From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Sep 13 1995 - 06:40:20 EDT

I've been very busy yesterday, but I have been thinking further about
Carlton's post. I appreciate his two responses to a couple initial concerns
about Mark's "church" and the pre-70 (albeit not very long before) dating
of the gospel of Mark. I am still somewhat troubled by the apparent
implications of Carlton's use of "church," even granting that Mark would
have used the word "disciples," because I think he still envisions some
sort of an institutional relationship between the disciples, and I'm not
sure therre's a justification for that. Maybe he doesn't mean to imply it.
The problem for me is that the separation between the destruction of
Jerusalem and the Parousia--or, if that word be undesirable because Mark
doesn't use it, the appearance of the Son of Man (still the same thing,
isn't it?). Let me go to the specifics of Carlton's original post again:

At 9:37 PM 9/11/95, wrote:
> . . . . . . 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.

I don't really understand this conception 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)."
It seems to me, after considerable reflection, to be based upon the way in
which Matthew's gospel has interpreted Mark's indications about Jesus
meeting the disciples in Galilee--i.e., Matthew presents in chapter 28 an
account of a mountaintop Galilean meeting of disciples with the
risen-and-ascended Christ who commissions them for their task. Perhaps I've
misunderstand Carlton here and that's not what he has in mind, but if it
is, I have to say that I'm not convinced that such a meeting is what Mark's
texts was pointing to. Then what is he pointing to in 14:28 and 16:7?
Marxsen thought, and I think Kelber and Perrin thought that Galilee was a
symbolic term for the world-at-large and the confrontation to take place
there would in fact be the parousia. I don't know that I find that
altogether convincing either. We can't help speculating about what we don't
understand in the gospels (and there's A LOT in the gospels that we don't
understand, isn't there?), but I'm not sure how much of a basis we have to
speculate on what the Galilean meeting was supposed to be. I have some
vague ideas, but they are so vague that I am far from ready to discuss

However that may be, I am still troubled by the apparent implication of
Carlton's understanding of Mark 13, that there will be a considerable gap
between the destruction of Jerusalem and whatever-you-may-want-to-call the
ultimate coming of the Son of Man on the clouds. The Marcan text that seems
to me to run counter to that view is 9:1 (but 14:62 addressed to the
Sanhedrin leaders seem to me to point in the same direction).


This is the same passage that seemed to me crucial in the earlier
discussion with Jan Haugland. I don't see how the destruction of Jerusalem
can be characterized by the phrasing "the Kingdom of God HAVING COME WITH
POWER." This verse and 14:16 really seem to me to indicate that Mark the
evangelist understood the gap between the destruction of Jerusalem and the
full realization of God's Kingdom/Reign as short enough for some of those
now alive (either in Jesus' hearing or at the time of Mark's redaction) to
experience it as a fait accompli. Is there another way to understand 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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