The omens at Jesus’s Death (Mark 15:33–39) and the divine abandonment of the temple before its destruction in 70 CE

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Abstract / Description of output

When Jesus dies in Mark’s account, the sky darkens, a loud voice declares that it has been forsaken by its god, and the temple curtain tears in two. These phenomena closely resemble the omens thought to have taken place before Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 CE as recorded by Josephus, Tacitus, 2 and 4 Baruch, the Pesiqta Rabbati, and the Talmudim. By surveying the ancient belief that tutelary deities would abandon cities before they were destroyed, I propose that the portents described by Mark and elaborated in subsequent gospels are another version of the popular tradition reporting the Judean god’s departure from the temple before 70 CE.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-675
JournalJournal of Biblical Literature
Volume142
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2023

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