Date: Mon Sep 11 1995 - 22:37:49 EDT

This has turned out to be a lengthy post. I promise not to do it again. I
have enjoyed this discussion.

The use of the term SHMEION in Mark seems to have a slight difference from
Matthew and Luke. The only place in Mark where it is used to indicate
something good is in Mark 13 in v. 4 in the disciples question about what
Jesus had just predicted and the SHMEION hOTAN MELLHi TAUTA SUNTELEISQAI
PANTA; "the sign when all these things are about to be completed?" Since
the words there are on the lips of the disciples, and they get very little
right according to Mark; we cannot even be sure there that Mark understands
it in a good sense. However, Jesus seems to accept it as a good question.

In Matthew 24:30 the statement about what would happen "after that
tribulation," Matt. has the statement, "then will appear the sign of the Son
of Man." Mark does not have the word "sign" at that point. In fact Matthew
has references to legitimate signs of the Messiah such the sign of Jonah
whereas Mark has none. Mark seems almost to avoid the use of the word except
as on the lips of Jesus' enemies.

The term "Son of Man" is used in Mark in three different ways, as a
substitute for man (2:28), to denote his present work or coming suffering
(2:10, 8:38), and to refer to his future glory (14:62). The use of Son of
Man in Mark 13:26 surely refers to future glory. I would like to suggest
though that Mark is not necessarily thinking of parousia and the time of the
end but of the manifestation of the risen Christ to the church to aid them in
their one task that consumes Mark, the proclamation of the gospel to the
nations starting in Galilee (14:28 & 16:7). For Mark the central verse in
the Olivet discourse seems to be 13:10, "and most importantly (PROTON may be
an adverbial accusative) this gospel must be preached unto all the nations"
(unto all the nations is emphatic). I have long thought that the key to the
"Messianic Secret" in Mark is 9:9, "While they were coming down the mountain,
he commanded them not to tell anyone until the Son of Man had risen from the
dead." Mark considered that preaching the Son of Man as Messiah before the
crucifixion/resurrection would be to preach with an inadequate concept of
Messiah. As Morna Hooker has pointed out in the Son of Man in Mark, the
title Son of Man carried with it from Daniel a note of both suffering and
vindication. Just as Jesus could not be Messiah apart from suffering and
vindication, Mark conceives that there is no discipleship without suffering
and faith that the gospel would be vindicated. The whole section from the
healing of the blind man in chapter 8 to the healing of blind Bartimaeus in
chapter 10 is a 3-fold cycle of suffering, vindication, and teaching about
true discipleship patterned after true messiahship.

All this leads me to think that in Mark 13, Mark is presenting Jesus seeking
to separate for the disciples the events of the destruction and the turmoil
in which the church was being birthed (birthpangs) and had to preach the
gospel and the parousia. If this is true, the vision of the Son of Man may
not have anything to do with parousia (Mark avoids the word). He even said
early on that the wars and rumors of wars were inevitable but the end is not
yet. Werner Kelber in his book The Kingdom in Mark: A New Place and A New
Time claims that Mark is trying to separate these two things. I would think
that his date after the destruction is too late. Reading Josephus'
description of the events leading up to 70 BCE furnishes us with the setting
of messianic deceivers and the rush headlong to free Jerusalem from the
Romans. The vision of the Son of Man in 13:26-27 may be the vindication of
the Son of Man and his sending his "messengers" forth to gather the elect,
clearly the churches job in most of the NT. This would be parallel to the
picture of the Son of Man in Rev. 1 walking among the lampstands, symbols for
the churches of the vision of the Son of Man Luke reported as seen by Stephen
as he died standing vindicated at the Father's right hand. In fact all the
future Son of Man sayings in Mark may refer only to his vindication beyond
death/resurrection so as to give faith to the disciples as Mark calls them to
launch into the world mission of the church. The parable of the fig tree
refers to judgment on Israel and the closing phrase translated "know that it
is at the gate." The statement in vs. 24, "In those days after that
tribulation" seems to me to be a kind of apocalyptic way of further
separating 70 BCE from the parousia. The use of apocalyptic language from
Joel in 24-25 should be compared with the use of the same language from Joel
in Peter's speech in Acts 2 to refer to what happened on the day of Pentecost
(Acts 2:17-21). The only direct reference in Mark 13 to parousia may be in
vs. 32ff. That which happened in that generation was that the Son of Man was
vindicated and sent his disciples to proclaim the gospel to all the nations.
 I don't think that there can be much doubt that Mark wanted his readers to
be ready to do just that.

Also, I think that Matthew has brought in the idea of parousia where Mark did
not see it.

What do you think?

Carlton Winbery
Fogleman Prof. NT & Greek
LA College, Pineville, LA
(318) 487-7241 Fax (318) 487-7425 off. or (318) 442-4996 home or

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:27 EDT