Joel Marcus on Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem

You have got to admire anyone who has the skill to send a slight shiver of excitement down the spine of their readers while discussing an unbelievably familiar text in the context of a highly technical critical commentary. Joel Marcus' commentary on Mark has provided those moments for me on several occasions. Here he is discussing the final details of Mark 11.11.

Καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν καὶ περιβλεψάμενος πάντα, ὀψίας ἤδη οὔσης τῆς ὥρας, ἐξῆλθεν εἰς Βηθανίαν μετὰ τῶν δώδεκα.

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

After the unprecedented step of riding into Jerusalem; after the royally symbolic action of mounting an animal that no one has yet ridden; after the fulfilment of the messianic oracle of Zech 9:9; after the way Jesus' followers respond to these implicit royal claims by hailing him as "he who comes in the name of the Lord,", the one to restore the dominion of his "father" David; after striding into the holy temple, the center of God's purposes on earth – after all this buildup, Jesus merely looks round and retires to Bethany to spend the night there with his disciples (11:11b)! How much more consonant wth what precedes, how much more conventionally messianic, is the conclusion of the passage in Matthew and Luke, where Jesus immediately purges the Temple of its defilements. That is the way a Messiah is supposed to act.

But this is not to be the last of the Markan Jesus' departure from the expected pattern. In the next passage he does cleanse the Temple, but he uses the occasion to proclaim judgment, not on the pagan opressors of Israel, but on that nation's own leaders.

Joel Marcus, Mark 8–16: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Anchor Yale Bible 27A; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), 780.