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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Mark

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

14.1–15.47 : Jesus' death as martyr‐messiah

(Mt 26.1–27.66; Lk 22.1–23.56; Jn 18.1–19.42 ).

1–2 :

Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread, in March/April, celebrated Israel's deliverance from foreign rule in ancient Egypt. Repressive actions by rulers repeatedly touched off massive protest demonstrations at Passover.

15.1–15 : Jesus condemned by Pilate

(Mt 27.1–2,11–26; Lk 23.1–5,18–25; Jn 18.28–40; 19.4–16 ). The second trial, before the Roman governor Pilate (26–37 CE).

1 :

This further consultation suggests that the specific charge(s) against Jesus were still not clear, and that this continued in the hearing before Pilate (v. 3 ).

2 :

It is the Roman governor who defines the charge as one of indigenous kingship in potential insurrection against the Roman order. The formulation of the question is that of outsiders to Israel, who viewed Galileans and others subject to Herodian rulers as “Judeans.” It is surely significant also that the title King of the Jews (i.e., Judeans) occurs only in speech by Pilate or the Roman soldiers and the inscription on the cross presumably placed there by Pilate's order, in vv. 2,9,12,18,26 , in contrast with “the Messiah, the King of Israel,” used by the chief priests and scribes in v. 32 . Thus Jesus’ answer: “That is what you say.”

4–5 :

As in 14.60–61 , Jesus is just “above it all,” or is deliberately refusing to cooperate in his own interrogation.

6–15 :

There is no evidence outside the New Testament of such a custom by Roman governors of Judea generally. Mark does not in any way suggest that “the Jews” demanded Jesus’ death. The crowd is stirred up by the chief priests. Infamous in sources outside the New Testament for his tough stance, provocations, and violence as Roman governor, Pilate is portrayed as an experienced imperial official who understands both that Jesus is politically more dangerous to the Roman order than an anti‐imperial assassin and how to mollify the crowd while manipulating them into a choice. On crucifixion as the intensely cruel Roman form of torture and execution for provincial rebels, see 8.34n. Beating was standard treatment of political prisoners, whether they were to be executed or not.

15.16–38 : The crucifixion

(Mt 27.27–48; Lk 23.18–43 ).

16–20 :

Along with the purple cloak symbolizing royalty, the mockery, by the whole cohort, of Jesus as “King of the Judeans,” includes several allusions to worship of the Roman emperor whom Jesus has the audacity to challenge: The crown of thorns suggests the laurel wreath crowning the emperor's head, the hailing suggests the acclamation of the emperor, and kneeling in homage suggests the prostration to the emperor. The mutual hostility between Mark's Jesus and the imperial army is unmistakably intense.

21 :

Simon of Cyrene, a peasantcoming in from the country, had perhaps moved back to Judea from the Diaspora Jewish community in Cyrene, west of Egypt; his sons apparently later joined the movement. This Simon in effect replaces Peter, whose original name was Simon, and who had just proven incapable of “taking up his cross” by denying Jesus instead of himself ( 8.34; 14.66–72 ). Perhaps they “compel” Simon to carry the cross because Jesus is already too weak from repeated beatings, 14.65; 15.15,19 . Once hung on the cross he died more quickly than expected (vv. 44–45 ).

23 :

Jesus declines the offer of a sedative to mitigate the pain.

24 :

Casting lots, see Ps 22.18 ; the first of three allusions to this psalm.

26 :

The inscription indicates the crime: As “King of the Judeans” Jesus threatened to bring about a rebellion against the law and order of the empire, which was maintained by such gruesome, terrorizing violence against subject peoples.

27 :

Two bandits, perhaps actually ancient “Robin Hoods”; but the Romans used the term contemptuously to demean rebels against Roman rule. On his right … on his left, cf. 10.37–40 ; not James and John, but the two “bandits” undergo the baptism of death with Jesus.

29–30 :

Shaking their heads, cf. Ps 22.7–8 . The mocking passers‐by would appear to be hostile, using the same terms as the false witnesses in 14.56–58 .

31 :

He saved others; he cannot save himself. Double meaning: cf. 8.34; 10.45 .

33–38 :

Mt 27.45–53; Lk 23.44–48 .

33 :

Darkness came over the whole land, crisis in the natural order indicating God coming in judgment (cf. Joel 2.2; Am 5.18–20; Zeph 1.15 ).

34 :

“Eloi, Eloi,” Jesus crying out in abandonment in the words of Ps 22.1 in Aramaic (see 5.41n.).

35–36 :

Voyeurs, misinterpreting the word “Eloi,” suggest that he is calling for Elijah, and want to revive him, prolonging the ordeal, to see if Elijah comes.

37–38 :

As Jesus dies, the curtain of the Temple (see Ex 26.33 ), separating but also protecting the people from the presence of God, is torn in two, in judgment on the Temple's mediation of the Holy but also opening access to God for the people; see also 1.10 .

15.39–47 : Jesus’ burial

(Mt 27.54–61; Lk 23.49–56 ). Three interrelated responses to Jesus’ death: by a military representative of the Roman rulers, by a representative of the Jerusalem religious establishment, and by loyal women followers.

39 :

Just as Jesus’ other opponents earlier in the Gospel know who he is, so the Roman centurion (the equivalent of a company commander) presiding at his crucifixion recognizes that he was truly “a son of God.” While neither a confession of faith (the centurion continues his duties in 15.44–45 ) nor the final resolution of the messianic secret, contrary to previous interpretations, Mark ironically has the officer who presides at Jesus’ execution recognize his true identity. He also confirms to Pilate that Jesus is dead in 15.44–45 .

40–41 :

As the disciples, commissioned as the leaders of the movement, consistently misunderstood, women were healed by Jesus as symbolic of the renewal of Israel. Now, after the disciples had betrayed, denied, and abandoned Jesus, some of the many women who had followed him and provided for him stood by him, at a distance, throughout the ordeal. Neither of the two women named here has been mentioned earlier. Both will witness the burial site (v. 47 ) and the empty tomb ( 16.1 ).

42–46 :

Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the council that had condemned Jesus (see 14.64 ), but like the scribe in 12.28–34 , interested in the kingdom of God, asked for the body. Apparently eager to dispose of it before the sabbath, he wrapped it, and secured it in a rock tomb sealed with a heavy stone (cf. 16.3 ), without even a gesture of proper burial rites.

47 :

Although the disciples, having completely disappeared, make no effort to afford Jesus proper burial (contrast John's disciples in 6.22 ), the two Marys witness where the body was laid.

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