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My question is "what the association is regarding mention of the young man in Mark 14 with a "linen cloth" and also running away "naked"?"

I feel there is something meaningful for the writer Mark to make the statement that no other gospel writer mentions. Could nakedness be related to shame as expressed in the garden of Eden?

I was wondering if the action of the young man reflected fulfillment in the OT related to sin offerings, sacrifices, and scapegoats mentioned in Leviticus.

Mark 14:51 And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: 52 And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.

3 If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord. 4 And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.

Also, could the young man's action in Mark 14:51-52 symbolize the transferring of sin to Jesus, compared to the symbolic transfer of sin in the OT upon placing one's hand on the goat ?

Leviticus 16:21 (KJV) And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:

Leviticus 16:7-10 (KJV) 7 And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 8 And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the Lord's lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. 10 But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.

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Lev 1:3-4 If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord. 4 And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. –  revbennett Nov 7 '13 at 10:27
    
Note: Lev 1:3-4 is listed in original question but "without" scriptural reference. I have included the scripture and reference in comments. –  revbennett Nov 7 '13 at 10:30
    
several commentators think this might have been Mark himself, but only out of conjecture. At a minimum it shows how dangerous the atmosphere had become. –  Mike Nov 8 '13 at 4:29

2 Answers 2

I would have to agree with everything stated above by Niobius about the style and aims of Mark's gospel. If I may add a little something, it's possible that, while being an accurate account, the tidbit about the naked young man in Mark 14:51 forms a loose inclusio with the fully dressed young man in Mark 16:5. Exactly what this is to emphasize is unsure, but we do know that Mark was fond of using bookends and inclusios, and these are the only two times the word νεανισκος is used in the gospel of Mark. I don't think the evidence is conclusive, but it's something to think about. I think it is necessary to cast an imaginative eye over the text like you've done with Mark 14 and Leviticus, but the difficulty with what you've said is that there really is no linguistic connection (κρατεω is never used in the LXX translation of the Day of Atonement passages) and no conceptual connection (for the sin to be transferred to Jesus in this scenario, wouldn't someone lay a hand on him, not the young man?) Jesus does fulfill the scapegoat language, but I don't think that Mark was trying to bring out this image in Mark 14:51. I hope that helps.

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Mark is without doubt the most straightforward of the gospels. The book is short and engaging. It is more critical of the disciples than the other gospel, often in a humorous way. Often Mark includes details that Matthew and Luke choose to leave out, i.e. that the grass was green when the 5000 sat down to eat. Mark often chooses a few stories and tells them in vivid detail, instead of summarizing many stories. While Matthew and Luke include detailed stories of Jesus' birth and genealogy, Mark jumps right into the story of Jesus as a grown man. In short, Mark is written to be vivid and engaging while at the same time not compromising the theological importance of the stories.

Understanding the character of the gospel of Mark, I do not think it likely that some cryptic symbolism is hidden in the story of the naked man fleeing. If we accept that Matthew and Luke had Mark as a source (Markan priority), as most scholars and even the best answers on this site do, we must admit that Matthew and Luke, which have less narrative and more thematic theological foci, chose to leave out this story. This strongly implies that the story had no great theological significance, but does what Mark does best - draws the reader into the story by making it more vivid. By telling the story of the naked man fleeing, Mark impresses upon the reader the atmosphere of the situation - the belligerence of those arresting Jesus, the fear that gripped the disciples (to the point of fleeing naked, leaving behind a valuable piece of clothing), and the general confusion and disorder that characterized the whole scene.

In short, Mark's narrative style, compounded with the fact that Matthew and Luke decided against including this story, strongly argue against the symbolic theological significance of this event. Rather, as fits the writing style of Mark better, this story is a small part of a larger scene, included to help the reader understand the atmosphere of the situation.

P.S. It is also interesting to note that many think that this person fleeing naked was the author of the gospel Mark himself, who included it because he was part of it - this also explains why Matthew and Luke did not include it. Though this conclusion is possible, it is not necessary - as I have already explained.

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