoses,andsoamessianicfigure.Peter'smessianicconfessioncannothavebeen
inventedsubsequentlybecauseofitssluronthechiefapostle.ThemessianicentryintoJerusalemmayhave
beenbuiltup,butthedeliberateentryonadonkeymusthavebeenintendedbyJesusmessianically.Finally
thecleansingoftheTemplemusthavemessianicovertones,asthereactiontoitbytheJewishauthorities
shows,bothintheirdemandforJesus'authorityandintheaccusationatthetrial.

ItisfurtherimpossibletoexplainJesus'ownclaimsunlesstheyincludemessianicovertones.Inparticularhis
assemblyofhisownlittlecommunityoftheTwelve,hisownqahal(=community,3.1314),parallelto
Israel,impliesthatheistherepresentativeoftheLordwhooriginallygatheredIsraeltobehisownspecial
people.Thesame(delegated?)divineauthorityisimpliedbytheclaimtoforgivesin(2.10)andtobeLordof
theSabbath(2.28).Particularlyrelatedtotheendtimeexpectationofthemessiahistheclaimtobethe
bridegroom(2.19).

II

Thesecondquestion,however,remains:didMarkimposethesecretonthematerialordoesitgenuinelygo
backtoJesus?Ineithercase,whatisitssense?Beforethesequestionsarediscussed,theextentofthesecret
mustbesomewhatpareddown.ItispossiblethatnotalltheevidenceassembledbyMarkinfactbelongs
together.

1.Theconceptoffurtherprivateteachingtoaninnergroupisquitedifferentfromthepositivewithholding
ofinformationimpliedbyasecret.Thisprivateteachingcouldbesimplyaliterarymove(common
elsewhere,e.g.Plato)togivethechanceforfurtherteachingandexplanation.Inaddition,muchofthe
privateinstructiontothediscipleshasnothingtodowiththepersonalityofJesus:7.1723concernsthe
meaningofJesus'imagedteachingoncleananduncleanfoods9.2829teachesthedisciplesthatcertain
spiritscanbedrivenoutonlywithprayer13.3ffconcernsthefutureoftheTempleandofthecommunity.
Noneofthese,therefore,concernsamessianicsecret.Thislimitsprivateinstructionaboutthepersonof
Jesustothegreatpropheciesofthepassion,8.319.3110.3234thesemustallbeseeninthelightof9.9,
theinjunctiontokeephisidentitysecretuntilaftertheresurrection.

2.Thematterofparabolicmethodofteachingmustcertainlybeconsideredseparatelyfromthegeneral
matterofsecrecy.Dunn,inhis1970/1974articleinTuckett,p.1289,stressesta.pa,ntain4.11,balancedby
theMarkan4.34'withoutparableshedidnotspeaktothem':allJesus'teachingwasinparable(orimaged)
becausethisforceful,imagedsortofteachingwastheonlywayinwhichsuchanewteachingandnew
mindsetcouldbeconveyed.Jesuschosethismethod'Ratherthanastraightforwardstatementofcertain
truthswhichwouldregisteronmostofhishearers'understandingbutmakenoimpactontheiremotionsor
theirwill.'ItiscertainlytruethatvirtuallyallJesus'teachingmakesthoroughgoingandconstantuseof
imagesthisisonlytobeexpectedfromaneareasterncharismaticteacherorindeed,probablyanyeffective
moderncommunicator.

Butthisisnotthewholestory,fortheparabolicteachingisviewedbyMarkasobscureandneeding
clarification:4.34'buttothedisciplesheinterpretedeverything'(evpilu,wisusedprimarilyofinterpreting
dreamsorvisions).Thei`naof4.12mustbetakenseriously,andmaynotbebrushedunderthecarpetasa
MarkanmisunderstandingofanAramaicd`,givingthesamesenseasMatthew's'because'.However,despite
thefactthatintheOldTestamentGodisfrequentlysaidtohardenhearts(e.g.Pharoah's),itisdifficultto
imaginethatdeliberateobscuritywasJesus'intention.RaisaneninsiststhatMk'sclaimhere(4.11,34)thatall
theteachingtothecrowdswasinparablesissimplynottrue:in8.34Jesusteachesthecrowdsaswellashis
disciplesabouttakingupthecross.Norcanthecrowdshavewhollyfailedtounderstandhisteaching,1.22
and11.18evxeplh,ssontoathisteaching1.27theimpressivedida,chkai,nhkatevxousi,anmusthavebeen
atleastpartlyunderstood.ThestylisticindicationsarethatMk4isacompositechapter,forMarkvery
frequentlyjoinsonanewsayingwithkai.ev,legenauvtoi/j(vv.11,34)ormoresimplykai.ev,legen(vv.9,
joiningonaserviceablewarningphrasewhichoccursalsov.23and7.16v.24,introducinganunconnected
proverbwhichoccursalsointheTargumofIsaiahvv.26,30,introducingtheparablesoftheSeedGrowing
SecretlyandtheMustardSeedrespectively).Therunofthedisciples'questioninv.10andJesus'answerin
v.13ismuchsmootheriftheinterveningversesareremoved.

ThewholeatmosphereofthepairofversesisinfactPauline:musth,rionisusednowhereelseintheGpp,
but8timesinRmand1Co,and10timesinColEph,alwaysinthissenseinthesingular(MtandLkchange
thesingularintoplural,whichcertainlyfitsthiscontextbetterthesingularsoundsthoroughlypuzzling).
Thephraseta.pa,ntaisnotusedelsewhereinGppAc(exceptAc17.25,inadifferentsense),but26timesin
Paul.
Thephraseoi`evxw.occursonlyhereoutsidePaul,but5timesinPaultheideaofthedivisionintoinsiders
andoutsidersisPauline.IthasnoplaceintheministryofJesus.
TheideaofGodhardeningtheheartsoftheJewsisitselfPauline:Rm9.18.Itisperhapsnotwithout
significancethatinActs28.26Paul'slastwordstotheJewsquotethesamepassageofIsaiah.Thefunction
oftheexplicitquotationinMarkmaybenomorethantostressthatthescriptureisfulfilled.

Itmaywellbe,therefore,asRaisanensuggests,thattheseversesreflectthedifficultiesexperiencesbythe
apostolicmissionerstotheJews('asortofcompendiumofmissionproblems',p.135)ratherthanJesus'own
experiences,letalonehisintentions.However,thefactthatitdoesnotstemfromJesusdoesnotremovethis
passagefromtheMarkanproblem.

Itmight,nevertheless,bereasonabletolocalisetheproblemandsuggestthatitcanbesafelyappliedonlyto
theparablesratherthantoJesus'teachingasawhole.AfterthefirstparableoftheSower,Markbracketsthe
remainderofhisparablechapterwiththeseremindersoftheirneedforexplanation.Heagainharksbackto
thesamesubject,therevealingofwhatisconcealed,betweentheExplanationoftheSowerandthe
remainingpairofparables.DidperhapsMarkhimselffindparablesespeciallydifferent?Outsidetheparable
chapterheusesonlyonestoryparable,comparedtothedozenusedbyMtandLk.

3.Weareleftwiththreephenomena,commandstosilenceaddressedtodemons,tothosehealedandtothe
disciples.Thefirsttwoofthesecanhardlybehistorical:Jesuscannothaveintendedsimultaneouslytomake
apublicimpressionandtohideaway.Attemptshavebeenmadetodifferentiatebetweencases,to
substantiatethehistoricityofthecommandsbyexplainingwhytheyaresometimesmissing.TheGerasene
exdemoniacistoldtospreadthenewsinhisregion,butthenheisintheDecapoliswhichmakeshima

specialcase.TheblindmanatBethsaidaisforbiddeneventogointothevillage(presumablyaformof
silenceinjunction,8.26)butBartimaeusatJerichoisnotpreventedfromfollowingJesusontheroad(10.52)
butthenitistoolateforsilenceasJesusapproachesJerusalem.AnyonestandingatthebottomoftheWadi
QiltonthetellofHerodianJerichoiswellawarethatJerusalem,wherethefullrevelationofJesusisto
occur,isonlyacoupleofhourswalkaway.TheBartimaeusincidentistheimmediatepreludetothe
exposureofthesecret.Inanycase,exceptionsdonotnecessarilyprovearule.

4.Thecommandsaddressedtodemonsmustbeseenasparticularlydifficulttoacceptashistoricalifthe
wholeconceptofdemonexpulsionisseenasamythicalwayofunderstandingthehealingofaninexplicable
andpartlypsychologicalillnessthroughtheforceofJesus'personality.Itispsychologicallyplausiblethatthe
sickperson,intheemotionalandtorturedmomentofbreakoftension,shouldgiveaninarticulatecryitis
thiswhichthegospeltraditionreasonablyinterpretsasanacknowledgementofJesus'personality,puttingthe
soundsintheformofaverbalrecognition.ThestatementthusbecomeswhollyChristianandtheological.

III

Thecommandstosilenceaddressedtothedisciplescannotdirectlybegainsaid.Butwhentheyweresentout
topreach,whatdidtheypreach?AkingdomwithoutmentionofJesus?ThecomingofthekingshipofGod
throughtheirownmiraculouspowers,withoutreferencetotheirMaster?Atanyrate,untilCaesareaPhilippi,
thecommandstosilencereferprimarilytothepersonofJesus.Heseekstofocusattentiononthekingdom
ratherthanonhisownperson.Thisexplainswhy(iftheirmissionishistorical)theycouldpreachatall
beforetheyhadunderstoodhispersonalmessiahship.

Theanswertothisquestionthereforeprovidestheanswertothetheologybehindthesecrecycommands.The
structureofMark'sgospelmakesclearthattheinstructionintoJesus'personalitycomesintwostages:first,
leadinguptoCaesareaPhilippi,thegradualprocessoflearningthatJesusismessiah.Thisispreparedbythe
blindnessofthedisciplessuddenlybeingshatteredatthesymbolichealingoftheblindmanatBethsaida.But
thefirstsilencecommandtothedisciplescomesimmediatelyafterit(8.30),showingthatthisknowledgeis
notyetsufficient.TheyhavestilltolearnwhatsortofmessiahisJesus.Thesecondcommand(whose
explicitmentionoftheresurrectionexcludesatleastverbalhistoricity)isrelatedexplicitlytotheresurrection
(9.9)itisonlythenthattheywillhavereceivedthefullmessage.Atthisstageathirdelementmaybe
introduced,thecenturion'sconfession(15.39).Thispublicprotestationinapublicscenemustbesignificant,
themoresobecauseitismadebyagentileandbecauseitusesthetitle'sonofGod'whichisofsuch
significanceforMark.ItwouldseemthatforMarkasforJohnthemomentoftheresurrectionhasalready
beguninthedeathofJesus.

Thesecretthereforehasatwofoldfunction:
1.ItispartofMark'stheologyofthecross.Themessageofsufferingwasnoteasytounderstand.Infactthe
presentationofJesusastheSufferingServant(theVoiceattheBaptismquotesIs42.1,theopeningofthe
firstServantSong,etc)wasacompletenoveltyinmessianicthought.Ittooktimetodigest,andwithoutitthe
messagewouldnotbereadyforpreaching.MkisinsistingthatanymessageofJesuswhichdoesnotinclude
thecrossandresurrectionisincomplete.ThosewhoareforbiddentospreadtheGoodNewsaresoprevented
becausetheycannotyetknowthefullimportofthatGoodNews.

2.ItisafunctionofMark'sirony.IfMarkistomaintaintheduallevelofdiscoursewhichisthebasisofall
irony,hecannotallowtheactorsinthedramatocometooquicklytoarealisationofJesus'identity.Hence
hisinsertiononvariousoccasionsofthesecrecycommands(stylisticallyshowntobehisownwork)andof
theparablesecret,whichoriginallyhadaquiteotherimport.

Essay4:WhodidMarkthinkthatJesuswas?

OCullmann,TheChristologyoftheNT(1957),chaps2&3:TraditionaltitleChristology,maximalistview
thatJesusunderstoodhimselfasprophetandServant,andthatthiscametohimattheBaptism.Allthe
principalsayingsareacceptedasauthentic.Becarefulinusingthisbooktodistinguishbetweenthedifferent
gospels,whichCullmanndoesnotneedtodo.

MornaHooker,'IstheSonofManproblemreallyinsoluble?'inText&Interpretation(edE.Best)1979.
CautiousacceptanceofVermes'cicumlocutorysense.Principalcontextissayingsofvindicatione.g.8.38,in
which(originally)hisfaithfulwillaccompanyhiminvindication.Manylaterunderstoodofafinalsceneof
vindication.Originally13.26understoodnotasjudgebutthatdisciplesmustbereadytowelcometheir
master,rewarderofhisownthreatsaddedbyMt.Dn7wasvitalinJesus'thought(p.167),particularly
becauseitincludescommunity.

JamesDGDunn,ChristologyintheMaking(1980),chaps2&3
1.BasisofJesus'relationshiptoFatherisinhisuseof'abba'.Thisisnotunique,asJeremiasclaimed,buthis
emphasisisunusual:'abba'isusedinprayerinHasidiccirclesalso(Vermes),butonlyexceptionallyandin
combinationwithothertitles'LordofHeaven'etc,whereasJesususesitashisprincipalway.Rm8.15,Ga
4.6showthatthisleftamarkonChristianconsciousness.
2.NoevidencethatMessiahidentifiedwithDanielicSonofmanexceptinSimilitudesofEnoch(whichnot
atQumran)beforegospels,andeventhennotinMark,thoughclearinMtandLk.

SeyoonKim,The'SonofMan'astheSonofGod(1983)
1.Uses4QpsDanAatoshowatleastonetextinlastthirdoffirstcenturywhichinterpretsDanmessianically.
Butthisseemstometoofragmentarytoproveite.g.thefigurecouldstillbeidentifiedwithIsrael,whichis
thenormalsense.

2.Pointsouttheuniquenessandoddityofinvariableuseofarticlewith'Sonofman'.DidJesusmean'That
sonofman',i.e.theDanielicone?
3.Mk10.45notinventedbyearlychurchonbasisofIs53.10becausenotcloseenough.Butthey
shareparadidonai,psycheautou,polloi,whichisenoughtoshowlink.Further,diakoneinmayshowlinkto
Dn7.10(Stuhlmacher):sonofmanprefersserviceofGodtodignityofjudge.RelatedalsotoIs43.3
4lutronanti,dounai,ouiostouanthropou.SoJesuscreativelycombinedIs43and53,whichmakeshis
vicarioussufferingonbehalfbothofIsraelandofnations.
4.Authenticityofeucharisticwordsisamongthestrongest.DiathekegiveslinktoIs42.6and49.8forJesus'
selfunderstanding.Culminationofhispreachingofkingdom.

MauriceCasey,FromJewishProphettoGentileGod(1991),chapter4
Highlysceptical:
1.JesusdidnotrefertohimselfasMessiah,becauseitwastoogeneralatermforaDavidicmessiah.So
Peter'sconfessionmusthavebeeninvented,andindeedhasanexcellentSitzimLebeninearlychurchto
explainwhymessianictitleneverusedconfessionusedtosuperchargeauthenticrecognitionofJesusas
prophet.Mk14.6162alsoearlychurch,andfollowedbymidrashonDan7.13'noauthentictraditionof
Jesus'condemnationbecausenoneofhissympathiserswerethere'(p.43).
2.'SonofGod'occursinMkonly13.32it'arosefromthedelayoftheparousia'.Standarddefencethat
churchwouldnotinventasayingwhichshowsignoranceinJesusisbasedonmistakenideaofearliest
christology(p.45).
3.'Sonofman'usedtomakegeneralstatementintendedtosaysomethingaboutspeaker(e.g.R.Simeonb,
Yohaiandbirdescape).Mk2.28claimspropheticauthoritytointerpretwillofGodaboutsabbath,but
containsnochristologicaltitle.Mk3.28usesgeneralexpressions'toeschewdirectpolemic',where'sonof
man'standsfor'me'and'Spiritofholiness'standsfor'Godatworkinme'.Also8.38.'Todeclarehisown
exaltedstatusandtoavoiddirectmentionofahumiliatingsituation'(p.51).Mk10.45seemstobegeneral
statementabouthumanlifeasservice.Allthreemajorchristologicaltitles'owetheirappearanceastitlesto
theearlychurch,thoughtheyhavesomeconnexionwiththehistoricministry'(p.54).