Mark 13 is the longest speech attributed to Jesus within this shortest of Gospels. It is therefore highly significant for both Mark’s message and Christian tradition. How might one preach this passage as good news today? Of what significance are contested historical, theology and literary issues? This essay explores these challenges, settling on a crucicentric approach as both satisfying interpretation and appropriate kerygma for a contemporary world in need of the hope of Christ. It does so largely within Fred Craddock’s ‘inductive’ model.
A Little Apocalypse?
Often designated Mark’s ‘Little Apocalypse’, Jesus’ speech addresses events in a future time using image, allusion, and parable with a tone of utmost solemnity, even doom. Despite noting absences of some characteristics of Jewish apocalyptic, Hooker nevertheless argues there are enough hallmarks to designate this the principal genre. Craddock argues against biblical texts being ‘forced to fit a new frame’, suggesting that the genre of a sermon might be inspired in the first place by the genre of the biblical text being preached. He gives narrative and parable as examples; one wonders, would he extend this to apocalyptic? Within ‘mainstream’ Christianity, perhaps we feel uneasy about preaching in ‘apocalyptic voice’, where portentous overtones of judgement and destruction smell of fundamentalism. Yet if Buttrick rightly laments that much contemporary preaching tends towards either ‘therapy’ or ‘management’, apocalyptic preaching may yet prove antidotal. Apocalyptic language and style is intrinsically ‘flexible’ and ‘multivalent’, qualities promising for Craddock’s ‘inductive’ preaching that breaks ‘the tyranny of the single perspective’. Jesus’ own ‘homiletic’ pivots on the exhortation to keep watch (v23; 35; 37) – it is less explanatory ‘conclusion’ than open-ended summons – and thus rather in ‘inductive’ mode itself.
 Morna D. Hooker, The Gospel According to St Mark, Black’s New Testament Commentaries (London: A & C Black, 1991), 299.
 Fred B. Craddock, As One Without Authority, Second (Revised) (St Louis: Chalice, 2001), 121.
 David Buttrick, A Captive Voice: The Liberation of Preaching (Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox, 1994), 47.
 Richard Middleton, A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014), 120–21.
 Craddock, As One Without Authority, 28. Though Craddock’s own style is rather more ‘folksy’ than ‘apocalyptic’!