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The Psalms of Lament in Mark's Passion


  • Page extent: 254 pages
  • Size: 216 x 138 mm
  • Weight: 0.47 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 226.3/06
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: BS1430 .A23 2007
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Bible.--O.T.--Psalms--Criticism, interpretation, etc
    • Bible.--N.T.--Mark XIV-XV--Criticism, interpretation, etc
    • Bible.--O.T.--Psalms--Relation to Mark
    • Bible.--N.T.--Mark--Relation to Psalms

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521881913)

  • Also available in Paperback
  • Published November 2007

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Stephen Ahearne-Kroll examines the literary interaction between the Gospel of Mark’s passion narrative and four Psalms of individual Lament evoked in it. These four psalms depict a David who challenges God’s role in his suffering, who searches for understanding of his suffering in light of his past relationship with God, and who attempts to shame God into acting on his behalf only because he is suffering. Because Mark alludes to these psalms in reference to Jesus, David’s concerns become woven into the depiction of Jesus in Mark. Reading David’s challenge to God as part of Jesus’ going “as it is written of him” (i.e., suffering and dying according to scripture; Mark 14:21) calls into question the necessity for Jesus’ death within an apocalyptic framework of meaning. Finally, the suffering king David offers a more appropriate model for Jesus’ suffering in Mark than that of the servant from Deutero-Isaiah.

STEPHEN P. AHEARNE-KROLL is Assistant Professor of New Testament, Methodist Theological School in Ohio.


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The Psalms of Lament in
Mark’s Passion

Jesus’ Davidic Suffering

Stephen P. Ahearne-Kroll

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo, Delhi

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:

© Stephen P. Ahearne-Kroll 2007

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2007

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data
Ahearne-Kroll, Stephen P., 1967--
The Psalms of lament in Mark's passion : Jesus' Davidic suffering / Stephen P. Ahearne-Kroll.
p. cm. -- (Society for New Testament studies monograph series)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN-13: 978-0-521-88191-3 (hardback)
ISBN-10: 0-521-88191-9 (hardback)
1. Bible. O. T. Psalms–Criticism, interpretation, etc. 2. Bible. N. T. Mark
XIV–XV–Criticism, interpretation, etc. 3. Bible. O. T. Psalms–Relation to Mark.
4. Bible. N. T. Mark–Relation to Psalms. I. Title. II. Series.
BS1430.A23 2007
226.3′06–dc22 2007014637

ISBN 978-0-521-88191-3 hardback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs
for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not
guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

Much of my perspective on suffering was formed from a very early age by the suffering of my father, whose life embodied endurance in the hope of salvation.
To him I dedicate this work.
Walter J. Kroll


  Acknowledgments page xi
  Abbreviations xiii
1   Introduction 1
  1    Scholarly approaches to the study of the use of scripture in the New Testament with special attention to the PssLam 3
          1.1  Major works that include the PssLam 3
          1.2  Ways of studying the New Testament’s use of scripture 9
  2    The methodology of the present study 23
          2.1  Defining the scope 23
          2.2  Author, text, and reader 24
          2.3  The nature and identification of allusions 29
          2.4  Word, verse, context, or text? What to consider in an evocation 33
          2.5  Allusion vs. echo 34
          2.6  The ⅬⅩⅩ text: translated text, translator’s intention, and text reception 35
  3    Structure of this study and summary of the argument 37
2   Issues in the study of the Psalms of Individual Lament in relationship to the Gospel of Mark 40
  1    Form-critical issues in the PssLam 40
          1.1  Form critics on the PssLam 40
          1.2  The limitations of form criticism of the PssLam 43
          1.3  The relationship between the lament and the praise/thanksgiving in the PssLam 46
  2    David, the PssLam, and the Gospel of Mark 51
          2.1  Davidic authorship of the Psalms 51
          2.2  David, the PssLam, and the Gospels 54
          2.3  David and the Gospel of Mark 57
3   The evocations of the Psalms of Individual Lament in Mark’s passion narrative 59
  1    Introduction 59
  2    Simple evocations of Psalms of Individual Lament in Mark 14–15 61
          2.1  Joel Marcus’ list of allusions to the PssLam in Mark’s passion narrative 61
          2.2  The evocation of Ps 40:10 in Mark 14:18 63
          2.3  The evocation of Pss 41:6, 12; 42:5 in Mark 14:34 66
          2.4  The evocation of Ps 68:22 in Mark 15:23 69
          2.5  The evocation of Ps 21:19 in Mark 15:24 71
          2.6  The evocation of Ps 21:8 in Mark 15:29 73
          2.7  The evocation of Ps 21:2 in Mark 15:34 74
          2.8  The evocation of Ps 68:22 in Mark 15:36 74
  3    The use of Psalms 21, 40, 41–2 and 68 in Second Temple Judaism 77
4   Interpretation of the ⅬⅩⅩ Psalms of Individual Lament evoked in Mark’s passion narrative 82
  1    Introductory remarks about the study of the ⅬⅩⅩ Psalms 83
  2    Rhetorical issues and interpretation of ⅬⅩⅩ Psalms 21, 40, 41–2, and 68 84
          2.1  The superscripts in the Psalms 84
          2.2  Psalm 21 87
          2.3  Psalm 40 109
          2.4  Psalm 41–2 117
          2.5  Psalm 68 123
  3    Conclusion 135
5   Jesus and David in Mark 10–12 137
  1    Introduction 137
  2    David and the Son of David in Mark 10–12 138
          2.1  Blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46–52) 138
          2.2  The triumphal entry (Mark 11:1–25) 144
          2.3  The rejected Davidic Son of God (Mark 12:1–12) 156
          2.4  Jesus not the Son of David? (Mark 12:35–7) 161
  3    Conclusion 166
6   The Passion 168
  1    Introduction 168
          1.1  The main argument of this chapter 168
          1.2  Typological identification of David and Jesus 171
  2    Ambiguity, suffering and betrayal in the midst of faithful relationship: Psalm 40 in Mark 14:17–21 173
          2.1  Reading Mark 14:17–21 in light of Psalm 40 173
          2.2  Reading Mark 14:17–21 in light of David’s Psalm 40 177
          2.3  Wider effects of Psalm 40 in the sections leading up to Gethsemane 178
  3    Gethsemane: the embodiment of the lamenter 179
          3.1  Reading Mark 14:32–42 without Psalms 40 and 41–2 179
          3.2  Mark 14:32–42 in light of Psalm 41–2: similarities between Jesus and the psalmist 181
          3.3  Davidic implications 186
  4    The arrest and trial: continued abandonment and fulfilling God’s will to suffer 191
          4.1  The scriptural justification for Jesus’ suffering and death 191
          4.2  David as a model for Jesus’ suffering 193
          4.3  Apocalyptic questions 196
  5    The crucifixion and death of Jesus 197
          5.1  Reading Mark 15:22–39 without Psalms 21 and 68 197
          5.2  Reading Mark 15:22–39 in light of Psalms 21 and 68 198
  6    Conclusion 213
7   Conclusion 215
  1    Jesus the warrior king? 215
  2    The veil and the centurion 219
  3    The rest of the story 221
  Works Cited 227
  Index 237


I wish to thank my professors and teachers over the course of my education in theology and religious studies, beginning in 1993, whose dedication and passion for the subject inspired me to continue in my work. John R. Donahue, S. J. initially inspired me to study the Gospel of Mark, and his friendship and encouragement over the years have helped me to grow in many ways. Donald Gelpi, S. J. showed great confidence in my abilities long before I had much of either, and his theological perspective continues to feed me. I would also like to thank Harold W. Attridge of Yale Divinity School for his sage advice in many areas of my academic and personal life, and for his and Jan’s incredible generosity.

The members of my dissertation committee worked with care and dedication in order to sharpen my thought and clarity of presentation. I could not ask for a better team of scholars to advise me in my work. I would like to thank William Schweiker of the University of Chicago Divinity School for the many times he helped me to clarify my muddled thoughts in ways that pushed me to go to a deeper level of insight than I had realized possible. I would like to thank Hans-Josef Klauck, also of the University of Chicago Divinity School, not only for his ongoing interest in my work, but also for his professionalism and integrity in the midst of many trying situations. His support has cleared a path for me where there was none. And my thanks especially go out to Adela Yarbro Collins of Yale Divinity School, who has been an integral part of my doctoral work from its beginning. For her careful reading of my work over the years, for her openness to my ideas, and for sticking by me from beginning to end, I will be always grateful.

I would like to thank the members of the SNTS Monograph Series editorial team, most especially for John M. Court, for supporting this project and facilitating the process of this manuscript becoming a book in a very efficient manner, and Kate Brett for her professional and responsive editing oversight. I would also like to thank Allen Georgia, a student at Methodist Theological School in Ohio, for toiling many hours to prepare the index.

I would like to pass on special thanks to my wife’s parents, John and Barbara Ahearne, who have been unconditionally supportive in every way, and to my mother, Barbara Kroll, who gave me life and believed in me from the beginning.

Finally, none of this would be possible if not for the presence of my wife, Pat, whose own scholarship continues to help me grow in mine and whose integrity, sense of humor, passion, and sense of beauty makes all those around her better people. I send my thanks and love to her always.


AB Anchor Bible
ABD Anchor Bible Dictionary
ANRW Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt: Geschichte und Kultur Roms im Spiegel der neueren Forschung. Ed. H. Temporini and W. Haase. Berlin, 1972–
Bib Biblica
CBQ Catholic Biblical Quarterly
DSS Dead Sea Scrolls
EKKNT Evangelisch‐katholischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament
ExpTim Expository Times
EvT Evangelische Theologie
FoiVie Foi et Vie
FOTL Forms of Old Testament Literature
FRLANT Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments
Gos. Thom. Gospel of Thomas
HTR Harvard Theological Review
HUCA Hebrew Union College Annual
HvTSt Hervormde teologiese studies
Int Interpretation
JQR Jewish Quarterly Review
JBL Journal of Biblical Literature
JR Journal of Religion
JSNT Journal for the Study of the New Testament
JSNTSup Journal for the Study of the New Testament: Supplement Series
JSOT Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
JSOTSup Journal for the Study of the Old Testament: Supplement Series
JSS Journal of Semitic Studies
LCL Loeb Classical Library
LSJ Liddell, H. G., R. Scott, H. S. Jones, A Greek–English Lexikon. 9th edn. with revised supplement. Oxford. 1996.
LXX Septuagint
MT Masoretic Text
NTS New Testament Studies
NovT Novum Testamentum
OTL Old Testament Library
OTP Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Ed. J. H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. New York, 1983
PssLam Psalms of Individual Lament
SBLDS Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series
SBLSP Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers
SBT Studies in Biblical Theology
SUNT Studien zur Umwelt des Neuen Testaments
VT Vetus Testamentum
WBC Word Biblical Commentary
WUNT Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament
ZAW Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft
ZNW Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche

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