Saturday, 8 November 2008

Hays on Mark's Gospel

In examining Mark’s Gospel, Hays points to a number of ways that Mark uses Scripture to ‘narrate the identity of Jesus’. Here are a few examples:

-Who is the Lord of 1:2-3? In the context of Isaiah 40:3,9 it is no-one but God himself.

-Who can forgive sins (2:7)? According to Exodus 34:6-7 and Isaiah 43:35 no-one but God himself.

-Who can make the wind and sea obey him (4:35-41)? According to Ps 107:23-32 only God himself.

-Who is the shepherd of Israel (6:34)? According to Ezekiel 43:11-5 it is God himself.

-Who comes looking for figs (11:12-14)? According to Jeremiah 8:13 only God himself.

The most interesting one is the account of Jesus walking on water in 6:45-52. Often an attempt is made to see this as somehow referring to Moses leading the people across the Red Sea. However, a clearer OT background is surely Job 9:4-11 which speaks in v8 as God being the one who ‘treads on the waves of the sea’. Who can walk on water? Only God. The end of verse 48 often generates a bit of discussion. Why does Mark add the detail that Jesus was about to pass by them? Well, in verse 11 of Job 9, Job says of God ‘When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him.’ In the Greek translation of this verse, the correspondence to Mark 6:48 is very close. In other words, in alluding to Job 9 Mark is simultaneously emphasising Jesus’ deity and the disciples’ inability to grasp his identity.

All this raises the obvious question - why was Mark not explicit in all of this? After all, Peter’s recognition of Jesus as Christ in 8:29 seems to be central to Mark’s Gospel. Does he really have another agenda to communicate the deity of Christ?

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