Jesus' Cry from the Cross: Towards a First-Century Understanding of the Intertextual Relationship Between Psalm 22 and the Narrative of Mark's Gospel
The meaning of the Markan Jesus' citation of Psalm 22:2 has long been a matter of debate amongst scholars in the field. More specifically, this debate centers on whether the citation is atomistic or contextual. In an effort both to join and move forward the dialogue on this subject, the primary question of this thesis is: How would Jesus' cry from the cross of Psalm 22:2 in Mark 15:34 have been understood by Mark's first-century readers given its context in the entire narrative of the gospel? The contribution of this thesis is in its multi-level approach to the above question by the examination of a variety of evidence that, in the end, indicates that Mark's earliest readers would have read and understood this psalmic citation as contextual. It is argued that, contra the opinion of the majority of Markan scholarship, a contextual reading of Psalm 22:2 in Mark 15:34 does not serve to negate or dilute the presentation of Jesus as one in distress and agony, but rather enhances this aspect of his death by underscoring his identity as a Righteous Sufferer who experiences suffering but has the promise of vindication. Among the evidence that supports a contextual reading of the citation in the Markan narrative is, (a) the importance of Jesus' impending resurrection/vindication and its foreshadowing in the Markan narrative; (b) the relatively consistent contextual use of the scriptures in the narrative prior to Mark 15:34; (c) the patterns of the textual and liturgical use of the psalms and the presence of the motif of the Righteous Sufferer in Mark's socio-cultural milieu; (d) the Markan presentation of Jesus as the Righteous Sufferer throughout the narrative; and (e) an exegesis of Mark 15:34 and the surrounding Markan passion-resurrection narrative with regard to the function of Ps 22 and the story of Jesus' death and resurrection. A test case of the argument presented in the previous chapters of the thesis is undertaken at the close of the study, when both Matthew and Luke's treatment of Ps 22 and other Righteous Sufferer language is considered, regarding their readings of Ps 22 in Mark as the earliest tangible evidence of the interpretation of the use of Ps 22 in his gospel.