The following verse, Mark 13:14 is one of the most famous verses in the Gospel:
14: "But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; (RSV)
This is the famous "Abomination of Desolation" that the writer derived from Daniel 9:27. The majority of scholars hold that it refers to the occupation of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 by Roman troops, who "worshipped" their standards there, according to Josephus. The reference to "false Christs" in 13:21-22 may well be a reference to messianic pretenders like Simon Bar Giora, a key Jewish leader of that war, which would also put the Gospel of Mark after 70. The "Legion" of the demoniac of Mark 5:1-20 that was sent into pigs may be a reference to Legio X Fretensis, which occupied the Temple after 70 and among whose legionnary standards was a boar.
However, a handful of exegetes, among them the brilliant German scholar Hermann Detering, see Mark 13 as referring not to the revolt of 70 but to the later revolt of 135, in which the Jewish nation was not only defeated but eliminated. The Jews were evicted from Palestine, the Temple area occupied by a Roman Temple, and Jerusalem renamed. Even the name "Judea" disappeared as Hadrian renamed the area "Syria Palestina" to deliberately blot it out.
The later revolt also fits the descriptions in Mark, in some ways slightly better. The catalyst for the Jewish Revolt of 135 was Hadrian's erection of not merely a statue of himself, but a statue of Jupiter and a Roman Temple on the site of the Jerusalem Temple. Construction began during the Emperor's visit to the area. When he left in 132 the rebellion began to swell as Jews fortified villages and occupied strongholds all over Palestine. A savage war ensued whose devastation far exceeded the affray of 70. No less than twelve Roman legions were brought in, some from as far away as Britain. The enormous number of Jews participating in the revolt forced the Roman leader, Julius Severus, to follow a policy of scorched earth and starvation rather than open confrontation. These events may also be seen in Mark 13, particularly since Hadrian persecuted both Christians and Jews, and animosity between the two groups grew throughout the second century. Since Legio X Fretensis remained in Palestine and occupied Jerusalem in the second century, the possible reference to it in Mark 5 is also supported, perhaps even enhanced (Ken Humphreys outlines some of the late-date information here).
There is an additional piece of data that favors a later date for the Gospel of Mark than usually given. TE Schmidt (1995) argued that the scene depicted in Mark 15:16 to 15:22 is essentially meant to depict a mock Roman triumphal procession. Such mock processions are known from history. For example, Sejanus received one before his execution.
Schmidt was among a small number of exegetes who have observed that Golgotha may also be translated as head as well as skull. That would make Golgotha the Place of the Head. A Roman legend records that in Rome when a temple was being built on a hill, a human head was found with its features still intact. According to the legend, the soothsayers then said this meant the hill would be the head of all Italy. The hill was thus named Capitoline Hill. The significance of this should not be missed: the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus on Capitoline Hill, the Capitolium, the placed named after the Death's Head, was the terminus of every Roman triumph.
This may well be a pointer to another Capitoline Hill, the Temple Mount. In two important ways. If we take, in the writer's allegorical geography, the reference to Rome to understand where the writer wants us to think Jesus was crucified, we need only to know that Jerusalem was also a city with a key hill surmounted by a Temple, the Temple Mount itself. Mark may well be implying that Jesus was crucified on the Temple Mount.
The dating datum here is that the Temple Mount did have a Capitoline Temple on its mount, the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, erected by Hadrian on the ruins of the Temple. In which case the Place of the Skull would be a very direct reference to the Temple Mount indeed.
This now takes us back to Mark 13:14, where we can at last understand Mark's dual implication of the Abomination in the Desolation. Tate (1995) laid out the parallels between Mark 13:9-13, where Jesus makes a prophecy of future persecution:
Disciples before CouncilsThis takes us through Mark 13:13. The very next verse, Mark 13:14, refers to the Abomination. This gives us the crowning parallel:
Jesus before Sanhedrin
Disciples beaten in Synagogues
Jesus beaten after Sanhedrin Trial
Disciples before Governors
Jesus before Pilate
Disciples brought to trial and "handed over"
Jesus on trial and "handed over"
Brother betrays brother
Judas betrays Jesus
Disciples hated in Jesus' name
Reaction to Jesus' claim to be the Blessed One.
Abomination Stands in the DesolationNow we have come full circle.
Jesus' Cross Stands on the Temple Mount
Schmidt, T.E. 1995. Mark 15:16-32: the Crucifixion Narrative and the Roman Triumphal Procession. New Test. Stud. vol 41, 1995. pp1-18.
Tate, W. Randolph. 1995. Reading Mark from the Outside: Eco and Iser Leave Their Marks. San Francisco: International Scholars Publications.