Re: [Synoptic-L] NT Wright's Mark as "meta-apocalypse"?
- Dear Brian,
I've not read Wright's book. Alas, I have not the opportunity. However,
taking your resume as a guideline, I think Wright is right in seeking to
combine Greco-Roman culture and the tradition of the Hebrew Bible. Moreover,
I also believe Mark wrote in the wake of the devastating Judean/Roman war.
Being born and raised in Jerusalem the ruination of Jerusalem must have had
a deep impact on his religious life and that of his compatriots in Rome. One
cannot stress this fact enough, certainly if one takes the tradition of Mark
being Peter's interpreter and also deeply influenced by Paul's letters (
esp. the one written to Rome) seriously.
I would differ with him in the way he evaluates the 'Judean' (=first century
Jewish) character of his Gospel. It was meant for the liturgy of the
ecclesia in that it offers a contemporary interpretation of Pesach for his
Christian Judean and Gentile readers in Rome (or Alexandria) offering his
co-believers hope for the future. The parousia was delayed for "first the
gospel must be preached to all nations (13,10) and "he goes before you into
the Galil ha-goyim (16,7)". In that respect I would not share the view
that "Israel's "national history" that began at the Red Sea could be
presumed complete (?!) from a Christian POV". Does not the word 'complete'
have anti-Judaic implications, shared by the pre-WW II 'German-Christian'
The history of the Jews is over ?
I believe, the link with Greco Roman culture is a different one. Any foreign
person of that period learning Greek in the rhetorical school was also
educated in Greek drama and the great drama's of Sophocles, Euripides etc
were also shown in the theaters in the Hellenic world, also in Judea,
Samaria and Galilee. No one, will deny the dramatic impact of the Gospel
with is compelling plot. Hence the prologue in which the protagonists (the
Baptist and Jesus, 1,1-15) are introduced and the epilogue (15,40 - 16,8) in
which the future is opened: Jesus was raised from the dead; the future was
secure as he was now seated at the right hand of God (14, 62). Mark chose
the form of Greek drama, but in content it is concerned with the meaning of
Pesach and Pentecost. The drama concerned the crucifixion of the Messiah
and the turning of the tide for his people. However, Mark proclaimed not
only the tragic side of these catastrophes, but also the assurance that
God's purpose would prevail in the end.
Wright has not recognized that Mark in the epilogue is clearly and
emphatically citing LXX Isa 22,16 in 15,46 and LXX Gen 29, 2.3.10 in 15,46
and 16,3.4. Did Wright discuss this in his book? If so I would like to know
his comments on these citations. In other words did he take Mark's
resurrection story seriously as a midrash on these OT passages?
----- Original Message -----
From: "BW Smith" <smithbw@...>
Sent: Monday, January 23, 2006 11:14 PM
Subject: [Synoptic-L] NT Wright's Mark as "meta-apocalypse"?
> In his first big book, "The New Testament and the People of God", NT
> Wright outlines a perspective on the genre of Mark, which he
> characterizes as a sort of hybrid between a historical Greco-Roman
> biography of the historical Jesus and an apocalypse on "Israel's
> story" (which he terms a "meta-apocalypse").
> Presumably, this entails four assumptions:
> a) Wright's view of "apocalyptic", that is, metaphorical OT language
> that invests historical events with their theological significance,
> must be the same view that Mark held of that genre.
> b) The gospel was written during or shortly after the destruction of
> Jerusalem in 70 AD, such that Israel's "national history" that began
> at the Red Sea could be presumed complete from a Christian POV.
> c) The historical Jesus, as Mark knew Him, was an apocalyptic
> prophet (as outlined in Wright's Jesus and the Victory of God) with
> three levels of secret: a) the prophet is the king, b) the kingdom
> will come with the death of the king, c) the dying king is Israel's
> God in person. And Jesus' earthly ministry constituted a conscious
> embodying of all these OT typologies.
> d) Mark took a) what he saw as "Israel's history", in all its
> national and individualistic story cycles and the story of the
> historical Jesus, and created a gospel that tied the two together
> through a series of OT allusions.
> This perspective seems to solve all kinds of problems regarding the
> more difficult passages in Mark's gospel, but also introduces others:
> 1) Is it the reader's task to hunt down and decode all the OT
> allusions in Mark's gospel in order to have any chance
> of "understanding" the gospel, which has apparently been
> misinterpreted "literally" for 1900 years or so?
> 2) When is an allusion not an allusion? Do the allusions only occur
> in isolated form-critical units, or are there long-running portraits
> of David, Elijah, Elisha, Daniel, the Tabernacle, etc. embedded from
> 3) Did Matthew and Luke interpret Mark's gospel "literally" or did
> they engage in the same kind of OT allusion imagery? (And does John
> therefore have more in common with Mark than is assumed,
> constituting a "decoded" version of the second gospel?)
> What is the panel's understanding and critique of this two-decker
> picture of Mark's story? (From my POV, this seems to be a major
> breakthrough in understanding Mark's genre.) Comments?
> Brian W Smith
> Durham, NC
> Synoptic-L homepage: http://NTGateway.com/synoptic-l
> Yahoo! Groups Links
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