The Holy One of God in Markan Narrative

in Horizons in Biblical Theology
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This article explores interpretive possibilities for the Christological title “the Holy One of God” in the context of the Markan narrative and through the prism of Second Temple Judaism. The article traces narrative connections of this title with other major Christological titles, their holiness connotations and the Markan portrayal of Jesus’ mission. This study suggests that the title is programmatic for the Second Gospel and finds its development throughout the whole of the Markan story. Jesus, the Holy One of God, is the one who restores the holiness and purity of the nation and (re)creates the new holy people of God. His contagious and transformative holiness enlarges the realm of purity and reduces the dominion of uncleanness through healings, exorcisms and forgiveness of sins. The article calls for reconsidering the place of this often neglected title in Markan Christology and adds some arguments for a higher view of Markan Christology.

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References

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1

William Wrede, Das Messiasgeheimnis in den Evangelien: Zugleich ein Beitrag zum Verständnis des Markusevangeliums (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1901); English edition: William Wrede, The Messianic Secret (trans. J.C.G. Grieg; Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 1971).

5

See for example, John Gammie, Holiness in Israel (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989); Jo B. Wells, God’s Holy People: A Theme in Biblical Theology (jsotSup 305; Sheffield: sap, 2000); M.J.H.M. Poorthuis and J. Swartz, eds., A Holy People: Jewish and Christian Perspectives on Religious Communal Identity (Leiden: Brill, 2006).

6

Hannah K. Harrington, Holiness: Rabbinic Judaism and the Graeco-Roman World (London: Routledge, 2001), 6.

7

Marcus Borg, Conflict, Holiness and Politics in the Teaching of Jesus (Harrisburg: Trinity Press, 1998), 71; Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship (Valley Forge: Trinity Press, 1994), 107-117.

10

Jacob Milgrom, “Purity in the Priestly System” in Purity and Holiness: The Heritage of Leviticus (jcp 2; ed. M.J.H.M. Poorthuis and J. Schwartz; Leiden, Boston, Köln: Brill, 1999), 29.

13

Milgrom, “Purity in Priestly System,” 31; Jacob Milgrom, “Law and Narrative and the Exegesis of Leviticus xix 19,” in vt, 46/4 (1996), 547.

14

Regev, “Priestly Dynamic Holiness,” 260.

17

Jonathan Klawans, Impurity and Sin in Ancient Judaism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 90-1.

18

See, for example, 1 En. 62:7-8; Sib. Or. 3:573, 5:429-431; 4 Ezra 7:43-44; 2 Bar. 85:15.

20

See for example, Rikki Watts, Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark (Grand Rapids: Baker Academics, 2000); Joel Marcus, The Way of the Lord: Christological Exegesis of the Old Testament in the Gospel of Mark (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1993); Kelli O’Brien, The Use of Scripture in the Markan Passion Narrative (London: T&T Clark, 2010).

21

Jerome H. Neyrey, “The Idea of Purity in Mark’s Gospel,” in Semeia 35(1986): 106.

23

Robert Gundry, Mark: A Commentary on His Apology for the Cross (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 82.

24

Geza Vermes, The Changing Faces of Jesus (London: Penguin Books, 2000), 249.

25

Vermes, The Changing Faces of Jesus, 241.

26

Neyrey, “Idea of Purity,” 106-107.

27

Neyrey, “Idea of Purity,” 107.

28

Brower, “The Holy One of God and His Disciples,” 57-60.

29

Brower, “The Holy One of God and His Disciples,” 60.

30

Brower, “The Holy One of God and His Disciples,” 58.

31

Neyrey, “Idea of Purity,” 107.

32

See for example, 1 En. 15:3-4; Jub. 11:4-5; 11qpsaxix:15.

34

Snow, “Daniel’s Son of Man in Mark,” 55-56.

35

Snow, “Daniel’s Son of Man in Mark,” 128.

36

Snow, “Daniel’s Son of Man in Mark,” 212-213.

37

Snow, “Daniel’s Son of Man in Mark,” 151.

52

Neyrey, “Idea of Purity,” 107.

53

Kent Brower, “The Holy One of God and His Disciples,” 65; Hooker, Mark, 38; R. Stein, Mark, (becnt; Grand Rapids: Baker Academics, 2008), 51; L. Williamson, Mark. Interpretation Commentaries for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1983), 33. R. Guelich sees the baptism of the Spirit as receiving salvation through ministry of Jesus (Mark 1:1-8:26, wbc 43a: 25). Andy Johnson argues that Jesus ‘proleptically’ baptizes people in the Gospel of Mark and puts actual baptism into future (“The ‘New Creation,’ the Crucified and Risen Christ, and the Temple: A Pauline Audience for Mark,” in jti 1(2007): 180). Robert Gundry suggests that the baptism with the Spirit happens through ministry of Jesus (Gundry, Mark, 38).

54

Ermakov, “Holy Community,” 105-128.

58

Peter Pimentel, “The ‘Unclean Spirits’ of St Mark’s Gospel,” ExpTim 99 (1988), 174-175.

59

Pimentel, “The ‘Unclean Spirits,’ ” 174.

62

Rikki Watts, Isaiah’s New Exodus in Mark (Grand Rapids: Baker Academics, 2000), 156.

65

Craig A. Evans, “ “Who Touched Me?”: Jesus and the Ritually Impure.” in Jesus in Context: Temple, Purity, and Restoration (agaju 39; ed. B. Chilton and C. Evans; Leiden; Brill, 1997), 368.

67

Adela Y. Collins, Mark: A Commentary (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007), 179.

70

Maccoby, Ritual and Morality, 125, 128.

73

Evans, “Who Touched Me?,” 376. I’m thankful to the colleagues from the Ehrhardt seminar at The University of Manchester who heard a draft of this paper and made useful and stimulating comments that helped me to clarify my thinking.

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