I have just finished reading an excellent essay by Craig Evans entitled “The Beginning of the Good News and the Fulfillment of Scripture in the Gospel of Mark” in Hearing the Old Testament in the New Testament (McMaster New Testament Studies), edited by Stanley Porter. I think I can just about spin this as a belated advent post.
Evans suggests that Mark portrayed Jesus as the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy ‘as a conscious challenge to the rumors circulating in the Roman Empire that Jewish prophecy was fulfilled with the advent of Vespasian as the new emperor and, by virtue of his exalted office, the new “son of God” ’ (86). This slots into a fairly heated scholarly debate about the extent to which the “gospel” in the New Testament was framed in anti-imperial terms. I won’t attempt to summarize the arguments and counter-arguments here, but this interview with Justin Hardin, though typographically untidy, gives an impression of the debate.