Story-Sensitive Exegesis And Old Testament Allusions In Mark -- By: Timothy Wiarda

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 49:3 (Sep 2006)
Article: Story-Sensitive Exegesis And Old Testament Allusions In Mark
Author: Timothy Wiarda


Story-Sensitive Exegesis And Old Testament Allusions In Mark

Timothy Wiarda*

OT allusions play a major role in contemporary Gospel exegesis, presenting interpreters with the twin challenges of first identifying allusions, then determining their functions. Though methodological questions relating to these tasks have received a good deal of attention, one issue has not been sufficiently discussed. This is how scholarly attention to OT allusions relates to exegesis that simply attends to the way narrative details function within the natural flow of stories, taken at their surface level.

I will use the term “story-sensitive exegesis” to refer to this latter approach to Gospel texts. Such an approach treats Gospel narratives as realistically depicted time-of-Jesus scenes and expects them to serve their rhetorical purposes primarily in and through the stories they tell about human actions and motivations. It treats places and objects as concrete entities, and seeks to be sensitive to unfolding plots and nuances of characterization.1 This is nothing new, of course. Something quite like it might even be described as the default approach of most Gospel readers. But interpreters frequently depart from this kind of story-focused exegesis, or add to it, when other strategies beckon.2 How might an exegetical approach that focuses on OT allusions affect an interpreter’s appreciation of a Gospel episode’s surface-level story?

I have selected three Markan passages as sample texts for considering these questions. We will look first at Mark 1:11 and 15:34, then at 6:30–44.

* Timothy Wiarda is professor of New Testament Studies at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, 201 Seminary Drive, Mill Valley, CA 94941.

I. Jesus And The Father (Mark 1:11 And 15:34)

1. Allusion proposals. In his portrayal of Jesus’ baptism Mark describes how Jesus sees the Spirit descend upon him like a dove at the moment he comes up from the water and hears a voice from heaven that says, “You are my beloved Son, I am pleased with you” (1:11). Most commentators believe this declaration alludes to one or more OT passages and by means of these allusions serves its primary purpose: to identify or affirm Jesus’ status and role. The most commonly discerned allusions are these:

1. The words σὺ ἐ͂ι ὁ υἱός a...

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