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The Gospel according to Mark
Transcript of The Gospel according to Mark
The Gospel for the Easily Bored
Her persistence is rewarded:
No Gospel records its author
Nicknamed "Mark," he was a minister who traveled with Paul but apparently never met Jesus
Christian leaders in the early 100s CE identified the author as John Mark
There is no historical evidence to support the claim of Markan authorship
As with any book in the Bible, the book's value is judged by its contents, not by its author
Though the actual author is impossible to determine, we will refer to him as "Mark" according to tradition
The Lion also calls to mind the image of Christ as king
A Lion is a symbol of courage and monarchy
The Lion is also a symbol Jesus' Resurrection (because lions were believed to sleep with open eyes, a comparison with Christ in the tomb)
Mark begins the Gospel with John the Baptist roaring (like a lion) in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight!" (1:3)
As a symbol of courage, the Lion calls to mind the need of disciples of Christ to be courageous in the face of persecution
The Lion (as well as the symbols of the other Evagelists)have captured the imaginations of Christian artists throughout the centuries:
Sometimes, simply a Lion is used to symbolize the Gospel according to Mark
Some Christians, under torture or threats, abandoned the faith or even betrayed other believers
Church tradition states that the Gospel according to Mark was written for Christian citizens living in the city of Rome
Several other details seem to corroborate this tradition:
Under the Emperor Nero (64-68 CE) the church in Rome suffered brutal persecution
After blaming Christians for the fire that destroyed Rome in 64, Nero punished his scapegoats
To the list of rewards promised to Jesus’ disciples, Mark adds “with persecutions” (10:30).
Mark seems to be writing for Christians in crisis
He is the only Evangelist to mention that Jesus was with wild beasts:
This is a reference that would have had special meaning to the Roman Christians
At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him (1:12-13).
Crucifixion was the most commonly used method of capital punishment
However, Nero employed a variety of techniques in his wave of persecution aimed at heightening the spectacle
He used Christians as props in dramatizations of Greek and Roman myths
This image shows a dramatization of the myth of Dirce, in which the main character is killed by being tied to the horns of a bull
He used Christians as human torches to illuminate the city streets at night
But Nero is perhaps most infamous for using wild beasts to devour Christians in front of live audiences
So what can we say about the author?
We should note that the Gospel has what scholars have called a "Semitic flavor."
By this, they mean that there are Semitic syntactical features occurring in the context of Greek words and sentences.
So we can say that the author MAY have been Jewish or perhaps had a Jewish background.
Whatever his religion, it seems clear that he wasn't from Palestine.
In fact, by this point, most Jews lived outside of the "Promised Land," a consequence of the Diaspora
There is strong evidence that Mark is unfamiliar with Palestine
Here are but a few examples:
At the end of chapter 10, Jesus is in the city of Jericho. However, at the start of chapter 11, the reader is told:
When they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples (11:1).
This does not make any sense geographically
Anyone approaching Jerusalem from Jericho would come first to Bethany and then Bethphage, not the reverse.
Again he left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis (7:31).
This is like saying that one goes from Orlando to Key West by way of Dallas
Thus, we can conlude that Mark is likely a Jew (or God-fearer) living in the Diaspora (outside of Palestine)
Another clue to Mark's identity can be found in his frequent use of "Latinisms."
Latinisms are Latin words that are transliterated into Greek
We also find a few Latin idioms in Mark
An idiom is an expression, word, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is comprehended in regard to a common use of that expression that is separate from the literal meaning or definition of the words of which it is made.
Every culture has their own unique idioms.
Some example of American idioms:
The meaning of American idioms are not necessarily intelligible when translated from one language to another
The same is true when the idioms of other cultures are translated into English
For example, an American audience might not understand the following Italian idiom:
"To reheat cabbage"
It means the same thing as the American idiom: to rekindle an old flame (to reestablish a romantic relation with a former lover).
The prescence of Latinisms and Latin specific idioms seems to suggest that Mark, though he wrote the Gospel in Greek, was a Latin speaker and/or a resident of a Latin speaking population.
We will say more about the significance of this when we address the issue of where this Gospel was produced.
As noted, Mark was likely a Latin speaker writing his Gospel in a Latin speaking community.
Latin speakers would have been found most readily in Italy, although not exclusively.
This was a Latin speaking community that would also be able to read Greek
However, there is some evidence to suggest he may not have been Jewish:
Now when the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. (For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders.And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds (Mark 7:1-4).
Not ALL 1st century Jews practiced this.
Only Mark records the saying that “everyone will be salted with fire” (9:49).
He emphasizes Jesus’ warnings that the disciples will suffer betrayal by relatives and persecution at the hands of authorities (13: 9-13).
When the Jesus is arrested in Mark, the disciples scatter
The end of Mark's Gospel implies that he wants his readers to persevere in their discipleship DESPITE the persistent threat of persecution
Mark wants his readers to "follow" Jesus "on the way" to Jerusalem (the cross)
SO HOW DOES HE GET THERE?!
Second, the content and emphases of the Gospel cohere well with the historical situation of Christians under the persecutions of Nero in the late 60s.
There is nearly unanimous agreement among scholars that Mark’s Gospel was the first to be written; within a few decades of Jesus death and resurrection.
There is less agreement, however, as to whether the Gospel should be dated before or after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
Several factors seem to point to a date PRIOR to this watershed event.
There are two main reasons for this:
First, Jesus’ prophecy of the temple’s destruction (chapter 13) is along the lines of Old Testament prophecies of doom and contains no details that would suggest a description after the fact.
Thus, most scholars propose a date around the year 65 CE (give or take).
We already have said a great deal about the community that Mark is writing his Gospel:
We know they were likely Latin speakers who could read Greek
We know they were enduring persecutions
We postulate they were located in the city of Rome
To this we should note that they were undoubtedly a Gentile community
The evidence for this is plentiful:
For one thing, Mark feels the need to explain various Hebrew and Aramaic expressions:
He took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!" (Mark 5:41)
He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man's ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, "Ephphatha!" (that is, "Be opened!") (Mark 7:33-34)
He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass by him; he said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will." (Mark 14:35-36)
And at three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34)
At the very least, this suggests this audience is not from Palestine, for such an audience would have known the meaning without having the need for the author to tell them
Mark removes any doubt of his audience's Gentile background when he feels the need to describe to them the customs of the Pharisees:
Now when the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. (For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds (Mark 7:1-4).
Mark feels he needs to explain what "all the Jews" practiced. One would not have to explain what "all the Jews" practiced to an audience of Jews
Another clue has to do with the characters in the Gospel
Throughout the narrative, Jesus conceals his identity to various Jewish characters (the Messianic Secret)
These details suggest that for the Jews, Jesus' true identity was hidden, and this is why there weren't large Jewish Christian congregations in the decades after the resurrection
Only once does Jesus bluntly identify himself to Jewish characters:
When Jesus stood trial before the Sanhedrin
Again the high priest asked him and said to him, "Are you the Messiah, the son of the Blessed One?" Then Jesus answered, "I am; and 'you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.'" (Mark 14:61-62)
Ironically, this is what seals Jesus' fate
But even Jesus' Jewish disciples - to whom the reader is told "he explained everything" (4:34) could not understand who Jesus really was.
The same applies to his Jewish family
If we turn to the Gentile characters in the Gospel, their understanding and/or faith is markedly (no pun intended) different
The one other exception to the Messianic Secret is to the Gentile man that had been possessed by "Legion":
"Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you." Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed (Mark 5:19-20)
Another interesting story involves Jesus insulting a Gentile woman:
This woman begging Jesus to heal her demon-possessed daughter
Jesus says, "First I should feed the children - my own family, the Jews. It isn't right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs" (Mark 7:27).
Okay, that's harsh. It sounds like Jesus - in a vicious, anti-Gentile slur - is calling the lady the "B" word (a female dog).
But its the woman's response to Jesus that is telling:
"Even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children's plates" (Mark 7:28).
The point here is that NOTHING (not even Jesus) will sway this Gentile woman's faith.
"Good answer!" Jesus says. "Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter" (Mark 7:29).
Perhaps the most important clue is found in the story of the Roman centurion at the foot of the cross
But it does mean that he recounts the events in such a manner as to real a unique dimension of the mystery of Jesus Christ, a dimension that the Church recognizes as an indispensable part of her Scriptures.
For much of Church history, Mark has been the neglected Gospel, used only rarely in preaching or in doctrinal exposition.
There were dozens of commentaries on Matthew, Luke, and John by the early Fathers of the Church, but not one on Mark appears until the early Middle Ages.
This was partly due to a view, originating with St. Augustine, that Mark is basically an abbreviated version of Matthew.
Indeed, of the 661 verses of Mark, 94% are reproduced in Matthew (about 55 percent are in Luke.
Only a few verses of Mark are not found in the other Synoptic Gospels.
Thus, Mark did not seem to have much to say that was distinctive.
With the rise of critical biblical scholarship in the 19th, intensive research was done to uncover the stages of the oral and written traditions that led to the Gospels in their present form.
There was a new surge of interest in what became known as the “Synoptic Problem”
We’ll define the “Synoptic Problem” more completely next unit, but for now, let’s just say it refers to the dilemma of the three Synoptic Gospels containing so many similarities, yet being so different at the same time.
Scholars who attempt to address the Synoptic Problem wonder if there was some sort of literary dependence between the three.
This pursuit will be a major section of our next unit.
For now, let’s just focus on the scholarly findings.
Today, scholars have overwhelmingly concluded that Mark is the most ancient Gospel and that both Matthew and Luke copied from it heavily.
Suddenly Mark had come to center stage:
At first, since it was determined that Mark was the Gospel closest to the actual events, he simply reported them without the theologizing interpretations added by later Evangelists.
Current scholarship, howeve, has exposed significant defects in that theory.
Mark is now recognized as a historian, theologian, and pastor in his own right, whose Gospel displays considerable literary artistry (as we have seen).
Mark does not randomly string episodes one after another, but skillfully weaves them together in pursuit of his distinctive theological and pastoral aims.
This does not mean that he did not faithfully reporting what he has received.
So what's on the test?
This is how the Gospel according to Mark ends:
When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him. Very early when the sun had risen, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb. They were saying to one another, "Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back; it was very large. On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed. He said to them, "Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.'" Then they went out and fled from the tomb, seized with trembling and bewilderment.
THEY SAID NOTHING TO ANYONE, FOR THEY WERE AFRAID.
Throughout the past two thousand years, Christian readers have been shocked and dismayed by this conclusion.
I mean really, how could it end without the disciples hearing that Jesus has been raised?
How could they remain in their ignorance? Surely the women must have told someone.
In the early church, some copyists of this Gospel were so put off by the ending that they added one of their own, appending twelve additional verses that describe some of Jesus’ appearances to his disciples.
This is what we see beginning in verse 9.
Modern scholars are unified, however, in recognizing this ending as secondary.
Some modern scholars believe that there was a longer original ending. They figure it CAN'T end with verse 8
I do not agree with these scholars
I believe that Mark intended verse 8 to end of his Gospel
Well, for one thing, if Mark included narratives of the resurrected Jesus, this would have messed up his finely crafted Inclusio we looked at
Furthermore, we must remember that Mark devoted considerable effort demonstrating that the disciples never could understand what Jesus meant when he talked about dying and rising again.
They never do understand, to the very end.
Mark’s readers, however, understand. In fact, they understand a lot of things:
The reader knows who Jesus really is, and how he was thoroughly misunderstood by the Jews.
The reader understands that Jesus’ message was destined to go to the Gentiles.
The apparent "unfinished ending" has an additional meaning:
That is, we know that this
IS NOT THE ENDING OF THE CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT...
Thus, some endings are not really endings at all.
Some endings simply introduce topics and events that provide resources for a new beginning when everything seemed to be coming to a dramatic, final end.
In these last few verses, the narration introduces women who observed all of the events from afar.
Mark tells us that these women had followed Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem, serving him (15:40-41).
We seem to have another, brief Inclusio...
Immediately after this, Mark tells us Jesus came into Galilee and four male disciples responded to Jesus' call to "follow" him (1:16-20).
Only now, at the very end of the story, does Mark assert that three women also became followers (disciples) of Jesus, and they have "followed" him all the way to Jerusalem (which is in Judea).
By observing the death and burial of Jesus, and by planning a visit to the tomb where Jesus was buried, these women provide a new beginning for a story that had come to a disastrous end.
Yet, this final scene itself is no real ending:
Jesus has gone to Galilee, the young man in the white robe tells the women.
Thus, the story goes back to where it began -- Galilee
And the reader already knows that going to Galilee means to go to a place where Jesus calls people to "follow" him.
So at the end the story begins all over again.
It will continue to start again every time a person (like you) reads it through to the end.
This highlights the main point for Mark:
The reader is to respond to Jesus' exhortation to "Follow Me."
But not simply to follow him like the characters in Mark.
The reader understands that true discipleship requires taking up the cross and follow him.
To see it, we need to go all the way back to the prologue
After the baptism, Jesus goes into the Judean wilderness where he is tempted by Satan
While there, the reader is told that angels "served him"(just like the women at the end)
No one throughout the Gospel has fully understood that Jesus is the Son of God who has to suffer.
Strikingly, it is not one of Jesus’ family or followers who understands.
It is the Roman centurion who has presided over his crucifixion.
This pagan soldier, seeing Jesus die, proclaims, “Surely this man was God’s Son” (15: 39).
This brings the recognition of Jesus’ true identity full circle.
It was proclaimed at his baptism at the beginning of the Gospel (from heaven); it is now proclaimed at his crucifixion at the end (on earth).
Moreover, it is significant who makes the proclamation: a pagan soldier, one who had not been Jesus’ follower.
This in itself may intimate what will happen to the proclamation of Jesus through the years until the time when Mark pens his account.
The proclamation will not find fertile soil among Jews, either those who had known Jesus or those who had not.
It will be embraced principally by those outside of Judaism, by Gentiles as represented by this Roman centurion.
Jesus is the Son of God, rejected by his own people but acknowledged by the Gentiles, and it is this confession of the suffering and death of the Son of God Mark reveals, that has brought salvation to the world.
We have already talked at length about the themes found in Mark. Let's just lay them out neatly in this bubble:
1. Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God, but he was so in a way that was not understood and thus rejected by Jews
Mark spends considerable length showing that Jesus, while supremely authoritative, he is completely misunderstood by his family and closest followers & he is rejected by most Jews in general and the Jewish authorities in particular
2. The Paschal Mystery
This was the only way to make God and salvation assessible to humanity
Jesus is the Son of God and Messiah, but because he is, he must suffer and die
This theology in Mark was completely revolutionary (it is not found in any of the popular Jewish understandings of the Messiah)
3. True Discipleship
The way that Mark tells his story, it is clear what is expected of a Christian disciple
True disciples will "follow" Christ even when situations are difficult, even if it leads to suffering
"If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me" (Mark 8:34)
4. The Kingdom of God
True discipleship is one of the key characteristics of the kingdom; a kingdom in which all are welcome (regardless of "purity")
Mark’s Gospel emphasizes action, as seen in the frequent use of the Greek word euthys (“immediately, right away, at once, as soon as”), used an astounding 42 times (even more if you count words derived from euthys), especially near the beginning of the Gospel
Specific word repetition is one of the interesting literary features found in Mark
Let's now look at these literary features a little more closely...
We have seen several of these already, but here is a comprehensive list:
Mark uses certain words repeatedly in order to emphasize symbolism:
Mark paints very vivid scenes within his "portrait"
3. Use of Aramaisms
As previously mentioned, Mark often includes Aramaic and/or Hebrew words and phrases, which makes the narratives and dialogues more vivid
4. Use of Latinisms
As previously mentioned, Mark contains many words and phrases that seem to be borrowed from or influenced by Latin.
We have already listed these elswhere in the Prezi, so refer to that section for specific examples
5. The “Messianic Secret”
Refers to Mark's tendency of having Jesus cover up his identity (except for two crucial exceptions)
We’ve talked extensively about this in class, so please refer to your notes
6. Thematic Groupings
Mark places similar stories together for thematic continuity, even if the events related might not have occurred one right after the other, chronologically speaking.
Mark does this with a variety numbers, but his favorite seems to be three
He uses groupings of three so much, we often refer to it as Mark's "Threefold Pattern"
Parataxis literally means “placing next to”
This refers to Mark's tendency of stringing together short loosely connected episodes, like pearls on a string connected by the Greek word "kai" ("and" or "then")
An amazing 410 of the 678 verses in the original Greek version of Mark’s Gospel begin with "kai."
As was the case of Mark's use of euthys, this gives the sense of urgency (no time to rest)
Refers to Mark's practice of enclosing or “sandwiching” one story in the middle of a different story (forming an A1, B, A2 pattern), so that each affects the interpretation of the other
Sort of like a large intercalation, an "inclusio" is the bracketing or “enclosing” a story or section by using the same or similar words, phrases, or themes at the beginning and the end
If you made it this far, congratulations
Now here is your reward...
I am going to tell you EXACTLY what is on the test
There will be 50 questions
10 questions will be on the reading. I will give you a passage. You will have to tell me if it is in Mark, or not in Mark
A word to the wise, if you haven't read these 16 chapters, read them now if you want to do well on these questions
There will be a matching section of the following terms:
There will be 5 questions asking you to decide whether an expression is an Aramaism or a Latinism
There will be 5 passages from which you must decide if it is an example of an intercalation, messianic secret, threefold pattern, repetition, or inclusio
BTW, none of the answers for these questions will be inclusio
There will be 5 True/False question based on the Author, Symbol, Date, Location, and Community bubbles of this Prezi
There will be 10 multiple choice questions based on the Author, Themes, Date, Location, Community, and Canonical Status bubbles of this Prezi
And finally, I will remove 5 parts of the major inclusio shown in class. You will have to fill in what is missing
If you do not remember the inclusio, here it is again:
Hope this helps...