Biblical Studies, Christian Community, Conceptions, Ebenezer, Exegesis, story, Theology, Uncategorized, Worship

Soul, Speak!

“Soul, Speak!”
by Eric B. Dixon

Father, close my lips that I might show forth Your praise!
Deafening silence amplifies a fortissimos life,
As one conversant with the stain of an untimely utterance.

Father, close my lips that I might show forth Your praise!
Solicitous humility echoes resounding muteness,
As one who knows the miraculous in Annunciation.

Father, close my lips that I might show forth Your praise!
Universal ken refashions a turgid tongue,
As She whose soul sings and heart harbors Treasure.

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“Mary” by Margaret Adams Parker

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Christian Community, Ebenezer, Image of God, story, Theology, Uncategorized, Worship

Through Change and Transition

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“Let There be Light” by Eric B. Dixon

This is my iconic story,
A milagro of God’s muscles
Ringing forth and generating this spirited purge,
Illuminating the depth of my humanness.
Watch, be moved.
Allow, know sustenance
In a loving exchange between the dark and light,
Feeling not the weight of experience,
But embracing solely the Newness
There and then,
Here and now.

 

 

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Christian Community, Worship

“Why We Do What We Do.”

You may have asked yourself before, “Why do we do what we do in worship services?” or perhaps, “Who plans the order of the services?” or maybe even, “What are the requirements for leading any given part of the worship services?”

Different aspects of the worship services are purposefully planned for each Sunday morning
service. Those who lead the different aspects are essential in communicating our unity as
the body of Christ and our purposefulness in gathering to worship. If you won’t think me
irreverent, perhaps you will permit me to use the analogy of getting your car washed to illus-
trate designing and leading a worship service. Let’s imagine that our participation in a wor-
ship service is like getting our car cleaned by a professional business. Some of you may pre-
fer to wash your own car, but for the analogy’s sake let’s imagine that a full team is required for the job. Picture your unwashed car as an unplanned worship service that requires a team effort in order to plan, prepare, and achieve the goal of producing a clean car (ie. an intentional worship service). It is helpful to picture a worship service as a “vehicle” that provides for us an opportunity to give fully to God what He has already given to us, everything!

So, here is a quick comparison between the service of a professional car-washing business and the service needed during a Sunday morning worship service. The car-washing business provides: Welcome > Hospitality (ie. vacuum, a place to wait, etc.) > Rinse > Wash > Scrub > Rinse > Dry > Detail > Send Off. When compared with a Sunday morning service, the car-washing business’ order of service provides insight into the team effort and unity that is needed when participating in a worship service. Worship services may constitute: Welcome > Hospitality (ie. coffee, information, etc.) > Gathering Song > Prayer > Greeting (Passing of Christ’s Peace) > Scripture Reading > Songs of Response > Prayer > Sermon (Scripture Reflection and Application) > Prayer > Response to God’s Word (Individual and Congregational response) > Prayer > Offering > Announcements (ways to get involved and apply God’s Word in our lives together) > Benediction (Blessing/Sending).

Just as there are many different stations that require many people to work them in order to get your car cleaned, there are many different aspects to serving and leading in a worship service. We need you! We are all different parts of the same body, and each part offers something unique.
May God empower us through His Holy Spirit to be examples of Christ’ love, service, and leadership! Let us love, serve, and lead one another even as Christ leads us in worshiping our living God whose kingdom is among us!

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Christian Community

“Eat, Pray, Live…Together”

Where Two or three

“In Their Midst”
by Burden Studio (burdenstudio.com)”Where two or three are gathered
in my Name, there I am in the midst of them.”
(Matthew 18:19) 

“Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In his book Life Together, Bonhoeffer says that “whether it be a brief, single encounter or the daily fellowship of years, Christian community is only this. We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ. What does this mean? It means first that a Christian needs others because of Jesus Christ. It means, second, that a Christian comes to others only through Jesus Christ. It means, third, that in Jesus Christ we have been chosen from eternity, accepted in time, and united for eternity.”

Bonhoeffer’s definition of Christian community reminds me that we all individually find our identity in Jesus Christ, and because of that we Christians are only connected through and in him. We need each other. We cannot say to the weaker believers in our congregation, “you must leave,” or “we don’t need you,” or “things would be so much better without you,” for in doing so we would be casting out Jesus Christ. Just like the rest of us, their identity is in Jesus Christ, and he alone is our hope and salvation. As a community of Christians, we are united solely through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ now and forevermore!

Unity is important because our story of salvation is in God’s story of salvation through Jesus Christ. This is the reason we gather together in worship, gather together for Bible study, and gather together to share a meal. Bonhoeffer recognized that “our salvation is external to ourselves.” He said, “I find no salvation in my life history, but only in the history of Jesus Christ.” This is true for all of us.

So, anytime we are gathered together let us remember that we gather and fellowship solely because of, through and in Jesus Christ.

“All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.” – Jude 1:25 (NLT)

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Christian Community

Humanity in the “Imago Dei”

Imago-Arts-IMG_1518Do not allow your view of humanity to be skewed by the image of evil, rather view all of humanity through the image of God. We see the best of humanity in Jesus Christ who teaches us what it means to be human. For he alone restores the “likeness” of God to those who are being restored by, through, and in him.

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” – John 13:34

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Christian Community

An Evaluation of “For Whom Were Gospels Written?” by Richard Bauckham and “Patristic Counter-Evidence to the Claim that ‘The Gospels Were Written for All Christians’” by Margaret M. Mitchell

9780802844446_p0_v1_s260x420Introduction:

Bauckham begins his argument introducing two questions: 1) Were Gospels written for Christians or for non-Christians? 2) Were the Gospels written for a specific Christian audience or for a general Christian audience? The first of these questions he answers according to the scholarly consensus that all of the Gospels were written for a Christian audience. In answering the second question, Bauckham addresses whether or not the gospels were written for specific local churches or for the purpose of circulation to every late first century Christian community.

Position:

Bauckham constructs his argument by confronting the assumption on which arguments concerning the Gospels have been based, particularly, the view that the Gospels were written to specific Christian communities. He says, “The unargued assumption in every case is that each Gospel addresses a localized community in its own, quite specific context and character.”[1] Bauckham proposes an alternative to this view. The alternative consists of the Gospel writers writing for the purpose of reaching an audience in any church to which the Gospel might circulate and the Greek language understood. Bauckham’s purpose for arguing this alternative view is to open discussion that has not taken place, and to propose this view as more plausible than the localized view that the Gospel writer’s wrote for specific communities.

Bauckham makes some good points that require further investigation, but he makes certain assumptions regarding the Gospel writer’s intentions, especially in the Synoptic relationship. He says, “Most likely Matthew and Luke each expected his own Gospel to replace Mark’s.”[2] Although this is a possibility, Bauckham does not address the probability of Matthew and Luke adapting Mark’s story and style to meet specific needs for a specific purpose. While he does acknowledge that the churches in the first and second centuries were connected and diverse, Bauckham does not acknowledge the effect that the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70ce would have had on the Gospel writers. The possibility of Jewish-Christian sectarian groups (groups that consisted of Jew and Gentile Christians that lived in isolation)  arising outside of Jerusalem immediately following its destruction in 70ce is not mentioned.

Argument:

Bauckham argues that redaction criticism in the late 1960s attempted to claim that the Gospel writers were writing for specific situations within a Christian community. He says that redaction criticism developed an allegorical reading of the Gospels in hopes of “reconstructing not only the character but the history of the community behind the Gospel.” In her article, “Patristic Counter-Evidence to the Claim that ‘The Gospels Were Written for All Christians’,” Margaret M. Mitchell responds to Bauckam’s essay by examining patristic evidence for a pre 1960s interpretation of the Gospels being written for a localized community. Mitchell agrees with Bauckham, in that, redaction-critical readings can use allegory to the point of projecting onto the life of Jesus the concerns of a “hypothetically reconstructed local church community.[3]” However, Mitchell argues against Bauckham’s view that “all readers without exception before the mid-twentieth century missed the (alleged) hermeneutical relevance of the Matthean community to the interpreter of Matthew.”[4] Mitchell insists that the interpretation of gospels is more complex and ancient than what is presented in Bauckham’s essay.[5]

Reading Strategy:

Bauckham’s argument against a particular ‘reading strategy’ would be strong if every Gospel contained the same accounts. In using the example of J. Louis Martyn’s proposal for interpreting John 9 as a narrative of the Johannine community’s expulsion from its local synagogue[6], Bauckham argues for a general process that was taking place throughout the Diaspora. A question for this proposal is that if it really were a general process, then how come the other Gospel writers do not address it?

Another argument made by Bauckham is that everything that was written in the Gospels did not necessarily need to be pertinent to everyone who read them. One example he uses is Mark 15:21, where Mark mentions Simon of Cyrene as the father of Alexander and Rufus. Matthew and Luke do not mention Alexander and Rufus in their Gospels. This raises the question of why they were important enough for Mark to mention them in his gospel. Bauckham makes the observation that Matthew and Luke’s exclusion of Alexander and Rufus could be another example of how the latter of the Synoptic Gospels would abbreviate Mark’s texts.[7] Another possibility that Bauckham offers for Alexander and Rufus’ exclusion from Matthew and Luke is that they may have been alive when Mark wrote and dead by the time Matthew and Luke wrote their gospels. But if Alexander and Rufus were such important figures that most of the first century Christian communities would have known them (if Mark truly wrote for all the churches), then it seems that Matthew and Luke, having been recipients of Mark’s Gospel, would have known of their importance also.[8]

Gospels and Letters:

Bauckham makes a good observation concerning the Greco-Roman bios in asking, “Why should he [the Gospel writer] go to the considerable trouble of writing a Gospel for a community to which he was regularly preaching?”[9] Bauckham defines the genres of letters and Gospels in order to illustrate their use in the context of the writer’s absence. He says, “The obvious function of writing was its capacity to communicate widely with readers unable to be present at its author’s oral teaching.”[10]

Bauckham does not address the possibility of the Gospel writers writing for the sake of permanence and distinction. David C. Sim in his book, Apocalyptic Eschatology in the Gospel of Matthew, argues for reading the Gospel of Matthew as a work to an apocalyptic-eschatological Jewish Christian sect who has broken ties with Jerusalem and ‘formative Judaism’. Sim goes on to say that Matthew’s community was affected by a combination of factors stemming from the aftermath of the events from 66-70 CE. These factors included conflict with Jews, Gentiles, and the wider world of Christians. Matthew’s community was considered to be withdrawn from society as an alienated group.[11] If an apocalyptic-eschatological sectarian group of Christians were experiencing persecution from the rest of world around them, then a leader of the community may have seen the need for writing a Gospel that would distinguish those on the inside from those on the outside. A Gospel written in this context could have been used to promote group solidarity and social control within the sectarian group.[12]

Patristic Evidence:

Mitchell notes that although Bauckham uses the patristic sources from the second century to illustrate the travel patterns of the church leaders during the first century, he does not cite second century patristic sources regarding the origin and interpretation of the original readers of the gospels.[13] She says a possible obstacle for Bauckam’s argument is that early traditions associated each of the gospel writers with a specific locale: Mark with Rome (and/or Alexandria)(or Syria[14]), Matthew with Judea, Luke with Achaia, and John with Ephesus (and/or Patmos).[15] Bauckham dismisses the influence of Clement’s statement as proof that patristic sources thought of the gospel writers as writing locally, and says that it does not “strictly require this conclusion.”[16] Mitchell illustrates that Bauckham’s interpretation of Clement of Alexandria concerning Mark’s Gospel is incorrect. In her translation of Clement of Alexandria, Mitchell shows that in the tradition about Mark’s gospel there was no “‘envision[ing] of a gospel beginning to circulate’; here Mark’s gospel (singular – the text says nothing about ‘copies’) does not move beyond the Roman Christians who asked him to write it, who are presented as a rather specific group who in turn receive the document from him.”[17]

In another instance, Mitchell recalls Papias’s tradition about Matthew’s peculiar language, particularly about Matthew composing “the sayings” in the Hebrew language, which Bauckham does not discuss.[18] Mitchell makes the point that “for Papias language of composition differentiated Matthew’s readers from Mark’s readers.”[19] This would seem evident since not every Christian in the late first century spoke or read Hebrew. Mitchell notes that, “this presumption about the Semitic original of Matthew was to be a constant in patristic and medieval gospel interpretation, and from it considerable inferences about Matthew’s local community were made.”[20] In the third century, Origen inferred that Matthew’s gospel was written specifically for Jewish Christians.[21] Furthermore, Mitchell explains that this tradition “depends upon the assumption – held already in antiquity by such scholars as Origen and Jerome – that language, place and addressees of the gospels can be correlated with one another.”

Hermeneutics:

Bauckam states in his essay that reconstructing the historical situation of the Gospel writer’s community has “no hermeneutical value since the Gospels were not addressed to or intended to be understood solely by such a community.”[22]  Contrary to Bauckham, Mitchell notes the importance of recognizing the historical situation of the gospels before encountering the text.[23] This is important for Mitchell’s argument because she illustrates that early Christian biblical interpreters were concerned with historical validation of apostolic or sub-apostolic authorship.[24] Bauckam makes the statement that only modern redaction critics “simply assum[e] that the question about the context in which a Gospel was written and the question about the audience for which a Gospel was written are the same question.”[25] Mitchell counters this statement with examples of Christian commentators who combine these two questions in their writing gospel prologues in medieval manuscripts, “which are based on complex histories that extend back to late antiquity.”[26]

Conclusion:

Mitchell provides significant evidence from the patristic writings to show the plausibility that the thought of the Gospel writers writing for a localized community did not originate in the 1960s, as Bauckham proposes. According to Mitchell’s research, “patristic interpreters of the gospel thought it important to ask where when and to whom each of the four gospel was originally written.”[27]

Mitchell’s conclusion calls for movement beyond extreme dichotomies (“either the gospels were written for ‘relatively isolated, introverted communities’ or for ‘any and every Christian community’”).[28] Furthermore, Mitchell utilizes the works of Irenaeus and Origen to argue for a both/and theological approach to interpreting the audience of the gospel writers as local and universal.[29] I agree with Mitchell in her assessment that modern scholars should strive for “methodological flexibility” as we encounter questions that require different approaches.[30] Mitchell’s illustration of “universality and particularity in a deliberate theological and rhetorical tension”[31] in John Chrysostom’s work provides insight for modern biblical scholars to leave room for the mystery of God’s work and revelation.


[1] Richard Bauckham, ‘For Whom Were Gospels Writen?’, in The Gospels for All Christians: Rethinking the Gospel Audiences (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), 11.

[2] The assumption here is that since Matthew and Luke utilized Mark’s Gospel in their own works, they must have anticipated that their own Gospels were going to be circulated also (Bauckham, 13).

[3] Margaret M. Mitchell, “Patristic Counter-Evidence to the Claim that ‘The Gospels Were Written for All Christians’”, New Testament Studies, Vol. 51, Issue 01, January 2005, (UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 37.

[4] Bauckham, 47.

[5] Mitchell, 46.

[6] Bauckham, 23.

[7] Bauckham, 25.

[8] Joel Marcus makes this rebuttal also (Mark 1-8: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary [The Anchor Bible; New York, NY: Doubleday, 2002], 27-8).

[9] Bauckham, 29.

[10] Ibid.

[11] David C. Sim, Apocalyptic Eschatology in the Gospel of Matthew [Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2001], 182.

[12] Sim identifies the specific functions of apocalyptic eschatology in five distinct groups that may overlap on certain points: 1. Identification and legitimation, 2. Explanation of current circumstances, 3. Encouragement and hope for the future, 4. Vengeance and consolation, 5. Group solidarity and social control (Ibid, 64).

[13] Mitchell, 47.

[14] Marcus, 36.

[15] Mitchell, 47.

[16] Mitchell, 48.

[17] Ibid, 49-50.

[18] Ibid, 53.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Bauckam, 45.

[23] Mitchell, 55.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Bauckam, 16.

[26] Mitchell, 57.

[27] Mitchell, 77.

[28] Ibid., 78.

[29] Ibid., 61-67.

[30] Ibid., 78.

[31] Ibid., 74.

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Christian Community

A Brief Summary of “The Messianic Secret” by William Wrede

secretIntroduction:

Wrede addresses two decisive questions regarding Jesus’ life: “What do we know of Jesus’ life?” and “What do we know of the history of the oldest views and representation of Jesus’ life?” (4) In addressing these questions, Wrede makes three points pertaining to historical criticism and critical method. First, Wrede notes that the writers of the Gospels were not actually writing eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life. He says that this  is widely accepted in historical criticism. Wrede describes this further in detailing the evangelists’ influence from their own community of faith’s needs and beliefs in their accounts of the life of Jesus. Second, Wrede notes that historical critics are too quick to leave the life circumstances in which the evangelists wrote in order to appropriate them as the history of Jesus. Wrede argues that the first task of the historical critic is to develop an understanding of the spirit and intention of the evangelists’ writing to their readers during their time. Third, Wrede refers to psychology. According to Wrede, psychology alone does not produce good historical critical work because most of the work is not based on facts and even if they were facts the results would still be suppositions. Wrede considers these points a foundation that he utilizes in his research throughout his investigation. The aim of Wrede’s investigations into Mark’s Gospel is to determine when Jesus was acknowledged as or revealed himself to be Messiah. (7)

 

Part One: Some Preliminaries on the General Picture of the Messianic history of Jesus:

In order to establish the direction of his investigations, Wrede traces the Messianic revelation of Jesus to the people according to the outline of Mark’s Gospel. Wrede poses the question, “Did Mark intend to represent the supposed development in Jesus messianic life, or did he describe it unconsciously and yet faithfully?” (14) Certain arguments have been made concerning Mark’s revealing Jesus as Messiah through Peter’s confession in 8:29. In establishing his own answer to this question, Wrede claims that “the narrative does not look like an intentional record of messianic development” (16) and follows this statement by making four positive points.

First, Wrede observes that Jesus heals many sick people and follows their healing with a command for secrecy, but Jesus performs many miracles in the public’s view. Even when certain miracles were performed in private, those who were healed did not follow the command to keep their healing secret. Second, Wrede says that Jesus is revealing himself as Messiah to his confidants in the raising of Jairus’ daughter. According to Wrede, this story portrays Jesus doing everything he can to call forth the knowledge of his Messiahship for his confidants. Third, Wrede says that Jesus is calling himself “Son of Man” in 2:10 and 2:28. Wrede says, “If “Son of man means the Messiah, then according to Mark Jesus designated himself as such long before Peter’s confession, and in full glare of publicity at that.” (18) Fourth, Wrede observes Mark’s use of the “bridgroom” statement in 2:19-20. Wrede says that for Mark this statement necessarily has a messianic tone, and points out Mark’s use of this passage as a prophecy of the Passion.

By making these points, Wrede establishes the basis for his investigation regarding the secrecy of Jesus’ Messiahship. The question posed by Wrede is whether or not Peter’s confession cancels the other reports that could be considered in Jesus’ self-proclamation or Jesus being proclaimed Messiah. Wrede follows with the conclusion that a thorough critical examination of Mark’s data is needed.

 

The Self-Concealment of the Messiah

The Demons’ Recognitions of the Messiah

Wrede argues the point that in Mark Jesus is recognized as the Messiah by the demons, but not by the demoniacs. (25) The demons, as supernatural spirits, recognize the supernatural spirit in Jesus. Wrede makes the observation that when Jesus confronts a demoniac he speaks to the demon and not to the person who is sick.  However, Wrede does note the necessary presupposition that “the expectation of the Messiah was in the air.”(30) This could provide some clarity to each of the accounts concluding with the same judgment that Jesus is the Messiah.

Wrede questions the historicity of these accounts, yet combats the desire to reduce the number of cases found in the Gospel because he recognizes the accounts as part of an important motif for Mark. Wrede makes the argument that an historical account of the life of Jesus was not Mark’s goal. He says, “If we give up the history we leave the account entirely as it stands and find in the supernatural view of the author—which indeed amounts to what is historically impossible—a direct way of understanding the whole.” (33)

The Injunction to keep the Messianic Secret

In this section, Wrede organizes Jesus’ prohibitions into five sections: prohibitions addressed to the demons, prohibitions following other miracles, prohibitions after Peter’s confession, intentional preservation of his incognito, and a prohibition to speak which did not originate with Jesus. Wrede argues for the extreme probability that the various commands in Mark share the same sense. He says, “The continuous repetition of the feature is by itself enough to press this upon one, but the lack of a motivation intensifies it.” (37) Wrede also argues that the two passages in which Jesus is incognito (7:24; 9:30) are related to the prohibition passages, because they indicate a preservation of the messianic secret.

On the idea of a suffering Messiah, Wrede indicates that Mark is not portraying Jesus as an unpolitical Messiah, but rather as the Son of God who is the Messiah revealed as a result of his suffering. Wrede expounds upon the fulfillment of the prophecy, Jesus riding on the donkey and Jesus being hailed as the one to restore David’s kingdom, in making the point that Mark presents a contrast with the Jewish view of the Messiah. The contrast for Mark is not between a spiritual and a national political view of the Messiah, but rather a non-suffering Messiah and a Messiah as a result of suffering. (47)

Cryptic Speech as a Mode of Concealment

In this section Wrede notes that in the Gospel of Mark there are two closely related ideas: “(1) that Jesus spoke in parables, i.e. veiling his meaning to the people, but openly to the disciples, and (2) that the parables remained obscure to the people but were explained to the disciples.” (65) Wrede explains that, “the idea of the messianic secret goes beyond the miracles and the messianic apostrophes by demons or disciples.” (66) By using parables, Jesus concealed the meaning of the parables from the crowd and interpreted them to the disciples when Jesus was alone with them, however, the disciples did not always understand the interpretation that Jesus provided.

 

The Meaning of the Secret

Wrede asserts here that a historical motive by Mark detailing the messianic secret is not plausible, but rather Mark’s approach to the messianic secret is theological. Wrede argues that an one of the most important statements in Mark is after the Transfiguration when Jesus’ prohibition is to “tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of man should have risen from the dead. (Mk 9:9)” (67) The implications of this prohibition is that what was seen and heard during the Transfiguration will only be discernable after Jesus’ resurrection. Wrede concludes that “during his earthly life Jesus’ messiahship is absolutely a secret and is supposed to be such; no one apart from the confidants of Jesus is supposed to learn about it; with the resurrection, however, its disclosure ensues. This is in fact the crucial idea, the underlying point of Mark’s entire approach.” (68)

 

Concealment Despite Revelation

The Prophecies of the Suffering, Dying and Rising of Jesus

Wrede illustrates the necessity of Jesus’ death from the start of Mark’s Gospel. “Jesus’ death, just like his resurrection, is a part, and an essential part, of his messianic work.” (83) According to Wrede, it is Mark’s view that Jesus makes his way to Jerusalem because that is where he wants to die. For Wrede this is how Mark’s community would have viewed Jesus’ death and Jesus’ approach to life. (84) Wrede clarifies this in saying that “without the resurrection the suffering and dying are inconceivable for an early Christian.” (85) Wrede portrays the prophecies of suffering as statements directed from Mark’s community of faith. This could be a clue that Mark’s community was experiencing persecution and suffering.

The Attitude of the Disciples to the Prophecies

Wrede refutes the idea that the disciples are somehow slowly coming to understand Jesus’ prophecy of his suffering through repetition. He notes that despite Jesus’ repetition of the prophecy the disciples arrive at no clearer understanding, and there is no attempt by Jesus to explain the prophecy to them. Wrede says, “Jesus speaks of his passion and resurrection in such plain language that it is incomprehensible how there should be anything incomprehensible in them!” (94)  In a reference to Strauss, Wrede explains the disciples’ lack of understanding as if they were trying to understand a foreign language. “Nevertheless they hold on to it, one might also suppose, in order to preserve it for a time when understanding would dawn.” (94) Hence, understanding will come with Jesus’ resurrection.

The Disciples Understanding in General: Revelation and Secret

Wrede makes the points that throughout Mark’s Gospel the disciples are seen as incapable of understanding Jesus. (101) Their inability to understand extends from divine intention for messianic secrecy until the resurrection. For Wrede, these disciples in Mark are not real figures. They are “disciples who never become any wiser about Jesus after all the wonderful things they see about him.” (103) Jesus keeps the messianic secret while on earth and even though Jesus reveals himself to his disciples, they remain incapable of perceiving his revelation until Jesus resurrection. (113)

 

The Confession of Peter in the Gospel of Mark

Wrede acknowledges that Mark did not know anything about when Jesus was revealed as Messiah and that historically it was not important to him. Wrede makes two points as to why Mark did not view Peter’s confession as a climax in the revelation of Jesus life. First, he notes that Jesus did not conceal himself from his disciples; rather they were incapable of understanding. Second, the Transfiguration provides another introduction of the secret. (116)

 

Mark as an Author

Wrede argues that Mark does not have the historical life of Jesus in mind when he is writing his Gospel, rather Mark is writing from convictions of faith. (131) According to Mark, Wrede explains, “the person of Jesus is dogmatically conceived. He is the bearer of the definite dignity bestowed by God.” (131) According to Mark, Jesus’ motives are divine and “his knowledge is such as no man can possess on his own account but he conceals it and conceals his own being because from the beginning his gaze is directed to the point of the whole story, i.e. the resurrection, which is the event that will make manifest for men what is secret.” (131)

 

Concluding Remarks

Wrede concludes by acknowledging that the notion that Mark invented the messianic secret is quite impossible. Wrede says that in Mark’s Gospel, “the entire life of Jesus is shot through with the various motifs of this idea. The individual conceptions occur in a multiplicity of variants. In them there is much that is unresolved. Material of this kind is not the work of an individual.” (145) Wrede understands Mark’s motifs to be an admixture of Traditional material and Mark’s own contributions. (146)

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