Mark’s Emphasis On Jesus’s Teaching, Part 2: Eschatological Significance -- By: Dane C. Ortlund

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 174:696 (Oct 2017)
Article: Mark’s Emphasis On Jesus’s Teaching, Part 2: Eschatological Significance
Author: Dane C. Ortlund

Mark’s Emphasis On Jesus’s Teaching, Part 2:
Eschatological Significance*

Dane C. Ortlund

Dane C. Ortlund is Executive Vice President of Bible Publishing, Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois.


Scholars increasingly understand Mark to present Jesus as the bringer of the New Age. Mark’s emphasis on Jesus’s teaching, surveyed in Part 1 of this article, contributes to this eschatological atmosphere. The Elijah theme in Mark further underscores the eschatological import of Jesus’s teaching.

The first part of this study looked at texts throughout the Gospel of Mark that emphasize Jesus’s teaching or words.1 It also considered three themes scattered throughout Mark that reinforce Mark’s focus on the didactic: the deafness/hearing motif, Jesus’s title of “Teacher,” and the repeated saying “Truly, I say to you.” That survey drew attention to the importance of Jesus’s teaching and words and, closely tied to this, his instructions about revealing his identity.

One could follow the implications of this survey in several directions, such as the relationship between Jesus’s words and the creative and redemptive words of Yahweh in the Old Testament, or the proper focus of the church seeking to serve others in word and deed. This article takes the centrality of Jesus’s words in Mark and reflects on its eschatological significance. “Eschatological” here refers to inaugurated eschatology, the launching through Christ of all that the Old Testament anticipated. The latter days have begun and will be consummated in the future. Thus “eschatological” in

this article refers to the cluster of events associated with Christ’s first coming.

The few scholars who note the importance of the didactic to Mark’s Gospel do not consider the implications for Markan inaugurated eschatology.2 Meye even distances the didactic theme in Mark from the eschatological element.3 But the two motifs are not in tension; indeed, each reinforces the other. Other scholars have at times presented Jesus as either an eschatological preacher or an ethical teacher.4 But this can easily be a false disjunction. In Mark, Jesus’s teaching supports his work in ushering in the eschaton.

This article considers the eschatological significance of the didactic concern in Mark in two steps. First, what is the eschatological significance of J...

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