Purification of the body and the reign of God in the Gospel of Mark

Elizabeth E. Shively

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Abstract

The thesis of this study is that the Markan Jesus’ activities of healing and exorcisms are evocative of resurrection of the body. Through the accumulation of these stories Mark communicates that Jesus has come to address the problem of human mortality in the light of the nearness of God’s reign. These activities anticipate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, which pioneers the purification of the body at the turn of the ages. I show that Mark’s presentation of Jesus’ healings and exorcisms crucially reflects ideas of (im)purity in Jewish scripture and tradition that are bound up with mortality. In the light of this background, I show that Mark presents Jesus’ healings and exorcisms as anticipations of his bodily resurrection. These resurrection-type stories depict the movement from the mortality incurred by defiling diseases or defiling spirits to the immortality of God’s reign. The repetition of resurrection-type healings that eventually culminate in Jesus’ own resurrection suggests that the announcement of God’s reign is not only about responding to the call for repentance from sin (1:14–15), but also about having one’s body raised. Thus, Mark presents not only a theology of the cross, but also a theology of the resurrection as the purification of God’s people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-89
JournalJournal of Theological Studies
Volume71
Issue number1
Early online date13 Feb 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

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