"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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The great commandment
Mark 12:28-34 Commentary
by Ronald J. Allen
The ancient notion that identity is communal is the background of Mark 12:28-34
To be was to be part of a specific group. The group was present in the individual; the individual represented the group. A primary question was, "Am I faithful to my community?" To be in tension with one's community was a major challenge to one's own identity. To be cast out of a community created a crisis. This situation was quite different from our North American emphasis on individuality and on finding oneself.
Mark wrote about 70 CE after the fall of Jerusalem. With the temple destroyed, many Jewish communities asked, "What does it mean now to be Jewish? What is the core of Jewish identity?" In today's text, Mark offers an answer to the Markan congregation.
The Markan congregation was a sect within Judaism with two distinguishing characteristics:
(1) The congregation believed that the ministry of Jesus, an apocalyptic prophet, signaled that the transition was underway from the present evil age to the coming Realm of God. This transition would be complete only when Jesus returned at ...
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Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
Narrative Lectionary 029: The Great Commandment.
March 11, 2012
Join Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Kathryn Schifferdecker, and Craig Koester for "I Love to Tell the Story," a weekly conversation on the narrative lectionary. This week's reading is The Great Commandment: Mark 12:28-34.