Unlike a satire, a parody may twist its source not in order to ridicule it but as an act of homage that reinscribes the very text it subverts. A parody of a sacred text, correspondingly, may be a way of keeping faith, as David Roskies puts it, through “disrupt[ing] the received order of the text in the same way as the enemy, acting at the behest of God, has disrupted the order of the world.” A parody may also bring out hidden aspects of the original text. These dynamics are illustrated through an analysis of the reuse of Psalm 23 in Lamentations 3:1 and of Psalm 8 in Job 7:17–21, 4 Ezra 8:30–36, and Matthew 8:19–20 // Luke 9:57–58.
The critics of JBHT in this issue have questioned three main aspects of the book: its assertion that early Christians competed with people who believed that John the Baptist was the principal figure in the history of salvation, its assertion that early in his career the Baptist was a member of the Qumran community, and the way in which the book situates the Baptist in relation to Second Temple Judaism in general. The article addresses these concerns, rebutting certain objections but acknowledging areas in which the book could have been more nuanced or further developed.
David Stern has helpfully applied to rabbinic parables Meir Sternberg's distinction between a "blank," an accidental transmission of confusing narrative signals, and a "gap," a deliberate ambiguity in a narrative. This distinction may also be applied to Mark. The confusing stage directions of chapter 4, for example, are a blank, whereas the failure to explain why Jesus forbids publicity about himself is a gap. The Parable of the Sower provides an example of both types of ambiguity. The identity of the seed is a blank; 4:14 explicitly identifies it as the word, but 4:15-20 implies that it is the people who hear the word, a confusion which may partly reflect different history-of-religions backgrounds. The failure to identify the sower, on the other hand, is a gap. Various narrative signals suggest that he is God, Christ, or the Christian preacher. It would help, in trying to decide between these possibilities, if one knew whether his sowing technique was logical or illogical, but that is another blank or gap. Mark probably wants the reader to conclude that the sower is all three of the figures suggested; "the word" is at one and the same time the word of God, the word of Jesus, and the word of the Christians. This sort of composite identity corresponds to apocalyptic thinking: speech is not a simple, autonomous human action, but a complex event in which human and supernatural factors are inextricably mixed up together.
The word כְּנַעֲנִי in Zech 14:21b (“there will no longer be a כְּנַעֲנִי in the house of the Lord of hosts”), has usually been interpreted either in an ethnic (“Canaanite”) or in a mercantile sense (“trader,” “merchant”), and it is possible that in its original context it was a double entendre. In later exegesis, the mercantile interpretation comes to predominate, but the ethnic sense is never completely eclipsed. The New Testament allusions to the Zecharian text reflect both interpretations. On the one hand, the Markan and Johannine Jesus utilizes the mercantile interpretation when he forbids the commerce in the Temple to continue (Mark 11:15-17; John 2:14-17). On the other hand, Mark also seems to reflect the ethnic interpretation, at least indirectly, since he seems to be responding to revolutionaries who used it to justify their ethnic cleansing and military occupation of the Temple. But Mark, for his own part, may have employed the sort of punning exegesis common in ancient Judaism to interpret Zech 14:21b as a prophecy of the eschatological expulsion of these revolutionaries from their Temple headquarters: on that day, there will no longer be קַנְאָנִין (“Zealots”) in the house of the Lord of Hosts.