Original Research

The portrayal of the hardening of the disciples’ hearts in Mark 8:14–21

Sug-Ho Lee, Jan G. Van der Watt
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 65, No 1 | a148 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v65i1.148 | © 2009 Sug-Ho Lee, Jan G. Van der Watt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 March 2009 | Published: 23 July 2009

About the author(s)

Sug-Ho Lee, Korean Bible University, Korea, Republic of
Jan G. Van der Watt, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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The goal of this article is to consider the literary-theological function of the hardening of the disciples’ hearts in Mark 8:14–21. The disciples are remarkably characterised by faithlessness, which is associated with hardness of their hearts. Although Mark uses the same language, ‘hardness of heart’, at different points in his Gospel to describe both Jesus’ opponents and the disciples, he nevertheless retains a distinction between the two groups. With regard to the opponents’ unbelief, the language means a divine judgement for their unbelieving rejection (cf. Mark 3:5–6). By contrast, when the language is used in relation to the disciples, it warns them (or the Markan readers) to beware of falling into the opponents’ unbelieving attitudes (6:52; 8:17–18).


disciples; discipleship; Gospel of Mark; hardness of heart; disciples’ rejection of Jesus


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