"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 close of the age
Mark 13:1-12 [14-31] 32-37 Commentary
by Ronald J. Allen
Scholars widely agree that apocalyptic literature sought to encourage ancient communities to remain faithful in their difficult circumstances by using stock apocalyptic language and imagery adapted to particular contexts (1) to offer theological interpretation of the present threatening situations of the community and (2) to bolster the confidence that God would act in the near future to rectify the situation.
Contemporary congregations often mistakenly think the aim of apocalyptic literature was to frighten readers when the opposite is actually the case. Such writings intended to give congregations the theological confidence to endure until the apocalypse and the coming of the Realm of God.
Both of these dimensions are present in Mark 13. Mark has Jesus speak in the future tense about some events that have already happened in Mark's world and to point to some events that are yet to come. The technical name for this phenomenon is "prophecy after the fact." Mark 13:13b reveals the purpose of this chapter: to give the congregation the perspectives they need to endure until the apocalypse when they will be gathered into the final and full manifestation of the realm of God.
Mark 13:1-2 indicates that the temple has already been destroyed. Mark regards this event as a sign that the apocalypse will soon come.
According to Mark 13:3-6 and 13:21-22, the community is in danger of thinking that someone ...
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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 031: The close of the age.
March 25, 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 close of the age: Mark 13:1-12 [14-31] 32-37.