A few months ago as part of my research I looked at the interpretation of Mark 10:45. The full document is available here in PDF format mark-10-45-swales. The study seeks to interact with the classic work by Morna Hooker Jesus and the Servant, Scott McKnight Jesus and his Death and it of interest to those who are interested with the Steve Chalke, NT Wright, Pierced for our Transgressions ‘Penal Substitution’ debate. It also looks at the idea of Jesus being understood as the suffering servant of Is 53.
Here is the introduction:
Mark 10:45: How Did Jesus understand his death?
γαρ ο υιος του ανθρωπου ουκ ηλθεν διακονηθηναι
αλλα διακονησαι και δουναι την ψυχην αυτου
λυτρον αντι πολλων
The church, in understanding the crucifixion of Jesus soteriologically, has frequently made a link between the suffering of the servant in Deutero-Isaiah (DI) and the passion of Jesus—Jesus, like the servant of DI, vicariously suffers the punishment that is due for others. This point, however, is contentious within scholarship, as for some scholars the servant-Jesus motif is the theological development of the later Christian church, whereas for others the servant-Jesus motif can be traced back to Jesus himself.
This debate takes places at both macro and micro levels. By macro I mean those who seek to offer full face portraits of the historical Jesus such as Wright, Dunn, Meier and Crossan, whereas by micro I refer to those who, through monographs and scholarly articles, offer detailed exegesis of particular gospel passages. At a micro level Mark 10:45 is possibly the most debated verse within the gospels. For some this offers a full blown theory of the atonement coming from the lips of Jesus, whereas others debate its authenticity, whilst still others although not disputing its authenticity do not see substitutionary/servant theology within it. For any involved in historical Jesus research, whether it be at a macro or micro level, it is a fruitful endeavor to engage with Hooker’s challenging thesis Jesus and the Servant (1959), This book advocates the view that we do not find any correlation, within the gospels, between the death/suffering of Jesus and the suffering of the servant.
In this paper I intend to summarize and critique Hooker’s position whilst keeping a close eye on issues relating to ‘Historical Jesus’ methodology and Jesus’ self understanding regarding his death. I will limit my micro exploration of Jesus and the Servant to issues pertaining to Mark 10:45, and seek to draw out conclusions that show the interplay between macro and micro.
Following the flow of Jesus and the Servant we shall look at:
The Servant Passages: Their meaning and Background
Jewish Interpretations of the Servant
Mark 10:45 and the Servant
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