Mark’s Christology around the Blogosphere

Mark’s Christology around the Blogosphere February 25, 2016

The discussion of Mark’s Christology continues throughout the biblioblogosphere. I’m still planning to blog my way through Mark’s Christology, but others are doing a wonderful job, and so when I finally do that, I will have lots to interact with and to build on. Here’s what has been happening since my last round-up (see also the one before that):

Drew Smith wrote a whole post about Mark’s Christology, in which he offers this conclusion:

Mark’s theology is a christological theology; a theology centred on the presentation of Jesus as the one who speaks and acts for God. Mark’s Christology is at the same time a theological Christology; Jesus is presented as finding significance and identity in his relationship to God. Thus, although theology and Christology are often considered separate concerns in Mark, as indeed God and Jesus are separate characters in the narrative, there is also the clear presentation of their inseparability within the second Gospel.

Does this mean that Mark’s Christology frames Jesus as divine in the sense that John frames Jesus as divine? Does Mark’s clear association of Jesus with God carry a pre-existent emphasis? I think not. That, again, reads into the narrative what is not clearly there. Mark clearly presents Jesus in close association with God, but that close association does not decidedly equate Jesus as God, particularly in terms of a pre-existent divine figure.

Mike Kok has continued blogging about Mark’s Christology. See his posts on being enthroned besides God, reading Mark’s Christology canonically, and also Christology in the first few centuries.

Mike Bird continued to be part of the ongoing discussion, including offering a response to James Crossley in which he asks how we determine which parallels are relevant, and how we avoid parallelomania.

Matthew Montinoni interpreted the references to Jesus as “Lord” in Mark as alluding to the divine name (an unpersuasive move, linguistically as well as exegetically). He also interpreted the sea-crossing as a theophany indicative of Mark’s high Christology.

Andrew Perriman provided a detailed overview of the recent posts, as well as offering his own thoughts. Here is what he wrote about the story of the stilling of the sea:

I can’t help thinking that the claims for the theophanic nature of this story have been overstated—the product of an over-active theological imagination. It is not a necessary interpretation. There are ways of reading the passage, still informed intertextually, that find it much more in keeping both with the immediate context and with the “narrative sweep” of the Gospel, which asserts that Jesus is the Son or servant of God, the Messiah, who has been empowered and authorised to judge and rule at the right hand of God.

The Jesus blog focused in on why Jesus is accused of blasphemy, a second post on that topic, and a third which suggests that Mark was a competent author and knew precisely what he was doing when he had Jesus use the words ego eimi. I find that last point both important and somewhat amusing, since on the one hand, the words “I am” in both Greek and English are very common and rarely have any theological importance, while on the other hand, even in the Gospel of John, the use of “I am” is not an assertion of inherent divinity, but a claim to bear the divine name which the only true God had bestowed upon his principal agent.

Doug Chaplin blogged about Markan ambiguity.

David Capes highlighted the work of Daniel Boyarin on this topic.

Shaun Rufener continued reviewing a recent book on Jesus and Christology.

Larry Hurtado shared his assessment of N. T. Wright’s work.

Bart Ehrman has posts for subscribers only on adoptionistic Christology.

When I begin to offer my own series blog posts on this topic, what do you want to see in them? Should I work through the whole Gospel from start to finish? Should I just respond to the posts that have already been offered? Should I treat the topic thematically? Contrast Mark with John to highlight the differences? All of the above? Something else? Let me know what you as readers would be most interested in!


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  • Phil Ledgerwood

    I’m actually working my way through your “monotheism” book right now.

    Speaking for myself, I would not be as interested in seeing a contrast with John just because the contrast seems relatively clear. Everyone else is more or less taking the tack of looking at the verses under contention so, on the one hand, I don’t know that the world needs more of that, but on the other hand, it is a pretty useful way to think about the topic.

    I guess I’d prefer a more “expository” approach of going though Mark sequentially to see how his narrative develops rather than a thematic approach.

    • Marcus Maher

      I agree that I’d prefer an approach going through Mark sequentially and interacting with some of the posts you’ve highlighted above.

      Contrasting it with John would be interesting because your readers would be getting two for the price of one. 🙂

  • Rather than (or as well as) contrasting Mark with John, I’d be interested in comparing Mark with the other synoptics, to see how Mark’s Christological ideas were reinterpreted or revised by those other authors, and how those modifications relate to Mark’s original ideas.

  • Jim

    As it goes, whenever you ask “N” people for a suggestion, you typically receive “>N+1” suggestions. So in keeping with this formula, I’m wondering if you would consider also adding a post on the comparison of Mark’s Christology with Paul’s Christology, maybe near the end of your planned series.

  • John Thomas

    Personally I don’t think that gospel of Mark depicts Jesus as divine. He seems to be depicted as a person who receives spirit of God in his baptism and performs miraculous acts and teaches mysteries of kingdom of God as a result of being enabled by spirit of God. Regarding pre-existence of Jesus, I think that only Paul alludes to it. The writer of gospel of John mentions only of pre-existence of Word, not of Jesus. One other contention against my position would be, John 8:58 where Jesus says, “before Abraham was born, I am!” I think that Jesus there speaks as if he is the Word of God since one of the premises of gospel of John is Jesus is Word incarnate (other being Jesus is the Messiah). And according to Proverbs 8, wisdom was born before the creation of world. I maybe wrong here. Let me know if I missed something.