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Prepare the Way of Which Lord?

One of the strongest arguments I can think of in favour of a high Christology in the Gospel of Mark is the opening verses. Mark 1:2-3 seems to conflate Exodus 23:20, Malachi 3:1, and Isaiah 40:3 in the Septuagint. It is particularly striking how Mark 1:3 slightly rewords Isaiah 40:3 so that the the verse now speaks of “his” (i.e. Jesus) way rather than the way “of our God.” What once previously referred to the coming of the LORD in the Malachi and Isaiah texts now refers to the coming of the “Lord” Jesus!

After a google search, I found several helpful blog posts by Andrew Perriman, Kevin Brown, Rodrigo Morales and Daniel Kirk, James McGrath, Michael KrugerMatthew Montonini, and Kerry Lee engaging this passage. These blog posts give a range of interpretive options and I would just re-iterate a few points made in some of them.

  • Is there not precedent for an intermediary agent to be given the divine name or for biblical texts that previously referred to God be re-applied to an intermediary agent (e.g. the Angel of Yahweh, Melchizedek, Yahoel, Metatron)?
  • In Mark’s reworking of the scriptural passages, is there not a distinction between the divine speaker and Jesus who is addressed in the second person in Mark 1:2?
  • Could it be that Mark wants to closely link Jesus’ mission to that of Yahweh so that their “way” is one and the same? After all, part of Yahweh’s return to Zion involves working through human agents to accomplish this end (e.g. e.g. in Deutero-Isaiah it is human agents like Cyrus the Great who permits the Judaeans to return to their land and the Servant’s vicarious sufferings that achieves redemption).
  • Granted that this passage closely links God and Jesus (see also Mark 5:19-20), but should not the rest of the narrative that distinguishes them factor into our reading of Mark 1:2-3 (e.g. God declares Jesus to be the Son at the baptism and transfiguration, God seemingly forsakes Jesus at the cross, God exalts Jesus to rule at the divine right hand)?
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