A Markan Mystery

“Mark wants to insist on two things: Jesus does not want to be known in his true identity until it will be clear that suffering rather than power lies at the core of that identity, but Jesus’ charismatic accomplishments are so great that they cannot be hidden. There is an inevitable tension between those two claims, and it is Mark’s style just to say both, lay them beside each other, and not worry very much about explanations. Karl Barth says that this is often a good way to do theology; it is what he calls theology’s inevitable brokenness. If we know X and we know Y, but X and Y seem inconsistent, better to say them both and leave a mystery than to try to make a coherent system and in the process lose sight of one of the things we knew in the first place. The ‘ultimate word, however is not a further thesis, not a synthesis, but just the name Jesus Christ'” (W. Placher, Mark, p. 108, quoting Barth).

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