Balabanski, Vicky. "Chapter Three: Mark 13: Eschtological Expectation and the Jewish War." Eschatology in the Making: Mark, Matthew, and the Didache. Cambridge: University Press, 1997, 55-100.
Balabanski observes there has been no shortage of study and commentary on Mark 13 in recent years (Balabanski 1997, 55). Likewise, a multitude of methods of interpretation has been used. Balabanski reviews some of the approaches to interpretation briefly before concluding that Mark 13 is best considered first as a coherent literary unit, then as a result of gathered traditions and redaction (Balabanski 1997, 57).
From a literary standpoint, Balabanski finds Mark 13 to serve as a climax in Jesus' dealing with the temple. At the start of the chapter he is leaving the temple and describes its destruction, while also urging his disciples to see and understand the situation (Balabanski 1997, 59). The anticipation of the temple's destruction sets the scene for the remainder of the chapter. Balabanski notes that the perpective of Jesus, as shown in chapter 13, is that the destruction of the temple will be God's doing (Balabanski 1997, 60). The world is not going to be centered on God's presence in the temple, but in other places. The "way of the cross" as opposed to the temple will be the means of salvation. It is significnt to Balabanski that Jesus, in this discourse, addresses the disciples who seemed most troubled by his announcement of his coming death (Balabanski 1997, 61). To add to the emphasis, Mark removes the voice of the narrator and presents Jesus' discourse and dialogue in a way not done elsewhere in Mark (Balabanski 1997, 62).
Balabanski continues by commenting on the correspondence of themes in Mark 13 and in other portions of Mark, particularly those of Jesus' passion to come, along with the call of God to remain aware and fruitful as we await the eschaton.
Above all, from a literary standpoint, Balabanski sees Mark 13 as providing a break from the narrative which is driving toward Jesus' passion. In this break the reader is given insight into the eschatological perspective of Jesus, thus enabling him to make sense of the death of Christ and the scattering of his disciples (Balabanski 1997, 69).
As regards form and genre, Balabanski notes that Mark 13 is not strictly speaking an apocalypse. It does have some of the features, but overall it is more akin to a farewell discourse (Balabanski 1997, 71). Balabanski continues with a detailed structural analysis of the chapter (Balabanski 1997, 72ff). This analysis leads her into a survey of the chronology of the events (Balabanski 1997, 75ff). While the passage does have a general chronological flow, Balabanski does not take the specific statements to be predictor of successive events (i.e., wars, earthquakes, famines, persecutions, sacrilege, etc in that order) (Balabanski 1997, 75-76).
Balabanski considers source and redactional issues in Mark 13 to be important, especially as she views the chapter to be important in the overall dating of the Gospel (Balabanski 1997, 77ff). She evaluates the statements in detail as compared to Matthew, Luke, and the postulated Q source. In addition, she considers in particular W. Ong's work on orality, which suggests the material used in the chapter may well have been drawn from knowledge of an oral source (Balabanski 1997, 82ff).
Balabanski next entertains the possibility that Mark 13:14ff may have had a Judaean apocalyptic source. Several key word and ideas are ot parallelled elsewhere in the New Testament (Balabanski 1997, 89). She finds more similarities to passages referencing political upheaval than to eschatological writings. After removing the verses which Balabanski attribues to a Judaean apocalyptic source, the remain verses (7, 8, 17, 19, 20, 24-27) suggest to her a different apocalyptic source which is descriptive, uses repetitive language, and is more strongly chronological than the passage as it now stands (Balabanski 1997, 93).
The overall context of the passage suggests to Balabanski that a flight such as described in Mark 13:14ff has already happened and that the community contains Judaean Christians who have been driven out of Judea (Balabanski 1997, 97-98). Balabanski takes this event to be in a time during or after the first Jewish War (possibly after 70 AD), and further that the Marcan community was likely in Syria, distant frm that war (Balabanski 1997, 98). The departure from a philosophy that the temple is necessary and central to worship also suggests a post-70 date to Balabanski (Balabanski 1997, 99). Balabanski finds in Mark 13 a strong eschatological hope. She also sees that there is a concern that teachers not distract from the way of the cross, but rather focus on day to day Christian living, keeping the hope at some point in the future (Balabanski 1997, 100).