History’s Dawning Light: “Morning” and “Evening” in Mark’s Gospel and their Eschatological Significance -- By: Dane C. Ortlund

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 61:3 (Sep 2018)
Article: History’s Dawning Light: “Morning” and “Evening” in Mark’s Gospel and their Eschatological Significance
Author: Dane C. Ortlund


History’s Dawning Light: “Morning” and “Evening” in Mark’s Gospel and their Eschatological Significance

Dane C. Ortlund*

* Dane C. Ortlund is Executive Vice President for Bible Publishing and Bible Publisher at Crossway, 1300 Crescent St, Wheaton, IL 60187. He may be contacted at [email protected]

Abstract: This paper reflects on the use of the language of “morning” (πρωΐ) and especially “evening” (ὀψία/ὀψέ) throughout Mark. It suggests that Mark deliberately uses and carefully places language of “morning” and “evening” throughout his Gospel as a way of quietly presenting Jesus as the bringer of the new creational age, which the OT often spoke of as the dawn of a new day and the arrival of morning. Between the sunset of Mark 1:32 and the sunrise of Mark 16:2, this Gospel keeps the presence of evening and nighttime before the reader, underscoring the darkness that Jesus has come to engage and overcome. Mark uses the language of “night” and “darkness” to reinforce the pervasive presence of evening time throughout Mark, but it is especially the use of ὀψία/ὀψέ that undergirds our observations. When the sun rises at Jesus’s resurrection, history’s new day has dawned. The essay considers OT antecedents as well as seven lines of argument within Mark to argue this thesis.

Key words: ὀψία, evening, morning, night, darkness, eschatology, resurrection, new creation

… Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who is the true Sun of our souls,

shining day and night,

eternally and without end.

–Calvin1

Has Mark carefully sprinkled references to the “evening” and to the “night” throughout his Gospel with a quiet deliberateness not yet recognized? Are there fewer but equally carefully placed references to the “morning”? Why is the resurrection account so brief and cryptic in Mark’s Gospel, and why the emphasis on the risen sun on that resurrection morning? I suggest that Mark quietly sprinkles language of the “evening,” “night,” and “darkness” throughout his Gospel to build momentum toward the morning light of the resurrection of Jesus and the dawning of the eschatological day. I further argue that Mark’s five references to the “morning” ironica...

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