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The Cursing of the Temple and the Tearing of the Veil in the Gospel of Mark

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The paper explores the relationship between the pericope of the temple incident of Mark 11:15-19 and the scene of Jesus' death in Mark 15:33-39. The temple incident portrays a prophetic action and word of curse and destruction against the temple and its guardians. The cause for the act and word of judgment against the temple was that it and its guardians had become exclusionary, both of the marginalized among God's people and the Gentiles. It had also become a symbol of violent opposition against Rome. For Jesus' opposition to the Judean leadership and their temple, the leadership seeks to destroy him.

Though the leadership will succeed in destroying Jesus, it is precisely through such destruction that Jesus is vindicated. His word of judgment and destruction against the temple is realized in the tearing of the veil. The exclusionary practice of the temple is reversed with the confession of the centurion—with the temple's destruction the barrier between God and "the many" is broken down. Finally, though the Judean leadership succeeds in destroying Jesus, they become victims of their own success, for with Jesus' destruction, comes their own. The power of their temple is broken and the exclusion of "the many" that they had worked so hard to maintain is reversed.

Affiliations: 1: William Jewell College


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