Femme Fatale Redux: Intertextual Connection to the Elijah/Jezebel Narratives in Mark 6:14-29 -- By: David M. Hoffeditz
BBR 15:2 (2005) p. 199
Femme Fatale Redux: Intertextual Connection to the Elijah/Jezebel Narratives in Mark 6:14-29
In this article we trace important intertextual connections between the pericopes of the beheading of John in Mark’s Gospel and the OT narratives surrounding the figures of Jezebel and Elijah. This form of intertextuality serves three key polemical purposes in Mark’s narrative:
1. to highlight the culpability and despicability of Herodias in having John put to death by depicting her as another Jezebel—the epitome of female wickedness in the OT;
2. to demonstrate the irony of reversal in that the OT narrative has the word of the prophet putting the wicked queen to death, while in the NT, the word of the wicked queen succeeds in bringing about the death of the prophet;
3. to show that Jesus, as the Messiah, surpasses the one like Elijah. John the Baptist’s ministry as a messianic forerunner ends in death; Jesus as Messiah experiences death that ends in the triumph of resurrection.
Ultimately, these intertextual connections strengthen the role of Mark 6:14– 29 as a key text in drawing the reader’s attention to the identification of John as the eschatological Elijah and foreshadowing the suffering of Jesus of Nazareth.
Key Words: Anat, Elijah, Herod Antipas, Herodias, intertextuality, Jezebel, John the Baptist, Mark 6:14-29, Salome
Biblical narratives often mirror the images of earlier canonical stories, as in the reflection of Jezebel and Elijah in the account of Herodias and the beheading of John the Baptist in Mark 6:14-29. Both Jezebel and Herodias were from royal lines. Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, King of Tyre and Sidon (cf. 1 Kgs 16:31; Josephus, Ant. 8.317-18), and Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus, the son of Herod the Great and the Hasmonean princess, Mariamne I. Both women were married
BBR 15:2 (2005) p. 200
to husbands who ruled the northern part of ancient Israel. Ahab, the seventh king of Israel, reigned from 874 to 852 b.c.e. (1 Kgs 16:29), and Herod Antipas was tetrarch of Galilee and Perea from 4 b.c.e. to 39 c.e. Furthermore, both women served as antagonists who manipulated their ambivalent husbands (1 Kgs...
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