The (Hermeneutical) Rule of Love

Mark 12:28–30 reports Jesus’ citation of Deut 6:4–5 as Torah’s preeminent commandment and of Lev 19:18 as the commandment of next greatest standing (cf. Matt 22:34–40; Luke 10:25–28). Jesus’ expansion of Deuteronomy’s בכל־מאדך (Deut 6:5; ἐξ ὅλης τῆς δυνάμεώς σου; with all your might) into ἐξ ὅλης τῆς διανοίας σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ἰσχύος σου (Mark 12:30; with all your mind and with all your strength)1 is in step with Deuteronomy’s original formulation (cf. Mark 12:33a) but perhaps stresses still further יהוה’s comprehensive claim on the affections of the command’s addressees.2 Not surprisingly, these commands’ importance also provides further, mutually-reinforcing suggestions about readings of Israel’s scriptures, including ones that privilege the love of יהוה and even of one’s potentially disagreeable neighbor over any burnt offering or sacrifice (Mark 12:32–34).3

1. The Lucianic texts that expand Deuteronomy’s normal three terms into four likely do so because of Christian influence (France, Mark, 479–80).

2. Bock, Jesus according to Scripture, 331; Bruce, “Synoptic Gospels,” 424–25; Ladd, Theology of the New Testament, 131; Lane, Mark, 432–33; cf. Augustine, Confessions, 10.29.

3. Heil, “The Temple Theme in Mark,” CBQ 59, no. 1 (1997): 76–77; Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 304–5, 335, 566–67. Similarly, Augustine, Doctr. chr., 1.36 (NPNF1 2:533), suggests that “[w]hoever . . . thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbor, does not yet understand them as he ought” (cf. Didache, 11.2). See also Augustine, Doctr. chr., 1.40 (NPNF1 2:534).

Being and Knowing in Messianic Space

von Carolsfeld, woodcut for "Bibel der Bildern" (Image via Wikipedia)
von Carolsfeld, Woodcut for "Bibel der Bildern" (Image via Wikipedia)

The story of Jesus’ raising Jairus’s daughter appears in all three synoptics (Matt 9:18–19, 23–26; Mark 5:21–24, 35–43; Luke 8:41–42, 49–56), but only Mark and Luke report a closing admonition about the event’s further dissemination (Mark 5:43; Luke 8:56). In Luke 8:56, Jesus instruction focuses on the fact that the witnesses, perhaps especially the parents, should not themselves engage in describing what happened. By contrast, in Mark 5:43, Jesus warns those around him ἵνα μηδεὶς γνοῖ τοῦτο (so that no one would know this*).

Certainly, μηδείς (no one) does not have an absolute sense here so that Jesus is envisioning that even those who were present would forget what had happened. Such would hardly make sense in the narrative; rather, the intention seems to be that no one else besides those who were present at the event should know what had happened. Nevertheless, Mark’s crowd has a very clear knowledge that Jairus’s daughter was, in fact, dead (Mark 5:38–40a; France, Mark, 239; Lane, Mark, 196–97; cf. Matt 9:23–24Luke 8:52–53). Therefore, that the girl had been restored to life could scarcely be avoided as a natural conclusion once the crowd became aware that the girl was alive (Brower, “Who Then Is This?” EvQ 81.4 [2009]: 301; France, Mark, 240; Goodacre, “Messianic Secret”; Lane, Mark, 198–199; cf. Jerome, Epist., 108.24 [NPNF2 6:208–9]; Jerome, Jov., 2.17 [NPNF2 6:401]; Theodoret of Cyr, Dial., 2 [NPNF2 3:198]). Consequently, in Mark’s ἵνα μηδεὶς γνοῖ τοῦτο (Mark 5:43; so that no one would know this), τοῦτο (this) seems to focus on how the girl was restored to life (Lane, Mark, 199n77).

Yet, those who are intended not to possess this knowledge are not simply “other people.” They are those who are outside (Mark 5:40). To be sure, they are outside the physical space ὅπου ἦν τὸ παιδίον (Mark 5:40; where the child was), but they are also outside the messianic space within which Jesus has acted and restored the girl to life (Lane, Mark, 197–98; cf. Brower, “Who Then Is This?” 302–3). Even in the interposed healing of the woman with the issue of blood, the woman recognizes that her own healing came about when she touched Jesus’ clothing in the midst of the crowd (Mark 5:29), but those around are not parties the miracle itself (Mark 5:28, 30–32; France, Mark, 237–38; Lane, Mark, 192–93; cf. Brower, “Who Then Is This?” 304). Instead, they have the woman’s testimony of healing from what was probably, on this occasion, a publicly unnoticed condition, and they have Jesus’ interaction with her by which to know what has happened (Mark 5:29–34; cf. Brower, “Who Then Is This?” 303–4; Bruce, “Gospels,” 375; France, Mark, 236–37; Lane, Mark, 191–92). What or how much the crowd or different parts of it (e.g., the disciples) might have recognized regarding Jesus from this interchange isn’t stated in this case. But, the division between “insiders” and “outsiders” becomes even sharper as the narrative’s setting transitions into the physical context of Jairus’s home. Certainly in metaphoric, but perhaps also in somewhat parabolic fashion (cf. Mark 4:11; Lane, Mark, 196–97), Jesus describes the girl as “sleeping” to those who mock and whom he shuts outside (Mark 5:39–40). In Mark, a key component of discipleship is “being with” Jesus (cf. Mark 3:14; 4:11), and to varying degrees, “being with” opens the door to the “inside” of “knowing as” (e.g., Mark 4:11; 5:37, 43; 8:27–30; cf. Ladd, Theology, 179–80). Thus, in this case, being with Jesus allows those in the place where the child was to recognize him as the one who can dispel even another’s death as easily as sleep (Brower, “Who Then Is This?” 301–2, 304–5; cf. Bruce, “Gospels,” 376; France, Mark, 239; Lane, Mark, 199; Wright, Jesus, 191–97).

  • Mark’s τοῦτο (this) is presumably equivalent to Luke’s τὸ γεγονός (Luke 8:56; what had happened).

Worthy of More Glory

Moses, confronted about his Cushite wife
Image via Wikipedia

In Num 12:1, Miriam and Aaron confront Moses because of his marriage to a Cushite woman, and in so doing, they attempt to claim equal prophetic status with Moses (Num 12:2a). Apparently, on this occasion, Moses’ meekness constrains him from responding (Num 12:3; cf. Rom 12:191 Clem. 17 [ANF 9:234]; Socrates, Hist. eccl., 7.42 [NPNF2 2:176]), but יהוה hears the conversation and summons all three siblings to the tent of meeting (Num 12:2b, 4). יהוה then summons Aaron and Miriam for a special rebuke (Num 12:5): however high may be their claim to apparently equal prophetic status with Moses, Moses own status still surpasses that of prophet (Num 12:6–9). The status that Aaron and Miriam claim for themselves gets them only so far—only to dreams and visions (Num 12:6). By contrast, Moses is not limited to dreams and visions, but פה אל־פה אדבר־בו ומראה ולא בחידת ותמנת יהוה יביט (Num 12:8a; with him, I [יהוה] speak mouth to mouth, plainly, and not in riddles, and he looks upon the form of יהוה). More than a prophet, Moses is a faithful servant in all יהוה’s house (Num 12:7; Heb 3:5).

So much the greater, then, is he with whom Moses the faithful servant and Elijah the prophet appear on the mountain (Matt 17:3; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30–31; cf. Irenaeus, Haer., 4.20.9–11 [ANF 1:490–91]). Yet, far from contending with this Jesus for their own status, Moses and Elijah discuss with him ἡ ἔξοδος αὐτοῦ, ἣν ἤμελλεν πληροῦν ἐν Ἰερουσαλήμ (Luke 9:31; his departure, which he was about to complete at Jerusalem; cf. Leo the Great, Serm., 51.4 [NPNF2 12:163]; Origen, Comm. Matt., 12.38 [ANF 9:470]). Not being sufficiently sensible of the situation, however, the newly awakened Peter does suggest a certain equality of status among the three glorious individuals he sees before him (Matt 17:2–4; Mark 9:2b–6; Luke 9:29–33; Leo the Great, Serm., 51.5 [NPNF2 12:163–64]). The divine response again comes in a cloud (Num 12:5; Matt 17:5a; Mark 9:7a; Luke 9:34). Nevertheless, the heavenly voice does not answer by assigning Jesus to the category of “servant,” however noble or faithful, but acknowledges him as the so much superior son (Matt 17:5b; Mark 9:7b; Luke 9:31–32, 35; cf. Hippolytus, Noet., 18 [ANF 5:230]; Jerome, Epist., 46.13 [NPNF2 6:65]; Leo the Great, Serm., 51.6 [NPNF2 12:164]; Rufinus, Symb., 4 [NPNF2 3:544]; Tertullian, Praescr., 22 [ANF 3:253]), who is himself deserving of all allegiance and honor (Matt 17:5–8; Mark 9:7–8; Luke 9:35–36; Heb 3:1–19; Augustine, Serm., 28.3–5 [NPNF1 6:347–48]; Clement of Alexandria, Paed., 1.11 [ANF 2:234]; Cyprian, Epist., 52.14 [ANF 5:362]; Leo the Great, Serm., 51.7 [NPNF2 12:164]; cf. Ambrose, Epist., 43.57 [NPNF2 10:464]; Chrysostom, Hom. Heb., 5.4 [NPNF1 14:390]; Cyril of Jerusalem, Lectures, 10.7–9 [NPNF2 7:59–60]; Hilary of Poitiers, Trin., 6.24 [NPNF2 9:106]).

Judges as Shepherds

In an essay on “Jesus, John, and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” Craig Evans observes that

Jesus’s appointment of the twelve (Mark 3:14; 6:7) is an extension of John [the Baptist]’s typology. The Jordan River has been crossed, and now representatives of the restored tribes have reentered the promised land, announcing the rule of God. If the nation repents, restoration will take place. It will be a time when the twelve apostles will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel, judging not in a condemning sense but in an administrative, even shepherding sense (Evans 60; emphasis added).

That is to say, according to Evans, Jesus’ description of the apostles’ judicial vocation (Matt 19:28; Luke 22:30) resembles much more the situation in the book of Judges, where the judges rescue Israel from her enemies and, at least when they executed their office properly, guide Israel in faithfulness to her God, than it resembles the role of one who decides a dispute or passes sentence on someone convicted of a crime (cf. Gundry 393; Keener 479–80).

In this post:

Christian Beginnings and the Dead Sea Scrolls
John Collins and Craig Evans
Robert Gundry
Craig Keener
Craig Keener