For about a decade I have been pressing the case that his early followers saw Jesus as a prophet. In “The Pre-Markan Gospel”2 I noted that, while Mark himself saw Jesus as the Son of God, his Gospel contained a wealth of incidents in which Jesus behaved like Elijah or Elisha. Later, in A Tale of Two Missions3 and “A Poor Man's Christology”,4 I drew attention to the number of passages where he acts like Moses, fulfilling the prophecy of the “prophet like Moses” of Deut 18:15, 18, cited at Acts 3:22f.; 7:37. In this essay I point to a fact which has been staring me in the face, but which I contrived to ignore: all the Elijah-Elisha incidents are in Mark 1–8, and all the Moses incidents are in Mark 9–13. This neat division is significant, and susceptible of an interesting explanation.
The tracing of allusions, whether to Elijah and his successor or to Moses, is a delicate business; for our concern is not just with Mark but with the tradition which he received. Our primary evidence must be similarities with the Markan narrative: but it seems proper to include two further elements in our assessment, each with due circumspection. First, there are three other evangelists who are more remote heirs of the same tradition and whose wording may sometimes give us a pointer to thinking in the Church of Mark's generation. Second, all arguments of this kind are cumulative: the more we find with confidence, the more confident we become of less clear instances. But cumulative structures may easily be houses of cards; and by importing non-Markan evidence we risk reading in Matthean or Lukan perspectives.
1 It is an honour to be asked to contribute to the present volume. David Catchpole
has been a friend for more than twenty years, the kindest and most courteous of
colleagues. All too often we have been sparring partners over Q , but I could not
have wished for a fairer or more straightforward opponent.
2SJT 47 (1994) 453–472. The article was a revised version of a paper given to
the Pre-Synoptic Seminar of SNTS at Bethel in July 1991.
3A Tale of Two Missions (SCM: London, 1994) 132.
4NTS 45 (1999) 348.