Lectionary Year B
September 17, 2000
Step II: Disposition
(SC) A. GENRE
This text consists of confession by disciples (27-30), teaching by Jesus
(31-33), & warnings & promises by Jesus (34-38 or -9:1). At 1st reading, it
appears to be pronouncement story qualified & deepened by objection (on the
disciples' part) & correction (on Jesus' part). But it might be understood
more fully as a commissioning & promise narrative (especially if 9:1 is
included) with the following components:
1. Introduction - Mark sets scene geographically (Caesarea Philippi) &
casts characters (Jesus & his disciples & implied opponents).
2. Confrontation - Jesus challenges disciples about his true identity.
3. Reaction - Disciples, & then specifically Peter (with confession),
4. Commission - Jesus responds with core of his message. Predicting his
passion is commission Jesus received from God & describing sufferings of
discipleship is commission the disciples receive from Jesus.
5. Protest - Peter's protest heightens tension & provokes Jesus into
6. Promise - Jesus offers salvation & coming kingdom of God with power.
This pericope is the beginning of the end. In it are most of elements which get
played out through the rest of Mark's Gospel as plot lines of Jesus,
disciples, & opponents (all of which have been introduced in first 8
chapters) are interwoven into passion story. The stakes of being either FOR
or AGAINST Jesus are laid out here & brought to climax in dramatically
accelerated 2nd half of gospel.
(SC) B. PERSONAL INTERACTION
1st Choice - Begin text with 8:27 (Peter's confession) or with 8:31?
I would choose to begin at 8:27 based on following rationale:
1. 8:27 is major division in Mark's Gospel because Jesus is now on way to
Jerusalem, having finished Galilean ministry.
2. Chapters 1-8:26 recount Jesus' healing/teaching ministry. Now
emphasis shifts to prediction & action of passion story, with Jerusalem ministry embedded in it.
3. Chapters 8 & 9 are block, preceding Jesus' leaving for Judea in 10:1.
4. Now Jesus addresses disciples, & 8:27-30 is beginning of teaching
about true nature of Messiah, including predicting his passion & discussing
Arguments against this choice:
1. In chapters 8-16, Jesus is outside Galilee except 8:27-30, when he's
in Caesarea Philippi.
2. 8:27-30 can be seen as explicit culmination of first 8 chapters'
hints about Jesus' identity.
2nd Text Parameter Choice - Include 9:1 (which lectionary does not include)
as conclusion of text?
At this point, I don't know whether to include 9:1 because it can be climax
to today's text or an introduction to following Transfiguration or
transition, acting as both climax & introduction, based on following rationale:
1. 8:27-9:1 is three part unit in which Jesus begins to address impact
of the cross. He challenges disciples about their understanding of true
nature of his identity as Messiah (27-30). Then Jesus elaborates by stating
& developing meaning of his passion (31-33). He concludes this unit by
describing disciples' role - their way of suffering. As climax, 9:1 refers
to God's kingdom coming with power & is important context for understanding
both Jesus' suffering & the suffering disciples are called to (see Context
discussion below). Also, reference to coming kingdom in 9:1 is crucial
part of understanding suffering. The crucifixion should always stay within
the context of resurrection.
2. As introduction to Transfiguration, 9:1begins with a typical Markan
form of beginning another saying of Jesus, "And he said to them..." Since
Transfiguration anticipates future glory of Son of Man, 9:1 sets up that
anticipation by referring to coming kingdom.
3. As transitional statement, 9:1 echoes 8:38 ("in the glory of the
Father with holy angels") & anticipates the glorious imagery of the
Transfiguration. 9:1 links Son of Man christology in Chap. 8 with
identification of Jesus as Son of God expressed in Transfiguration
I would decide whether to include 9:1 within text after further exegesis &
clearer determination of direction of sermon.
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