Michael J. Haren, «The Naked Young Man: a Historians Hypothesis on Mark 14,51-52», Vol. 79 (1998) 525-531
The article starts from the premiss that the young man in question - whatever his subsequent symbolical value - was a historical person. It notes the proximity of his association with Jesus implied by the evangelists usage. It comments on the fact that in the sources for the Passion there is only one figure besides Jesus who was the object of a projected arrest by the authorities and one figure besides Jesus on whom an arrest is known to have been actually attempted. Suggesting that the historian dealing with secular sources would be prompted to consider an identification accordingly, the article examines the implications.
thought emblematic, rather, of the fact that its wearer had been in the tomb and had been so powerfully brought from it. It must be allowed, of course, that if sindwn is understood in the sense suggested, it is likely that the evangelist knew the significance of the episode.
In referring to the young mans dress as emblematic, I do not mean to imply that its reference is only on the level of symbolism (potent as that would be). On the historical level the young man comes wrapped up, as it were, in his peculiar dress. It is his naked escape that has been held above to guarantee his historicity and his naked escape is the result of his spare garb. If the figure is to be identified as Lazarus, one would have to accept that Lazarus in the Garden was actually dressed for conscious effect 23.
Lazarus dressed in that manner could in context only advertise his remarkable personal history, which was causing such excitement in the city. In the account of Jesus reaction to the message about Lazarus illness, he promised that its purpose was "the glory of God, to bring glory to the Son of God" (John 11,4). While this may well be a Johannine theological intrusion into a more primitive account 24 it hardly does violence to the likely interpretation in context. The question must arise whether the manifestation of this glory was to be confined to Bethany and to those who came out to Bethany or whether it was contemplated presenting Lazarus, dramatically and dressed so that he would instantly proclaim the miracle, in Jerusalem itself. Alternatively or concurrently, if, as the Gospels insist, Jesus was reconciled to or intent upon his own sacrifice, the prospect that Lazarus would be presented in Jerusalem as a sign of Gods power might have been a central part of the mechanism by which the Jewish authorities were utterly drawn to act.