Mark 10:32-34, continued
As highlighted in the previous note, the third Passion-prediction is comprised of five components; these will be discussed in turn.
Component 1—the approach to Jerusalem
“See, we step up to Yerushalaim…”
i)dou\ a)nabai/nomen ei)$ (Ieroso/luma
The wording is identical in all three versions (Mk 10:33; Matt 20:17; Lk 18:31), the only exception being Luke’s use of the variant Greek transliteration for Jerusalem ( )Ierousalh/m). Because Jerusalem is located on a slightly elevated site, the common idiom referred to going up to the city. The verb here is a)nabai/nw (lit. “step up”, i.e. walk up), a common verb, though one which took on special theological meaning in the Gospel of John. In the special Johannine vocabulary, a)nabai/nw referred to Jesus’ ascent back to the Father in heaven. So, when the Johannine author uses it (as here) in the narrative context of ‘going up’ to Jerusalem, it carries an implicit allusion to the death and resurrection of Jesus (spec. his exaltation and return to the Father).
The Synoptic Gospels, however, retain the simple narrative use of the verb. Jesus essentially restates what is described in the narrative introduction (v. 32 par)—that he and his disciples are on their way to Jerusalem and are approaching the city. In terms of the development of the tradition, it is likely that the narrative introduction here arose out of the saying itself; in other words, the announcement by Jesus of the approach to Jerusalem inspired the narrative description of that approach. As mentioned in the prior note, Luke has eliminated the narrative introduction almost entirely, relying on Jesus’ own words here in the Passion-prediction to reference the disciples’ approach to the city.
Luke also adds an important element not found in the core Synoptic version (Mark-Matthew):
“See, we are step(ping) up to Yerushalaim, and all the (thing)s having been written through the Foretellers [i.e. Prophets] will be completed for the Son of Man…” (18:31)
It is only in Luke’s version that reference is made to Jesus’ Passion as having been prophesied in the Scriptures. This is an important Lukan theme, one which is essentially introduced here, but which then continues to be featured in the Passion and Resurrection narratives (22:37; 24:27, 32, 45), and is further developed in the book of Acts. It was vital for early Christians to marshal Scriptural support for the idea that the Messiah would suffer and die (and then rise again), since this ran entirely contrary to Messianic expectation at the time, and created a major barrier to Jewish acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. The Acts speeches and narratives repeatedly emphasize the diligence with which the early missionaries sought to demonstrate and prove this aspect of Jesus’ Messiahship from the Scriptures—cf. 3:18, 21ff; 5:42; 8:28-35; 9:22; 13:27ff; 17:2-3, 11; 18:5, 28; 26:22-23ff.
If we accept the prophetic theme here as an authentic part of the Passion-prediction, it is difficult to say for certain which Scriptures Jesus himself may have had in mind. For the Gospel writer, however, like many other Christians of his time, there were a number of key passages in the Scriptures—the Prophetic oracles, but also the Psalms, Torah, and other Writings—which were understood as foretelling or prefiguring the betrayal, suffering, and death of Jesus. In an earlier article, I presented a fairly extensive list of the most likely candidates, including those which are specifically cited or alluded to in the Passion Narrative itself. I will be discussing further the Old Testament passages which most influenced the Passion narrative in the upcoming notes and articles in the series “The Old Testament in the Gospel Tradition”.
The next two components (2 & 3) of the Passion-prediction will be dealt with in the next daily note. On the significance of the title “Son of Man” in relation to the suffering and death of Jesus, cf. my discussion in an earlier note.