Thomas R. Hatina, «Who Will See "The Kingdom of God Coming with Power" in Mark 9,1 — Protagonists or Antagonists?», Vol. 86 (2005) 20-34
In conventional readings of Mark 9,1, the meaning of the
"kingdom of God coming with power" determines the identity of the bystanders who
will supposedly experience ("see") it. Since the prediction of the kingdom is
usually regarded as a blessing, it is assumed that the bystanders are
protagonists. In contrast to this conventional approach, the reading proposed in
this essay begins with the group(s) which will experience ("see") "the kingdom
of God coming with power", first in 9,1 and then in 13,26 and 14,62. When prior
attention is given to these groups in the context of the narrative, Jesus’
prediction in Mark 9,1 emerges not as a blessing promised to the protagonists,
but as a threat of judgment aimed at antagonists.
24 Thomas R. Hatina
9,1. Second, it unnecessarily raises the question why Matthew
(par.16,28) would collapse the coming of the son of man with the
coming of the kingdom into a single perspective on the eschaton (â€œthere
are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until
they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdomâ€). Moreover, Matthew
must have viewed Mark 8,38 and 9,1 synonymously since both parallel
verses (16,27 and 28) contain the construction â€œson of manâ€ + a form
of e[rxomai + ejn th/' + noun in the dative case + aujtou' (11). And third, an
antithetical parallelism does not adequately explain why ejn dunavmei
was added as a qualifier of basileiva tou' qeou'. This qualifier appears
nowhere else in early Christian literature except perhaps for Rev 12,10
where it refers to the coming of God to do battle. The implication is that
the earlier coming of Jesus along with the first appearing of the
kingdom (1,14-15), which was hidden from most, was not ejn dunavmei
(12). As is often pointed out, the closest that other texts in Mark, and in
the Synoptic Gospels, come to this qualifying use of duvnami" is in the
references to the future coming of the son of man (13,26; 14,62). Given
Markâ€™s interest to directly link duvnami" with these son of man sayings
in 13,26 and 14,62, one wonders why he is not consistent in 8,38. Why
would he instead link duvnami" with the future coming of the kingdom?
A plausible explanation is that the evangelist understood both the future
coming of the son of man and the future coming of the kingdom with
power as the same eschatological act of judgment, which would
certainly echo the sense of the apocalyptic scenario in Dan 7,9-14,
which seems to be an influence.
I would like to suggest that a synonymous parallelism better
preserves the literary sequence and raises fewer potential difficulties.
Thus, the bystanders who will not â€œtaste deathâ€ in 9,1 should not be
identified with the faithful, but with those who are â€œashamedâ€ of Jesus
and his words â€œin this adulterous and sinful generationâ€ (8,38). To my
knowledge, Etienne TrocmÃ© comes closest to this reading of 9,1 when
he argues that â€œsome of those who are standing hereâ€ are to be
identified with those who refuse to give their lives for the gospel as
martyrs so that they might still be alive to see the parousia (13). Jesusâ€™
(11) W.D. DAVIES â€“ D.C. ALLISON, Jr., The Gospel According to Saint
Matthew (ICC; Edinburgh 1991) II, 677.
(12) See also C.K. BARRETT, The Holy Spirit and the Gospel Tradition
(London 1966) 73.
(13) A similar, albeit brief, suggestion is offered by BROWER, â€œMark 9:1:
Seeing the Kingdom in Powerâ€, 34.