B Peters Confession

Here the focus turns to the enigmatic command to silence, which, according to Mark, was Jesus' response to Peter's confession of Jesus as Messiah (Mark 8.30). In the tradition itself there is no indication that Jesus denied the confession. But neither is there any indication that he accepted or welcomed it (Matt. 16.17 fills in this lacuna). In Mark's version, 8.30 is a word neither of rebuke nor of congratulation. It is a command to silence (on the issue of messiahship), followed immediately by explicit and pointed teaching expressing Jesus' conviction that his mission would end in rejection and suffering (8.31). Now the command certainly functions in Mark's Gospel as part of his secrecy motif. But a historical reading is entirely plausible: Peter's confession was of Jesus as royal Messiah in accordance with the popular understanding of the Davidic Messiah as a mighty warrior (§15.2a), and Peter's conception of the royal Messiah was close to that of the crowd at the feeding miracle and on the same lines as that of the Zebedee brothers when they asked for seats on the right and left of Jesus in his kingdom (Mark 10.35-37 par.). If Jesus did not see his role in such terms, how might he have responded? One alternative was to damp down such expectation and to attempt to indicate (or construct) a role model closer to what he saw for himself. That is what Jesus did, implies Mark,160 and we have already seen that expectation of suffering

158. Does the account of Jesus' first temptation (Matt. 4.3/Luke 4.3) contain an echo of this episode?

159. Cuilmann, Christology 122-26; Taylor, Mark377; Pesch, Markusevangelium 2.34; cf. Leivestad, Jesus 93-95. Despite Raisanen's firmjudgment — 'Nothing points to the alleged Jewish nationalist meaning' (Messianic Secret 179) — the plausibility remains: if the question of Jesus as royal Messiah did arise for the disciples (as seems inherently likely), the only obvious category of 'Messiah' into which they could fit their hopes was that of the kingly, military leader (§15.2a).

160. Catchpole, "Triumphal" Entry' 326, and Raisanen, Messianic Secret 179-81, are right to point out that the command to silence does not function in the narrative as a correction; Mark certainly did not want to dispute that Jesus was Messiah. The tendency to link Jesus' rebuke of Peter (Mark 8.33) directly to Peter's confession (8.29), as summarized in Charlesworth, 'Messianology to Christology' (Jesus 'apparently rejected Peter's confession, that he [Jesus] was the Christ, as satanic'), should also be resisted. At the same time, Hengel not unfairly turns the question round: 'Is it not an indication of the relative trustworthiness of the gospel tradition that the ... "community" never produced an unambiguous scene in which Jesus announces his claim coram publico with a clear "I am the Christ"?' ('Jesus, Messiah of Israel' 59).

strongly featured in Jesus' teaching.161 In which case, the command to silence functions more to indicate a messianic misunderstanding than a messianic secret.

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