THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN EARLY JUDAISM
Mark nowhere explains the meaning ofin the preaching of Jesus. Before we look at the contexts in which it occurs in Mark to attempt to make deductions as to its meaning, it would be wise to glean what we can about the meaning of the phrase from contemporary Judaism.
Leaving aside the Old Testament for the time being, let us survey the other evidence. We should not follow Norman Perrin in restricting our investigation to those passages where 'the kingdom of God' or an equivalent phrase is actually found,1 but should also consider passages where God is called 'King' or described in terms of kingship.2
First we should note that in prayers of this period,3 God is very often addressed as 'King', and of course we have seen that prayer was the context of some of the Psalms speaking of Yahweh's kingship. Judith prays (9:12):
Hear, O hear me, God of my father, God of the inheritance of Israel,
Lord of heaven and earth, Creator of the waters, King of all thy cre-
ation, hear my prayer!
Here, as frequently elsewhere, 'King' is just one of a number of titles applied to God, but it is linked with God's creation, which is one of the themes of the Psalms of Yahweh's kingship. In fact, part of Judith's song of thankgiving, which comes near the end of the book (16:13-15), bears many similarities to these Psalms. She sings to God
1 N. Perrin, The Kingdom of God in the Teaching of Jesus (1963), pp. 168fT.
2 Cf. M. Lattke, 'On the Jewish Background of the Synoptic Concept “The King-
dom of God'” (first publ. in German, 1975; ET in The Kingdom of God in the Teaching of
Jesus, ed. B. Chilton (1984), pp. 72-91); O. Camponovo, Konigtum, Königsherrschaft und
Reich Gottes in den früjüdischen Schriften (1984).
3 The period under review is taken to include the documents of the Apocrypha and
Pseudepigrapha that are prior to or contemporaneous with the life of Jesus and the
writing of the gospels, as well as the Qumran documents.