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The Dialectic in the Gospel of Mark

April 13th, 2006 | 3 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

A dramatic section of the Gospel of Mark consists of Jesus triumphantly entering Jerusalem, cleansing the temple, and the subsequent attacks on Him by the religious leaders. The first two events lead to the third: Jesus essentially asserts Himself as the King and High Priest worthy of the praise of the people and with authority to direct the affairs of the temple. The chief priests, scribes and elders, therefore, naturally came to Him to question Him, demanding a reason why He should assert Himself in such a manner. In so doing, they open themselves up to discussion, or "the dialectic", with questions and answers, which ultimately puts them in a distressing position.

These religious leaders were used to discussion from their rabbinical training. They had establised a system of interpreting the Scriptures by referring to earlier commentaries and considering each viewpoint carefully. (See Luke 2:41-52 for the boy Jesus' interaction with these rabbis.)  In keeping with this method, they approach Jesus to challenge His authority, though their motives appear to be informed by power politics and not a simple search after truth.

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Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.