Historical Crisis And Cosmic Crisis In Mark 13 And Lucan’s “Civil War” -- By: Edward Adams
TynBul 48:2 (1997) p. 329
Historical Crisis And Cosmic Crisis
In Mark 13 And Lucan’s “Civil War”
This article suggests that the association of the fall of Jerusalem and the consummation of the age in Mark 13 finds a parallel in the linkage of the collapse of the Roman Republic and the collapse of the cosmos in Lucan’s Civil War. Both texts, it is proposed, link a historical catastrophe with the end of the world/age in broadly similar ways.
Of the many thorny exegetical issues in Mark 13, the problem of the link between the destruction of the temple and the end of the world/age is surely the most perplexing. The link is established in the disciples’ question of Mark 13:4. In response to Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the temple (13:2), the disciples ask, ‘when will this (tau’ta) be, and what will be the sign that all these things (tau’ta pavnta) are about to be accomplished?’. A close connection is here presupposed between the fall of the temple and the city, which took place in 70 C.E., and the end of the age. The disciples, as Mark casts them, assume that the temple’s destruction is ‘part of a complex of events leading to the End’1 (cf. Matthew’s formulation of the question: ‘when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ Mt. 24:4). In the discourse that follows, which constitutes Jesus’ reply to this two-part question, that connection is not disavowed. Statements (apparently) relating to the fall of Jerusalem are interlinked with statements (apparently) relating
TynBul 48:2 (1997) p. 330
to the final consummation. Mark thus leaves it open for his readers to infer that as one of the ‘last things’, the promised destruction of Jerusalem would lead more or less directly to the coming of the Son of man with its attendant cosmic upheaval and the consummation of the age (Mk. 13:24-26).2
Of course, the end of the world did not follow the collapse of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. Thus, as it has turned out, these events, on the face of it, have been tied together mistakenly.
A solution to the problem has recently been offered by N.T. Wright in his monumental work Jesus and the Victory of God. Wright takes the view that the whole of...
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