“And The Angels Waited On Him” (Mark 1:13): Hospitality And Discipleship In Mark’s Gospel -- By: Annang Asumang
Conspectus 8:1 (September 2009) p. 1
“And The Angels Waited On Him” (Mark 1:13): Hospitality And Discipleship In Mark’s Gospel
The emphasis on discipleship in Mark’s gospel, particularly in its relationship to the cross, is well researched. Little has however been made of a parallel expression of discipleship through the extension of hospitality to Jesus. Yet, beginning with Mark 1:13 where angels table-served Jesus in the wilderness, several of His followers, including the disciples, also contribute to Jesus’ mission by extending Him hospitality. After briefly reviewing the motif of table-serving God in the Old Testament and the literature of second temple Judaism, this article will examine the incidents in Mark’s Gospel in which individuals express their discipleship to Jesus through hospitality. It concludes by outlining the contemporary implications of the findings to Christian witness in the African as well as non-African contexts.
Mark’s account of the temptation of Jesus, though brief (Mark 1:13), nevertheless provides a colourful setting for depicting Jesus’ ministry in the rest of the gospel. In addition to noting that Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days, where He was tempted by Satan, Mark also states that Jesus was with wild animals and hoi angeloi diēkonoun autō (“the angels waited on Him”, Mark 1:13 NRSV). This final clause has attracted two main categories of questions: (a) what were the actual functions of the angels? and (b) what significance did Mark attach to these functions?
Conspectus 8:1 (September 2009) p. 2
Broadly conceived, four sets of approaches have been adopted by interpreters to address these two questions. Beginning with a number of Patristic authors, a first group of interpreters consider the verse as largely theological and meant to set the context for Jesus’ ministry. In this regard the diakoneō of the angels is considered to be symbolic of the new dispensation of God’s kingdom inaugurated by Jesus. Mark 1:13, it is argued, depicts an Edenic and paradisiacal typology in which Jesus, the new Adam, peacefully interacts with angels and wild animals after defeating Satan and reversing Adam’s fall (e.g., Donahue and Harrington 2002, 66; Bauckham 1994, 3-21; Marcus 2000, 168; Guelich 1989, 39; Jeremias 1971, 69-70; Schulze 1955, 280-283; Maloney 2002, 38-39). In support of this interpretation, the apocryphal...
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