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By David Gordon, Church Militant, March 2, 2023

David Gordon holds university degrees in political science, law and theology. He is co-author of Rules for Retrogrades: Forty Tactics to Defeat the Radical Left. Gordon is a writer, book editor and commentary editor at Church Militant.

The meaning of Mark 15:34

Scripture is replete with “difficult” verses — texts that are tricky to understand or that might even seem, at first blush, to undermine well-established doctrine. Saint Augustine, for example, believed this opacity is providential, that it’s designed to draw us more intimately into the divine mysteries. But it can still be frustrating, even panic inducing, to encounter a hard saying in the word of God. That said, Christ’s cry of anguish from the Cross, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” recounted in the Gospel of Mark, is one of the most vexing scriptural verses of all. For a long time, I wondered how Christ, the God-man, who ever enjoyed the beatific vision while on earth (see Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, §75), could be alienated from the Father. It turns out He wasn’t.

To understand the verse in issue, it’s important to understand the background and structure of the Gospel of Mark. Mark’s gospel was likely authored in Rome shortly after the martyrdom of Peter the Apostle in A.D. 64. (Vincent Taylor, The Gospel According to St. Mark [London: Macmillan, 1966], 7). While, like the other three canonical gospels, the Gospel of Mark is materially and textually anonymous — perhaps a wink to the ultimately divine origin of the gospel — tradition going back to the end of the first century firmly ascribes authorship to Mark (Robert A. Guelich, Word Biblical Commentary: Mark 1–8:26, Vol. 34A [Texas: Word, 1989], xxv-xxvi). …

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