Skip to main content

The Death of Jesus in Mark and the Miracle from the Cross

  • Howard M. Jackson

At the primary, narrative level the riddle of Mark's brief account of Jesus' death and its immediate aftermath must still be pronounced unsolved. There has been a steadily growing awareness among scholars that, for all the insights they have afforded us, form and redaction criticism have tended to deprive the Evangelists of reputations for competence as narrators and their story-lines of coherence and integrity and that this tendency does them injustice. Yet though the latest study of Mark 15. 37–39 is sensitive to this issue, it cannot be pronounced successful in making complete sense of Mark's narrative qua narrative. This paper offers a solution to the riddle and argues what I realize is the rather radical thesis that Mark intended a connection between the events of these verses that has never been fully and properly understood.

Hide All


[1] Chronis, Harry L., ‘The Torn Veil: Cultus and Christology in Mark 15. 37–39’, JBL 101 (1982) 97114, especially 97–8, 109.

[2] Chronis' statement (‘The Torn Veil’ 99 n. 8) that οὕτως ‘is probably a simple “thus” (so RSV) with resumptive or restorative rather than recapitulative force’ evades rather than resolves this question.

[3] Explicit advocates of the view that κράξας (vel. sim.) is a gloss: Weiss, B., Die Evangelien des Markus und Lukas (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1901) 238 n.; Hoffmann, Richard Adolf, Das Marcusevangelium und seine Quellen. Ein Beitrag zur Lösung der Urmarcusfrage (Königsberg i. Pr.: Thomas und Oppermann, 1904) 627; Blinzler, Josef, Der Prozess Jesu (Regensburg: Pustet, 1969) 373 n. 61; Schenk, Wolfgang, Der Passionsbericht nach Markus. Untersuchungen zur Überlieferungsgeschichte der Passionstraditionen (Gütersloh: Mohn, 1974) 22 and n. 86; Dormeyer, Detlev, Die Passion Jesu als Verhaltensmodell. Literarische und theologische Analyse der Traditions- und Redaktionsgeschichte der Markuspassion (Münster: Aschendorff, 1974) 206 n. 867; Stock, Klemens, ‘Das Bekenntnis des Centurio. Mk 15, 39 im Rahmen des Markusevangeliums’, ZKTh 100 (1978) 290 n. 5. Bruce M. Metzger reports the majority opinion of the Editorial Committee of the United Bible Societies' New Testament in A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (United Bible Societies, 1971) 121, where the choice of ὅτι οὕτως έξέπνευσεν is accorded a ‘C’, expressing ‘a considerable degree of doubt’ (p. xxviii). This doubt is evidently based on the grounds spelled out in the commentary ad loc., that ‘witnesses that include κράξας or its equivalent are diversified and widespread, while those that lack it are chiefly of one textual type (Alexandrian).’ As Metzger goes on to indicate, however, the diversified and widespread attestation of some form of κράξειν is as much likely to be due to the earliness of the interpolation as to the originality of one of those forms. One might equally argue that the similarly well-diversified and widespread attestation of οὕτως argues for its originality but that κράξας (or the like) is in that case likely to be a secondary interpolation because it makes οὕτως awkward and superfluous, and this fact in turn led to the suppression of οὕτως in some textual traditions.

[4] Taylor, Vincent, (The Gospel according to St. Mark; New York: St. Martin's, 1966, 597) argues that ‘so great a weight of attestation’ for some form of κράξειν ‘strongly suggests’ that the motive-clause originally included one; Cranfield, C. E. B. (The Gospel according to St. Mark; Cambridge: the University Press, 1959, 460) speaks simply of ‘strong textual evidence’; Best, Ernest (The Temptation and the Passion. The Markan Soteriology; Cambridge: the University Press, 1965, 100 n. 1) concurs without comment. Others marshall more complicated arguments in support of one particular reading. Turner, C. H., ‘Western Readings in the Second Half of St Mark's Gospel’, JThS 29 (1928) 1213 wonders whether the οὕτως Ẻκραξεν presupposed by one witness to the Old Latin version (k with sic exciamavit) is not (original 1) because κράζειν (has ‘very strong support’, 2) because it was ‘in all probability’ from Mark 15. 39 that Matthew drew κράξας for 27. 50, and 3) because ‘it is exactly the sort of indication of violent emotion that Alexandrian critics would have liked to modify’. Sahlin, Harald, ‘Zum Verständnis der christologischen Anschauung des Markusevangeliums’, StTh 31 (1977) 5 with n. 10, argues that κράξας Èξέπνευσεν weakly attested, represents the original text and that the readings οὕτως κράξας Ẻξέπνευσεν and οὕτως Èξέπνευσεν arose from the attempt on the part of some reader to ‘improve’ the text by superscribing οὕτως over κράξας, an improvement which then either crept into the text or (so it seems Sahlin means to argue) replaced the word it was intended to enhance. Lohmeyer, Ernst (Das Evangelium des Markus; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1967; 346 n. 4) believes that the nonsensical text offered by D (οὕτως αύτòν κράξαντα καί έξέπνευσεν without ὅτι and without εὄπεν) might explain all the variants: καύ Ẻξέπνευσεν is a later addition made to effect conformity with other readings; D therefore represents an original οὕτως αύτòν κράξαντα or ὅτι οὕτως ἔκραξεν, which underlies k. This argument based on the text of D is a simplified version of a more convoluted scenario offered by Couchoud, Paul-Louis, ‘Notes de critique verbale sur St. Marc et St. Matthieu’, JTHS 34 (1933) 133–4.Glaue, Paul, ‘Einige Stellen, die die Bedeutung des Codex D charakterisieren’, NovT 2 (1958) 312–13, similarly bases an argument upon the text of D. In his view D's έξέπνευσεν represents an error for what was originally Ẻξένευσεν – ‘“wandte er sich ab” (nämlich in dem Gedanken)’ – and D's now faulty text, misunderstood, was altered to ὅξέ νευσεν.

[5] Wellhausen, J., Das Evangelium Marci übersetzt und erklärt (Berlin: Reimer, 1903) 141. Wellhausen softened his tone in the second edition of his commentary (1909), replacing ‘skurriler Unsinn’ with ‘alber’.

[6] This has allowed some to read what can only be called the most fantastic meanings into the cry. The interpretation in favour of which Sahlin argues the priority of κράξας in 15. 39 is that Jesus' cry is a primal scream, the cry, in this instance, of a newborn baby, the heavenly Son of Man given birth through Jesus' death on the Cross (‘Zum Verständnis der christologischen Anschauung des Markusevangeliums’ 5–7). Danker, Frederick W., ‘The Demonic Secret in Mark: A Reexamination of the Cry of Dereliction (1534)’, ZNW 61 (1970) 4869, basing his argument on the fact that φωνὴ μεγάλη is elsewhere in Mark used only of demons at their expulsion (1. 26; 5. 7; cp. 9. 26), holds that at his crucifixion Jesus was possessed by a demon (hence the content of the cry, 15. 34) and that the cry of 15. 37 represents a self-exorcism.

[7] Patristic and early modern references: August, HeinrichMeyer, Wilhelm, Critical and Exegetical Hand-book to the Gospels of Mark and Luke (trans. Wallis, R.; rev, and ed. Dickson, W.; New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1884) 191–2; Knabenbauer, Joseph, Commentarius in quatuor s. evangelia II. Evangelium secundum S. Marcum (Paris: Lethielleux, 1907) 425, 426; Lagrange, M.-J., Evangile selon Saint Marc (Paris: Gabalda, 1929) 436, 437. These views still have their exponents (though often more cautious ones with more nuanced positions): Iannotta, Antonius M., ‘Quum lesus Christus “emissa voce magna exspiravit” sese vere Deum esse ostendit’, Divus Thomas 36 (1933) 265–73; Schniewind, Julius, Das Evangelium nach Markus (Göttmgen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1960) 199; Taylor, , The Gospel according to St. Mark 596 (‘Both Pilate and the centurion marvelled that Jesus died so soon …’, though Mark 15. 44–5 does not explicitly make the centurion share Pilate's amazement); Lamarche, Paul, ‘La mort du Christ et le voile du temple’, NRTh 96 (1974) 590 n. 20; Stock, ‘Das Bekenntnis des Centurio’ 293, 294.

[8] Hoffmann, , Das Marcusevangelium und seine Quellen 627–8; and Klostermann, Erich, Das Markusevangelium (Tübingen: Mohr, 1950) 167, both of whom follow Origen in referring to the cry of Mark 15. 34, though without claiming its identity with that of v. 37; Swete, Henry Barclay, The Gospel according to St. Mark (London: MacMillan, 1913) 387, 389; Turner, ‘Western Readings’ 13; Bligh, John, ‘Christ's Death Cry’, Hey J 1 (1960) 142–6; Johnson, Sherman E., A Commentary on the Gospel according to St. Mark (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960) 257–8; Best, The Temptation and the Passion 100–1; Haenchen, Ernst, Der Weg Jesu. Eine Erklärung des Markus-Evangeliums und der kanonischen Parallelen (Berlin: Töpelmann, 1966) 536–7; Blinzler, , Der Prozess Jesu 373–4; Schenke, Ludger, Der gekreuzigte Christus. Versuch einer literarkritischen und traditions-geschichrlichen Bestimmung der vormarkinischen Passionsgeschichte (Stuttgart: KBW, 1974) 85–6, 96–8, 102–3, 108 (denying validity to the thesis that the cry of v. 34 is a secondary interpretation of that of v. 37, though upholding their identity for the Markan narrative); Tannehill, Robert C., ‘The Gospel of Mark as Narrative Christology’, Semeia 16 (1979) 88. Critics of the view that Mark intends a single cry in vv. 34 and 37: Martinez, Ernesto R., The Gospel Accounts of the Death of Jesus (Roma: Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana, 1970) 31–9; Schneider, Gerhard, Die Passion Jesu nach den drei älteren Evangelien (München: Kösel, 1973) 123–8; Stock, ‘Das Bekenntnis des Centurio’ 290–1 and n. 6; Gnilka, Joachim, Das Evangelium nach Markus 2 (Zürich, Einsiedeln, Köln: Benziger Verlag – Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1979) 312 and n. 15.

[9] Schreiber, Johannes, ‘Die Christologie des Markusevangeliums’, ZThK 58 (1961) 154–83, especially 156–9, 163–6; Theologie des Vertrauens. Eine redaktionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung des Markusevangeliums (Hamburg: Furche, 1967) 3340, 44–7 (with help from the free-will death theory), 66–82; Bartsch, Hans-Werner, ‘Historische Erwägungen zur Leidensgeschichte’, EvTh 22 (1962) 452–3; Die Bedeutung des Sterbens Jesu nach den Synoptikern’, ThZ 20 (1964) 94–5; ‘Der ursprüngliche Schluss der Leidensgeschichte. Überlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien zum Markusschluss’, L'Evangile selon Marc (Gembloux: Duculot, [c. 1974’) 418; Popkes, Wiard, Christus Traditus. Eine Untersuchung zum Begriff der Dahingabe im Neuen Testament (Zürich/Stuttgart: Zwingli, 1967) 231 n. 656; Strobel, August, Kerygma und Apokalyptik. Ein religionsgeschichtlicher und theologischer Beitrag zur Christusfrage (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1967) 139–45; Trilling, Wolfgang, Christusverkündigung in den synoptischen Evangelien (München: Kösel, 1969) 199, 201–2; Martinez, , The Gospel Accounts of the Death of Jesus 31–2, 59; Scroggs, Robin, ‘Reflections on the Question: Was There a Pre-Markan Passion Narrative?SBLASP (1971) 2 557–8, 559–61; Weeden, Theodore J., Mark – Traditions in Conflict (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971) 145–7, 165–6; ‘The Cross as Power in Weakness (Mark 15. 20b-41)’, The Passion in Mark. Studies on Mark 14–16 (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1976) 120, 130–4 (Weeden is in agreement with Schreiber as to the apocalyptic connections of the cry – Jesus is exalted, triumphing over inimical forces – but disagrees with him that the centurion's confession is based on the recognition of a vindicated ‘θεος dνήρ’, viewing it as paradoxically occasioned by his suffering); Betz, O., ‘φωνή’, TDNT 9 (1974) 282–3 (the OT), 286 (Jewish apocalyptic), 293–4 (Mark); Schenk, , Der Passionsbericht nach Markus 43–5, 48, 55; Schützeichel, Heribert, ‘Der Todesschrei Jesu. Bemerkungen zu einer Theologie des Kreuzes’, TThZ 83 (1974) 116; Gnilka, , Das Evangelium nach Markus 2 312–13, 323, 324.

[10] Chronis' otherwise enlightening exposition fails precisely in this, He underscores the existence of a literary connection between vv. 38 and 39, takes another scholar to task for his interpretation's failure to make sense of the narrative at the ‘story-level’, and insists that the centurion's confession must proceed ‘from genuine perception’ (‘The Torn Veil’ 108–9), yet his own view – that the centurion, though he did not see the event at the Temple, confesses on the basis of a realization that Jesus' death is a theophany because Mark intends the torn curtain as a ‘cipher’ for God's revelation of his presence in the ‘“rending” of the flesh of the true Temple, Jesus (pp. 109–14) – still reduces the soldier to a puppet of Mark±s Christology.

[11] Weiss, Johannes, ‘Das Markus-Evangelium’, Die Schriften des Neuen Testaments 1 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1917) 218; Finegan, Jack, Die Überlieferung der Leidens- und Auferstehungsgeschichte Jesu (Giessen: Töpelmann, 1934) 76; Hirsch, Emanuel, Frühgeschichte des Evangeliums I. Das Werden des Markusevangeliums (Tübingen: Mohr, 1941) 172; Bultmann, Rudolf, Die Geschichte der synoptischen Tradition (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1958) 295–6 with n. 1; Bartsch, ‘Histonsche Erwägungen zur Leidensgeschichte’ 451 and n. 6; Schmid, Josef, Das Evangelium nach Markus (Regensburg Pustet, 1963) 303; Schulz, Siegfried, Die Stunde der Botschaft. Einführung in die Theologie der vier Evangelisten (Hamburg: Furche–Zürich: Zwingli, 1970) 130; Pobee, John, ‘The Cry of the Centurion – A Cry of Defeat’, The Trial of Jesus (Naperville, Illinois: Allenson, 1970) 100; Scroggs, ‘Was There a Pre-Markan Passion Narrative?’ 560; Schenke, , Der gekreuzigte Christus 103 (without accepting it); Gnilka, , Das Evangelium nach Markus 2 313.

[12] Note Lange, Joachim, ‘Zur Ausgestaltung der Szene vom Sterben Jesu in den synoptischen Evangelien’, Biblische Randbemerkungen. Schülerfestschrift für Rudolf Schnackenburg zum 60. Geburtstag (Würzburg: Echter-Verlag, 1974) 40–9.

[13] Michaels, J. Ramsay, ‘The Centurion's Confession and the Spear Thrust’, CBQ 29 (1967) 108; Pesch, Rudolf, Das Markusevangelium 2 (Freiburg-Basel-Wien: Herder, 1977) 499500; Stock, ‘Das Bekenntnis des Centurio’ 290.

[14] Weiss, B., Die Evangelien den Markus und Lukas 238; Schreiber, ‘Die Christologie des Markusevangeliums’ 166 and n. 2; Theologie des Vertrauens 44–6; Vanhoye, Albert, ’Structure et théologie des récits de la Passion dans les évangiles synoptiques’, NRTh 89 (1967) 152; Weeden, , Mark – Traditions in Conflict 166–7 and n. 8; ‘The Cross as Power in Weakness’ 120; Donahue, John R., Are You the Christ? The Trial Narrative in the Gospel of Mark (Missoula, Montana: Scholars Press, 1973) 93–4, 204; Schenke, , Der gekreuzigte Christus 103; Schenk, , Der Passionsbericht nach Markus 54, 58; Stock, ‘Das Bekenntnis des Centurio’ 290 with nn. 3 and 4, 300–1; Gnilka, , Das Evangelium nach Markus 2 313; Dormeyer, Detlev, Der Sinn des Leidens Jesu. Historisch-kritische und text-pragmarische Analysen zur Markuspassion (Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1979) 87 n. 65.

[15] In accordance with his own interpretation Chronis (‘The Torn Veil’ 109) urges that ‘eschatological insight’ is meant.

[16] George Nickelsburg, W. E., ‘The Genre and Function of the Markan Passion Narrative’, HTR 73 (1980) 153–84, especially Table 1 (158–9) and 160–6, 174–6.

[17] So Weeden, , Mark – Traditions in Conflict, especially conveniently in pp. 159–68; ‘The Cross as Power in Weakness’ 115–34; Schenk, , Der Passionsbericht nach Markus 53.

[18] Schreiber, ‘Die Christologie des Markusevangeliums’ 163; Vielhauer, Phiipp, ‘Erwägungen zur Christologie des Markusevangeliums’, Aufsätze zum Neuen Testament (München: Kaiser, 1965) 199214; Best, , The Temptation and the Passion 99100, 167–73; Donahue, , Are You the Christ? 8493, 178–80; ‘Temple, Trial, and Royal Christology (Mark 14:53–65)’, The Passion in Mark 71–9; Perrin, Norman, Christology and a Modern Pilgrimage. A Discussion with Norman Perrin (Missoula, Montana: Scholars Press, 1974) 32–4; ‘The Christology of Mark’, L'Évangile selon Marc 479–80; ‘The High Priest's Question and Jesus' Answer (Mark 14:61–62)’, The Passion in Mark 85–9; Kee, Howard Clark, Community of the New Age. Studies in Mark's Gospel (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1977) 121–4; Tannehill, ‘The Gospel of Mark as Narrative Christology’ 74–5.

[19] Bultmann, , Die Geschichte der synoptischen Tradition 295–6: ‘Aber mit dem οὕτως ist doch wohl das τέρας V. 33 (und V. 38?) gemeint …’

[20] Explicitly denied: e.g. Bligh, ‘Christ's Death Cry’ 143; Boman, Thorleif, ‘Des letzte Wort Jesu’, StTh 17 (1963) 110; Schenke, , Der gekreuzigte Christus 103 (less forcefully than the rest). Proposed: Vielhauer, ‘Erwägungen zur Christologie des Markusevangeliums’ 208 (together with the great cry and the darkness); Schulz, , Die Stunde der Botschaft 138 (with the darkness); Dormeyer, , Die Passion Jesu als Verhaltensmodell 206 (along with everything else). Swete, (The Gospel according to St. Mark 389) already proposed that the report of what happened at the Temple might have been a factor (along with the cry, the darkness, and Matthew's earthquake) in swaying the centurion. With the help of major redactional surgery Schenk, (Der Passionsbericht nach Markus 22, 48) goes so far as to interpret Ẻξ Ẻναντίας αύτοῡ to mean ‘opposite the Temple’, but though this suggestion is grammatically possible, both the narrative (since 15. 16–27 encourages the conclusion that the centurion is part of the cohort, and 15. 44–45 suggestsaguard at the cross) and the Christological sequence just discussed, which demands the centurion's focus upon Jesus, tell against it.

[21] Even Chronis (“The Torn Veil” 99, 107) still admits this, though his goal is to make sense of the narrative.

[22] Many do little more than draw attention to it: Weiss, B., Die Evangelien des Markus und Lukas 238; Lightfoot, R. H., The Gospel Message of St. Mark (Oxford: Clarendon, 1950) 56 (explaining the parallel as both describing the ‘at-one-ment between God and man’); Johnson, , A Commentary on the Gospel according to St. Mark 257; Pobee, ‘The Cry of the Centurion - A Cry of Defeat’ 96–7; Linnemann, Eta, Studien zur Passionsgeschichte (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1970) 161–2. Lamarche, ‘La mort du Christ et le voile du temple’ 585, points up an interpretation of the parallel that draws its inspiration from Heb. Best, , The Temptation and the Passion 99 n. 2, regards any connection between the two rendings as ‘fanciful’.

[23] Advocates of the outer curtain: Dalman, Gustaf, The Words of Jesus (trans. Kay, D.; Edinburg: T. & T. Clark, 1902) 56; Lindeskog, Gösta, ‘The Veil of the Temple’, ConNT 11 (1947) 132–7; Klostermann, , Das Markusevangelium 167; Vincent, L. Hughes, Jérusalem de l'Ancien Testament. Recherches d'archéologie et d'histoire 2 (Paris: Gabalda, 1956) 468; Pelletier, André, ‘Le “voile” du Temple de Jérusalem est-il devenu la “portière” du temple d'Olympie”?Syria 32 (1955) 289307, especially pp. 296–303; ‘La tradition synoptique du “voile déchiré”, RechScRel 46 (1958) 161–80, especially pp. 165–72; Le grand rideau du vestibule du Temple de Jérusalem’, Syria 35 (1958) 218–26 (the three articles by Pelletier are particularly full and informative); Lohmeyer, , Das Evangelium des Markus 347; Bartsch, ‘Der ursprüngliche Schluss der Leidensgeschichte’ 419 and n. 30; Lane, William L., The Gospel according to Mark (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1974) 574–5; Juel, Donald, Messiah and Temple. The Trial of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark (Missoula, Montana: Scholars Press, 1977) 140–2; Ernst, , Das Evangelium nach Markus 473. Advocates of the inner curtain: Strack, H. and Bilerbeck, P., Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch 1 (München Beck, 1969 [1926]) 1043–6, whose reasoning (that the inner curtain had high cultic significance, whereas the outer had none) many follow; Bartlet, J. Vernon, St. Mark (New York: Frowde, 1922) 428–9; Lightfoot, , The Gospel Message of St. Mark 56; Cranfield, , The Gospel according to Saint Mark 459–60; Yates, J. E., The Spirit and the Kingdom (London: S.P.C.K., 1963) 232–7; Taylor, , The Gospel according to St. Mark 596 (with other references); Michaels, ‘The Centurion's Confession and the Spear Thrust’ 108; Schreiber, , Theologie des Vertrauens 37 with n. 64; Linnemann, , Studien zur Passionsgeschichte 158–9; Schenke, , Der gekreuzigte Christus 100; Schenk, , Der Passionsbericht nach Markus 45–6; Gnilka, , Das Evangelium nach Markus 2 323–4; Chronis ‘The Torn Veil’ 110 n. 67.

[24] So Vielhauer, ‘Erwägungen zur Christologie des Markusevangeliums’ 212–14; Perrin, ‘The High Priest's Question and Jesus' Answer’ 91–4.

[25] Stock, ‘Das Bekenntnis des Centurio’ 299–300; Scroggs, ‘Was There a Pre-Markan Passion Narrative?’ 562 n. 133; Lührmann, Dieter, ‘Markus 14. 55–64. Christologie und Zerstörung des Tempels im Markusevangelium’, NTS 27 (1981) 459, 466.

[26] On this bias in Mark, especially in conjunction with the anti-Temple theme, see, for example, Kiddie, M., ‘The Death of Jesus and the Admission of the Gentiles in St Mark’, JThS 35 (1934) 4550; Robinson, James M., The Problem of History in Mark (Naperville, Illinois: Allenson, 1957) 63–7; Donahue, , Are You the Christ? 45, 113–27; Perrin, , Christology and a Modern Pilgrimage 29; Kee, , Community of the New Age 33–4, 97–8, 113–16, 146–51; Juel, , Messiah and Temple passim, but especially pp. 127–39;Baarlink, Heinrich, ‘Zur Frage nach dem Antijudaismus im Markusevangelium’, ZNW 70 (1979) 166–93.

[27] For example, Lagrange, , Evangile selon Saint Marc 436; Taylor, , The Gospel according to St. Mark 596; Schenk, , Der Passionsbericht nach Markus 45.

[28] In favour of this view: Schweizer, , ‘έκπνέω’, TDNT 6 (1968) 452–3; Farrer, Austin, A Study in St Mark (New York: Oxford, 1952) 180; St Matthew and St Mark (Westminster: Dacre, 1954) 155; Schenk, , Der Passionsbericht nach Markus 45; Schneider, , Die Passion Jesu nach den drei älteren Evangelien 127, alluding to passages like Gen 2. 7; 6. 3; Job 12. 10; 34. 14–15; Ps 104. 29–30; Isa 42. 1, 5; Ezek 37. 5–14, in all of which God gives or takes away breath/Spirit; Pesch, , Das Markusevangelium II 497; Sahlin, ‘Zum Verständnis der christologischen Anschauung des Markusevangeliums’ 8. Ernst, , Das Evangelium nach Markus 472, is noncommittat Gnilka, , Das Evangelium nach Markus 2 323, is sceptical.

[29] See BDF §§442 458, 471; Taylor, , The Gospel according to St. Mark 49, for other examples.

[30] The comparison is already made by Cyril of Alexandria and others, who see the tearing of the curtain as the rending of the Temple's garment in mourning at the blasphemy of Jesus' execution or in lamentation at its own imminent demise; references are provided by Pelletier, ‘La tradition synoptique du “voile déchiré”’ 164–6; Lamarche, ‘La mort du Christ et le voile du temple’ 583–4 and n. 3. Some modern commentators support this view as the intended meaning of the tearing of the personified Temple's curtain: Wellhausen, , Das Evangelium Marci (1903) 132; Klostermann, , Das Markusevangelium 167; Daube, David, The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism (London: Athlone, 1956) 23–6; Dormeyer, , Der Sinn des Leidens Jesu 81.

[31] Nickelsburg, ‘The Genre and Function of the Markan Passion Narrative’ 179, is wrong, then, to maintain that Mark ‘explicitly dissociates’ Jesus' Vindication (the tearing of the curtain) from his Acclamation (the centurion's confession); the latter is based on the former. This is, in fact, typical of the genre, and Mark is no exception.

[32] Some commentators come close to suggesting this connection. Farrer, for example, who properly understands Ẻξέπνευσεν as a paronomasia, goes so far as to say that the tearing of the curtain is a ‘token’ of the ‘flight of the spirit’ from Jesus' body (St Matthew and St Mark 155). Earlier, , in A Study in St Mark (p. 180), he adopts the view, already taken by Tertullian and others (see Lamarche, ‘La mort du Christ et le voile du temple’ 584 and n. 7) and shared by Grundmann, , Das Evangelium nach Markus 316; Schreiber, , Theologie des Vertrauens 37; Pobee, ‘The Cry of the Centurion – A Cry of Defeat’ 97 and n. 26; Schenke, , Der gekreuzigte Christus 100; and Lange, ‘Zur Ausgestaltung der Szene vom Sterben Jesu’ 50, that the tearing of the curtain is the visible sign of the Spirit of God deserting the Temple. Chronis (‘The Torn Veil’ 109 with n. 64 and 113 n. 81) offers further grounds for believing v. 38 to indicate God as the agent and believes it ‘conceivable’ that the tearing of the curtain ‘symbolizes the fatal consequence of Jesus' surrender of (and the departure of) the Holy Spirit’.

[33] It is interesting, though perhaps only coincidental, that Ep. Arist. 86 should record the following as remarkable above all else about the outer curtain of the Herodian Temple: ‘Its fabric owing to the draught of wind (διά τὴν τοῡ πνεύματος ύποδρομήν) was in perpetual motion, and as this motion was communicated from the bottom and the curtain bulged out to its highest extent, it afforded a pleasant spectacle from which a man could scarcely tear himself away’ (trans. Andrews, Herbert T., APOT 2 103). It is understandable, then, how the Roman centurion might have been equally fascinated by the rippling, even from a distance, and that the prodigious tear would be something that would catch his eye.

[34] Note particularly Betz, O., ‘φωνή’, TDNT 9 (1974) 293–4; Bartsch, ‘Historische Erwägungen zur Leidensgeschichte’ 452; ‘Die Bedeutung des Sterbens Jesu nach den Synoptikern’ 95; ‘Der ursprüngliche Schluss der Leidensgeschichte’ 418; Schreiber, , Theologie des Vertrauens 3440; Scroggs, ‘Was There a Pre-Markan Passion Narrative?’ 557–8 and n. 124; Schenk, , Der Passionsbericht nach Markus 43–5; Schützeichel, ‘Der Todesschrei Jesu’ 3–4.

[35] For a recent treatment of Mark's debt to the OT in the Passion narrative see Kee, H. C., ‘Scripture Quotations and Allusions in Mark 11–16’, SBLASP (1971) 475502.

[36] References to this tradition, though without recognition of its implications for Mark, are made by Schreiber, , Theologie des Vertrauens 34, 36; Schenk, , Der Passionsbericht nach Markus 44; Schützeichel, ‘Der Todesschrei Jesu’ 4.

[37] See, for example, Kleinknecht, , Baumgärtel, , Schweizer, , ‘πνενμα’, TDNT 6 (1968) 357–8 (generally), 365–6 (the OT), 397 and 403 (Mark); Schweizer, Eduard, ‘The Spirit of Power. The Uniformity and Diversity of the Concept of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament’, Int 6 (1952) 259–78; Robinson, , The Problem of History in Mark 28–9.

[38] See, for instance, Laible, Heinrich, ‘Der zerrissene Tempelvorhang und die eingestürzte Oberschwelle des Tempeleingangs vom Talmud bezeugt’, NKZ 35 (1924) 287314; Montefiore, H. W., ‘Josephus and the New Testament’, NovT 4 (1960) 148–54.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

New Testament Studies
  • ISSN: 0028-6885
  • EISSN: 1469-8145
  • URL: /core/journals/new-testament-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 40 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 268 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.