Abstract of Juel, Donald H. “The Messiah and the Temple: A Study of Jesus’ Trial before the Sanhedrin in the Gospel of Mark.”

Note: Most universities now require the author of a PhD dissertation to write an abstract.  The following abstracts have been taken from the author’s written summary of his/her work.

Juel, Donald H.  “The Messiah and the Temple: A Study of Jesus’ Trial before the Sanhedrin in the Gospel of Mark.”  PhD diss., Yale University, 1973.    [Israel/Herod/Christian/New Temple]

Summary: The purpose of this dissertation is to interpret the account of Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin in the Gospel of Mark.  The principal concern is to determine the function of the account in its context, to locate its place within the structure of the story.  Such an approach to the trial narrative in Mark is necessary whatever view one holds of the author’s sources.  Special attention is focused on the temple charge in 14:58.  An interpretation of Mark should be able to explain not only the origin of the charge, but more importantly, its function in the context of the trial and passion story.

The features of the gospel decisive for interpreting the trial are stylistic and thematic.  In the Gospel as a whole and particularly within the passion story, the author makes use of a double-level narrative style which makes it possible for him to explore the “real” meaning of the events at a sub-surface level, at a level of meaning accessible only to the reader.  The consistent use of double-meaning and irony in the account of Jesus’ trial and death suggest that the real meaning of the events is to be sought beneath the level of the story.

There are two themes important for interpreting the trial.  The first may be termed royal-Messianic.  Jesus is interrogated, mocked, tried and executed as King.  But he is also condemned to death by the Jewish court for the claim to be “the Christ, the Son of the Blessed.”  In context, these must be viewed as royal titles.  The trial thus introduces the royal motif in the passion story.  The trial is also governed by the theme of rejection/vindication, however, bound up with the image of Jesus as the rejected (and vindicated) “stone” of Ps 118:22.  By introducing the predominant theme in the passion story, the trial thus provides the basis for Jesus “rejection” as promised in Scripture.  But it also introduces the basis for his vindication.  By emphasizing that Jesus is “rejected” as Messiah, Son of God, Mark suggests at a deeper level that it is as Messiah, Son of God that Jesus is vindicated at the resurrection and / or second coming.

Study of the temple charge within the context of Mark suggests that this charge too is intended by the author to be viewed as true in some sense, that it is not simply “false testimony.  The charge is part of a preoccupation with the temple that begins in chapter 11 and culminates in the tearing of the temple veil in 15:38 at the moment of Jesus’ death.  The author links the (impending?) Destruction of the temple with the them of the rejection of the Jewish leaders, and both are related to Jesus’ death and resurrection by means of the charge in 14:58.  The charge views the Christian community as the successor to the temple establishment, which is supported both by the context and by careful study of the terminology.  Finally, the temple charge points to Jesus as the Messiah who will build the eschatological temple – again at a level of meaning accessible only to the reader.  The charge thus provides further definition of Jesus’ Messiahship and is appropriately included in the trial of the Messiah, Son of God.

Full text available online through ProQuest

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