Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis


Religious Studies

First Advisor

Donald L. Jones


The following study is an exploration of the possible traditions utilized by the author of the Gospel of Mark as they relate to an acknowledged theme of secret messiahship. A survey of the socio-historical evidence as well as the textual evidence for and against an authentic messianic consciousness on the part of Jesus of Nazareth is also presented. The primary thesis of the following discussion is that an historical concealing of Jesus' divine identity would necessarily entail at least some degree of messianic consciousness. However the inverse, that an authentic messianic consciousness would entail an authentic "messianic secret", is not true.

To begin, a general discussion of the recognized aspects of the "messianic secret" is given. Two of the most influential scholars of Markan studies, Wilhelm Wrede and Albert Schweitzer, are compared and contrasted as well as criticized. Schweitzer's view of the secrecy texts in Mark seems to be more worthwhile to pursue since his theory is more flexible than Wrede's all-pervasive perspective. An attempt to delineate the historical Jesus from his contemporary miracle workers is also carried out, with help from a prominent study by Theodore Weeden. Jesus' activity as a demon exorcist as it relates to his identity, with particular emphasis on Peter's confession at Caesarea Philippi, is also presented. The injunction to silence given by Jesus in Mark 9:9 after he is transfigured is acknowledged to be of great importance in analyzing the secrecy texts. An in-depth analysis of T.A. Burkill and Austin Farrer is undertaken. Burkill relates the theme of secrecy to a preordained divine plan, while Farrer views it in a paradigm of prefiguration and fulfillment.

The study concludes with the assertion that the author of the First Gospel could have operated with authentic traditions about Jesus and used them to serve a meaningful literary function to aid his unique theological portrait of Jesus, all the while supporting the greater theme of suffering messiahship and suffering discipleship. The evidence points toward a messianic consciousness during Jesus' lifetime. If the injunctions to silence indeed originated in Jesus' own thoughts, it was probably a result of Jesus' personal eschatology regarding his own identity and that of the Son of Man.