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Australian Biblical Review


ISSN 0045-0308

BOOK REVIEW  Published in Volume 59, 2011

MICHAEL REICHARDT, Endgericht durch den Menschensohn? Zur eschatologischen Funktion des Menschensohnes im Markusevangelium (Stuttgarter Biblische Beiträge 62; Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 2009). Pp. 380. Paperback. €49.90.

This revised professorial dissertation by Michael Reichardt, who currently works at the University of Cologne, investigates the eschatological role of the Son of Man in Mark and comes to the conclusion that it is not to be understood in terms of a judgement typology. Reichardt considers the following passages: Mark 8:38; 9:1 (Chapter Two), Mark 13:24–27 (Chapter Three) and Mark 14:62 (Chapter Four), and scrutinises their depiction of the Son of Man.

His analyses in the individual chapters are structured meticulously. He begins with a text-critical look at the individual pericopae, followed by a contextual analysis, structural analysis, genre analysis, compositional analysis and tradition and redaction criticism analyses with an emphasis on the OT backgrounds of the individual passages. In each of these methodological enquiries, he constantly reviews the opinions of individual scholars.

In Chapter two, after establishing what the author regards as the original Markan verses of Mark 8:38–9:1, Reichardt analyses Q 12:8f, the ostensible parallel of Mark 8:38, to investigate their potential connection. This analysis unfolds in an elaborate source-critical investigation that assiduously follows several trains of thought before finally concluding that there is “no literary dependency of the saying in Mark 8:38 on Q 12:8f” (91). Regarding Mark 8:38, Reichardt performs individual investigations into each word and phrase contained in the verse, in order to make several observations, which prove that these phrases (e.g. the shaming of the Son of Man or the description of the adulterous and sinful generation) are not employed in a forensic context and so have no implication that they relate to judgement. It is noteworthy that he counts Mark 9:1 as an early Christian creation, which is taken up by Mark and added to Mark 8:34–38. Further, he thinks that the coming of the kingdom in Mark 9:1 is to be understood solely as a future event as opposed to a present one. At the end of the chapter, he concludes that Mark 8:38–9:1 has to be understood soteriologically.

In the third chapter (Mark 13:24–27), Reichardt reviews four previous dissertations that all concentrated on a structural analysis of Mark 13, before deciding that this passage exhibits a three part structure: Mark 13:24–25, Mark 13:26 and Mark 13:27. Further, he thinks Mark used a written Vorlage in his composition of Mark 13:24–27. In analysing the possible OT references of Isaiah 13 and Joel 2–4 used in Mark 13:24–25, the author concludes that the Markan passage is “to be understood against the background of theophany as opposed to the day of Jahwe or the judgement” (196). His analysis of Mark 13:26 includes a thorough textual investigation of Dan 7:13f, which concludes that Mark 13:26 is most likely based on Dan 7:13f. Reichardt regards the titulus “Son of Man” in Mark 13:26 as soteriological, but views his “coming in clouds and with power and glory” as a theophany. Its purpose, however, he thinks is salvific, since it is performed to gather all the selected in the Kingdom of God.

In Chapter Four, Reichardt investigates Mark 14:62. He focuses on scrutinising the various biblical and extra-biblical texts that have been proposed as a possible background for this saying, and concludes that none of them can be used to describe Mark 14:62 as a “Drohwort” (word of threat/warning). Thus, he concludes that this passage is a prophetic word, which pictures Jesus heralding to the Sanhedrin his expected rectification (Rehabilitierung) by God (331). The phrase ego eimi is understood by the author to have a soteriological meaning on the basis of Mark 6:50 and Isa 43:10–12, and Ps 110:1 (LXX) and Dan 7:13 are identified as the OT background for Mark 14:62. It is asserted that even the blasphemy claim in Mark 14:64 cannot be used to identify the Son of Man as an eschatological judge.

Reichardt is to be commended for the detail provided in the individual analyses of the pericopae, which can by no means all be summarised in this short review. He demonstrates a meticulous exegesis and gives a well-balanced opinion, taking all difficulties and probabilities into account. Although this reviewer remains doubtful about the final conclusion, this is a valuable scholarly reference, which deserves detailed interaction. The book is best suited for the scholar, as opposed to the undergraduate, particularly given that the format in which German professorial dissertations must be written is not necessarily the most accessible.

Review by
La Trobe University
Bundoora VIC 3086