In his latest book Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness (reviewed recently on this blog), Dr Richard B. Hays looks at how Mark uses Scripture to narrate the identity of Jesus with particular reference to Mark 1:2-3, asking Who is the Kyrios?
Here is the passage:
Hays notes that Mark weaves together citations of Malachi 3:1, Exodus 23:20 and Isaiah 40:3 to portray John the Baptist as the messenger sent by God who prepares the way of the Lord (Mark 1:3b, quoting Isaiah 40:3). The Lord must be Yahweh as he is clearly identified as such in Isaiah 40. So, according to Hays, Mark intends to identify Jesus as the Kyrios, ie Yahweh Himself (pp 20-21). This argument is a popular one with Christian apologists as well.
However, recent scholarship has criticised this line of reasoning. In A Man Attested by God Dr J. R. Daniel Kirk presents a defense of the thesis that the Synoptic Gospels present Jesus not as divine but as an idealized human figure. Kirk takes Hays to task in a detailed study of Mark 1:2-3 suggesting that he has read back into the text later Christological doctrine. The discussion assumes a graduate level familiarity with New Testament studies (including a knowledge of Biblical Hebrew and NT Greek) which should not be an obstacle to many readers of Blogging Theology! Excuse the iPhone photos 🙂