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The Temple in Mark and Contested Authority

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image of Biblical Interpretation

The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that Mark's portrayal of Jesus' temple action reinforces a larger narrative aim: to show that the time of messianic fulfillment for both Jews and Gentiles has come. The study consists of three sections. First, it is observed that the unifying theme of Mark 11:12-25 is not the destruction of the temple but prayer. Second, Jesus' activity in the temple occupies a central place not only in this series of pericopae but in the larger structure of Mark 11-15. Mark shows that Jesus fulfils the original design of the temple by making it a place of prayer for everyone. This includes Gentiles as Mark alone makes clear (11:17b; cf. Matt. 21:22; Luke 19:46). Third, enabling Gentiles to worship in the temple meshes with a larger Markan concern. Jesus does not limit his ministry to Galilee but extends it to Gentile lands to the north and east, as a study of the exorcism and feeding stories in relation to the pivotal discussion of 7:1-23 reveals. Implicitly, then, Israel has begun to be redefined. Jesus' action in the temple enlarges on this theme in order to suggest more explicitly that Gentiles have a rightful place within Israel.

Affiliations: 1: Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies


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