Christological re-reading of the Shema (Deut 6.4) in Mark's Gospel
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date31/12/2100
Lee, Jang Ryul
As the title of the present work ("Christological re-reading of the Shema [Deut 6.4]in Mark's Gospel")indicates, the present thesis explores the question of how the Shema is used and undersstood in Mark's Gospel. The main point to be argued is that the Shema language of Deut 6.4 is not simply reiterated in a traditional sense but is re-read in a programmatic way that links Jesus directly with Israel's God and presents Jesus in equivalence to that unique God. While such an innovative re-reading needs to be views within the context of Mark's complex portrait of Jesus' relationship to God, which integrated Jesus' fundamental correspondence to God and his distinction from God, the one-God language in Mark appears to be used in the context of portraying Jesus as fundamentally corresponding to Israel's God, rather than being differentiated from him. Following chapter 1, which discusses the history of research, the combined methodology of composition and narrative criticisms and the life setting of Mark's Gospel, chapter 2 addresses the issue of Second Temple Judaism. The second chapter aims to argue that Judaism in the Second Temple period should be seen as "monotheistic" despite its diversity and the widespread recognition of the exalted mediating figures in the era, and that the concern for God's uniqueness was central among the Jews of this time. In chapters 3-4, specific Markan texts are explored in an attempt to present a fresh reading of the Shema (12.29; cf. v.32; 2.7; 10.18). The third chapter argues for the collectivity of 12.28-34 and 12.35-37, which ultimately unites the confession of the Shema (12.29) and the view of the exalted Messiah alongside God (v.36). Chapter 4 deals with the two Markan Shema-allusions (2.7 and 10.18). It is argued that the Markan use of the είς ό θεός phrase in 2.7 has a strong Christological thrust, namely to attribute to Jesus as God-like authority to forgive sins and, by doing so, to link Jesus inseparably with the one-God of Israel and to present Jesus in equivalence to God. While examining different interpretations of Mark 10.18, the second part of the chapter argues that the εί μη είς θεός phrase in 10.18 needs to be read in light of the identical phraseology of 2.7 and that, if so, Jesus' objection to the epithet "good teacher" in 10.18 serves to invite a more adequate understanding of Jesus' status and significance. Jesus' additional commands with the Decalogue in v.21 and Mark's description of Jesus' unique qualities throughout his narrative tend to support the suggested reading. Lastly, chapter 4 integrates the discussions of the previous chapters in light of the macro-text, i.e., Mark's narrative as a whole. It is argued here that Mark's Christology is not monolithic, but a nuanced one, which facilitates the concurrence of Jesus' fundamental correspondence to God and Jesus' distinction from God. It is also argued that the aspects of Jesus' inseparable linkage to God and his distinction from God, alike, appear repeatedly across the narrative and that both aspects are integrally bound up with each other in the Gospel. Mark's innovative re-reading of the Shema, therefore, needs to be viewed within the context of this complexity in Jesus' relation to God. The present thesis can benefit Markan scholarship in several ways. It contributes not only to the study of Mark's theo-logy, but also Christology since Mark's Gospel is a narrative about Jesus - whose orientation is consistently theo-centric. As a result, the relationship between the two will also be illuminated. Moreover, in view of the inclusion of Second Temple literature (chap. 2) as a primary background for the discussion of Mark's one-God language (chaps. 3-5), the thesis can offer valuable insights for the twenty-first-century readers of Mark's first-century Gospel, whose idea of God's "one-ness" has been formed largely under the influence of the seventeenth-century definition of the term.