Donahue and Harrington: The Suffering Just One

John R. Donahue and Daniel J. Harrington, The Gospel of Mark, Sacra Pagina (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2002), 33.

Intertextually two very strong Old Testament themes merge in the Gospel of Mark. One is that Jesus is the “suffering just one” who is “tested” by God (see Mark 1:12-13), suffers opposition from enemies, and is abandoned by friends and companions. Jeremiah (20:6-11) and Job (12:2-3; 16:20; 19:14) may be the oldest examples of this motif, which appears strongly in the Psalms; e.g., Ps 38:11-12, “my friends and companions stand aloof from my afflictions, and my neighbors stand far off”; Ps 41:9-10, “my bosom friend in whom I have trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted the heel against me,” (see Mark 14:1-11); also Pss 31:11 and 88:19….The failure of Jesus’ disciples, who are most often the chosen “Twelve,” does not arise from moral or psychological failures, or because they are exemplars of a wrong theology; it simply continues the motif of the suffering just one who is abandoned even by friends and companions.

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