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“I Will Set His Hand to the Sea”: Psalm 88:26 LXX and Christology in Mark


A recent trend in NT scholarship is to see Jesus’ participation in actions or attributes allegedly reserved for God as indications that a writer depicts Jesus as divine. One set of texts to which such an argument has been applied is that in which Jesus exercises authority over the seas (Mark 4:35–41; 6:45–52). Our study uses the portrayal of the idealized Davidic king in Ps 88:26 as one whose “hand is set to the sea” to call this specific argument into question. In the psalm, the human king participates in God’s rule over the sea without being represented as God. Ancillary support for the plausibility of a human ruling the waters comes from (1) other Judean stories of people exercising control over waters, (2) the coherence of Psalm 88 with the manner in which Jesus is depicted more broadly in Mark, and (3) evidence that other early readers of Judean (“Jewish”) Scripture interpreted Psalm 88’s language about the Davidic king eschatologically.

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