The Christology of Mark's Gospel

The Christology of Mark's Gospel

The Christology of Mark's Gospel

The Christology of Mark's Gospel

Excerpt

This paperback reissue affords me the opportunity to offer some assessment of this book. As I understand the current state of Marcan research, this book is as relevant now as when first published. I have used the method of literary, or narrative, criticism. While some form of the literary method presently dominates Marcan studies, at least in North America, the method itself is still relatively new to New Testament studies. Scholars using it are exploring numerous facets of Mark’s Gospel, so that no one topic has captured the lion’s share of attention. Still, Jesus is the protagonist of Mark’s story, and christology has to do with his identity and significance. If earlier decades of this century are any guide, it is only a matter of time before the christology of Mark will emerge in scholarly circles as a pressing issue. When it does, this book will figure in the ensuing debate. On another note, the reader will perhaps indulge me if I also mention that, for obvious reasons, I have been gratified by the favorable reviews this book has received in major journals (see, e.g., Bib 65 [1984]: 412–16; Int. 38 [1984]: 299–302; JBL 104 [1985]: 732–35).

In the specialized area of “the Son of man” research, the scholarly discussion since this book appeared has not been unkind to the position I take in chapter 4. There is one matter in this chapter, however, that begs for comment. I refer to “the Son of man” as a “christological title.” Whether or not it should be so called is a question with which I wrestle. The problem is that “the Son of man” is both “like” and “unlike” the other major titles in Mark. Like “Messiah,” “King of the Jews [Israel],” “Son of David,” and “Son of God,” the “Son of man” applies to Jesus in a way in which it can be applied to no other human being. One indication of this is that it is always definitive in form (“‘the’ Son of man”). The upshot is that “the Son of man” cannot simply be reduced to the equivalent of “I” or “a (i.e., any) man.” In meaning, “the Son of man” denotes “the man,” or “the . . .

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