Abstract

In this article we trace important intertextual connections between the pericopes of the beheading of John in Mark's Gospel and the OT narratives surrounding the figures of Jezebel and Elijah. This form of intertextuality serves three key polemical purposes in Mark's narrative: 1. to highlight the culpability and despicability of Herodias in having John put to death by depicting her as another Jezebel–the epitome of female wickedness in the OT; 2. to demonstrate the irony of reversal in that the OT narrative has the word of the prophet putting the wicked queen to death, while in the NT, the word of the wicked queen succeeds in bringing about the death of the prophet; 3. to show that Jesus, as the Messiah, surpasses the one like Elijah. John the Baptist's ministry as a messianic forerunner ends in death; Jesus as Messiah experiences death that ends in the triumph of resurrection. Ultimately, these intertextual connections strengthen the role of Mark 6:14–29 as a key text in drawing the reader's attention to the identification of John as the eschatological Elijah and foreshadowing the suffering of Jesus of Nazareth.

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