214 Commentary

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This page forms part of the resources for 214 Kingdom and Repentance in the Jesus Database project of FaithFutures Foundation

Crossan Inventory | 214 Literature | 214 Parallels | 214 Commentary | 214 Poetry | 214 Images


Jesus Seminar

The views of the Seminar on this item can be represented as follows:

  • Mark 1:15
  • Matt 4:17b
  • Matt 3:2

While the Fellows of the Jesus Seminar consider that the idea of God's imperial rule ("the kingdom of God") was central to Jesus' message and mission, they voted this passage Black since it seems to be the creation of Mark or his community. In this judgment the Seminar was very close to view of John P. Meier.


Lüdemann [Jesus, 10] describes this passage as "a summary didactic depiction of Jesus' preaching of repentance under the influence of Christian missionary terminology." Mark is portraying Jesus as the model Christian missionary: aware that the time is fulfilled, motivated by the imminence of the eschatological events, calling for repentance, and offering a gospel to be received with faith.

John P. Meier

Meier [Marginal Jew II,430-34] looks at this item in some detail. Since it is clear that vs 14 comes from Mark, the question then becomes whether vs 15 is a summary of Jesus' preaching (created by Mark) rather than a memory of an actual saying of Jesus. While Meier is inclined to accept that the core saying "the kingdom of God has drawn near" may be authentic (since it seems to have independent attestation in Q (Luke 10:9 || Matt 10:7-8), he notes that it remains unclear whether it refers to a future eschatological event or to a present reality. Meier notes that Mark 1:15 and Luke 10:9 par use the perfect tense (eggiken), and that technically the expression can mean either "has drawn very near" or simply "is here." As Meier himself notes, this is all very well but rather besides the point, since Jesus most likely said the original form of this statement in Aramaic and we cannot know what precise expression he used.

He concludes:

... I think it is unwise to use Mark 1:15 parr. as one of the key texts to document either the future or the realized dimension of Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom.
This is not to say that the kingdom-proclamation in Mark 1:15 parr. has no bearing on the quest for the historical Jesus or the eschatology he proclaimed. The saying certainly has a claim to authenticity on the grounds of both characteristic vocabulary and multiple attestation. At the very least it does show that Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God drawing near, whether he thought that it had already arrived by the time he was speaking or whether he thought that it would soon do so. (p. 434)