Jesus’ Mark 13
DRAMATIC (AND “DREAD OF EXPOSITORS”) CENTERPIECE OF THE BOOK OF MARK
William Newton Clarke (1909)
“Now again the doctrine of the second advent took a disproportionately prominent place in my affairs. It was necessary that I should explain the thirteenth chapter of Mark, the great eschatological discourse, the dread of expositors—unless indeed it chances to be their delight. It was the part of my task that I dreaded most, for I was well aware of the difficulty of the passage, and certain that I could not stand for any of the old interpretations. But I had been thinking more or less in that field, ever since the discussions of the advent that I have spoken of. Moreover, in the late Seventies a book treating the general subject of terrestrial eschatology had appeared, and had been much read and discussed in the circle of my acquaintance. The book was crude in some respects, and was far from uttering the last word in the constructive part, but it was unanswerable in its refutation of certain long- accepted doctrines, and at least it prepared the way for something better. It has now gone out of sight, for it lacked some of the qualities that make for permanence; but it freed many of us from inherited untenable views of the second coming, and offered us at least a tentative doctrine in their place. Under this influence I wrought out an interpretation of the difficult chapter which satisfied me at the time, and this I embodied in my commentary.
It is interesting to note what this interpretation was, for the nature of it indicates again how far from being even and consistent was the movement of my mind. I have spoken of the growing conviction that the early advent hope was disappointed. This conviction was steadily settling into certainty, and yet at this time I was fascinated by the claim that the hope had not been disappointed. I still felt that the prediction of an early advent must have been fulfilled, and that the fulfilment must be sought in the early history. So I accepted the idea that the fulfilment occurred in the destruction of Jerusalem. The taking of this position was not a consistent step in my progress, and yet it is quite accounted for by that blending of old influences and new to which every advancing mind is subject.” (Sixty Years with the Bible: A Record of Experience, p. 136)
Dr. Mike Armour (1988)
“To be honest, I ignored Mark 13 for years, perhaps subconsciously avoided it. To say the least, my view of it was superficial; it was a strange chapter filled with strange language in an otherwise simple book. Only in the most general ways did I see a connection between this passage and the rest of Mark’s story. But no longer is this so. Today, when I survey Mark, chapter point toward it; the later chapters draw from it. Its paragraphs embody the major themes of the book. To miss its import, in my judgment, it to miss Mark’s purpose altogether.” (“Jesus’ Teaching on the Mount of Olives,” in The Lifestyle of Jesus, p. 142)
Dr. Craig L. Blomberg (1989)
“It is also noteworthy that, although Mark has fewer teachings of Jesus than the other three Gospels, the one extensive “sermon” that he preserves in Christ’s eschatological discourse (chap. 13). One plausible analysis of Mark’s narrative flow sees the entire Gospel building towards and foreshadowing the structure of this major sermon.” (Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction, p. 120)
Dr. George Eldon Ladd (1964)
“There is no passage in the gospels more replete with critical and exegetical difficulties than the Olivet Discourse.” (Jesus and the Kingdom, p. 305)
Dr. James W. Thompson (1971)
“Mark 13 has long been an enigmatic text for exegetes. It stands in Mark as the final discourse of Jesus, in which the small circle of disciples (13:1) are to come to understand their situation in the end time. The final discourse contains both warnings and apocalyptic features, indicating that the disciples are to understand their existence as part of the last days.” (“The Gentile Mission As an Eschatological Necessity,” Restoration Quarterly 14, p. 20)
Dr. David Wenham (1984)
“There are perhaps no more difficult chapters in the gospels than the chapters containing Jesus’ eschatological discourse, i.e. Matthew 24,25, Mark 13, Luke 21.” (The Rediscovery of Jesus’ Eschatological Discourse, p. 305)
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