Chapter 16 The Orthodox Redaction of Mark: How Matthew Rescued Mark’s Reputation

In: “To Recover What Has Been Lost”: Essays on Eschatology, Intertextuality, and Reception History in Honor of Dale C. Allison Jr.
Author: Mark Goodacre1
  • 1 Duke University

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Abstract

At multiple points in Mark, there are potentially troubling ideas, moments where the unwary reader might assume a theology that is out of line with other early Christian works. In each of these cases, Matthew’s redaction of Mark wards off the potential for misunderstanding, affirming what early readers of Mark might have doubted, supplying material that Mark lacks, and changing troubling implications. This thesis is explored in six key areas: (1) Jesus comes to John’s baptism for the “forgiveness of sins”; Matthew affirms Jesus’ sinlessness; (2) Jesus questions whether the Messiah is the Son of David; Matthew affirms Jesus’ Davidic heritage from the Genealogy onwards; (3) Jesus comes from an unknown village, Nazareth; Matthew underlines that he was born in Bethlehem; (4) Jesus has no earthly father in Mark, only a father in heaven; Matthew introduces Joseph; (5) Mark’s Jesus is not always able to heal instantly; Matthew’s redaction affirms Jesus’ power; (6) Mark’s resurrection story is terse and mysterious, and lacks appearances; Matthew’s redaction fills in the missing material. Matthew’s reception and recasting of Mark was so successful that Christians have subsequently read Mark through Matthew’s eyes. Matthew effectively saved Mark’s reputation by leading the reader away from potential problems. Matthew rescues Mark for orthodoxy.

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