Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mark 1:12-13

Mark, in his gospel, provides a very brief description of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness. It is found in the first chapter verses 12 and 13. It reads as follows (KJV):

"12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.

 "13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him."

There are a couple elements of note in these verses. One is the mention of the wild beasts. Margaret Barker in Temple Mysticism says the following:

"Jesus ... spent 40 days in the wilderness 'with the wild beasts and the angels served him' (Mark 1:13, my translation). He was alone and so must have reported these experiences to others, and presumably not in Greek. This is important because in Hebrew the 'wild beasts' would have been the same as the 'living creatures' of the chariot throne, hayyot (Ezek. 1:5; Rev. 4:6), and the serving angels would have been the working hosts in the throne vision since 'serve' 'abad,' also means worship in Hebrew (Rev. 5:11). Jesus' mystical experience in the desert is described more fully in the opening scene of Revelation" (24-25).

The important point about Barker's argument is that the inclusion of wild beasts in Mark's account is an allusion to the cherubim of the Holy of Holies in the temple. The inner sanctuary of the temple represented the Garden of Eden and so Mark is presenting Jesus as a new Adam. Paul also presents Jesus as a new Adam in 1 Cor. 15:45 & Romans 5:19.

An interesting note in the Yale Anchor Bible Commentary (YABC) for Mark mentions that:

"The reference to animals, which may be an allusion to Isa 11:6-8, 65:25, and Hos 2:18. suggests (according to Jeremias) the restoration of paradise. H.-G. Leder ... finds in this account a christological motif: the eschatological warfare with Satan has been joined, and Jesus in his ministry is proleptically the triumphant Son of Man. He denies that there is any Adam-Christ typology, deriving from Genesis 3 here, pleading that there is no clear example in Jewish literature of angels ministering to Adam" (203-4, emphasis added).

Although, as the YABC commentary points out, there is no mention of angels ministering to Adam in Jewish sources, there is in LDS sources. Moses chapter 5 mentions the visitation of an angel to Adam as he is performing an animal sacrifice:

"6 And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.

 "7 And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth."

Therefore, with the added insight provided by latter-day scripture it seems safe to see Mark's inclusion of the wild animals as a prefigurement of the restoration of paradise, through Jesus, which was lost due to Adam's transgression.

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