A Bracketed Bethany Anointing -- By: Michael Chung

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 25:3 (NA 2015)
Article: A Bracketed Bethany Anointing
Author: Michael Chung


A Bracketed Bethany Anointing

Michael Chung

Fuller Theological Seminary

All four Gospels contain an anointing scene of Jesus. Most scholars acknowledge that Luke’s anointing scene describes an event different from the event recorded in Matthew, Mark, and John. Matthew’s anointing scene appears to be an abridgment of Mark’s. Challenges arise in comparisons of Mark’s version against John’s. In this article, I will argue that John is influenced by the Markan account’s use of the literary device intercalation. When this is applied to John’s anointing pericope, noncorresponding details are more coherent.

Key Words: intercalation, anointing, John 12:1-11, Mark 14:1-11, Mark’s influence on John

Not too many scenes of Jesus’ life outside Passion Week are chronicled by all four Gospel writers, but one is his anointing (Mark 14:3-9; Matt 26:6-13; Luke 7:36-50; John 12:1-11). J. K. Elliott states that because all four evangelists record the anointing, the event can be considered “on the same level as the miraculous feedings or the crucifixion.”1 The nature of and the similarities and differences between the accounts of Jesus’ anointing have been the subject of scholarly dialogue.2 The range is wide, and the following list is not exhaustive, but most will agree on the following. (1) The anointing accounts are on a continuum or a derivative of the writers’ use of the oral and/or written tradition(s) where the Gospel writers may have used different components of the traditions.3 (2) Because of the traditions, one

instance of Jesus’ being anointed actually occurred, and the Gospel writers are reflecting the same event.4 (3) There are two distinct anointing stories.5

In comparing anointing accounts, Raymond Brown and others do not think it is necessary to hold Matthew’s account as separate, arguing that Matthew’s anointing version is an abridgement of Mark’s.6 For the purposes of this article, the dominant focus will be on the pericope of John 12:1-11 with

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