2017 Synoptic Gospels

Session 1

A panel discussion of Colm Tóibín's novel, 'The Testament of Mary'

Dr AKMA Adam 
Dr Elizabeth Shively 

University of St Andrews

Dr Alison Jack 
Professor Helen Bond 

Shared paper with the 2017 New Testament: Use and InfluenceJesus and Synoptic Gospels seminars

Those attending are encouraged to read the novel, and Tóibín's short article on the genesis of the play/novel:


Session 2

The Divinity of Jesus in the Lament over Jerusalem (Matt. 23:37-39; Luke 13:34-35)

Jonathan Rowlands 

University of Nottingham

I argue that the metaphor of Jesus gathering the Jerusalemites ‘under his wing’ has two striking implications for our understanding of this text. First, it renders problematic the common notion that Jesus is here equated with Wisdom since bird imagery is never used with reference to Wisdom. Second, this metaphor suggests that Jesus is viewed as fully divine in this text, since bird imagery is frequently used with reference to YHWH in the HB. I will make this argument by examining the use of ‘bird’ and ‘wing’ imagery in the Hebrew Bible, and argue that this passage advocates for the divinity of Jesus and that this interpretation contributes to the recovery of a high Christology in the synoptics.

‘Then They Remembered His Words’: A Literary Evaluation of Women in Luke’s Passion and Resurrection Narratives

Marie V. Flanagan 

University of Sheffield

For many years, the Gospel of Luke has occupied a central and contentious position within feminist biblical scholarship. The question remains: is Luke a friend or foe to women? This paper puts this question to the final chapters of the Gospel, investigating how women are represented therein. Specifically, I will focus on the well-known Lucan technique of gender pairing within these chapters. The gender pairs are overlooked in the evaluation of the Gospel as a whole and are rarely mentioned in regards to the final chapters, even though three, arguably four, appear. I will argue that this overlooked literary structure offers a different understanding of the Lucan representation of women in this crucial part of the story of Jesus.

A Teaching Presence: Christology and Discipleship in Matthew

Andy Angel 

This paper explores Jesus as teacher in Matthean christology. It argues that the gap which is sometimes perceived in Matthean theology between the immanent presence of God with his people and the rigorous demands of discipleship given by a holy God is bridged by his christology as Matthew presents Jesus present to his disciples as teacher – as one who comes alongside his disciples day by day in humility and strength, teaching and enabling his disciples to live out his commands as they prepare for his coming in glory.

Session 3

The Son of Man at the Right Hand of God: A New Take on Mark’s Trial Narrative (Mark 14:53–65)

During Jesus’s trial before the Sanhedrin, the audience encounters what Mark calls piece of “false testimony” (Mark 14:58) that nevertheless appears to offer an ironic truth: somehow, Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection instantiate a new temple order. The predominant interpretation of this ironic truth is that Mark envisages communities of Christ followers as the “temple built without hands.” This paper explores an alternative interpretation: the naos acheiropoiētos (“sanctuary not made with hands”) evokes not a people but a place—the heavenly sanctuary—depicted in ancient Jewish and Christian texts. Once we shift this one point, new possibilities emerge with regards to 1) the logic of Mark’s trial account, and 2) Christological and socio-political implications for Mark and his audience. 

The Use of Isaiah in Psalm of Solomon 11 and Mark 1:1-15

Chad Reeser 

Trinity College, Bristol

Richard Hays’ Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels has revived questions about how the evangelists utilized the Old Testament. One way of answering these questions is by analyzing the use of the Old Testament in pseudepigraphic literature. The eleventh Psalm of Solomon offers an important example, for it anticipates Israel’s day of deliverance by reflecting upon and interpreting significant portions of Isaiah. The way the psalmist uses Isaiah to understand Israel’s salvation may be compared and contrasted with Mark’s interpretation of similar material. The goal of this paper is to observe the hermeneutical continuity and discontinuity between Psalm of Solomon 11 and Mark 1:1-15, with a particular interest in the implications for Mark’s presentation of Jesus. 

Recognizing Penguins: Audience Expectation, Cognitive Genre Theory, and the Ending of Mark’s Gospel

Dr Elizabeth E. Shively 

University of St Andrews

In this paper, I expose shortcomings of arguments that view an “open ending” theory of Mark as a modern construct that would have made little sense to an ancient audience. I look at 1st century genre expectations in light of cognitive genre theory and argue that a ‘reader-response’ approach to Mark’s ending is not only appropriate but also desirable. Then, I offer an interpretation of Mark’s ending in light of its fit with Greco-Roman bios and in terms of cognitive models. Finally, I shows how Mark develops a pattern of imitation between Jesus and his disciples that invites the audience to reflect on and respond to the person of Jesus and his role as the exemplar of discipleship.