Thursday, June 2, 2011

Christology and Authority in the Gospel of Mark

By coincidence I independently came across two articles by Daniel Johansson in the space of a few minutes. Obviously, a divine sign that I must share these articles both from the Journal for the Study of the New Testament:

Daniel Johansson,  "Kyrios in the Gospel of Mark",  Journal for the Study of the New Testament September 2010 33: 101-124.

He writes: "The thesis is, in short, that the ambiguous use of κυριος [in Mark] is intentional and serves the purpose of linking Jesus to the God of Israel, so that they both share the identity as κύριος." (102-3, emphasis in original.)

Against the common view that the title κύριος  plays a relatively insignificant role in the Gospel of Mark, this article argues that Mark uses κυριος to set out important aspects of Jesus’ identity. The first instance of κύριος, which refers to both God and Jesus (Mk 1.3), is seen as the key to Mark’s κύριος Christology. The difficulty of determining whether κύριος refers to God or Jesus in many of the following passages should be understood in light of this. Mark used κύριος ambiguously to link both God and Jesus to the title. While the evangelist maintains that there is only one κύριος , he also claims that Jesus shares the identity of being κύριος with the God of Israel.

Daniel Johansson  "‘Who Can Forgive Sins but God Alone?’ Human and Angelic Agents, and Divine Forgiveness in Early Judaism" Journal for the Study of the New Testament June, 2011 33: 351-374.

Was forgiveness of sins viewed as a divine prerogative, uniquely reserved for the God of Israel in early Judaism? While some scholars think this was the case, others have questioned or qualified such a view, arguing that other figures, such as priests, prophets, various messianic figures, or angels, could forgive sins in the place of God. This article surveys and critiques the main evidence that has been put forward to demonstrate this. The outcome is mainly negative. With the possible exception of one or two passages which may ascribe the authority to pardon sin to the Angel of YHWH, no firm evidence can be found which demonstrates that other figures than God forgave sins. Various strands of early Judaism conceived of human and angelic agents who interceded on behalf of others, expiated sin and mediated forgiveness from God, but they all seem to have shared the view that forgiveness is divine prerogative.