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.
Who Will See â€œThe Kingdom of God Coming with Powerâ€ 27
2. â€œThey Will See â€¦â€ and â€œYou Will See â€¦â€: Mark 8,38-9,1 in
Retrospection, as a unifying narrative thread which clarifies or
amplifies earlier events by later events, is particularly appropriate
when it comes to understanding the identity of those who will â€œsee the
coming of the kingdom of God with powerâ€. If the coming of the son
of man in glory in 8,38 and the coming of the kingdom of God with
power in 9,1 are in a synonymous relationship, then the other two
references to the future coming of the son of man in Mark 13,26
(â€œwith power and gloryâ€) and 14,62 (â€œat the right hand of powerâ€)
serve as important literary connections in a â€œseries of threeâ€, which is
one of the most recognizable patterns in Mark (20). The repetition of
words and phrases, especially memorable ones like allusions to the
same scripture texts, not only signal to the readers (or performers) and
to their audience earlier occurrences and accumulate meaning, but
invite them to draw connections between various parts of the
narrative, sometimes from the perspective of the third scene (21).
Literary critics have repeatedly shown that Markan episodes are not
connected so much by linear progression, but by the repetition
of words and phrases, similarities of scenes, foreshadowing and
retrospection (22). Moreover, when Markâ€™s story was first read/
performed and heard, a degree of prior aurality and orality would have
communicated much of the content of Mark. Hearers would have
listened with a VorverstÃ¤ndnis, a â€œfore-understandingâ€ of the totality
of the story. And Mark certainly would not have intended a single
reading. In this sense, the implied reader becomes the rereader who is
sensitized to echoes within the story, and especially so if they are
similar in diction, discourse and concept like the present triad (23).
(20) V.K. ROBBINS, â€œSummons and Outline in Mark: The Three Step
Progressionâ€, New Boundaries in Old Territory. Form and Social Rhetoric in
Mark (New York 1994) 119-136.
(21) D. RHOADS â€“ J. DEWEY â€“ D. MICHIE, Mark as Story. An Introduction to
the Narrative of a Gospel (Minneapolis 21999) 48-49, 54-55.
(22) See especially, J. DEWEY, â€œMark as Interwoven Tapestry: Forecasts and
Echoes for a Listening Audienceâ€, CBQ 52 (1991) 221-236; ID., â€œThe Gospel of
Mark as an Oral-Aural Event: Implications for Interpretationâ€, The New Literary
Criticism and the New Testament (ed. E.S. MALBON â€“ E.V. MCKNIGHT)
(JSNTSup 109; Sheffield 1994) 148-149.
(23) On rereading in the Markan community, see KERMODE, The Genesis of
Secrecy, 70, 88-89; E.S. MALBON, â€œEchoes and Foreshadowings in Mark 4â€“8:
Reading and Rereadingâ€, JBL 112 (1993) 211-230.