Isaiah 40:3

Hebrew Bible

1 “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. 2 “Speak kindly to Jerusalem and tell her that her time of warfare is over, that her punishment is completed. For the Lord has made her pay double for all her sins.” 3 A voice cries out, “In the wilderness clear a way for the Lord; build a level road through the rift valley for our God. 4 Every valley must be elevated and every mountain and hill leveled. The rough terrain will become a level plain, the rugged landscape a wide valley.

Malachi 3:1

Hebrew Bible

1 “Behold*, I am about to send my messenger, who will clear the way before me. Indeed, the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his temple, and the messenger of the covenant, whom you long for, is certainly coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 2 Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can keep standing when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire, like a launderer’s soap. 3 He will act like a refiner and purifier of silver and will cleanse the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will offer the Lord a proper offering.

Mark 1:2

New Testament

1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight.’” 4 In the wilderness John the baptizer began preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

 Notes and References

"... Mark’s gospel is unique in that it opens with a quotation from Jewish scripture (1:2–3). This opening quotation combines Malachi 3:1 with Isaiah 40:3, even though the evangelist only cites the prophet Isaiah. Here the evangelist gives the reader an obvious clue regarding the source material that has influenced and shaped his work, namely Jewish scriptures. Many interpreters have used this quotation to claim that the text of Isaiah in particular has played a significant role in the formation and theology of the gospel. But it is possible that Mark might also be pointing the reader to a particular figure in Jewish Scripture. Malachi 3:1 promises that God will send a messenger before he brings his judgment upon Israel. In Malachi 3:22 (LXX), it is quite clear that the messenger is the prophet Elijah: “And behold, I will send you Elijah the Tishbite before the great and glorious day of the Lord.” To the observant reader, Mark’s opening citation alludes to the prophetic figure of Elijah. Such an allusion might very well function as a clue to the reader that the story of Elijah is an important background for the gospel. This allusion to Elijah alone means little, but it might become more significant if additional allusions to or clear imitation of the Elijah-Elisha narrative can be discerned ..."

Winn, Adam Mark and the Elijah-Elisha Narrative: Considering the Practice of Greco-Roman Imitation in the Search for Markan Source Material (p. 82) Pickwick Publications, 2010

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