228: WILDERNESS

“Thank you for visiting Zingcreed, the totally original Christian/Atheist blog, where nothing is sacred, yet Jesus is respected. It’s my personal polemic and I hope you get something from it!” Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc.

These are some points on the symbolic topography of  the Wilderness in Mark’s gospel, as posited by Ched Myers. (i)

  • The term ‘Wilderness’ is synonymous with desert, with Galilee, with the periphery, with the margins of society, yet with the positive
  • The wilderness is a crucial co-ordinate of  Mark’s narrative world, the other co-ordinate being the temple in Jerusalem. They were poles apart (3:7; 14:30)
  • Mark mentions it 9 times in the ‘first book’ of his gospel
  • In Mk 1:3 we read a quote from Isaiah 40:3 saying the messenger will appear in the wilderness, this is taken by Mark to mean John the Baptist (1:4)
  • It was an uninhabited desolate place, where people lived a marginal existence. John lived off locusts and honey (1:6). People went hungry there (8:2)
  • It was the site of a community in flight (Exodus). Elijah withdrew to it (1Kings 19) when hunted by the political authorities
  • It was a refuge for the persecuted awaiting deliverance (Rev.12:6)
  • Jesus was tested there, like Israel (1:12) He sought solitude there (1:35;45)
  • It was identified with the spawning of revolutions and prophetic movements (Acts 21:38)
  • The wilderness was the site for Jesus’ feeding of the multitudes (6:31; 8:4)
  • It was the opposite pole to the central temple as the site of Yahweh’s renewed action. Jerusalem was supposed to be the hub (Ps 69:35; Is. 60:10-14) to which all nations would one day come, but instead the crowds followed Jesus and fled to the margins for the purposes of repentance
  • The establishment controlled the temple and took exception to this “Wilderness revival”
  • Galilee/Wilderness was the positive axis of the gospel story because it was the place of origin of:

(i) Jesus
(ii) the ministry of Jesus
(iii) the discipleship community
(iv) the resurrection (14:28; 16:7)

What do you suppose the symbolic meanings of these other topographies is:

  • River
  • Mountain
  • Sea?

Related Zingcreed Posts:
Nazareth a.k.a. “Nowheresville”
Prayer and Meditation (See judge act and review)

Source:
Myers, Ched “Binding the strong man” Orbis (1988)

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