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The anti-apocalyptic Markan community

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  1. Introduction
  2. The return of Jesus as the son of man
  3. Jesus the revelator
  4. Ethical exhortation through revelation
  5. Conclusion
  6. Bibliography

Apocalyptic literature often is ignored when constructing theology and ethics. Theologians and ethicists ignore scriptural images of otherworldly beasts and supernatural beings. Prophesy of cosmic suffering and references to apocalyptic literature are not calculated in the work of most theologians who would seek to make the gospel relevant to contemporary realities instead of understanding reality in light of gospel narrative. Christological ethics need to reclaim understanding of the apocalyptic nature of Jesus to make sense of his claims in the little apocalypse of Mark. In the little apocalypse, times of trial and suffering include cosmic imbalance. Not only will those in Judea experience suffering, but also the sun and moon will darken, and the stars will fall from the heaven. Cosmic suffering and imbalance of this nature will only be resolved through the Son of Man coming in his glory. With this arrival of the Son of Man, final judgment will happen separating the elect from the unrighteous (Mark 13:14-27).The Markan community anticipated the return of Jesus as the Son of Man, as referenced in Mark 13:26. The Son of Man was a term loaded with apocalyptic meaning, referenced in Daniel, as well as pseudepigraphal apocalyptic literature such as the Similitudes of Enoch as a stock savior image subservient to the Ancient of Days. The figure was a cosmic power that would restore justice to the world. Jesus is the apocalyptic revelator and the means of salvation in this narrative. He foretells both the coming doom and the welcome sanctuary after suffering. These images make sense in the light of the apocalyptic cure of eschatological judgment restoring creation Not only will suffering happen, and happen quickly as foretold by Jesus, but the suffering will rock the heavens as well as earth. It is only through the eschatological end point of the Son of Man coming in glory that will right the injustice of the present world. The horrors of the moment are bad, but they will be worse before they will get better, providing therapeutic solace to the audience of Mark as well as exhorting them to keep their faith.

[...] The Markan community lived a generation after the death of Jesus, and lived through the destruction of the second temple and fall of Jerusalem. Mark uses Jesus to underscore a transcendent reality for those willing to see in the Markan community of suffering. Eschatological teaching acts as ethical guidance for those who are aware in Mark 13.[5] Jesus the Revelator Apocalyptic narratives offer either an otherworldly journey where the individual witnesses the transcendent reality, or where a supernatural entity offers mediation between heavenly wisdom and the earthly realm.[6] Jesus offers divine wisdom in Mark 13, foretelling of suffering which will happen (that has happened for the Markan audience). [...]


[...] Jesus gives the Markan community the ability to properly see and be aware. Following White, ?Thus by portraying the various misunderstandings of those around Jesus friend and foe alike the Markan narrative thereby gives shape to proper understanding of Jesus's (sic) messianic identity and eschatological expectations.?[10] Because the community of the elect has proper understanding, the community has instruction for proper behavior. Jesus as revelator allows the community of the elect both right teaching and right action. The Markan community, the insiders with the special revelation are called awake in this new understanding. [...]


[...] The Markan community received revelation, and revelation allowed them to be watchful and aware of the parousia of Jesus. N.T Wright argues that parousia would be better translated as presence instead of coming.[21] The implication of the presence of the Son of Man instead of the coming of the Son of Man gives the Markan community an understanding that they can bring about the presence instead of idly wait for a return to finish the regenerative work on reality. Through proper witness, discipleship, and right action the presence of the Son of Man could be restored. [...]

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