A The Time Has Been Fulfilled

Mark's headline statement at the beginning of Mark's account of Jesus' mission, already quoted (§12.1), has a double emphasis. Not only does Jesus proclaim the kingdom's nearness; equally thematic is the note of fulfilment. The headline is introduced by the information that the Baptist had been removed from the scene (Mark 1.14a) and begins with the words, 'The time has been fulfilled (peplerotai

273. Characteristic of the ambiguity is Matthew's use of palingenesia ('rebirth') in his version of the final judgment 'in the palingenesia' (Matt. 19.28 = 'in my kingdom' in Luke 22.30; = 'in the coming age' in Mark 10.30). Palingenesia had become a technical term in Stoic thought for the rebirth of the cosmos, but Cicero could describe return from banishment as palingenesia (Att. 6.6). Philo draws on the Stoic idea of cycles of cosmic conflagration and rebirth consistently in Aet. (9, 47, 76, 85, 93, 99, 103, 107), but also uses the term both for the reconstitution of the world after the flood (Vit. Mos. 2.65) and for life after death (Cher. 114). Similarly Josephus uses it for Israel's reestablishment in the land after the exile (Ant. 11.66), but also speaks of life after death as palin genesthai (Ap. 2.218) (F. Büchsel, palingenesia, TDNT1 [1964] 686-88; Davies and Allison, Matthew 3.57).

274. See, e.g., Oakman, Jesus 207-16 ('the economic reign of God'); Herzog, Parables as Subversive Speech; also Jesus, Justice and the Reign of God: A Ministry ofLiberation (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2000); Malina, Social Gospel 34-35 ('Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom of God was indeed his social gospel'); Crossan and Reed, Excavating Jesus 172-74.

hokairos)'(1.15a). Kairos here obviously has its more weighty sense — the decisive time, the appointed time, the time of judgment. The perfect tense of the verb indicates that the period prior to the expected 'time' has been completed (filled full); the expectation has been realised. The implication is clearly that some long-awaited climax has arrived; that time is now!

Of considerable interest is the fact that this headline summary encapsulates such a tension between 'already come' and 'yet to come': 'the time has been fulfilled; the kingdom of God has drawn near' (Mark 1.15). The verse proclaims that a crucial time has arrived,276 an expected time has begun, the time of the 'about-to-come-ness' of the kingdom, the time during which the kingdom will come. In other words, kairos can be readily understood to indicate not simply an event, a date in time, but a period of time.277 This accords with its usage and with the usage of the underlying Hebrew (et) and Aramaic denoting the beginning of a period of time, whether of blessing or of judgment.278 In Ezek. 7.12 we find a striking parallel: 'the time has come, the day has drawn near (ba' ha'et higgiya' hayom)'.219 In its time note, the message attributed to Jesus in Mark 1.15 is no different.280 It is doubtful, therefore, whether any of Jesus' audiences hearing such a two-sided emphasis (Your hopes are realised; soon, within your lifetime God will manifest his rule in a decisive manner') would have been as puzzled by it as have twentieth-century commentators.

275. As in 1 Sam. 18.19; 2 Sam. 24.15; Ezra 10.14; Ps. 102.13; Isa. 13.22; Jer. 10.15; 27.7; 46.21; Ezek. 7.7, 12; 21.25, 29; 30.2; Dan. 11.35,40; 12.4, 9; Hab. 2.3. In the NT note, e.g., Mark 13.33; Matt. 26.18; Luke 19.44; 21.8, 24; John 7.6, 8; Rom. 3.26; 13.11; 1 Cor. 7.29; 2 Cor. 6.2.

276. Cf. Josephus, Ant. 6.49: 'when it (the time) came (plerothentos d'autou [tou kairou])'.

277. See also the still salutary treatment by Barr, Biblical Words for Time 33-46, 51.

278. Cf. Ps. 102.13: 'You will arise and have pity on Zion, for it is time ('eth) to favour her; the appointed time (mo'ed) has come'; Jer. 50.27, 31; Ezek. 30.3.

279. Very similar is Ezek. 7.7: 'The time has come, the day is near (ba'ha'etqarob And note how the formulation can vary: 'Our time has drawn near, our days have been fulfilled, our time has come (Hebrew qarab qitsenu male'u yamenu ki-ba' qitsenu; Greek engiken ho kairos hemon, eplerothesan hai hemerai hemon, parestin ho kairos hemon)'. The concept of time 'fulfilled' is common to both Hebrew and Greek thought (see, e.g., BAGD, pleroo 2; and further C. F. D. Moule, 'Fulfilment-Words in the New Testament: Use and Abuse', NTS 14 [1967-68] 293-320, reprinted in Essays in New Testament Interpretation [Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1982] 3-36; Chilton, God in Strength 80-86).

280. These points are missed by a number of scholars who press for a more consistently realized emphasis in the saying (Beasley-Murray, Jesus and the Kingdom 73-74; Guelich, Mark 43-44, who translates 'The kingdom of God has come in history'; Gundry, Mark 64-65; cf. Gnilka, Jesus ofNazareth 147 n. 156 — 'Mark 1:15 presupposes that the kingdom begins to be realized from this point on').

The other Synoptic Evangelists introduce the note of fulfilment in their own way. Luke gives headline significance to his account of Jesus preaching in the synagogue in Nazareth, where the note of fulfilment is struck by Jesus' reading from 61.1: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news (euangelisasthai) to the poor . . .' (Luke 4.18).281 According to the account, Jesus cut short the reading and announced: 'Today this scripture has been fulfilled (peplerotai) in your hearing' (4.21). Now it is clear that Luke has brought the episode forward in his telling; Jesus' mission at Capernaum had been underway for some time (4.23). And much at least of the account is Luke's own retelling to bring out the importance of Jesus' message for the poor (the Sidonian widow) and the foreigner the Syrian) (4.25 - 27).282 Nevertheless, as with the Markan headline (Mark 1.15), so Luke has deemed it important that his audiences should hear the note of fulfilment loud and clear at the very beginning and should hear what follows in the light of this opening statement, providing, as it does, Jesus' own manifesto for his mission.

Matthew diminishes the difference between the Baptist and Jesus implicit in Mark's and Luke's accounts. He has John preaching the same message as Jesus: 'The kingdom of heaven has drawn near' (Matt. 3.2). And he omits Mark's opening clause; Jesus begins simply, 'Repent! The kingdom of heaven has drawn near' (4.17). But that can hardly be because Matthew denied a note of fulfilment to Jesus. On the contrary, it is precisely Matthew's objective to bring outjust how much of Jewish expectation Jesus fulfilled,283 and it is one of his fulfilment quotations which takes the place of the Markan fulfilment clause in Matthew's headline (4.14-16).

b. Expectation Realised

The Q material does not have the same fulfilment theme as the Synoptics, but the same note is struck even more clearly by two Q sayings — Matt. 13.16-17/Luke 10.23-24 and Matt. 12.41-42/Luke 11.31-32.

281. Luke no doubt regarded this euangelisasthai as 'preaching the good news of the kingdom' (Luke 4.43; 8.1). See also Beasley-Murray, Jesus and the Kingdom 88-89.

282. See, e.g., Fitzmyer, Luke 526-30. However, it is likely that Luke has drawn on older traditions: not only Mark 6.1-6a (including the proverb of Mark 6.4), but also those attesting awareness of the influence of Isa. 61.1 -2 on Jesus (see below, § 15.6c), and the references to Elijah and Elisha (4.25-27; Bultmann, History 32, 116; Becker, Jesus ofNazareth 62-63). See below, §§13.4, 7; Luke 4.25-27 fits with the eschatological reversal theme (§ 12.4c).

Matt. 13.16-17

Luke 10.23-24

16 But blessed are vour eves, for thev see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly 1 tell vou. that manv prophets and people longed to see what (you) see, but did not see it, and to

23 ... Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!

24 For 1 tell you that manv prophets and desired to see what you see, but did not see it. and to

hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

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