How Deep is the Wilderness in Mark 11-13

By Bill Andrews,2014-05-06 12:17
9 views 0
How Deep is the Wilderness in Mark 11-13


    (LONDON & NEW YORK: T&T CLARK, 2005), 78-87.


    Steve Moyise

    The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the

    prophet Isaiah, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your

    way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‚Prepare the way of the Lord, make

    his paths straight.‛’ John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a

    baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Mk 1.1-4)


    There are a number of factors which come into play when seeking to interpret scriptural

    references in the New Testament. (1) The author may indicate how he wishes the words to be

    taken, either by an introductory or concluding formula, the exegesis that follows or the role the

    quoted words play in the new work. (2) Changes to the scriptural material might indicate the

    author’s redactional interests. (3) The quoted text might bring with it connotations or

    associations from its original historical or literary context. (4) The quoted text might bring with

    it connotations or associations from significant subsequent contexts. (5) The commentator’s own ideological stance and social location might influence how the evidence is evaluated (and

    more fundamentally, what is to be considered as evidence). One of the main difficulties with

    studying scriptural quotations in the New Testament is that there is no agreement on how

    these factors should be prioritized. For example, some would argue that a quotation from

    Isaiah 53 brings with it the whole context of the ‘suffering servant’, but are forced to deny that

    the quotation of Hos. 11.1 in Mt. 2.15 (‘Out of Egypt I have called my son’) brings with it any associations from the following verse (‘The more I called them, the more they went from me;

    they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols’). How does one decide whether the surrounding context is important or not?

     In terms of Mark’s opening quotation, interpretations largely fall into two camps. First,

    there are those interpretations that stress the importance of the scriptural background,

    importing key themes such as ‘wilderness’, ‘exodus’ and ‘judgment’ into a reading of Mark’s text. Such interpretations are usually rooted in historical criticism, claiming that this is how

    Mark’s first-century readers would have understood it. In short, Mark’s exegesis is interpreted in the light of other first-century exegesis, notably the Dead Sea Scrolls. Second, there are those

    interpretations which stem from a narrative approach, where meaning is determined by the

    story world created by Mark. Such approaches focus on the internal dynamics of the

    narrative rather than events (or texts) external to it. The meaning of Mark’s opening quotation

     MOYISE The Wilderness Quotation in Mark 1.2-3 79

is determined by its role in the developing narrative, not the meaning it may have had in some

    previous historical or literary context. It is the aim of this short article to discuss the

    ‘wilderness’ quotation in the light of these two methodologies and consider whether it is

    possible to adjudicate between them.

    Meaning Derived Primarily from the Old Testament Context

Two factors have led to what we might call a ‘maximal’ interpretation of scriptural references

    in the New Testament. The first is the biblical theology movement, which sought to interpret

    the Bible on its own terms, using such concepts as covenant, salvation history or the people of

    God, to bridge the two Testaments. C.H. Dodd famously argued that references to Scripture in

    the New Testament are not limited to the actual words quoted but allude to major blocks of

    material, such as Daniel 7, Isaiah 40-55 and the royal psalms. He went on to assert that the

    themes from these major blocks of Scripture, together with the ‘gospel facts’, form the

    ‘substructure of all Christian theology’ (1952: 127). New Testament exegesis was not ‘atomistic’ but followed the contours of important salvation-history themes.

     The second factor in establishing a ‘maximal’ interpretation has been the introduction of the

    literary concept ‘intertextuality’ into biblical studies (see Moyise, 2001). Drawing on the work of Bakhtin, Julia Kristeva suggests a dialogical relationship between ‘texts’, broadly understood

    as a system of codes or signs. Moving away from traditional notions of agency and influence,

    she suggests that such relationships are more like an ‘intersection of textual surfaces rather than a

    1point (a fixed meaning)’. The notion was introduced to biblical scholars by two books in 1989.

    The first was a collection of essays entitled Intertextuality in Biblical Writings. In one of the

    contributions, Vorster states:

     First of all it is clear that the phenomenon text has been redefined. It has become a network

    of references to other texts (intertexts). Secondly it appears that more attention is to be

    given to text as a process of production and not to the sources and their influences. And

    thirdly it is apparent that the role of the reader is not to be neglected in this approach to the

    phenomenon of text (1989: 21).

     The other book was Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul, by Richard Hays. Hays does not mention Kristeva but draws on John Hollander’s work, The Figure of Echo. A Mode of Allusion in Milton and After. Hays is impressed by the subtlety of Hollander’s analysis and asks why this

    has not always been so in biblical studies. He attempts to put this right in a number of highly

    regarded studies on Paul, claiming that the most significant elements of intertextual correspondence between old context and new can be implicit rather than voiced, perceptible

     1 ‘Word, Dialogue and Novel’ was written in 1966 and first appeared in Séméiotiké: Recherches pour une sémanalyse (Paris: Le Sevil, 1969). It was translated in Desire and Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature

    and Art (ed. L.S.Roudiez; New York: Columbia University Press, 1980) and is now conveniently found in T. Moi

    (ed), The Kristeva Reader (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986). The quotation is taken from Moi 1986:

    36 (emphasis original).

    80 Wilderness only within the silent space framed by the juncture of two texts’ (1989: 155). Despite the post-structuralist roots of intertextuality, many biblical scholars now use the term to describe the

    way that a quoted text itself alludes to other texts and thus the quotation presents itself to

    readers not as an isolated proof-text but as part of a complex web of interlocking scriptural

    allusions. No text is an island; it automatically brings with it connotations and associations

    from its previous context(s).

    Wilderness and the Isaian New Exodus

For Joel Marcus, the significance of the opening quotation in Mark lies in its ascription to Isaiah.

    As is well known, the quoted words are a combination of Exod. 23.20, Mal. 3.1 and Isa. 40.3.

    Matthew and Luke appear to have moved the Exod. 23.20/Mal. 3.1 material to another location

    (Mt. 11.10; Lk. 7.27) and placed it on the lips of Jesus. This allows the Isaiah ascription (Mt. 3.3;

    Lk. 3.4) to introduce words that only come from Isaiah. Later scribes had a different solution,

    2changing the ascription in Mk. 1.2 from ‘Isaiah’ to ‘the prophets’. Marcus deduces from this that the composite quotation is the work of Mark, who associated Mal. 3.1 with Isa. 40.3

    3through the common phrase ךרד הנפ (clear a way’), which only occurs in these two texts, plus two related ones (Isa. 57.14; 62.10). In effect, what Mark is telling us is that the good news of

    Jesus Christ, the Son of God is written in Isaiah, which is therefore the key to understanding

    the Gospel. Marcus says:

    John the Baptist and Jesus are set firmly within the context of Jewish apocalyptic

    eschatology by the citation of Isa. 40:3 in Mark 1:3. Their appearance on the scene fulfills

    the prophecies of old because it heralds eschatological events, because it is the

    preparation for and the beginning of the fulfillment of that end so eagerly yearned for

    since Old Testament times: the triumphant march of the holy warrior, Yahweh, leading

    his people through the wilderness to their true homeland in a mighty demonstration of

    saving power. (1992:29).

     This ‘way’ through the wilderness links with Mark 8-10, which has often been characterised as ‘following Jesus on the way’ because of the occurrence of ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ in Mk 8.27

    and 10.52 (Best, 1982: 5). The reader, says Marcus, would connect this ‘way to Jerusalem’ with the promised ‘way’ quoted in Mk 1.2-3 and so deduce that ‘the fearful trek of the befuddled, bedraggled little band of disciples is the return of Israel to Zion, and Jesus’ suffering and death there are the prophesied apocalyptic victory of the divine warrior’ (1992: 36). Of course, it would be difficult to argue that this is what the historical Isaiah had in mind when he spoke of

    a triumphant march through the wilderness but Mark is not simply reproducing the thought of

    Isaiah 40, he is offering a ‘radical, cross-centred adaptation of it’ (1992: 36).

     2p.hmg pt Ηησαι is read by X B L D 33 565 892 1241 2427 al syco; Or 3 The piel of הנפ is better translated ‘clear’ or ‘clear away’, despite the traditional rendering, ‘prepare’. See BDB,


     MOYISE The Wilderness Quotation in Mark 1.2-3 81

     Richard Schneck builds on this by asserting that a significant quotation or allusion to

    Isaiah can be found in each of Mark’s first eight chapters. He begins by asserting that the

    prologue to Mark’s Gospel, which he considers to be Mk 1.1-15, has a number of similarities to

    the prologue to Deutero-Isaiah (Isa. 40.1-11). These are: (1) The reference to a ‘voice in the wilderness’; (2) The role both texts play as prologues to a larger work; (3) The use of εὔαγγέλιον or εὔαγγελιζόμενος for God’s joyful intervention; (4) Stress on the power of the one who is to come; (5) Focus on the rule or reign of God, especially in the Targumic reading of

    Isa. 40.9 (‘The kingdom of your God is revealed’); (6) The word of God is to be jubilantly proclaimed; (7) Both are concerned with the forgiveness of sins (Isa. 40.2; Mk 1.4). Schneck

    concludes from this that ‘the whole unit of Isa 40:1-11 was intended by Mark to be taken into account for a full and proper understanding of the Markan prologue’ (1992: 42).

     He then seeks to show how there is a significant quotation or allusion to Isaiah in

    chapters 2-8 of Mark. In Mark 4 and 7, there is an explicit quotation (Isa. 6.9-10; 29.13). In Mark

    2, he suggests that Isaiah 58 lies behind the discourse on fasting (‘you fast only to quarrel and to fight< Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice...?’). On the surface,

    Mark 3 seems devoid of any obvious allusions to Isaiah but Schneck argues a case for Isaiah 49

    as a background for the ‘doing good on the Sabbath’ sayings (Mk 3.4-7). For Mark 5, the story of the demoniac is clothed in imagery borrowed from Isa. 65:1-7 (pigs, demons, tombs, pagan

    territory). Mark 6 probably contains allusions to Isa. 55.1-3 (Mk 6.34-44) and Isa. 25.6 (Mk 6.39-

    40) but the strongest evidence is the reappearance of Isa. 6.9-10 in Mk 6.52. Lastly, Mk 8.17 also

    contains an allusion back to Isa. 6.9-10 and Mk 8.25 alludes to the first of the servant poems in

    Isa. 42.6-7. Schneck concludes that Isaiah was Mark’s most important scriptural source and that

    by quotation and allusion, Mark intends to evoke this important salvation-history background.

     Rikki Watts agrees with this but also wishes to do justice to the fact that the quotation is

    composite and includes a reference to Malachi. Mark’s aim, he says, is not only to signal the

    salvation background of Isaiah but also the judgment theme of Malachi:

    Mark’s opening composite citation is intended to evoke two different but closely related

    schemata. First, the appeal to Isaiah 40 evinces Israel’s great hope of Yahweh’s coming

    to initiate her restorational NE [New Exodus]. Second, the allusion to Malachi not only

    recalls the delay of this NE but also sounds an ominous note of warning in that the

    nation must be prepared or else face purging judgement... These twin themes of the

    fulfilment of the delayed INE [Isaian New Exodus] promise and possible judgement

    due to lack of preparedness are fused in Mark’s opening citation and together seem to

    establish the basic thematic contours for his presentation of Jesus. (1997: 370)

     Watts supports this by showing how the Malachi theme is picked up elsewhere in

    Mark’s narrative. For example, the discussion in Mk 9.9-13 as to why Elijah must come first is clearly a reference to the final words of Malachi (‘Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before

    the great and terrible day of the Lord comes’). The cleansing of the temple, cursing of the fig

    tree and the rent curtain can all plausibly be understood in the light of ‘the Lord whom

    82 Wilderness

    you seek will suddenly come to his temple’ (Mal. 3.1), while the rejection of Jesus by the religious leaders could be seen as evidence of their unpreparedness and thus offers an

    explanation for the coming judgment. Watts believes that the composite quotation not only

    evokes the Isaian new exodus background but also the Elijah/judgment theme from the book of


    Meaning Primarily from the New Context

Despite the apparent fruitfulness of this ‘maximal’ approach, a number of scholars have begun

    to question it basic assumptions. Christopher Stanley, for example, doubts that Paul’s Gentile

    hearers would have had the facility to make the sort of intertextual connections proposed by

    modern scholars. It is one thing to claim that they would have been familiar with the basic

    story of Israel; quite another to claim that they were a walking concordance of scriptural cross-

    references (1997: 79-96). Christopher Tuckett makes a similar point. First, he notes that

    standards of literacy were not high in the ancient world. One estimate places it at no more than

    20 per cent, and though it is now recognised that Christians were not drawn from the lowest

    strata, very few of them would have been in this top 20 per cent. Second, the production of

    texts was expensive and very few would have access to actual copies. Thus talk of evoking the

    original context is misleading. For the majority of Christians, context would mean either the

    ‘lectionary’ context (from the synagogue) or its contemporary application in the Christian

    community. In short, we cannot assume that a quoted text would immediately evoke the larger

    context in which we now find it, especially a modern construction such as ‘Deutero-Isaiah’ or

    ‘The Suffering Servant’. That is not how the majority of first-century readers would have

    encountered the text (Tuckett 2002: 71-97).

    The Meaning of the ‘Wilderness’ Quotation

    from the Narrative of Mark Alone

    Thomas Hatina complains that instead of focusing on key themes of Mark’s narrative, such as characterization and plot, the ‘source-orientated practitioner subverts this process by assuming

    that the hermeneutical key is to be found in Mark’s exegesis of Scripture’ (2002: 46). For Hatina, the meaning of a scriptural quotation derives primarily from its narrative function in the

    Gospel, not from something outside of it. Whatever meanings and functions the text once had,

    the quoted material now takes its meaning from the contextual connections that the new author

    has established. Thus while Hatina acknowledges that Marcus’s work contains many useful

    insights, he believes it is flawed on ideological grounds:

    Marcus’s antagonism toward the view that Mark exegeted Scripture atomistically

    results in forcing too much of the context of the scriptural passage into the Markan

    context. Further, one wonders, given Marcus’s acquaintance with the relevant Jewish

    primary literature, why he has not allowed for atomistic exegesis since this was the

    norm in early Jewish interpretation. (2002: 42)

     4 For the view that priority should be given to the Malachi theme because it comes first in the composite quotation,

    see Sankey (1985).

     MOYISE The Wilderness Quotation in Mark 1.2-3 83

     According to Hatina, Watts is even more guilty of this, for he assumes that the

    composite quotation is also intended to evoke the backgrounds of Exod. 23.20 and Mal. 3.1.

    Thus Watts argues that the judgment background of Mal. 3.1 prepares for the confrontations

    between Jesus and the Jewish leadership, particularly the incident in the temple. Now at first

    sight, the phrase, ‘the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple’ is certainly evocative but there are two problems with importing the surrounding context into Mark’s

    narrative. First, there is no indication in the immediate context of Mk 1.2-3 that this is what

    Mark intended. Had Jesus’ announcement in Mk 1.15 alluded to Malachi or had the temple

    incident immediately followed (as it does in John) this might be more plausible, but as it stands,

    the most natural reading is that the quotation refers to what immediately follows, namely, the

    ministry of John the Baptist.

     Second, Hatina is able to show that Watts utilizes a highly selective understanding of

    the Malachi context, for Mal. 3.3 says, ‘he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them

    like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness’. Does Watts wish to suggest that Jesus’ mission is to purify the descendants of Levi so that they may once

    again offer the prescribed sacrifices? Of course not. Watts knows the Gospel story and selects

    what he wants from Malachi to construct the so-called original context’ of Mal. 3.1. Other aspects, such as Mal. 3.3, are simply ignored.

     Hatina’s objections to the ‘maximal’ interpretation of Marcus, Schneck and Watts can be

    summarised in four points (2002: 159): (1) It is based on modern Western understandings of

    quotation rather than ancient quotation techniques; (2) It fails to take into account that a

    quotation may have a range of rhetorical functions within the context in which it is now

    embedded; (3) It assumes that the original context of a quotation is more determinative in

    establishing its meaning than its function in the new work; and (4) It assumes that dictional

    and thematic links like εὔαγγέλιον and ὁδός can be traced back to a single source.

     How then does Hatina understand the role and function of the composite quotation?

    First, the quotation is part of the prologue (Mk 1.1-15) which introduces the main theme of the

    Gospel, namely, the coming of Jesus to usher in the kingdom of God (1.14-15). In preparation

    for that, Mark introduces us to the role of the forerunner, mentioning his location (‘wilderness’), actions (‘baptizing’), diet (‘locusts and wild honey’), clothes (‘camel hair’) and message (‘one

    who is more powerful than I is coming’). According to Hatina, the quoted material can be

    adequately understood in the light of this. Thus God is announcing that he will send a

    messenger (John) to prepare the way (the whole of John’s ministry) for Jesus. In turn, John announces to the people that they are to prepare the way of the Lord by repenting of their sins

    and undergoing baptism as a public demonstration of their purification before the coming of

    the ‚Mighty One‛ who will baptize in the Holy Spirit’ (2002:182). The original meaning of clearing a path through the wilderness is discarded in favour of identifying John as the

    messenger or forerunner. This becomes apparent when we observe the change in syntax

    between Isa. 40.3 and Mk 1.2-3:

84 Wilderness

     A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the

    desert a highway for our God’ (Isa. 40.3).

     As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,

    who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‚Prepare the

    way of the Lord, make his paths straight.‛’ (Mk 1.2-3)

     Thus the use of the Malachi material is not to provide another overarching framework

    for understanding Jesus (pace Watts) but to identify John as the returning Elijah (see Mk 9.12-

    13). This also initiates a change of meaning of Isa. 40.3, for John does not begin construction

    work in the wilderness but prepares people for the coming kingdom of God. The LXX had

    already begun the process of updating this prophecy by changing the singular ‘highway’ to the

    5plural ‘paths’ (τρίβους) and rendering the piel of הנפ (‘to clear’) by ἑτοιμάζω (‘to prepare’). The

    readers of the LXX were not envisaging a return to Jerusalem by the construction of a single

    ‘highway’ for they were no longer in Babylon but dispersed. Furthermore, the choice of

    ἑτοιμάζω (‘prepare’) might already indicate that τρίβους is being taken figuratively (they are not thinking of literal highways at all). In this respect, it is interesting that the Qumran

    community appears to have taken the location in the wilderness literally but the construction of

    the way figuratively, for it is explained as the study of Torah (1QS 8.13-18).

     What then does Mark envisage when he has John the Baptist say, ‘Prepare the way of

    the Lord, make his paths straight’? Marcus and Watts think that readers would immediately connect the ‘highway’ that signals the end of the exile with Jesus ‘way’ to the cross. Hatina

    does not wish to dismiss the possibility of some influence from the Old Testament here but denies that it should be treated as a guiding metanarrative, for ‘the correspondence does not extend to all the functions of these figures in their Old Testament contexts’ (2002:182). The fact that Mark (or his source) follows the LXX use of ἑτοιμάζω and τρίβους blunts the connection with a singular ‘highway’ and points to a more ethical interpretation, as at Qumran. John is

    ‘preparing the people to travel along a road that the ‚Mightier One‛ will ask them to travel. By

    coming to baptism, the people metaphorically prepare for ethical (and even religious)

    transformation’. For Hatina then, Mark’s narrative determines how he understands the

    scriptural quotations, not the other way around.


In the light of the five factors mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is clear that the

    ‘maximal’ interpretation places the greatest emphasis on the third, namely, that a quotation

    brings with it connotations and associations from its original historical or literary context. By

    assuming this as a general principle, it searches (and finds) numerous parallels that link the

     5 Unless of course the LXX is witness to a different form of the Hebrew text. It is interesting that when הלסמ is

    used in a similar sense in Isa. 62.10, the LXX omits it altogether. Nevertheless, as Hatina notes, it remains

    perplexing why the LXX did not also change the singular ὁδός to a plural.

     MOYISE The Wilderness Quotation in Mark 1.2-3 85

prologue of Deutero-Isaiah with the prologue of Mark’s Gospel. It also appeals to the first

    factor by highlighting the importance of themes like ὁδός in the rest of Mark’s narrative, thus

    seeking to demonstrate that this interpretation is clearly signalled by Mark himself. On the

    other hand, it has to acknowledge that the story of Jesus takes quite a different turn to the

    ‘highway to Jerusalem’ envisaged by Isaiah. For Watts, this is solved by the composite

    quotation, where Mark fuses Malachi’s threat of judgment through unpreparedness with

    Isaiah’s promised new exodus and this is what gives shape to Mark’s narrative. For Marcus, there is a more dialectical understanding that Mark does not simply reproduce Isaiah’s

    promise but offers a ‘radical, cross-centred adaptation of it’ (1992: 36).

     Hatina also focuses on the first factor but in a different way. For him, it is the internal

    dynamics of characterisation and plot that primarily determine meaning, not texts or events

    outside of the narrative. The parallels quoted by Marcus, Schneck and Watts are regarded by

    Hatina as deceptively selective, the product of a particular salvation-history ideology. Hatina

    subscribes to a different ideology, namely, that a narrative approach to the Gospels implies that

    Mark’s story world provides the interpretative framework for understanding quotations, not

    their original or subsequent contexts. In order to support this, he draws on the second factor,

    namely, that changes to the quoted material might indicate the author’s redactional interests.

    Thus he thinks the use of ἑτοιμάζω and τρίβους point to a more ethical interpretation of ὁδός

    than its meaning in Deutero-Isaiah. He also draws on the fourth factor (1) when he claims that

    first-century Jewish exegesis was atomistic, and (2) when he cites the Qumran interpretation

    that ‘preparing the way’ has an ethical meaning (Torah study). Hatina believes that the first-

    century context supports his narrative stance that Mark’s story world determines the meaning of the wilderness quotation, not its meaning outside of the Gospel.

     Though both interpretations use historical criticism to support their positions, their very

    different assessments of the evidence suggests that the fifth factor, the ideological stance of the

    commentator, deserves more consideration. For example, Hatina makes the sweeping

    statement that first-century Jewish exegesis was atomistic. Some scholars have indeed argued

    for this but others, such as Brooke (1985) and Instone-Brewer (1992), have denied it. It is true

    that pesher interpretation often yields meanings that are surprising to us (as heirs of the

    Enlightenment), but is it true that the Qumran community had no interest in the overarching

    purposes of God (metanarrative) as revealed in Scripture? Clearly they were not concerned

    with ‘original context’ in the way that modern critics are but they were certainly interested in

    the metanarrative of God’s scriptural plan, for they saw themselves as participating in its final chapter. Hatina’s explicit adoption of a narrative approach, which by definition, marginalizes

    influences outside of the text, has affected his historical judgments.

     Marcus, Schneck and Watts are less explicit about their ideological commitments but

    they are nevertheless detectable from their critical judgments. For example, Watts claims that

    the quotation of Mal. 3.1 evokes its original context and even includes references as far away as

86 Wilderness

Mal. 4.5. However, he conveniently ignores Mal. 3.3, which would not have suited his

    argument. On what hermeneutical theory would readers import the meaning of Mal. 4.5 (‘Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah’) but ignore the content of Mal. 3.3? It cannot be the general principle that quotations evoke their surrounding context since Mal. 3.3 is far closer to Mal. 3.1

    than Mal. 4.5. In reality, Watts constructs the ‘original context’ of Mal. 3.1 to reflect the contents of Mark’s Gospel. Similarly Schneck, although many of his parallels between Isa. 40.1-11 and

    Mk 1.1-15 are convincing, makes too much of what are only echoes or faint allusions to Isaiah

    in Mark 3 and 5. It is not that they are impossible, for allusions can indeed be the faintest of

    whispers (Hays, 1989: 155). It is more that his conclusion from this evidence should have been

    that sometimes quotations and allusions point loudly to their previous contexts and sometimes

    they do not.


The ideological stance of the commentator is a significant factor in assessing the meaning of the

    wilderness quotation of Mk 1.2-3. Hatina’s commitment to a narrative approach diminishes the

    influence of sources outside of Mark’s story world, but is this true? Real readers inhabit many worlds, not just the world of the text. They are thus influenced by many things, one of which is

    other texts. On the other hand, Watts’s commitment to biblical theology does not allow for the possibility that Mark might be giving new meaning to the wilderness text. After all, Mark is

    writing for a completely different audience in a different time and a different place. It would

    surely be surprising if we could maintain identity of meaning across such divides. In both cases

    then, it would seem that ideological commitments have led to blind spots when interpreting

    certain aspects of the evidence.

     Does this mean that the interpretation of the wilderness quotation is a purely subjective

    affair? Not necessarily, for ideological commitments can be discussed and debated. In

    particular, I would suggest that neither a biblical theology that affirms identity of meaning or a

    narrative approach that excludes external ‘influence’ are adequate for the task. At the very least, we need an ideology that can explain how Mark can both appropriate Isaiah’s promise of exodus (itself a development of the original exodus tradition), while offering, in Marcus’s

    words, a ‘radical, cross-centred adaptation of it’ (1992: 36). In terms of this debate, what we need is a more sophisticated biblical theology that can encompass discontinuity as well as

    continuity, and a more sophisticated literary theory that can combine insights from narrative

    criticism with insights from intertextuality (taking ‘texts’ in its broadest sense). Both concerns

    are present in the person to whom this volume is dedicated (Young: 1990, 1997) and were

    nurtured in me during my time of study at the University of Birmingham (1984-90).


Best, E.

     1981 Following Jesus: Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark (JSNTSup, 4; Sheffield: JSOT


     MOYISE The Wilderness Quotation in Mark 1.2-3 87

Brooke, G.J.

     1985 Exegesis at Qumran: 4Q Florilegium in its Jewish Context (Sheffield: JSOT Press) Dodd, C.H.

     1952 According to the Scriptures (London: Fontana)

    Hatina, T.

     2002 In Search of a Context: The Function of Scripture in Mark’s Narrative (JSNTSup, 232;

    Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press).

    Hays, R.B.

     1989 Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (New Haven: Yale University Press).

    Hollander, J.

     1981 The Figure of Echo: A Mode of Allusion in Milton and After (Berkeley: University of

    California Press).

    Instone-Brewer, D.

     1992 Techniques and Assumptions in Jewish Exegesis before 70 CE (Texte und Studien zum

    antiken Judentum, 30; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck)

    Marcus, J.

     1992 The Way of the Lord. Christological Exegesis of the Old Testament in the Gospel of Mark,

    (Edinburgh: T & T Clark)

    Moi, T. (ed)

     1986 The Kristeva Reader (New York: Columbia University Press).

    Moyise, S.

     2001 ‘Intertextuality and the Study of the Old Testament in the New Testament’ in

    S.Moyise (ed.), The Old Testament in the New Testament (JSNTSup, 189; Sheffield:

    Sheffield Academic Press), 14-41.

    Sankey, P.J.

     1985 ‘Promise and Fulfillment: Reader-Response to Mark 1:1-15’, JSNT 58: 3-18. Schneck, R.

     1994 Isaiah in the Gospel of Mark, 1-VIII (Berkeley: BIBAL Press).

    Stanley, C.D.

     1997 ‘The Social Environment of ‚Free‛ Biblical Quotations in the New Testament’ in

    C.A. Evans and J.A. Sanders (eds.), Early Christian Interpretation of the Scriptures of Israel

    (JSNTSup,148; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press), 79-96.

    Tuckett, C.

     2002 ‘Paul, Scripture and Ethics’ in J.M. Court (ed.), New Testament Writers and the Old

    Testament (London: SPCK), 71-97.

    Vorster, W.

     1989 ‘Intertextuality and Redaktionsgeschichte’, in S.Draisma (ed.), Intertextuality in

    Biblical Writings (Festschrift B.van Iersel; Kampen: Kok), 21.

    Watts, R.E.

     1997 Isaiah’s New Exodus and Mark (WUNT, 2.88; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck).

    Young, F.W.

     1990 The Art of Performance (London: Darton, Longman & Todd).

    Young, F.W.

Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email