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The Politics of Divine Presence: Temple as Locus of Conflict in the Gospel of Mark

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This paper examines the intersection of theology and politics in the Gospel of Mark as it pertains to Jesus' conflict with the so-called "leaders," giving special attention to the role of the Jerusalem temple within that conflict. It is argued that the temple as cultic institution does not concern the narrator as much as its affiliation with a priestly elite that abuses its God-given authority at the expense of those in need. As the mediator of God's presence Jesus exposes this abuse through a ministry of outreach, meeting rejection by the very ones charged to oversee the "house of God" (2:26; 11:17). This ironic rejection of the divine presence consists of both ignorance (failure to recognize Jesus as God's son) and self-interest (concern for honor and power). Jesus' climactic condemnation of the temple (11:11-25; 13:1-2) thus symbolizes his rejection of its caretakers, the "tenants" once commissioned by God to care for God's own vineyard (12:1-12).

Affiliations: 1: Pfeiffer University


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