Saturday, February 07, 2004

Echoes of the Psalms in the Gospel of Mark

As I was preparing a Bible study for a homegroup that meets in Brooklyn, I was struck by Mark's use of, or reflection on, Psalm 23 in the sixth chapter of his Gospel. Mark is undeniably painting Jesus as the shepherd of that psalm, or we might even go as far to say that Mark is finding Psalm 23's fulfillment in the feeding of the five-thousand. For me the dead give away was Mark's mention that "Jesus directed them [the apostles] to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass" (v. 39). After noticing this, I immediately turned to the LXX to see how it rendered the green grass of Psalm 23 in the MT. Both the LXX and Mark employ a derivative of cloros. But that's not where it ends. The obvious reflection is v. 34, "They were like sheep without a shepherd," which echoes v. 1 of Psalm 23. Furthermore, v. 42 of Mark 6 says that "they all ate and were satisfied," which echoes vv. 5a and 1 of Psalm 23, "You prepare a table before me" and "I shall not be in want." It was disappointing to find that the commentaries were silent on this one (not that my commentary library is exhaustive). But I was encouraged to see that Mark Horne's excellent book, The Victory According to Mark (which I just picked up this week), does, in fact, point this up.

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