Academic journal article Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

The Temptations of Jesus in Mark's Gospel

Academic journal article Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

The Temptations of Jesus in Mark's Gospel

Article excerpt

The Temptations of Jesus in Mark's Gospel. By Susan R. Garrett. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998; x + 212 pp., $20:00 paper.

According to Garrett, the Gospel of Mark presents Jesus as tested or tempted throughout his ministry-by Satan, by his earthly adversaries and even by his own disciples. These agents of temptation and testing seek to divert Jesus from the straight and narrow path that leads to his most severe test, the cross, where he will hang alone, forsaken by God. Because of Jesus' perfect obedience, God regards his death as an acceptable sacrifice, a ransom that saves many from their sin. Jesus' faithful obedience in testing empowers his followers to persevere during their own times of trial, without being led astray.

Garrett's method is primarily to view Mark's Gospel in the context of certain "interpretive conventions" or "cultural models." Garrett examines ancient Jewish and Christian writings to discover patterns of thought that were part of the cultural heritage or worldview of the interpretive community which produced and originally read the Gospel of Mark. According to Garrett, three interpretive conventions are particularly important guides for understanding the subject of testing in the Gospel of Mark. ( 2 ) The sufferings of righteous individuals were viewed as satanic testing. God permits Satan to put his righteous servants to the text. (2) The testing of the righteous may take place through the persecutions of the wicked, who are blinded by Satan and by their own iniquity. (3) It was believed that if a righteous sufferer endured testing unto death, God would accept that death as a sacrifice, as a substitutionary atonement for others. According to Garrett, Mark's Gospel fits this pattern of thought, since it presents Jesus as tested by Satan and sinners and regards Jesus' death as a ransom for sin.

Just as Jesus faced temptations and trials, so his followers must expect to undergo testing. So Garrett examines Mark's vision of discipleship, which Mark expressed through his negative presentation of the disciples. …

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