Book Notice: Jesus, the Temple, and the Son of Man

Book Notice: Jesus, the Temple, and the Son of Man December 16, 2014

Robert H. Stein
Jesus, the Temple, and the Coming Son of Man: A Commentary on Mark 13
Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2014.
Available at

Robert Stein has written some great books on the Gospels, climaxing in his Mark commentary for the BECNT series. Here he attempts the first real full-length treatment of Mark 13 by an evangelical since the time of George Beasley-Murray.

The best thing about Stein’s book is that it sets out the interpretive issues and main exegetical options for understanding Mark 13. Such as whether the two questions in 13:4 are about one or more issues. The meaning of the “sign,” “in those days,” and “this generation” as well as the meaning of the parable of the fig tree, and Jesus’ ignorance about the timing of the end.

Stein disagrees with Wright and McKnight that Mark 13 uses end-of-the-world language in Mark 13:24-27 to describe the destruction of the temple. He finds that unlikely in light of how (1) OT texts shift between the figurative and the literal (e.g. Jer 4:23-23/4:25-26); (2) Other Son of Man coming-sayings like Mark 8:28; (3) The parallel language that occurs in Matthew and Paul which definitely refers to the parousia; and (4) The temporal disconnect with “But after that tribulation …” implying something happens after the temple is destroyed. A view which accords with Edward Adam and Dale Allison in their critique of N.T. Wright.

According to Stein:

Mark 13:24-27 is best understood as a theophanic act of God in which the Son of Man comes from heaven and sends his angels to gather the elect from the four winds or corners of the earth …This section concerning the Son of Man will be completed in 13:32-27 by a parable concerning the unknowable nature of the time of the Son of man’s coming” (pp. 119-20).

Let me add that Stein’s volume is worth getting simply for his translation of Mark 13 with various interpretive glosses that try to clarify the disputed parts of the text. That said, I’m still not convinced by his argument and I would maintain with Wright/McKnight a more preterist interpretation of the Marcan olivet discourse. In my mind, the coming of the Son of Man has to be about the destruction of Jerusalem, since the parable of the fig tree really gives the game away on that one. Any way, Stein has produced a short but stimulating book on a disputed topic in Marcan scholarship.



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