Elizabeth Struthers Malbon: The Poor Widow’s Offering

Elizabeth Struthers Malbon, In the Company of Jesus: Characters in Mark’s Gospel (WJK, 2000), 177-178.

I would argue…that the overall temple context of the poor widow’s story adds to the impressive irony of the Markan passion narrative. Jesus’ summoning his disciples to observe the poor widow’s action and to consider its significance is his final act in the temple. The Markan Jesus’ initial act in the temple was the driving out of those who bought and sold there (11:15-19). This passage, as several of us have argued, is to be understood as a symbolic closing down of the temple, not a cleansing of it. The account of Jesus’ conflict with the buyers and sellers in the temple is intercalated with account of the cursing and withering of the fig tree (11:12-14, 20-26), which is generally recognized as a parabolic pointing to the destruction of the unfruitful temple whose time or moment (kairos, 11:13) has passed. The episode of the poor widow’s gift of her all might well be understood as an enacted parable to the fig tree incident…or parallel to the intercalated fig tree/temple incident as a while. The fig tree episode introduces a series of controversies between Jesus and Jewish religious authorities in the temple; the account of the poor widow’s action closes the series.

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