Tuesday, May 20, 2014

No One Knows The Hour (part 35)

This line of thinking becomes especially poignant when one considers that Jesus’ dealings with and in the Temple are a central feature of the Gospel accounts, and that all three make it more than clear that it is this ongoing clash with the Temple authorities, culminating in Jesus’ enacted judgment (in the mold of Jeremiah) against the Temple that ultimately resulted in the collusion with the Roman authorities that was productive of His death by crucifixion. 

While this can be said, it is more than possible that Mark did in fact write His Gospel before the Temple had come to its end, as is often posited.  Mark’s Gospel lacks the embellishments (in the sense of a more rounded-out presentation) on Jesus’ life that are to be found in Matthew and Luke, with this lack of embellishment being quite understandable.  If Mark writes before the Temple’s fall, whereas Matthew and Luke write after the fall and because of that fall, then it is understandable that Mark’s account would be more direct and straightforward, lacking the material details and stories to be found in the narratives on offer in Matthew and Luke.  Understandably, composing their accounts of Jesus in a post-Temple-fall world, Matthew and Luke could be far more comfortable relating more of Jesus’ life story, as preserved and transmitted via the oral tradition. 

Together with these important realizations, if one also holds to the idea that the early church, having rightly comprehended what Jesus meant by His fall-of-the-Temple-focused discourse (as recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21), tightly connected the fall of the Temple with the coming of the Son of Man to the Ancient of Days in order to receive His kingdom, then the heavy inclusion of all of the Son of Man language throughout the Gospels makes even greater sense.  While this study will not take the time to offer an in-depth review of all of the mentions of the Son of Man, it is worth taking a bit of time to review and to draw out some conclusions and inferences that would have been obvious to Jesus’ original audience. 

In a superficial review, one cannot help but notice that John has the fewest uses of “Son of Man.”  Mark clocks in with the next fewest, while both Matthew and Luke are replete with its usage (Luke nearly doubling Mark’s count, while Matthew more than doubles Mark’s usage).  While John obviously pursues its agenda on a different path than do the synoptics, Mark’s relative restraint in using the term is understandable if it is, in fact, cautiously and expectantly composed before the fall of the Temple.  If Jesus presents Himself as the Danielic Son of Man, while tying the expected reign of the Son of Man to the fall of the Temple, it would not be odd to see a pre-Temple-fall composition being a bit more judicious in the use of the term.  If both Matthew and Luke are composed and disseminated post-Temple-fall, then all things considered, it would make far more sense to include far more Son of Man language. 

Of course, one does not simply assert that a lack of details in indicative of a pre-fall composition, as Mark could certainly have been just as precise and non-verbose, as opposed to his evangelistic counterparts, while writing after the Temple’s fall.  Once a position has been achieved in which it possible to correctly and contextually hear Jesus’ Son of Man language within His crystal clear, prophetical, and predictive speech about the coming fall of the Temple, doing so in the light of Daniel’s seventh chapter, it would be a tremendous dis-service to fail to reflect on a few of its appearances prior to the Temple speech in which Jesus connects the Temple’s fall with the Son of Man’s arrival and kingdom acquisition.  

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