From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Sep 12 1995 - 06:36:53 EDT

At 9:37 PM 9/11/95, wrote:
>This has turned out to be a lengthy post. I promise not to do it again. I
>have enjoyed this discussion.
>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, your whole discussion deserves a careful reading and fuller
response; I have read it over twice and want to think about it some more,
but how can I be deterred from foolhardy quick reactions? It seems to me
that you are very right about the difference between Matthew and Mark. You
may very well be right about Mark, but in one way it seems to me that you
underscore similarities between Mark and Luke, perhaps without intending
to: what I'm thinking of is the perspective of Jesus' time with the
disciples as a preparation of them for their evangelistic mission. I think
the emphasis on their evangelistic mission is quite right and I think it is
very urgent in Mark. What I wonder about at this point is your repeated
emphasis on and use of the word "church." While I think it is clear beyond
all doubt that Mark has a profound concept of discipleship, I really wonder
whether he has a concept of the ekklesia (and of course he doesn't use the
word) or any kind of institution. He has a notion of a "household" or
"kindred" to which disciples belong, but it seems to me that he doesn't
really develop a notion of an ecclesiastical community that supports a
shared mission so much as he has a GOSPEL and an urgent mission to
promulgate it. The dating BEFORE 70 is certainly plausible, but the end of
Jerusalem would seem to be within view at the time of writing, and, as I've
said before, I really wonder whether the assassination of Nero isn't
envisioned in the remarks about political turmoil in chapter 13. (Was it or
wasn't it written in Rome? Intriguing and perhaps unanswerable question!)

Let me underscore again that this is a first reaction, and I will want to
ruminate a good deal more on this.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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