Esa Hyvönen writes:
As a response to the above quote, the present tense does not necessarily apply to Mark. In fact, the whole key is Mark's exegesis of the OT which resembles both contemporary Jewish exegesis and the way to cite some particular texts in his cultural environment.
Response: Qumran is about as current to Mark as we can get.
Response: To say a thing is not necessarily so is not the same as saying it is not so or it cannot be. I have confidence that the things I present here by way of moving through the text and offering this fresh translation will stand on their own merit. Nevertheless, I am certain this list encourages good debate so let the process go on.
Hyvönen: Mark's exegesis of the OT which resembles both contemporary Jewish exegesis and the way to cite some particular texts in his cultural environment.
Response: This is an interesting comment on Marks exegesis of the OT. I would be interested in hearing the your interpretation of Mark's understanding of the Old Testament.
My position is that Mark understands Isaiah 40 as a prophetic passage relating to the Destruction of Jerusalem: First by the Babylonians and More importantly by Titus in 70 CE That the text of Isaiah has the former destruction as it focus us all but uncontested. That Mark sees in this passage a parallel between the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and the Siege under Titus, is the issue at hand. I maintain that he does see it so, not just on the strength of the first line but several other points in the text. Let me suggest that the following verses from Mark twelve is even more convincing evidence.
"A man planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a pit for the wine press, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. 2 When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they took him and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent to them another servant, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. 5 And he sent another, and him they killed; and so with many others, some they beat and some they killed. 6 He had still one other, a beloved son;
finally he sent him to them, saying, `They will respect my son.' 7 But those tenants said to one another, `This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' 8 And they took him and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. 9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants, and give the vineyard to others.
Sounds like the destruction of Jerusalem to me.
I think it is accurate to say that Mark is presenting his exegesis of Isaiah 40 as he writes his Gospel. I will continue to demonstrate how and where the compiler of Mark interprets the Old Testament as I present my translation.
Response, there is a point actually, I am suggesting that the evidence, Mark's Gospel itself, has and introduction. And that in that introduction there is a statement of direct address as follows:
RSV "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way;
the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight -- "
I interpret this to mean that the writer is sending his Gospel to his reader to prepare the readers way.
Further: I contend that the writer presents himself as a voice crying in the wilderness, - like John before him
The writer is exerting someone to prepare the way of the Lord and to make his paths straight. To understand what Mark means by "preparing the way of the Lord "I am suggesting the understanding contemporary to Mark. That of the Essene community of which I happen to believe John was in some way associated. The manual of discipline makes it clear that the community which authored it uses the same phrase in reference to a course of study for its graduate students so to speak. A course called preparing the way of the Lord. This fact forms an explanation which is highly plausible despite efforts to refute it.
Esa Hyvönen: The Ockham's razor is sharp in this case; the text connects the promise of Isaiah to John the Baptist with the clause of EN TH ERHMW. The present tense is just included in the quotation sources and might be a sign of editorial fatigue or Mark's respect for his scriptural sources not to change the present tense to correspond the actual past at the moment of his writing.
Response: Editorial fatigue, ok.
You will have a tough time explaining Mark's use of the present out of respect for sources later on. As a matter of fact, if you regard the behold I send line in 1:2 as a quotation you would have to say that Mark had very little respect for his sources on at least 3 counts.
Glad you like the razor. It does tend to cut to the chase.
The reference to John is in the narrative part of Mark's text not in the introduction. However I do agree that the passage in the narrative concerning John as a voice does indicate that Mark regards John as connected to the Isaiah passage.
I also would suggest that Mark connects the Isaiah passage to John the Baptist as a voice not contemporary with Marks own voice, I do agree that according to Mark, John resided in the desert not current to Mark but before him.
Finally, in his second message Richmond seeks to prove his point that the Isaiah text applies to Mark in the desert after the fall of Jerusalem rather than to John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus. His argument is based on a similar usage of Isaiah 40 in the DSS wherein "in the desert prepare the way of the Lord" clause is applied to the Qumran settlement and to their practice to study the Mosaic Law in the Manual of Discipline. To make a direct comparison between the DSS and the NT is not recommended without hesitation. This is clarified above.
I am really not attempting to prove anything, only to offer the evidence which has convinced me. I am aware that one who does not wish to hold a particular view will not hold it regardless of the evidence. But for those who have ears to here - to put it in Mark' terms - I offer the evidence that has influenced my understanding of what it is that Mark has written.
Thank you for the vigorous discussion.