Gospel of Mark

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The Gospel According to Mark (Template:Lang-el, Template:Lang, to euangelion kata Markon), commonly shortened to the Gospel of Mark or simply Mark, is the second book of the New Testament. This canonical account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is one of the three synoptic gospels. It was thought to be an epitome, which accounts for its place as the second gospel in the Bible. However, most contemporary scholars now regard it as the earliest of the canonical gospels<ref name="brown164">Template:Cite book</ref> (c 70).<ref name="Harris"/>

The Gospel of Mark narrates the Ministry of Jesus from his baptism by John the Baptist to his death and resurrection. It focuses particularly on the last week of his life (chapters 11–16) in Jerusalem. Its swift narrative portrays Jesus as a heroic man of action,<ref name="Harris"/> an exorcist, healer and miracle worker. An important theme of Mark is the Messianic Secret.<ref name="ODCC Messianic Secret">"Messianic Secret." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005</ref> Jesus silences the demoniacs he heals, tries unsuccessfully to keep his messianic identity secret, and conceals his message with parables.<ref name="ODCC Messianic Secret"/> Meanwhile, the disciples fail to understand both the implication of the miracles of Jesus<ref name="Harris"/> and the meaning of the things he predicts about his arrest, death and resurrection.

According to tradition and some early church writers, the author is Mark the Evangelist, the companion of the apostle Peter.<ref>Jens Schroter, Gospel of Mark, in Aune, David E., (ed) "The Blackwell companion to the New Testament" (Blackwell Publishing, 2010), p.277-8</ref> The gospel, however, appears to rely on several underlying sources, varying in form and in theology, and which tells against the tradition that the gospel was based on Peter's preaching.<ref name = "TM1998 Mark">Theissen, Gerd and Annette Merz. The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide. Fortress Press. 1998. translated from German (1996 edition). p. 24-27.</ref> Of course, the autograph does not base its content on Paul's preaching alone but on a compilation of eye witness accounts, known apostolic preachings, and pre-existing written records that do not exist today verifiable from 2nd century commentators and an understanding of 1st century Greco-Roman culture regarding oral tradition.<ref>Mark Roberts, Can We Trust the Gospels, in 2007, p.68</ref> Various elements within the gospel, including the importance of the authority of Peter and the breadth of its basic theology, suggest that the author wrote in Syria or Palestine for a non-Jewish Christian community which had earlier absorbed the influence of pre-Pauline beliefs and then developed them further independent of Paul.<ref>Jens Schroter, Gospel of Mark, in Aune, p.278</ref>


Composition and setting

The Gospel According to Mark does not name its author.<ref name="Harris">Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.</ref> A tradition evident in the 2nd century ascribes it to Mark the Evangelist (also known as John Mark), the companion of Peter,<ref name="Bernd">Bernd Kollmann, Joseph Barnabas (Liturgical Press, 2004), page 30.</ref> on whose memories it is supposedly based.<ref name = "brown164"/><ref>Kirby, Peter. "Gospel of Mark" earlychristianwritings.com Retrieved January 30, 2010.</ref><ref name="Bock2007">Template:Cite document; Black, David Allen, “Why Four Gospels?” 2001, Kregel Publications. ISBN 0-8254-2070-9. Blomberg, Craig, “Jesus and the Gospels”. 2009, B&H Publishing. P 138-140. ISBN 978-0-8054-4482-7. Edwards, James. “The Gospel According to Mark”. 2002 Eerdmans Publishing Co. LaVerdiere, Eugene. “The Beginning of the Gospel”. 1991, The Liturgical Press. ISBN 0-8146-2478-2. (p15)</ref><ref>Lane, William, The Gospel According to Mark. 1974. Eerdmans Publishing Co. ISBN 0-8028-2502-8.(p 10)</ref> However, according to the majority view the author is unknown, the author's use of varied sources telling against the traditional account.<ref>"Above all the heterogeneous source material which the evangelist has used tells against [the traditional] account... [t]he author of Mark is a collector, in so far as he demonstrably takes up written and oral material from the tradition which varies in both form and theology." Theissen, Gerd and Annette Merz. The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide. Fortress Press. 1998. translated from German (1996 edition). p. 26-27</ref><ref>biblical literature (2010). In Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved November 19, 2010, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: [1]</ref> The gospel was written in Greek, probably around AD 60-70, possibly in Syria.<ref name = "TM1998 Mark">Theissen, Gerd and Annette Merz. The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide. Fortress Press. 1998. translated from German (1996 edition). p. 24-27.</ref> <ref>"The Gospel of Mark" Retrieved 11 November 2012.</ref>

Authorship and sources

According to Papias of Hierapolis, writing in the early 2nd century, this gospel was by John Mark, the companion of Saint Paul in Rome, who "had one purpose only – to leave out nothing that he had heard, and to make no misstatement about it."<ref>Papias, quoted in Eusebius History of the Church, trans. G.A. Williamson (London: Penguin Books Ltd., 1965). 3.39.15 / pp. 103–4. Also available online</ref> Other early writers such as Irenaeus agree with this.<ref>Irenaeus, Against Heresies III.1.1. Available online</ref> "No early church tradition and no church father ascribes the Gospel to anyone other than Mark."<ref>James R. Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2002) p.6</ref> Some modern scholars believe that the gospel was written in Syria by an unknown Christian no earlier than AD 70, using various sources including a passion narrative (probably written), collections of miracles stories (oral or written), apocalyptic traditions (probably written), and disputations and didactic sayings (some possibly written).<ref name = "TM1998 Mark"/> Some of the material in Mark, however, goes back a very long way, representing an important source for historical information about Jesus.<ref name = "TM1998 Mark"/>

Mark wrote primarily for an audience of gentile Greek-speaking residents of the Roman Empire: Jewish traditions are explained, clearly for the benefit of non-Jews (e.g., Template:Bibleverse; Template:Bibleverse-nb; Template:Bibleverse-nb), and Aramaic words and phrases are expanded upon by the author, e.g., ταλιθα κουμ (talitha koum, Template:Bibleverse); κορβαν (Corban, Template:Bibleverse); αββα (abba, Template:Bibleverse). When Mark makes use of the Old Testament he does so in the form in which it had been translated into Greek, the Septuagint, for instance Template:Bibleverse; Template:Bibleverse-nb; Template:Bibleverse-nb; Template:Bibleverse-nb; also compare Template:Bibleverse-nb with Daniel Template:Bibleverse-nb.


Franz Overbeck considered the gospels as the only new Christian genre, whereas other books of the New Testament were modeled on traditional types of religious literature. The influential discipline called form criticism propagated this view and defined the genre as an account of the “good news” centering on life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, with the evocation of repentance and faith as primary function.<ref>Adela Yarbro Collins: Mark: a commentary. Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 2007, p. 19-22. ISBN 978-0-8006-6078-9.</ref>

However, parallels to Greco-Roman literature exist, e.g. to didactic biographies like the life of Moses by Philo of Alexandria. Furthermore, Mark is not interested in origins, education and inner development of Jesus, but narrates the history of the fulfillment of the divine promises from his perspective. In this focus Mark resembles a historical biography like Suetonius's Lives of Caesars.<ref>Adela Yarbro Collins: Mark: a commentary, p. 21-33.</ref>

Often in ancient literature historical events were related to divine power by direct interactions, as the splitting of the heavens in Mark 1:10 or the cloud in 9:7. Yet the dominant strategy of Mark is to describe humans as acting independently, but in the context of an underlying divine plan. Hence, he reflects the difference between Homer's Iliad on the one hand and Herodotus and the Deuteronomist on the other. Historiography in antiquity was not predominantly interested in facts, as in modern positivism, but in representation and explanation. For this purpose, miracles were included by Herodotus in ethnography; in Old Testament traditions, Moses, Samuel or Elijah appear as mediators between God and the people.<ref>Adela Yarbro Collins: Mark: a commentary, p. 33-42.</ref>

Adela Yarbro Collins integrates these observations into the characterization of Mark as an “eschatological historical monograph”, a new type of writing enrooted in traditional and contemporary literature.<ref>Adela Yarbro Collins: Mark: a commentary, p. 42f.</ref>

Source for Matthew and Luke

Template:See also

Most scholars believe that the Gospel of Mark was the first of the canonical gospels, and was available when the gospels of Matthew and Luke were written.<ref name = "TM1998 2">Theissen, Gerd and Annette Merz. The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide. Fortress Press. 1998. translated from German (1996 edition). Chapter 2. Christian sources about Jesus.</ref> The reason that such great importance is attached to this Gospel has been the widespread belief among scholars that the Gospel of Mark and probably Q were the basis of the Synoptic Gospels,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Template:Cite encyclopedia</ref> as held in the two-source hypothesis.<ref>M.G. Easton, Easton's Bible Dictionary (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996, c1897), "Luke, Gospel According To"</ref><ref>Template:Cite book</ref><ref>Template:Cite book</ref><ref>Template:Cite book</ref><ref name = "ActJLuke">Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar. The acts of Jesus: the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco. 1998. "Luke," p. 267-364</ref> Mark's gospel is a short, Koine Greek basis for the Synoptic Gospels. It provides the general chronology, from Jesus' baptism to the empty tomb.<ref name="ActJLuke"/>

Differing versions

Mark is the shortest of the canonical gospels. Manuscripts, both scrolls and codices, tend to lose text at the beginning and the end, not unlike a coverless paperback in a backpack.<ref name="N. Clayton Croy 2003">N. Clayton Croy, The Mutilation of Mark's Gospel (Abingdon, 2003) ISBN 0-687-05293-9</ref> These losses are characteristically unconnected with excisions. For instance, Template:Bibleverse has been found in two different forms. Most manuscripts of Mark, including the 4th-century Codex Vaticanus, have the text "son of God",<ref>Greek grammar and article use allow an English translation of the Son of God, a son of God, or merely Son of God.</ref> but three important manuscripts do not. Those three are: Codex Sinaiticus (01, א; dated 4th century), Codex Koridethi (038, Θ; 9th century), and the text called Minuscule 28 (11th century).<ref>Novum Testamentum Graece</ref> Textual support for the term "Son of God" is strong, but the phrase may not have been original.<ref>"Since the combination of B D W all in support of [Son of God] is extremely strong, it was not thought advisable to omit the words altogether, yet because of the antiquity of the shorter reading and the possibility of scribal expansion, it was decided to enclose the words within square brackets." Bruce Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament</ref>

Interpolations may not be editorial, either. It is a common experience that glosses written in the margins of manuscripts get incorporated into the text as copies are made. Any particular example is open to dispute, of course, but one may take note of Template:Bibleverse, "Let anyone with ears to hear, listen," which is not found in early manuscripts.

Revision and editorial error may also contribute. Most differences are trivial but Template:Bibleverse, where the leper approached Jesus begging to be healed, is significant. An early (Western) manuscript (Codex Bezae) reads that Jesus became angry with the leper while Byzantine and Alexandrian manuscripts indicate that Jesus showed compassion. This is possibly a confusion between the Aramaic words ethraham (he had pity) and ethra'em (he was enraged).<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Since it is easier to understand why a scribe would change "rage" to "pity" than "pity" to "rage," the earlier version is probably original.<ref name="MisJ">Ehrman, Bart D.. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. HarperCollins, 2005. ISBN 978-0-06-073817-4</ref>


Template:Main Template:Bibleverse, describing some disciples' encounters with the resurrected Jesus, appears to be a later addition to the gospel. Mark 16:8 stops at a description of the empty tomb, which is immediately preceded by a statement by a "young man dressed in a white robe" that Jesus is "risen" and is "going ahead of you into Galilee." The last twelve verses are missing from the oldest manuscripts of Mark's Gospel.<ref>Template:Cite bookTemplate:Page needed</ref> The style of these verses differs from the rest of Mark, suggesting they were a later addition. In a handful of manuscripts, a "short ending" is included after 16:8, but before the "long ending", and exists by itself in one of the earliest Old Latin codices, Codex Bobiensis. By the 5th century, at least four different endings have been attested. (See Mark 16 for a more comprehensive treatment of this topic.) Possibly, the Long Ending (16:9–20) started as a summary of evidence for Jesus' resurrection and the apostles' divine mission, based on other gospels.<ref name = "May Metzger">May, Herbert G. and Bruce M. Metzger. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. 1977.</ref> It was likely composed early in the 2nd century and incorporated into the gospel around the middle of the 2nd century.<ref name = "May Metzger"/>

The 3rd-century theologian Origen of Alexandria quoted the resurrection stories in Matthew, Luke, and John but failed to quote anything after Template:Bibleverse, suggesting that his copy of Mark stopped there. Eusebius and Jerome both mention the majority of texts available to them omitted the longer ending.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Critics are divided over whether the original ending at 16:8 was intentional, whether it resulted from accidental loss, or even the author's death.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Those who believe that 16:8 was not the intended ending argue that it would be very unusual syntax for the text to end with the conjunction gar (Template:Lang), as does Mark 16:8, and that thematically it would be strange for a book of good news to end with a note of fear (Template:Lang, "for they were afraid").<ref>N. B. Stonehouse, The Witness of Matthew and Mark to Christ (1944) pp. 86–118; also J. B. Tyson, Journal of Biblical Literature 80 (1961) pp. 261–268. A relevant commentary: P. W. van Horst, "Can a book end with Template:Lang? A note on Mark 16:8", in Journal of Theological Studies, new series 23 (1972) pp. 121–124.</ref> If the 16:8 ending was intentional, it could indicate a connection to the theme of the "Messianic Secret". This abrupt ending is also used to support the identification of this book as an example of closet drama, which characteristically ended without resolution and often with a tragic or shocking event that prevents closure.<ref name="Smith 1995">Template:Cite journal</ref>


The Gospel of Mark differs from the other gospels in language, detail and content. Its theology is unique. The gospel's vocabulary embraces 1330 distinct words, of which 60 are proper names. Eighty words, (exclusive of proper names), are not found elsewhere in the New Testament. About one quarter of these are non-classical. In addition Mark makes use of the "historic present" as well as the "Messianic secret" to make known his Gospel message.<ref>William Telford, Mark, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2003 pp.75 – 78</ref>


The "Suffering Messiah" is central to Mark's portrayal of Jesus, his theology and the structure of the gospel. This knowledge is hidden and only those with spiritual insight may see. The concept of hidden knowledge may have become the basis of the Gnostic Gospels.<ref>William L. Lane, The Gospel according to Mark, Volume 2 of The new international commentary on the New Testament, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1974 pp.300 – 303</ref> John Killinger, arguing that, in Mark, the resurrection account is hidden throughout the gospel rather than at the end, speculates that the Markan author might himself have been a Gnostic Christian.<ref>John Killinger, Hidden Mark: Exploring Christianity's Heretical Gospel (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2010).</ref>

Messianic secret

Template:Main In 1901, William Wrede<ref>Wrede, Wilhelm. The Messianic Secret in the Gospels. 1901. ISBN 0-227-67717-X</ref> challenged the then-current critical view that Mark comprised a straightforward historical account and gave the name “Messianic secret” to this gospel theme. He argued that the Messianic secret was a literary device that Mark used to resolve the tension between early Christians, who hailed Jesus as the Messiah, and the historical Jesus who, he argued, never made any such claim for himself.<ref>"Wrede, William." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005</ref>

In Mark, more than in the other synoptics, Jesus hides his messianic identity.<ref>Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. p. 287.</ref> When he exorcises demons, they recognize him, but he commands them to be silent. When he heals people, he tells them not to reveal how they were healed.<ref>'Again and again, both Jesus' intimate disciples and those whom he miraculously heals or cleanses or from whom he exorcises demons are charged not to reveal who he is (Mark 1:23–24, 34; 3:11–12; 8:30; 9:2–9).' Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. p. 287.</ref> When he preaches, he uses parables to conceal his true message from the crowds (Template:Bibleverse). According to v. 34, Jesus “explained everything in private to his disciples”. However, in sentences like Template:Bibleverse also the disciples are obtuse, understanding the true significance of Jesus only after his death.<ref>Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. p. 287-288.</ref> This "Messianic secret" is a central issue in Bible scholarship.<ref name="ReferenceA">"Messianic secret." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005</ref>


Adoptionism is the idea that Jesus was fully human, born of a sexual union between Joseph and Mary.<ref>Bart D. Ehrman, Truth and fiction in The Da Vinci code: a historian reveals what we really know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine, Oxford University Press US, 2004, p. 19</ref><ref>Charles Landon, "A text-critical study of the Epistle of Jude", Volume 135 of Journal for the study of the New Testament, Continuum International Publishing Group, 1996, p.43</ref> Jesus only became divine, i.e. (adopted as God's son), later at his baptism.<ref>Ed Hindson & Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics: Surveying the Evidence for the Truth of Christianity, Harvest House Publishers, 2008 P. 16</ref> He was chosen as the firstborn of all creation because of his sinless devotion to the will of God.<ref>Ed Hindson & Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics: Surveying the Evidence for the Truth of Christianity, Harvest House Publishers, 2008 p. 17</ref><ref>They too accept Matthew's gospel, and like the followers of Cerinthus and Merinthus, they use it alone. They call it the Gospel of the Hebrews, for in truth Matthew alone in the New Testament expounded and declared the Gospel in Hebrew using Hebrew script. After saying many things, this Gospel continues: “After the people were baptized, Jesus also came and was baptized by John. And as Jesus came up from the water, Heaven was opened, and He saw the Holy Spirit descend in the form of a dove and enter into Him. And a voice from Heaven said, ‘You are my beloved Son; with You I am well pleased.’ And again, ‘Today I have begotten You.’ “Immediately a great light shone around the place; and John, seeing it, said to Him, ‘Who are you, Lord? And again a voice from Heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’ Then John, falling down before Him, said, ‘I beseech You, Lord, baptize me!’ But He forbade him saying, ‘Let it be so; for thus it is fitting that all things be fulfilled.’” Epiphanius, Panarion 30.3.7 & 13.7</ref>

Adoptionism probably arose among early Jewish Christians seeking to reconcile the claims that Jesus was the Son of God with the strict monotheism of Judaism, in which the concept of a trinity of divine persons in one Godhead was unacceptable. Scholar Bart D. Ehrman argues that adoptionist theology may date back almost to the time of Jesus.<ref name="Bart D Ehrman 1996. p.74-55">Bart D Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament, New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. p.74-55</ref> The early Jewish-Christian Gospels make no mention of a supernatural birth. Rather, they state that Jesus was begotten at his baptism.

The theology of Adoptionism fell into disfavor as Christianity left its Jewish roots and Gentile Christianity became dominant. Adoptionism was declared heresy at the end of the 2nd century, and was rejected by the First Council of Nicaea, which proclaimed the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity and identifies Jesus as eternally begotten of God. The Creed of Nicaea now holds Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. (See Virgin Birth).<ref>"Jesus was either regarded as the man whom God had chosen, in whom the Deity or the Spirit of God dwelt, and who, after being tested, was adopted by God and invested with dominion, (Adoptian Christology); or Jesus was regarded as a heavenly spiritual being (the highest after God) who took flesh, and again returned to heaven after the completion of his work on earth (pneumatic Christology)." Adolf von Harnack, History of Dogma [2]</ref>

Adoptionism may go back as far as Matthew and the Apostles.<ref name="Bart D Ehrman 1996. p.74-55"/> According to some early church writers,<ref>Origen explains, "The very first account to be written was by Matthew, once a tax collector, but later an apostle of Jesus Christ. Matthew published it for the converts from Judaism and composed it in Hebrew letters." Eusebius Church History, 6:25 Eusebius adds insight by explaining that the apostles "were led to write only under the pressure of necessity. Matthew, who had first preached the Gospel in Hebrew, when on the point of going to other nations, committed the gospel to writing in his native language. Therefore he supplied the written word to make up for the lack of his own presence to those from whom he was sent." Eusebius Church History, 3:24</ref> the first gospel was written by the Apostle Matthew, and his account was called the Gospel of the Hebrews or the Gospel of the Apostles.<ref>Bernhard Pick, The Talmud: What It Is and What It Knows of Jesus and His Followers, Kessinger Publishing, 2006, pp. 122, 125–129</ref><ref>Eusebius Church History 3:39 .</ref><ref>Irenaeus gives us further insight into the date and circumstances of this gospel by explaining, "Matthew also issued a written Gospel of the Hebrews in their own language while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome and laying the foundations of the Church." Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3:1</ref><ref>The Gospel of Matthew has traditionally been said to have been composed near Jerusalem for Hebrew Christians. It was then translated into Greek but the Greek copy was lost. The Hebrew original was preserved at the Library of Caesarea, which Pamphilus diligently gathered. The Nazarenes transcribed a copy for Jerome which he used in his work. "Jerome, On Illustrious Men 3">Jerome, On Illustrious Men 3 [3]</ref><ref>Matthew's gospel was called the Gospel of the Hebrews or sometimes the Gospel of the Apostles, and was written in the Chaldee and Syriac language but in Hebrew script. It was used by the Nazarene communities. Jerome, Against Pelagius 3:2 [4]</ref> This, the first written account of the life of Jesus, was adoptionist in nature. The Gospel of the Hebrews has no mention of a virgin birth and when Jesus is baptized it states, "Jesus came up from the water, Heaven was opened, and He saw the Holy Spirit descend in the form of a dove and enter into Him. And a voice from Heaven said, ‘You are my beloved Son; with You I am well pleased.’ And again, ‘Today I have begotten You.’ Immediately a great light shone around the place".<ref>Epiphanius, Panarion 30:13</ref><ref>James R. Edwards, The Hebrew Gospel & the Development of the Synoptic Tradition, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2009, pp. 1–376</ref><ref>Pierson Parker A Basis for the Gospel According to the Hebrews Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 59, No. 4 (Dec., 1940), pp. 471.</ref>

Scholars also see adoptionist theology in the Gospel of Mark. Mark names Jesus as the son of God at the strategic points of 1:1 ("The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God") and 15:39 ("Surely this man was the Son of God!"), but the virgin birth story has not been developed. The phrase "Son of God" is not present in some early manuscripts at 1:1. Bart D. Ehrman uses this omission to support the notion that the title "Son of God" is not used of Jesus until his baptism, and that Mark reflects an adoptionist view.<ref name="Ehrman, Bart D. 1996. p.74-55">Ehrman, Bart D., The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. p.74-55.</ref> The authenticity of the omission of "Son of God" and its theological significance has been rejected by Bruce Metzger and Ben Witherington III.<ref>Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (New York : United Bible Societies, 1994). Mark 1:1.</ref><ref>Ben Witherington III, What Have They Done With Jesus? (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2006), p. 7.</ref> but has been affirmed by other contemporary scholars, including the Jesus Seminar<ref>Robert J. Miller, ed, The Complete Gospels (San Francisco: Polebridge Press, 1992), p. 13.</ref> and Ched Meyers.<ref>Ched Meyers, Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark's Story of Jesus (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1991), p. 122.</ref>

By comparison, the gospels of Luke and Matthew portray Jesus as being the Son of God from the time of birth, while the Gospel of John portrays the Son as existing "in the beginning."<ref name="Ehrman, Bart D. 1996. p.74-55"/>

Meaning of Jesus' death

Mark portrays Jesus' death as an atoning sacrifice for sin.<ref name = "JInt">Ehrman, Bart D.. Jesus, Interrupted, HarperCollins, 2009. ISBN 0-06-117393-2</ref> The Temple curtain, which served as a barrier between the holy presence of God and the profane world, rips at the moment of Jesus' death, symbolizing an end to the division between humans and God.<ref name = "JInt"/>

The only explicit mention of the meaning of Jesus' death in Mark occurs in Template:Bibleverse-nb where Jesus says that the "Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom (lutron) for many (anti pollōn)." According to Barnabas Lindars, this refers to Isaiah's fourth servant song, with lutron referring to the "offering for sin" (Isaiah 53:10) and anti pollōn to the Servant "bearing the sin of many" in Isaiah 52:12.<ref>Lindars, Barnabas. "Salvation Proclaimed, VII: Mark 10:45 – A Ransom for Many" Expository Times 93 [1982], 293.</ref> The Greek word anti means "in the place of", which indicates a substitutionary death.<ref>Ladd, George Eldon. A Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 188.</ref>

The author of this gospel also speaks of Jesus' death through the metaphors of the departing bridegroom in Template:Bibleverse-nb, and of the rejected heir in Template:Bibleverse-nb. He views it as fulfilling Old Testament prophecy (Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse-nb and Template:Bibleverse-nb).

Many scholars believe that Mark structured his gospel in order to emphasise Jesus' death. For example, Alan Culpepper sees Mark 15:1–39 as developing in three acts, each containing an event and a response.<ref>Culpepper, R. Alan. "The Passion and Resurrection in Mark," Review & Expositor 75 [1978], 584.</ref> The first event is Jesus' trial, followed by the soldiers' mocking response; the second event is Jesus' crucifixion, followed by the spectators mocking him; the third and final event in this sequence is Jesus' death, followed by the veil being rent and the centurion confessing, "truly this man was the Son of God." In weaving these things into a triadic structure, Mark is thereby emphasising the importance of this confession, which provides a dramatic contrast to the two scenes of mocking which precede it. D. R. Bauer suggests that "by bringing his gospel to a climax with this christological confession at the cross, Mark indicates that Jesus is first and foremost Son of God, and that Jesus is Son of God as one who suffers and dies in obedience to God."<ref>Bauer, D. R. "Son of God" in Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight and I. Howard Marshall (eds.) Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (Downers Grove: IVP, 1992), 773.</ref> Joel Marcus notes that the other Evangelists "attenuate" Mark's emphasis on Jesus' suffering and death, and sees Mark as more strongly influenced than they are by Paul's "theology of the cross".<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>

Characteristics of Mark's content

Stained glass depiction of St. Mark at St. Matthew's German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

The narrative can be divided into three sections: the Galilean ministry, including the surrounding regions of Phoenicia, Decapolis, and Cæsarea Philippi (1–9); the Journey to Jerusalem (10); and the Events in Jerusalem (11–16).

  • The character of Jesus appears as secretive and capricious, his actions as unpredictable and scandalous. In the narrative of Jesus' walk on water (Template:Bibleverse), e.g., there is a gap: Jesus only says, but is not reported to really dismiss the crowd. It appears to be an excuse to separate from the disciples. V. 48c. has often been an enigma: Jesus wants to pass by the disciples, whereas v. 48a suggests that he intends to help them – 8 hours after having seen their distress. Similarly, Template:Bibleverse unsettles and contradicts vv. 23 and 35; Template:Bibleverse contrasts with Jesus' mission directed to everyone (Template:Bibleverse). George W. Young notes parallels to a Greek “capricious god toying aimlessly with his subjects”.<ref>George W. Young: Subversive Symmetry. Exploring the Fantastic in Mark 6:45-56. Brill, Leiden 1999, p. 160-169. ISBN 90-04-11428-9. Online preview</ref>

Characteristics of Mark's language

The phrase "and immediately" occurs forty-two times in Mark; while in Luke, which is much longer, it is used only seven times, and in John only four times.<ref>Easton's Bible Dictionary: Mark, Gospel according to</ref> The word from Template:Lang-el, which roughly translates as law, ([5]) is never used, while it appears 8 times in Matthew, 9 times in Luke, 15 times in John, 19 times in Acts, many times in Romans.

Latin loanwords are often used: speculator, sextarius, centurion, legion, quadrans, praetorium, caesar, census, flagello, modius, denarius.<ref>Bauer lexicon</ref> Mark has over a dozen direct Old Testament quotations: Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse-nb,Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse-nb. Mark makes frequent use of the narrative present; Luke changes about 150 of these verbs to past tense.<ref>Complete Gospels, Miller, p.11</ref> Mark frequently links sentences with Template:Lang-el (and); Matthew and Luke replace most of these with subordinate clauses.

Other characteristics unique to Mark


Secret Gospel of Mark


The Secret Gospel of Mark refers to a version of the Gospel of Mark being circulated in 2nd century Alexandria, which was kept from the Christian community at large. This non-canonical gospel fragment was discovered in 1958, by biblical researcher Morton Smith at the Mar Saba monastery.<ref>Wilhelm Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha: Gospels and related writings, Vol 1, Westminster John Knox Press, 2003 pp.106 – 109</ref>

In this fragment, Clement of Alexandria explains that Mark, during Peter's stay in Rome wrote an account of the life of Jesus. Mark selected those events that would be the most helpful to the Church. When Peter died a martyr, Mark left Rome and went to Alexandria. He brought both his own writings and those of Peter. It was here that Mark composed a second more spiritual Gospel and when he died, he left his composition to the Church.<ref>Bart D. Ehrman, Lost scriptures: books that did not make it into the New Testament, Oxford University Press US, 2003 pp.87 – 89</ref> The Carpocrates got a copy of this Gospel and they misinterpreted it, which caused problems for the early Church.

Some modern scholars maintain the Secret Gospel is a clumsy forgery, while others accept this text as being authentic.<ref>Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, Oxford University Press, 2003 p. 79</ref><ref>Early Christian Writings</ref> The nature of the Secret Gospel of Mark as well as Morton Smith's role in its discovery are still being debated.<ref name="Carlson 2005">Template:Cite book</ref><ref name="Jeffery 2006">Template:Cite book</ref><ref>Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 1996, p. 49.</ref><ref>Bruce, "The 'Secret' Gospel of Mark," 1974.</ref>

Canonical Status

A related issue is the adoption of the Gospel of Mark as a Canonical Gospel, given that, like the hypothetical Q, it is largely reproduced in Matthew and Luke, but, unlike Q, it did not become "lost". Traditionally Mark's authority and survival has derived from its Petrine origins (see above "Authorship"). A recent suggestion is that Mark gained widespread popularity in oral performance, apart from readings from manuscript copies. Its widespread oral popularity ensured it a place in the written canon.<ref>J. Dewey, "The Survival of Mark's Gospel: a Good Story?" Journal of Biblical Literature, 123 (2004) pp. 495–507</ref>


Galilean ministry

Journey to Jerusalem

Events in Jerusalem

See also

Template:Chapters in the Gospel of Mark




Gospel of Mark online



  • Brown, R., et al. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall, 1990.
  • Bultmann, R., History of the Synoptic Tradition, Harper & Row, 1963.
  • Dewey, J., The Survival of Mark’s Gospel: A Good Story?, JBL 123.3 (2004) 495–507.
  • Ehrman, Bart D., Misquoting Jesus, Harper Collins, 2005. p. 66–68.
  • Grant, Robert M., A Historical Introduction to the New Testament Harper and Row, 1963: Chapter 8: The Gospel Of Mark
  • Dormeyer, Detlev, Das Markusevangelium, Wiss. Buchgeselschaft Darmstadt 2005, ISBN 978-3-534-15613-9
  • Guy, Harold A, The Origin of the Gospel of Mark, Hodder & Stoughton 1954
  • Holmes, M. W., "To Be Continued... The Many Endings of Mark", Bible Review 17.4 (2001).
  • Ladd, George Eldon. A Theology of the New Testament Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987.
  • R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek text, NICNT, Wm. Eerdmans, 2002.
  • Mack, Burton L., 1993. The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian origins, HarperSanFrancisco.
  • McKnight, E. V., What is Form Criticism?, 1997.
  • Neill, Stephen and Wright, Tom, The Interpretation of The New Testament 1861–1986, Oxford University Press, 1990, 1989, 1964, ISBN 0-19-283057-0
  • Perrin, N., What is Redaction Criticism?
  • Perrin, Norman & Duling, Dennis C., The New Testament: An Introduction, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1982, 1974
  • Schnelle, Udo, 1998. The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings (M. Eugene Boring translator), Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998.
  • Telford, W. (ed.), The Interpretation of Mark, Fortress Press, 1985.
  • Tuckett, C. (ed), The Messianic Secret, Fortress Press, 1983

External links

Template:Wikiversity Online translations of the Gospel of Mark:

Related articles:

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