The suggested allusion in this case is to Isa. 53.12: 'he poured out his life to death' (he'era lammawet napso);244 but the imagery is not sacrificial.245 Equally significant, Jeremias claims, is once again the reference to '(the) many' (Mark/ Matthew), since a fivefold reference to '(the) many, is a striking feature of Isa. Here too it is hard to escape the sense of a com mentator striving to find allusions, rather than of an allusion which most biblically familiar hearers would quickly recognize.247

More to the point, any allusion is arguable only for the ver sion of the cup word. The imagery of blood poured out is not present in Paul's version. And the present Lukan formulation, whose core version is the Pauline one, may well reflect a secondary adaptation of the Pauline formula to its Markan/Matthean parallel — though, even so, lacking reference to 'the many'. I have already noted that the parallel formulation

242. Cf. Schillebeeckx, Jesus 303-306.

244. 'Ara is used in the sense 'pour out', nepes as its object in Ps. 141.8 ('pour out a person's life'); here with the hiphil in the same sense. 'Pour out' is appropriate imagery since the nepes is closely associated with the blood (Gen. 9.4-5; Lev. 17.11; Deut. 12.23) (H. Niehr, TDOT 11.345).

245. For which the usual term would be sapak (as in Lev. 4.7, 18, 25, 30, 34). It is true that the LXX uses ekcheo (as here in the Synoptics: ekchynnomenon), but at this point Jeremias ignores the underlying Hebrew {Proclamation 290). 'The established usage haima ekchein contains no direct allusion to Isa. 53.12' (Pesch, Markusevangelium 2.359).

246. J. Jeremias, polloi, TDNT 6.537-38: 53.11c, 12a (with article), 52.14, 53.12e (without article), one as an adjective Jeremias presses the point too hard: for Jesus 'the many' here are 'the peoples of the world' (Eucharistic Words 226-31).

247. Similarly Hooker, Jesus and the Servant 82-83; Schurmann, Gottes Reich 220-21.

more than likely reflects a developed celebration where the two elements (bread and wine) were taken in close succession, and thus also the likelihood that the Paul/Luke version (body and cup) is closer to the original formulation.248 All told, then, the case for seeing an allusion to the Servant of Isaiah in what Jesus originally said is not very strong.

The alternative (if that is the best way to put it), strongly suggested in both versions, is that Jesus spoke of his anticipated death in terms of a covenant sacrifice rather than a sin offering.249 The precedent here would be Exod. 24.8: 'Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, "See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you . . ."' ,250 This meshes well with the earlier possibility indicated above in §13.3e, that Jesus (somewhat like the covenanters) saw the group around him as somehow constituting the renewal of God's covenant with Israel,251 or spoke with a view to the establishment of the new covenant promised in Jer. Jesus may well have gone the more willingly to his death because he saw it as the sacrifice which would bring into effect that long-promised covenant.253

If this suggestion is on the right lines, then we have another powerful motif on which Jesus is remembered as drawing to make sense of what was about to happen to him: the suffering righteous/(martyr), the son of man frail to death, destined to drain the cup and be baptized with the fiery baptism predicted by the Baptist, and now also covenant sacrifice. What we cannot say with any of the confidence expressed in regard to the other images is that the suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 was one of the powerful images that Jesus was recalled as drawing on. Moreover, the concern on the part of commentators to draw on its moving

248. See above, The same logic applies to Luke's 'poured out for you', which parallels the body 'given for you' (Luke 22.19).

249. But Stuhlmacher would question strongly whether there is any justification for posing these as alternatives (Biblische Theologie 1.136-42); see also below n. 253.

250. 'The blood of the covenant' (Exod. 24.8; cf. Zech. 9.11) is echoed in 'my blood of the covenant' (Matt. 26.28/Mark 14.24), but the Paul/Luke version 'is scarcely any less of an allusion to the covenantal sacrifice of Exod 24:3-8 than the Marcan formula' (Fitzmyer, Luke 1391).

251. The 'for you' of Luke 22.20 would presumably have in view particularly the twelve as representatives of (eschatological) Israel (Vogtle, 'Todesankundigungen' 94-96).

252. The point does not hang on the presence of the word 'new' ('new covenant', only in the version), though if early tradents did introduce it they would no doubt have claimed that they were simply making explicit what was implicit. See also Tan, Zion Traditions 204-16.

253. We should not play off covenant sacrifice and atoning sacrifice against each other, since there was a tendency to run the two together, evident in the Targums (Pesch, Markusevangelium 2.359), as also in description of the Passover lamb as a sacrifice (1 Cor. 5.7).

254. Contrast Wright, who suggests that 'Isaiah 40-55 as a whole was thematic for Jesus' kingdom-announcement' (Jesus 603).

portrayal of vicarious suffering to elucidate Jesus' own self-understanding may have distracted attention from and even obscured the other images in regard to which a better case can be made.

There are no other references within the Jesus tradition which are likely to change that conclusion. The upshot is that a convincing case cannot be made that Jesus saw himself as the suffering Servant. That is not to deny that he might have reflected on the Servant passages. as he evidently did on other Scriptures. Indeed. the more Isaiah 53 was already seen to be part of the more extensive motif of the suffering righteous. the more likely it is that Jesus did reflect on what the Servant passages might contribute to his understanding of his own role. The point. however. is that the Jesus tradition does not allow us to draw that as a firm conclusion. That may simply be a reminder of the inadequacy of our critical tools. But the Jesus tradition itself has to be determinative for us. and even a modest tradition-historical analysis of the key passages raises substantive doubts.

So. what meaning did Jesus give to the death which he evidently anticipated with increasing certainty (and angst) as his mission neared its climax? The tradition indicates a number of positive answers. (1) He would suffer as part of God's will. as others. the faithful and righteous. had before him. Perhaps he cherished the hope. like the Maccabean martyrs. that his death would mark the final end to Israel's suffering. (2) As 'the one' chosen to call Israel to return and to somehow reconstitute Israel in the mounting eschatological crisis he probably expected to suffer as the saints of the Most High suffered at the time of the Maccabees. Possibly. in contrast to Daniel's 'one like a son of man' he saw his destiny characterized more in terms of service than of being served. (3) Sooner or later. he probably concluded that he himself would have to endure the eschato-logical tribulation (the cup of suffering. the fiery baptism) predicted by the Baptist — perhaps on behalf of his disciples/renewed Israel.256 (4) If God was indeed

255. Other suggested references in Jeremias, Proclamation 286-87. and review in Hooker. Jesus and the Servant 62-102. The use ofparadidonai ('hand over') in the LXX of Isa. 53.6. 12 has naturally attracted attention in view of the prominence of the term in the Passion predictions (Mark 9.31 pars.; 10.33 pars.) and the Passion narratives (Mark 14.10-11. 18. 21. 41-42. 44; 15.1. 10. 15). Given the probable allusion to Isa. 42.1 in the words from heaven at the Jordan (Mark pars.). Cullmann claims boldly that Jesus 'became conscious at the moment of his baptism that he had to take upon himself the ebed Yahweh role' (Christology 6667). but the words are not remembered as a saying of Jesus and cannot be taken as a direct indication of Jesus' own self-understanding (see above. §11.5b). On the other hand. Jesus seems to have drawn on Isa. 61.1-2 to express the priorities of his mission (§ 15.6c). but there are no indications that the eschatological prophet of Isaiah 61 was identified with the Servant of Isaiah 53.

256. But we should recall that Jesus also expected his disciples to experience great suffering (the eschatological tribulation. §14.3e). The difficulty we have in correlating these expectations is no reason for doubting that Jesus could have held both (see above).

to make a fresh covenant with his people, then presumably a covenant sacrifice was also required; Jesus' death would serve as that sacrifice.257

Much of this is speculative. How could it not be when we are trying to do the impossible — to 'get inside' the head of a historical figure? But the speculation is rooted in and grows directly from the data of the Jesus tradition itself, from how Jesus was remembered in the earliest formulated memories of his mission. And it makes sense of what otherwise must seem a foolhardy policy pursued by Jesus during his last days.

But there is yet more to be said and one further question which needs to be asked.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Study Aid

Study Aid

This Book Is One Of The Most Valuable Resources In The World When It Comes To Getting A Scholarship And Financial Support For Your Studies.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment