Rejected son: royal Messianism and the Jerusalem priesthood in the Gospel of Mark
Cho, Bernardo Kyu
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The messiahship of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark has figured prominently in modern New Testament scholarship. With the increasing awareness of the Jewish context from which the gospel traditions emerged, scholars have also paid close attention to the way Mark portrays Jesus in relation to the temple. Within these discussions, it is not uncommon to find claims that the Markan Jesus regards the Jerusalem institution as completely obsolete, some maintaining that the message of the kingdom of God in Mark is fundamentally opposed to the ancient Levitical system. Yet, there is not a single full-length monograph grappling with the question of how Mark presents Jesus as royal messiah on the one hand, and his interaction with the Jerusalem priests on the other. Such a project is now imperative, not least given the recent advancement in our understanding both of messianic expectations in the late Second Temple period and of the role of the high priesthood in Jewish polity at the turn of the Christian era. In this thesis, I argue that Jewish messianism from the mid-second century BCE to the late first-century CE anticipated the culmination of the Jerusalem priestly institution under the rule of the royal messiah. In portraying Jesus as the end-time king, Mark in turn assumes a similar expectation. However, contrary to the majority scholarly view, the earliest Gospel does not repudiate the Israelite worship as such. Rather, Mark depicts Jesus’s stance towards the priests in terms of a call to allegiance and warning of judgement. And it is in the light of its cumulative narrative context that Jesus’s criticism of the Jerusalem shrine should be read. To Mark, that is, the temple will be destroyed because the priests have rejected Israel’s end-time king, placing themselves outside the messianic kingdom. Nevertheless, Jesus will be vindicated over against his enemies as God’s messianic son. Chapter one examines important passages from the Dead Sea Scrolls, and chapter two focuses on texts from the Pseudepigrapha. In chapter three, I argue, against recent critics, that the Markan Jesus is indeed a royal figure. Then, chapter four looks at the relevant passages in Mark 1–10 in which the Jerusalem priests are in view. Finally, chapter five investigates the climactic clash between Jesus and the temple rulers in Mark 11–16 in comparison to my findings in the previous chapters.