Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Mark's Gospel

Concept, Author, Date

• Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) Year B belongs to Mark's gospel. Along with Luke and Matthew, Mark is a synoptic gospel that views Jesus from a similar perspective, although each has a distinctive personality. As the shortest and most immediate of the four canonical gospels, Mark is the one for texting and tweeting.

• Prior to Mark, good news or gospel was the returning Roman general's announcement of annihilating the enemy. Mark subverts that into the Good News of God's victory over sin and death, the triumph of the reign of life. All known manuscripts carry the heading The Gospel According to Mark, but this Mark probably is an unknown person or group and not Peter's ministry companion John Mark.

• Probably written from Rome to Greek speaking gentile Christians, possibly as early as 45 C.E., almost definitely no later than shortly after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 C.E..


A variety of documents that circulated in the dynamic oral tradition before being written down. Scholars sometimes consider a possible source called Q for the first letter of the German Quelle meaning source or river. Was there a Q? Not known. Was Mark Q? Probably not. Between them, Matthew and Luke include 631 of Mark's 661 verses, with about 90% in Matthew; 50% in Luke.

World View, Content

• Proclamation / announcement rather than history
• No birth narrative
• No resurrection account
• Mark doesn't mention Jesus' earthly father Joseph
• Many miracles, healings, and exorcisms
• Mark famously features the Messianic secret: Jesus tells everyone don't tell anyone!

After his baptism followed by 40 days in the wilderness that Matthew and Luke also report (but in greater detail), Jesus calls disciples Simon, Andrew, James, and John; then his first act of public ministry is casting out a demon during a synagogue service.

Just as for Luke, in Mark's gospel the journey to Jerusalem and the cross is partciularly intentional and incessant. For Mark, Jesus' passion and death give us the fullest understanding of Jesus' purpose and identity .

Mark particularly asks, "Where do we look for God? Where do we find God?"

• Not hidden behind clouds or anywhere far from earth
• Not in the temple
• Not in established religious, economic, political institutions

But we do find God:
• Outside the city limits
• In the wilderness
• In the stranger and outcast
• In, with, and under all creation
• On the cross

Do we find God in the mainline church and in mainstream society?

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