The First Commentary on Mark: An Annotated Translation

By Michael Cahill | Go to book overview
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And when he was leaving the temple, etc. ( Mark 13:11).

He spells out for the disciples the disaster of the end time, that is, the destruction of the temple, together with the people and its Scripture, of which not a stone would be left upon a stone. This refers to the testimonies of the prophets concerning those about whom the Jews twisted them as in the case of Absalom, Ezra, Zerubabel, and the Maccabees.1 The things he enumerates are all to be despised rather than investigated: false christs, false prophets, nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom, earthquakes, the beating of preachers as the gospel is preached to the ends of the earth, so that before the Judg

The physical destruction of Jerusalem ("not a stone upon a stone") is applied to a controversial issue in ancient biblical hermeneutics. The commentator is vigorously rejecting the Antiochene School of psalm exegesis, which reads the Psalms historically, i.e., in relation to the times of David and Absalom, the Restoration, and the Maccabees. He dismisses this approach as "Jewish." By "prophets" the author is referring to the writers of the Psalms, which.are viewed as prophetical writings. While it may not be apparent at first sight, the commentator is actually launching a strong attack on a method of psalm exegesis which he abhors. The Antiochene School represented, in the early centuries of the church's biblical interpretation, the historical and literal approach to the Old Testament. By contrast, Origen in the east and Augustine in the west, followed by Cassiodorus, for example, interpreted the Psalms as messianic, i.e., prophesying about Jesus Christ. For a full discussion of this issue in relation to authorship of the Markan Commentary, see Michael Cahill, "Is the First Commentary on Mark an Irish Work?" (pp. 38-42). In no source have I been able to note a mention of Ezra, as found in the Gospel commentary. Perhaps the original "Ezra" was a slip for "Ezechias," who features in the other texts.


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