On (Not) Obeying the Sabbath: Reading Jesus Reading Scripture

In: Horizons in Biblical Theology
Nicholas Ansell Institute for Christian Studies Toronto, Ontario, Email:

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This essay examines the sabbath controversy of Mark 2:23-28 to see how Jesus faces the challenge of biblical interpretation as he models what it means for his disciples to image God in freedom. In dominant approaches to the Gospels, the interpretive process set in motion by this passage, which I characterize as ‘reading Scripture reading Jesus reading Scripture,’ is confined to its earlier stages—a reductionism that calls for hermeneutical reflection. If a narrative has a ‘life of its own’ beyond authorial intention (indispensable though the author may be), can we say the same about a character who is central to a narrative? If so, is ‘the Jesus of Mark’s Gospel’ ‘more than’ the ‘Markan Jesus’ of much scholarly concern? This essay seeks to develop an intertextual, Christocentric hermeneutic by attending to the implicit as well as explicit ways in which Jesus’ reading of Scripture takes place ‘within’ the Gospel narrative.

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