By Bruce Chilton, Jacob Neusner

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First, the Temple itself observes and expresses the special, recurring holy time. Second, the villages of the Land are brought into alignment with the Temple, forming a complement to and completion of the Temple’s sacred being. The advent of the Appointed times precipitates a spatial reordering of the Land, so that the boundaries of the sacred are matched and mirrored in village and in Temple. At the heightened holiness marked by these moments of Appointed Times, therefore, the occasion for 17 THE MESSIAH IN MISHNAH, GOSPELS, AND ACTS an effective sanctification is worked out.

Do we not have explicit scriptural evidence for it? 31 THE MESSIAH IN MISHNAH, GOSPELS, AND ACTS ‘Lebanon with its majestic trees will fall’ [Isa. 10:34]. And what follows this? ‘There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse’ [Isa. 11:1]. ]” This is a set-piece story, adduced to prove that the Messiah was born on the day the Temple was destroyed. The Messiah was born when the Temple was destroyed; hence, God prepared for Israel a better fate than had appeared. What the framers of the document have done is to assemble materials in which the eschatological, and therefore messianic, teleology is absorbed within the ahistorical, and therefore sagacious one.

Just as the Mishnah and the other documents in the rabbinic corpus reflect the social history of those who produced the work, so Mark cannot be assessed apart from an appreciation of how it was composed and used in the life of the ancient Church. In structure and wording, it is crafted for recitation. The first Christians were for the most part illiterate, and they needed to be prepared for baptism on the basis of catechesis, a repeatable model of teaching. In that that was the case, it is all the more striking that Mark should begin with, and then be punctuated by, references to the Scriptures of Israel.

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