Mark’s Provocative Use of Scripture in Narration “He Was with the Wild Animals and Angels Ministered to Him” -- By: A. B. Caneday

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 09:1 (NA 1999)
Article: Mark’s Provocative Use of Scripture in Narration “He Was with the Wild Animals and Angels Ministered to Him”
Author: A. B. Caneday


Mark’s Provocative Use
of Scripture in Narration
“He Was with the Wild Animals
and Angels Ministered to Him”

A. B. Caneday

Northwestern College
Saint Paul, Minnesota

The style of Mark’s Gospel is to use the Hebrew Bible in a cryptic, enigmatic, and allusive manner that provokes the reader’s imagination to uncover intertextual connections with those scriptures. It is a style that effectively draws the reader into Mark’s narrative, but it also brings one to recognize that Mark has skillfully woven into his narrative many allusive words and phrases that subtly link the Jesus of his story with the Coming One of the Hebrew Bible. In particular, Mark’s description of Jesus in the wilderness (“he was with the wild animals and angels ministered to him,” 1:13) provokes the reader’s imagination to discover that there is a strong verbal collocation of “the way,” “the wilderness,” and “the wild beasts” which focuses upon Isa 35:8-10 (in contrast to the study by R. Bauckham, who focuses upon Isa 11:6-9). Yet, the Isaiah text functions as a prism through which Ps 91:9-13 refracts. This psalm seems to be the principal text that informs Mark’s narrative concerning Jesus’ being with the wild animals while angels tended to him. It is significant that both of the other Synoptic Gospels explicitly bring Psalm 91 to the foreground in their temptation narratives (see Matt 4:6ff.; Luke 4:9ff.).

Key Words: allusive, angels, cryptic, fulfillment, intertextual, prismatic, wild animals

Introduction

As Mark’s Gospel unfolds its literary portrait of Jesus the Messiah, it does so in a more cryptic and allusive manner than that of the other Synoptic Gospels or John’s. Mark’s narrative suppresses overt explanations of Jesus’ actions and words, thus giving birth to the idea of his

“messianic secret.”1 So far from inventing the idea of the “messianic secret” to cover for Jesus’ disciples’ failure to recognize him as Messiah, Mark captures well the manner of Jesus’ self-disclosure in literary form. Rather than cover for the disciples’ lapses, Mark’s narrative underscores the spiritual blindness and deafness of the Twelve disciples.2 True as it is that Mark identifies Jesus as God’s Son ( ᾿Ιησοῦ ...

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