Lectionary Year B
July 16, 2000
Mark 6:14-29

Step IV: Broader Context


According to the outer margin of the Nestle-text, there is no other mention of the story of John's beheading outside the Gospels. In Luke 9:7-9, Herod is perplexed that people talk about Jesus, saying that he might be the resurrected John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets. Luke's Herod seems to be clear that it cannot be John, for "John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things? (v. 9)" In Matthew's account of John's death (Mt 14:1-11), the disciples come, take John's body; then they go and tell Jesus about it. This is a piece of information that Mark's Gospel does not disclose to its reader.


Esther 5:3 (cf. also v. 6)
The king said to her: "What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of my kingdom."


According to Josephus (Ant. 18, 5, 2), some of the Jews believed that Herod's (Antipas, 4 B.C. - 39 A.D.) army was destroyed by God in the war against the Arabian king Aretas because God executed His just punishment against Herod who had killed John the Baptist. Herod, who had known John to be a just and pious man, feared that John's popularity would lead to an uprising of the people. Thus, Josephus seems to hold political motives responsible for John's death.

[Strack/Billerbeck. Kommentar zum Neuen Testament. Matthew 14:3; see also: C.K. Barrett. The New Testament Background. p. 242.]

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