Was it Isaiah or Malachi? Maybe it was from Exodus, Malachi, and Isaiah. What does the Gospel text for the Second Sunday in Advent (Mark 1:1-8) have to do with Scot McKnight’s recent foray into ebook publishing? Nothing. Everything.
Junia Is Not Alone expands on passing references Scot has made to Junia (Romans 16:7) in other of his books. And, Junia is Not Alone succinctly addresses the matter others have taken more space to elucidate. So, exactly how does a long-ish essay intersect an Advent text?
The text for the Second Sunday in Advent notes, “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet.” From there, Mark combines references to parts of Exodus, Isaiah, and Malachi. But, he conveys them as the words of Isaiah. Scholars who undertake to venture a guess suggest Mark followed a common pattern of calling attention to the prophetic tradition as a “collective” and then pointing to a major figure from that “tradition” when referencing material from said collective.
Maybe Mark had in mind the focal tie in between the “voice” referenced in Isaiah 40:3 and John, the Baptizer, whom he profiles in the opening of his Gospel. As such, Isaiah would well have been the one sent (Is. 6) that paralleled the words of Malachi and he declares there will be a voice announcing something different than “warfare” was on its way. Attributing the entire quote to Isaiah simply referenced the power of the prophetic tradition some say would not need to meet the scrutiny of modern research.
Of course, all of this is speculation. That Mark noted it was Isaiah in the plain reading poses difficulty for some. After all, “there it is in black and white.” Mark followed the pattern accepted by the writing community to refer to a prophetic tradition when quoting specific phrases even if today that would get him bracketed out as an authority.
We do not question the authority of Mark. After all some have argued for the priority of his Gospel. But, those who find acceptable the way the prophetic texts function for Mark have also not been too willing to look at texts related to Phoebe and Junia and see how they functioned in both their local communities and how that practice fits the different day to come announced at Advent.
How does this intersect McKnight’s ebook?
Scot takes readers on a tour of how Junia has been treated in translation. Over the years the politics of interpretation created an occasion for Junia to have a sex-change. And then, and how the new Junias was killed off in the process of restoring Junia to her place in Scripture. If you would like an introduction into E.J. Epp’s, Junia: The First Woman Apostle, then Junia Is Not Alone is a good place to start.
Advent announces an end to the way things were and describes something new. Yet, in the coming new that Jesus brings we are still only able to see the way the Kingdom re-orients life in the areas we find acceptable. Thankfully Junia is not alone and maybe her story and others will strip away at those last dividing walls.
Maybe as Scot challenges in his little essay, we should take to pen and keyboard and tell the stories of those who accompany Junia.
Oh, and if this is not enough to prompt you to read Scot’s new book, Bill Kinnon said you should!