Donahue and Harrington: Satan’s Testing of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark

John R. Donahue and Daniel J. Harrington, The Gospel of Mark, Sacra Pagina (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2002), 37.

The testing of Jesus by Satan (1:12-13) alerts the reader to Mark’s conception of Jesus’ ministry as a struggle against the cosmic forces of evil. An eschatological dualism familiar from the Dead Sea Scrolls (the Prince of Light with the children of light versus the Prince of Darkness with the children of darkness; see 1QS 3-4) is an assumption that underlies Mark’s narrative. Jesus’ first public activities in 2:1-3:6 – his exorcisms, healings, and debates with hostile opponents – are decisive moments in the struggle against the forces of the Evil One. The debate with the scribes in 3:22-30 makes clear that the origin of Jesus’ power as a teacher and healer is the Holy Spirit, and that he stands over against the one who is called Satan/Beelzebul/Prince of Demons.

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