Did Mark intend his audience to make a connection between Jesus' full quotation of the Shema in Mark 12:29 ("here Oh Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord...") and Jesus' raising the issue of two Lords ("the Lord said to my Lord") in his question that immediately follows?

In the first scene (Mark 12:28-31), Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:4-5 which says there is only one Lord (κυριος).

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[b] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] There is no commandment greater than these.”

In the very next scene (Mark 12:35-37, Jesus' quotes Psalms 110 in which David speaks of two Lords (κυριος) over him.

35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, “Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David? 36 David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared:

“‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’[h] 37 David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”

The large crowd listened to him with delight.

I find it interesting that Mark is the only Gospel to record the full Shema and places it in the immediate context of a quotation from Psalms 110. A whopping 1/3 of all uses of κυριος (Lord) in Mark occur in these two passages. Three times in the Greatest Commandment pericope and three times in the David's Son pericope. Matthew and Luke, however, erase this important connection by leaving the Shema out.

Is Mark hinting through the LXX translation of a bifurcation of the One Lord of the Shema? Is Mark making a subtle case for Jesus' (the son of David's) divinity or is this much ado about nothing?

  • 2
    "In the first scene, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:4-5 which says there is only one Lord (κυριος)." <- I don't think the Greek says that. It makes no sense for English translators to translate it as "one Lord" since "Lord" is really the Tetragrammaton when you examine the Hebrew. So, does saying "one Yahveh" make any sense? Give this informative article a read.
    – user862
    Commented Feb 27, 2015 at 4:35
  • 1
    Here's another one to look at (if it's possible?): "Christological re-reading of the Shema (Deut 6.4) in Mark's Gospel", a PhD thesis.
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 22:24
  • @Davïd Very cool. Thank you. Just what I was looking for. Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 22:27

1 Answer 1


It's definitely not "much ado about nothing." The Septuagint regularly translates the tetragrammaton as κυριος (Lord), as though what was written in Hebrew was Adonai, because that's what a Hebrew speaker would pronounce when reading the text aloud. In everyday English "Lord" doesn't carry much connotation of divinity even though the KJV often calls God "the LORD". A similar thing happens in Spanish, where Señor is used for God. It really just means Mister in everyday Spanish, but it obviously has divine connotations in the Spanish Bible. In Greek κυριος had stronger divine connotations, especially in koine, because so-called divine Roman emperors demanded to be called κυριος and worshiped. Many Christian martyrs died for refusing to call emperors κυριος.

Whenever you can make a connection between one story and the next in the Bible it's never an accident. In the days before printing people used such connections to memorize huge quantities of sacred text. Writers like Mark would have deliberately strung pericopes together based on such connections. To an ancient Greek it would have been considered "in your face", not subtle at all.

  • "In the days before printing people used such connections to memorize huge quantities of sacred text" ... What "Connections"? Which part is actually an answer to the question, or an argument/evidence that the writer intended for both passages to be interpreted together? Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 17:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.