Question Mark's: The man in linen

A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked. (Mark 14:51,52)

There has been much intrigue as to who this man is. Some think it's Mark. It is also suggested that this shows the historicity of Mark because it's such a random event. I agree that it is a real event but why does Mark record it?

'I looked up and saw a man clothed in linen....'

'...among them was a man clothed in linen'.

The first is a quote from Daniel (Dan 10:5). The second from Ezekiel (Ezek 9:2). Both the passages are quotes from visions they had. The Ezekiel vision narrates how the glory of God leaves the temple. The Daniel vision points to the end of all things mentioning twice the abomination of the desolation and stopping of burnt offering.

Question Mark's: The Seismic stone

They had been saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. (Mark 16:3,4 NRSV)

Mark mentions the stone 3 times. Matthew mentions it twice, Luke and John once. I wonder if Mark wants to draw our attention to the stone. I think he makes a very strong point that the stone was indeed quite large. That the stone was large would have been fairly obvious. It was a simple enough security measure against thieves and animals. But Mark, through the women's lips, indicates that the stone is quite large because they need help to move it. Then he again indicates the largeness of the stone when he tells us it had been moved.

What does Mark want us to see? Could he be scoring a few political points for his alleged source and mentor Peter whose name, (given by Jesus) means rock? I don't think so. Mark actually doesn't even mention that story, interestingly enough.

This stone is near the end of Mark's story. This stone that has been rolled away proclaims the resurrection. This stone shows that the everlasting kingdom is most definitely here. This stone crushes empires and outlasts them. This stone disturbs a pagan emperor.


The Dark Side's picture

The Dark Side (part VI): Of the Moon

This blog series is deliberately provocative in order to push open new thought. I'd love your comments so we can dialogue further.

Let's come back to the original question: how do we read the God of the Bible, when he is loving on the one hand and a violent murderer on the other?

All of the posts so far have been aimed at one simple idea, albeit from very different directions: 'God' is very complex. In summary, the God of the Bible evolved from ancient pantheons, is an amalgamation of different identities, is too personal for our doctrines to fix, and ultimately will die, being - like everything - a construct.

All of this might sound like a little too much heresy to handle. But bear with me. (And read the other posts!)

Question Mark's: Silence

The gospel of Mark has a strange feature. Everyone is asked to keep silent. Jesus silences demons; he 'sternly' tells the people he's healed not to tell anyone about him. When Peter says who he is, again he tells his disciples sternly not to tell anyone. The ending of the gospel is as strange. In Mark 16:8 the women don't talk to anyone even though the angel told them to go and tell the others.

Is Mark again alluding to Daniel here? It feels like Mark is twisting and unfolding the ending of Daniel. At the end of the book of Daniel towards the end of the visions, he is told twice by an angel to seal the prophecy. He is not to tell anyone. He is told to go his way and rest and he will rise at the end of days. (Dan 12:13)

According to Mark, the women of the tomb are silent even though they were instructed by the angel to go and tell the disciples. Were they being true disciples of Jesus by heeding his consistent command to be silent and not to tell anyone? But we know they did tell someone. That's how we know the story. How did they come to point of telling the story of the empty tomb? How did silence turn to proclamation?

I think Mark is alluding to Daniel that only at the end of days can the silence be broken. The end of days is captured by the image and event of resurrection. So the women break their silence when they meet the risen Christ who is the end of days.

The warning to be silent is difficult. We want to be heard more than anything. A willful silence is hard. It requires trust in something or someone beyond words. Maybe that's why Mark ends in silence. A silence we keep until our true future confronts us in the Risen One.

Question Mark's: The upside down king

The book of Mark is like a music video. Full of allusions, disturbing, twisting and probing. It consistently has odd phrases popping up here and there, seemingly innocent in comment but alluring in strange possibilities that twist our reading again and again.

One such phrase occurs in Mark 1:13.

'He was with the wild animals...'

There have been various explanations given about what this meant. I think Richard Bauckham has said that this is a sign of the new Adam where Jesus neither domesticates nor is in conflict with these animals. He is simply 'with' or 'next to.' There have been explanations that the 'beasts' as some translations have it could be demonic powers.

I wonder if Mark is pointing us elsewhere.

Community of Readers's picture

Episode #9: A life worth saving

Does Leviticus deserve its reputation as the Bible's most boring book? Probably. But this doesn't stop it being profound. Is this just a collection of sacrificial rules and regulations, or could Leviticus open up a window on a world of possibility?

Monkey's picture

The MonkeyBar Challenge Week 9

Hi everyone,

Exodus comes to an end, but I'm afraid this is where the endurance kicks in! Leviticus will probably test your patience, unless you're very strange. Monkey's top tip: look out for things you didn't already know. You might even surprise yourself!

26 Feb: Exod 39:1 – 40:38; Psalm 26:1 – 12; Mark 9:2 – 9:32
27 Feb: Lev 1:1 – 3:17; Psalm 27:1 – 6; Mark 9:33 – 10:12
28 Feb: Lev 4:1 – 5:13; Psalm 27:7 – 14; Mark 10:13 – 10:31
1 Mar: Lev 5:14 – 7:10; Proverbs 6:12 – 19; Mark 10:32 – 10:52
2 Mar: Lev 7:11 – 8:36; Psalm 28:1 – 9; Mark 11:1 – 11:25
3 Mar: Lev 9:1 – 10:20; Psalm 29:1 – 11; Mark 11:27 – 12:12
4 Mar: Lev 11:1 – 12:8; Psalm 30:1 – 7; Mark 12:13 – 12:27

Happy reading!

Community of Readers's picture

Community of Readers video blog: Episode #8

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," says the Teacher of Proverbs. Does this mean that being scared of God is the first step to being sensible? Or does wisdom reveal something else? Or someone else? Is this the doorway to the kind of faith we've been searching for?

Monkey's picture

The MonkeyBar Challenge Week 8

Hi everyone,

Hope you're having a good week. Afraid I've got to be a bit honest and tell you that this bit of Exodus gets a bit dull, with tabernacle lengths and priestly clothing colours! But swing with it - it'll be over soon!

Mark is brilliant anyway, to compensate!

19 Feb: Exod 25:1 – 26:37; Psalm 23:1 – 6; Mark 4:30 – 5:20
20 Feb: Exod 27:1 – 28:43; Psalm 24:1 – 10; Mark 5:21 – 6:6a
21 Feb: Exod 29:1 – 30:38; Proverbs 5:15 – 23; Mark 6:6b – 6:29
22 Feb: Exod 31:1 – 33:36; Psalm 25:1 – 7; Mark 6:30 – 6:56
23 Feb: Exod 33:7 – 34:35; Psalm 25:8 – 15; Mark 7:1 – 7:30
24 Feb: Exod 35:1 – 36:38; Psalm 25:16 – 22; Mark 7:31 – 8:13
25 Feb: Exod 37:1 – 38:31; Proverbs 6:1 – 11; Mark 8:14 – 9:1

Enjoy your reading!

Community of Readers's picture

Community of Readers video blog: Episode #7

The story of Exodus turns from the epic liberation to the dim drudgery of desert life. But into this wilderness goes Yahweh too. And between all the laws and tabernacle regulations we find something more important than the Promised Land. Could the real goal of the Exodus have been something else all along?