Are the Christologies of Mark and John radically different?


Posted: Aug 28/2k


 

A dear friend of mine sent me a question recently:

 

I've been reading through the gospels of Mark and John, and frankly am  puzzled by the low Christology in Mark, and the high Christology in John. granted they likely wrote 25-30 years apart (I'm not concerned who the  gospel writers were), but seems the Spirit was still revealing essentials  of the faith as late as 85-100AD.

 

 

 

And I replied (with sub-Tank detail obviously...smile)...

 

They don't actually differ in the 'altitude' of the christology, only in the level of explicitness or articulation...

 

For example, mark has an order of magnitude more miraculous events of Jesus, than John, including the 'nature' miracles in which Jesus acts as the very Presence of YHWH (as opposed to the prophetic 'agent' of YHWH)...these certainly provoked (in the narratives) responses to deity [see my tank thing on the Trinity, NT], but Mark records very little dialogue...John, cites only a few miracles, but goes into much more explicitness on the discussions engendered by those miracles (and also includes more of the theological debates about Jesus' sayings)...

 

The difference can also be seen as arising from the likely audiences of the two...Mark is Peter's preaching, largely to "Hellenistic" Jews scattered throughout the roman empire...John is more likely (I believe he wrote BEFORE the destruction of Jerusalem) addressing Palestinian Jews, more familiar with Pharisaic beliefs, theological categories, and arguments...this would allow/necessitate usage of more 'refined' theological categories which might be described as 'high christology' when in fact it is simply 'more explicit christology'...

 

BUT---this is NOT to say that revelation was NOT progressive during the period of NT formation, for I ABSOLUTELY believe that to be the case...I use the example of the Jerusalem council, e.g., to show HOW God can develop clarity and unpack implications WITHIN a "non-prophetic" context...

 

But my view would imply that there would not be two 'contradictory" answers to the 'Who am I?' question, but only 'different' (largely differentiated on the basis of precision or comprehensiveness)...

 

[Pardon all the spelling errors, this is hastily written, brother]

 

In fact, the book I just finished argues that Mark's christology is "HIGHER" than John's, on the basis of the miracle narratives...excellent book, highly recommended by me, Graham Twelftree, _Jesus the Miracle Worker: A Historical and Theological Study_

 

There are other approaches to this issue, but the above are the ways I personally understand the data...I hope this helps...

 

 

warmly,

glenn

 


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