Mark 2:26 and the Problem with Abiathar

Mark 2:26 and the Problem with Abiathar
Posted by in Facebook's Pentecostal Theology Group View the Original Post

s text: P* S B W X it vg sy” sa bo; on the second first sabbath {on the second sabbath ajtcr the first) : .^ C D 6
<^ S vg. ‘•text: S A B C vg sa bo; omit: when Abiathar was high priest: D W it sy^

To Mark 2:24 and parallels cf. John 5:10 — So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the
sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet.”

To Matt. 11:29 cf. Gospel according to the Hebrews (in Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies I.O.Jo, 5) —
He who wonders shall reign: and he who reigns shall rest.

MARK 2:26—WAS JESUS WRONG WHEN HE MENTIONED ABIATHAR AS HIGH PRIEST INSTEAD OF AHIMELECH?

PROBLEM: Jesus says that at the time David ate the consecrated bread, Abiathar was high priest. Yet 1 Samuel 21:1–6 mentions that the high priest at that time was Ahimelech.

SOLUTION: First Samuel is correct in stating that the high priest was Ahimelech. On the other hand neither was Jesus wrong. When we take a closer look at Christ’s words we notice that He used the phrase “in the days of Abiathar” (v. 26) which does not necessarily imply that Abiathar was high priest at the time David ate the bread. After David met Ahimelech and ate the bread, King Saul had Ahimelech killed (1 Sam. 22:17–19). Abiathar escaped and went to David (v. 20) and later took the place of the high priest. So even though Abiathar was made high priest after David ate the bread, it is still correct to speak in this manner. After all, Abiathar was alive when David did this, and soon following he became the high priest after his father’s death. Thus, it was during the time of Abiathar, but not during his tenure in office.

Introduction

In almost all of the suggested commentaries the introduction contained information about the authorship, date, and structure of the Gospel of Mark. In the next few paragraphs, I will present the combined information on these subjects incorporated through my opinionated selection.

Date

The Jerome Bible Commentary states that the Gospel of Mark was written in AD 64, immediately after the death of Apostle Peter (22). Lane agrees with a date between AD 60-70, but definitely before the destruction of Jerusalem (21). The same time pointer is used by Anderson in his conclusion that Mark was written approximately AD 65-70 (26).

Authorship

Lane writes that the Gospel is anonymous, but traditionally linked to Mark (21). The Jerome Bible Commentary identifies the author as John Mark from Acts 12:12, 25 and Mark from 1 Pt. 5:13 (21).

The Interpreters Bible points out that the author is obviously not an expert of Judaism, and does not recognize the importance of the accurate description of the historical situation. For example, he calls Herod a king, while Herod is only a governor under the Roman rule (IB 637).

Purpose

This characteristic of Mark’s account incorporates both his audience and his intent of writing. Anderson’s opinion is that Mark wrote to the Gentiles in the Roman Empire (29). On the other hand, The New Interpreter’s Bible reaches consensus that both Syro-Palestinian and other ethnic groups of immigrants, forming minority communities in the Roman Empire, were among Mark’s audience (515).

Mark is also the earliest attempt to reduce the apostolic tradition to a written form. This makes his account the source for any further Gospel writing (Lane 1-4). Mercer Commentary of the Bible goes even further to suggest, that “before Mark there was no genre of literature known as Gospel” (975). To describe the life situation of the writing of the Gospel account, Anderson points out that Mark’s attempt to promote Christianity was done in a time when martyrdom had been a reality (25).

Mercer Commentary of the Bible defines The Gospel of Mark as “a popular ancient biography, written from the presumption of the apocalyptic worldview” (975-76). At the same time, Schweitzer writes that the account is lacking biographical information. Anderson also agrees that Mark’s purpose was to present the person of Jesus, and not a biography or history (3).

Structure

Because of his traditional association with the apostle Peter (1 Pt. 5:13), it is suggested that the purpose of Mark was to present Peter’s preaching in written form. Lane presents an interesting comparison between the structure of the Gospel of Mark by chapters and the account of Peter’s sermon in Acts 10:36-41 (7-11).

            The Jerome Bible Commentary points out that the structure of Mark can be divided both according to Geographical and Theological characteristics. The Geographical division is determined according to the travels of Jesus. On the other side, the Theological frame has two major divisions: the Ministry of Messiah and the Ministry of the Son of Man (JBC 22).

The Greek text of Mark has not been altered greatly during the time of transmission (IB 645). While Anderson disagrees with the existence of Q, Schweitzer believes that Mark has used the Q-document as a source for his Gospel account (Anderson 4). Mark is the first Gospel because its structure has been closely followed by both Matthew and Luke (Anderson 2, 4). In the Gospel of Matthew, chapters three and four, Matthew follows the Markan narrative, but also attaches additional information from Q. Evidence for this is the obvious contrast between the length of the Gospel accounts (Schweitzer 11).

Finally, the structure of Mark is compressed, but not chronological (Anderson 32, 34). The ending of the Gospel has been suggested to include its short and long version, excluding and including the passage of Mk. 16: 9-20. In both of the cases, it differentiates form the Markan style of writing and was probably edited later in the second century (IB 645).

61 Comments

  • RichardAnna Boyce
    Reply July 19, 2019

    RichardAnna Boyce

    Mark 2:26 Why did Jesus intentionally say that David “went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest?” The priest David dealt with was actually Ahimelech, the father of Abiathar. Because of this very incident Abiathar became the priest when Saul killed his father (1 Sam 22:13-23). Jesus expected the listener to recall the story and think. By stating it this way Jesus may have been suggesting that this same sort of issue had resulted in death in the OT and that it would also ultimately culminate in His own death.

  • Link Hudson
    Reply July 19, 2019

    Link Hudson

    What o you do with Zechariah the son of Berechiah in Mt. 23?

  • Troy Day
    Reply July 19, 2019

    Troy Day

    Albert Essandoh Philip Williams as promised

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 19, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day arguments with liberal presuppositions are meaningless when it comes to determining truth because not based on truth.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Troy Day

      Philip Williams you cannot simply call something liberal because you dont have argument against it What does it say in your own BIBLE? How do you explain it?

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day May a Christian scholar or leader who dignifies arguments that supposes that Jesus misleads us be damned! Shall I say that again? May they be damned.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Troy Day

      Philip Williams What does your BIBLE say?

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day about what!

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Troy Day

      Abiathar

    • Albert Essandoh
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Albert Essandoh

      I was asked this question by a muslim and noted I needed to be careful hence my post.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Troy Day

      PROBLEM: Jesus says that at the time David ate the consecrated bread, Abiathar was high priest. Yet 1 Samuel 21:1–6 mentions that the high priest at that time was Ahimelech.

  • Troy Day
    Reply July 20, 2019

    Troy Day

    Philip Williams NO one here is liberal except the Pope who changed the Our Father prater BUT what does YOUR BIBLE say in Mk 2 26?

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day if you are supposing that Jesus erred, you should resign as a Christian leader or scholar and repent of your hypocrisy!

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day

      “He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.””
      ‭‭Mark‬ ‭2:25-26‬ ‭

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Troy Day

      So how do you explain Abiathar ?

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day wasn’t he there when David ate the shewbread?

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Troy Day

      PROBLEM: Jesus says that at the time David ate the consecrated bread, Abiathar was high priest. Yet 1 Samuel 21:1–6 mentions that the high priest at that time was Ahimelech.

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day doesn’t every now and then know that!

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day

      Know that I loath pedantry, even more so when it’s used to plant doubts among the simple and unlearned.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Troy Day

      Philip Williams not sure what you mean here – what is your explanation on Ahimelech? Albert Essandoh

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day the days of Abiathar the High Priest of David’s era would be from his birth to death.

    • Louise Cummings
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Louise Cummings

      Philip Williams Amen.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Troy Day

      Philip Williams what does your Bible say?

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day is my(!) Bible different from your Bible?

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Troy Day

      well you tell us – what does it say?

  • Troy Day
    Reply July 20, 2019

    Troy Day

    Philip Williams 1 Samuel 21:1 – Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee?
    Mark 2:26 – How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?

    First of all it is important to notice that Mark does not say that David went to Abiathar the high priest, it says he went to the house of God “in the days of Abiathar the high priest.”

    So, now the question becomes, why does it say “the days of Abiathar the high priest” when clearly Ahimelech was the priest at that time (1 Sam. 21:1)?

    After a careful reading of the account of David and his men eating the shewbread in 1 Samuel 21 – 22, we simply find that there were multiple priests. In fact there were at least 86 priests in the days of “Abiathar the high priest” (1 Sam. 22:18)! Once Saul learned that Ahimelech helped David, he commanded Doeg to kill Ahimelech and his entire family (1 Sam. 22:18-19), leaving alive only one of his sons, Abiathar the priest (1 Sam. 22:19, 23:9), who managed to escape.

    So, now that we see there were multiple priests during that time, the question then becomes, “Why does Mark refer to Abiathar as the high priest? Wouldn’t Ahimelech have been the high priest at that time?” Not necessarily. Notice in Leviticus 21:10 how the high priest is defined as the one who has the annointing oil poured on his head and “is consecrated to put on the garments.” Now look carefully at the wording of 1 Sam 22:18:

    “And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod.”

    If that isn’t enough evidence, notice how there are multiple high priests even at the time of Jesus Christ in Luke 3:2:

    “Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests…”

    After carefully studying the account in 1 Samuel, we see that Mark is perfectly correct in saying that David went to the house of God “in the days of Abiathar the high priest.” This is not a contradiction.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Troy Day

      if this is your argument I find it rather weak

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day yes, Jesus had good reason for focusing on the high priest who served with David, namely Abiathar and Zadok. Zadok was not present at this event but Abiathar certainly was.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Troy Day

      Philip Williams not according to 1 Samuel 21:1 – Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day so?

    • Albert Essandoh
      Reply July 20, 2019

      Albert Essandoh

      Troy Day referring to Abiathar the high priest is pointing not just any priest but a high priest. Explanation is weak..there is a missing link in the explanation..

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Troy Day

      Albert Essandoh I agree This explanation is dancing around the issue I posted it to prevent others from working it in the discussion Form criticism explains the whole thing very well – and without the Jesus error semantics

    • Albert Essandoh
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Albert Essandoh

      Troy Day can you email me your position to albert.essandoh@gmail.com

  • Troy Day
    Reply July 21, 2019

    Troy Day

    Key Passages:
    1 Samuel 21:1-9, Ahimelech, Abiathar’s father, gives holy bread to David
    1 Samuel 22, Abiathar escapes the massacre of the priests at Nob
    1 Samuel 23:6-14, Abiathar’s ephod guides David P Griffiths

    Faithful Abiathar. A faithful servant of David through his life, Abiathar lost his standing by backing the wrong candidate to succeed David. How should we judge the value of a man’s life, by what comes last or by what is enduring? Abiathar’s life may be short on “inspirational” value but it does provide the opportunity to address two much larger and more complex issues, namely, how we deal with truth and how we understand prophetic predictions. Two articles that address these issues are included as Appendices to this lesson, and are linked to below:

    David’s lies to Ahimelech led to the massacre of a entire community of priests at Nob. Yet in the Gospels, Jesus casts David’s emergency eating of the shewbread in a positive light. There Jesus is defending a more open attitude toward Sabbath activities. Interestingly enough Mark’s account refers to Abiathar as high priest (Mark 2:26) whereas 1 Samuel identifies Ahimelech as high priest [cf. Mat 12:1-8//Mark 2:23-28//Luke 6:1-5]. In 2 Samuel 15-17, Abiathar contributed significantly to the downfall of Absalom by deliberately misleading him. Is that ironic in view of the fact that Abiathar’s whole family was killed at Nob because of David’s deception? Is one’s attitude toward the telling of truth inherited? When is it appropriate to shade the truth? In defense of our leader? In defense of the ultimate truth? Here is Ellen White’s comment on the web of deception to which Abiathar (and Hushai) contributed that led to Absalom’s downfall.

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day We are commanded by Jesus not to judge persons like this. Our judgements ought to begin with ourselves and those we associate with in the body of Christ. Not those we don’t know, especially those who lived in times and situations we don’t know. The answer is that’s none of your business or mine.

      Yes, I know that this present generation love to judge the great men and women of faith, Abraham, Peter, Paul, and even Jesus. They have created a contemporary world that does the same.

      What this means is the judgement of this generation of Christian leaders and scholars is going to be severe because as we judge, so will we be judged.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Troy Day

      Philip Williams Where are we commanded by Jesus not to judge persons like this? Do you mean like comparing them to the BIBLE and reading the Bible text along?

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day the only comparison in the Bible that you need to make is to Jesus.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Troy Day

      Philip Williams exactly as done above

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Philip Williams

      ““Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
      ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:1-5‬ ‭

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Troy Day

      Philip Williams should we not judge the world by the Word of God? Shall we not judge angels?

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day

      “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?”
      ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭5:12‬ ‭

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Troy Day

      Philip Williams is David with WITH ABIATHAR outside the church? Have you gone dual covenant again?

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day Those who suffer with him will one day reign (judge with him), even over angels. That time is not yet for we have not yet died with him that we might live with him.

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day where the Scriptures judge David, you can accept as the truth.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Troy Day

      Philip Williams Sure What does this have to do with OP – shall we not read our BIBLES and try to make sense and understand them? and not papal enciclicas

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Philip Williams

      David has good reason for demoting Abiathar for giving his allegiance to a non-anointed King.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Troy Day

      Philip Williams Sure – what about the words of Jesus in Mark?

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Philip Williams

      God sent a lying spirit to deceive Ahab who he wanted to kill.

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day if you lack the Holy Spirit, the only Teacher, you can do your best by listening to whomever.

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day What about (!) the words of Jesus in Mark?

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Troy Day

      Philip Williams yeah yeah your usual approach when you are out of proof is to attack the opponent Very cheap shot and very papal at best – NOW how come with 100+ comments you have not yet explained the words of Jesus in Mark?

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day Jesus words explain themselves.

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Philip Williams

      Troy Day Jesus words explain themselves.

    • Philip Williams
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Philip Williams

      “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
      ‭‭John‬ ‭17:17‬ ‭

    • Albert Essandoh
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Albert Essandoh

      Troy Day I still do not find a direct answer to my question or one suitable to explain why the use of a different priest.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Troy Day

      Albert Essandoh form criticism explains it well

    • Albert Essandoh
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Albert Essandoh

      Troy Day i await your email if you have done it…i will research it as well. Thank you

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Troy Day

      Albert Essandoh I posted here what I could find for now in the article ITs well worth the discussion

    • Albert Essandoh
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Albert Essandoh

      Troy Day thank you

  • Philip Williams
    Reply July 21, 2019

    Philip Williams

    I am saddened to see a cult founder of an anti-Pentecostal sect being given as instruction here.

    • Troy Day
      Reply July 21, 2019

      Troy Day

      you should be saddened by given references to people instead of the Bible – or just read what your Bible says

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.