The Gospel of Mark is shaped out of a re-weaving of Jewish Scriptures. If you want to know its sources then they are, principally but not exclusively, in the “Old Testament”. I have posted on the identification of 160 such scriptures in chapters 11-16 of the Gospel as identified by Howard Clark Kee. (There are more that could be added to that post, especially relating to chapter 12.)
I thought of going through the earlier chapters to make a similar list but the task is simply too much to get through right now. Instead, I have limited myself to a general overview of some of the more obvious allusions to Jewish Scripture in the first chapter only. I’d like to add other chapters over time.
The following table is not exhaustive even for chapter one. More allusions could be identified but some require more explanation that takes more time to present. So I’ve kept the list at a somewhat general level. Notice the story of the leper is a direct transvaluation rather than a more direct reworking of the original. Jesus and the leper are humble foils of Elisha and Naaman. If in the gospel of Mark the original text said Jesus was indignant (as opposed to the more widely attested “moved with compassion”) when the leper knelt and suggesting Jesus could heal him, there may be some significance related to the amount of indignation that runs rife through the 2 Kings narrative: both king Ahab and the leper Naaman at different times become enraged or indignant over the processes involved that led to the cleansing of the leper. Maybe something is missing from our text of Mark, or maybe “compassion” was original to the text after all.)
Here’s the table:
|Jewish Scripture Sources|
The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah . . . as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
In the beginning . . .
Isaiah 52:7; 61:1-2
who bring good news,
. . . .
The Sovereign Lord has filled me with his Spirit.
“See, I am sending an angel [=messenger] ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.
“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me.
A voice of one calling:
And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
2 Kings 1:8
And they answered him, He was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite.
1 Kings 17:2-6
And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before the Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down
. . . the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God
. . . the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters
Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded . . .
He said to me, “You are my son;
Here is My Servant, whom I uphold, My Chosen One, in whom My soul delights. I will put My Spirit on Him, and He will bring justice to the nations.
At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
|Exodus 14:29; 15:22
But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur . . .
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.
Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to Adam . . .
For he will command his angels concerning you
1 Kings 19:3-6
Elijah . . . went a day’s journey into the wilderness. . . . All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water.
. . . Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
. . . he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan— The people walking in darkness
who bring good news,
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
|1 Kings 19:19-21
So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”
“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”
So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.
Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them . . .
They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
|Nahum = comfort (Capernaum = city of comfort)
Isaiah 40:1; 61:2
Comfort, comfort my people,
. . . .
He has sent me to comfort all who mourn.
How beautiful on the mountains
Look, there on the mountains,
1 Kings 17:18
She then said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!”
2 Kings 4:9
“Look, I am sure that this man who regularly passes our way is a holy man of God.
When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses . . . they were afraid to come near him.
That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him all the days of his life, just as they had stood in awe of Moses.
1 Samuel 18:14-15
In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him.
1 Kings 3:28
When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.
As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
For I am the Lord your God
who forgives all your sins
1 Kings 17:15
She went and did as Elijah said.
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”
|2 Kings 5:3-19
She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
. . . The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”
. . . When Elisha the man of God heard . . . he sent him this message: “. . . Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. . . ” So he turned and went off in a rage.
Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy
. . . said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord. . . .
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