Introduction to the New Testament: Lecture 2.2: The Gospel According to Mark

1. Special Emphasis

The Super human power of Jesus, demonstrating His deity by His miracles but omits most of Jesus discourses. Mark narrates things Jesus did rather than things He said.

2. Authorship

In early tradition most early Church Fathers, amongst them Papias, Origen and Irenaeus, believe that Mark wrote this Gospel having consulted with Peter. There is no question anywhere about the authenticity of this information, however, Eusebius, a historian, sums up the testimony by saying: ‘Though Peter did not undertake, through excess of difference, to write a gospel, yet it had all along been currently reported, that Mark, who had become his familiar acquaintance and attendant, made memoirs of the discourses with Peter concerning the doings of Jesus. Mark indeed wrote this Gospel but it is Peter who testifies about himself, for all that is in Mark are memoirs of his discourse with Peter concerning Jesus’

Internal Evidence of Peter’s Influence:

These indicate information coming from an eyewitness

a) The greenness of the grass is remembered (6:39)
b) The cushion on which Jesus was asleep is still in the memory(4:38)
c) The looks and gestures of Jesus are recorded (7:34; 9:36; 10:16; 10:32)

Peter’s own thoughts interpreted (9:5; 11:21)

Scriptures indicating Writers Presence – Compare Matthew 17:14; Luke 9:37 and Mark 9:14. These indicate the point of view of one of those descending the mountain with Jesus

Omission of Important Events in Peter’s Apostolic Life

a) His walking on the sea (Matthew 14:28-32)
b) The benediction pronounced upon him (Matthew 16:17-19)

Inclusion of Humiliating Events in Peter’s Apostolic Life (these are more fully recorded)

a) Jesus rebukes him (8:33
b) His Childish suggestion at the transfiguration (9:5)
c) His denial (14:68-72

Internal Attestation of Marks Authorship

It has been remarked that the story of the youth in Mark 14:51 seems to have a totally different character from other Gospel incidents; but if Mark himself was the youth, its presence is explained and vindicated.

Mark the Man

John Mark was the son of Mary, whose home in Jerusalem was a meeting was a meeting place for the disciples of Jesus (Acts 12:12). Being a cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10), he may have been a Levite (Acts 4:36). It has been surmised that he was the young man who fled naked on the night of Jesus arrest (Mark 14:51-52)

The language of 1 Peter 5:13 indicates that he was a convert of Peter. Peter went to Mark’s mother’s home when he was released from prison (Acts 12:12).

About 12 years later, Mark appears in Rome with Paul (Colossians 4:10). Approximately 5 years after this when Paul was about to be martyred he asks to see Mark (2 Timothy 4:11).

Early Christians have it that Mark was in the main, a companion of Peter. He was with Peter in Babylon when Peter wrote his first Epistle ( 1 Peter 5:13). Mark was not a disciple.

Date

There is some conflict regarding the date of the Book. Clement, who was one of the early Christians Fathers, believes Mark wrote this Gospel whilst Peter was still alive. Irenaeus believes that Mark wrote after Peter’s death.

The abomination of Desolation – Mark 13:4

i) This is normally taken to mean the destruction of the temple in AD 70 and it is therefore assumed that Mark wrote after this event.
ii) Others claim that this refers to Caliguius’ defilement of the temple in AD 40 when he placed his own statue inside the temple. Therefore a date after AD 40 is suggested.
iii) References to suffering and persecution (Mark 8:34-38; 10:38 and 13:9-13) are sometimes taken to mean the Christians persecution under Nero and therefore indicate a date between AD 65 and AD 70.

Purpose

The Book was written to crystallise the Gospels, as Mark 1:1 says. It is the Gospel which Mark records and this Gospel was the simple story of Jesus who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him (Acts 10:38). W. Graham Scroggie says that Chapter 10:45 summarises the Gospel of Mark: The son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give His life a ransom for man.

Characteristics

Mark is the most likely of the Gospels and is characterised by energy and action. This makes easy, convincing reading. The word ‘straightway’ is frequently used. Mark speaks frequently about what our Lord did more so than His teachings. Works and words are taken together to form a two-fold revelation. Mark wrote his work in a way that Roman believes could understand and appreciate it.

The Ending

Textual criticism is placed in a dilemma regarding the last 12 verses of the Gospel. In some manuscripts, the Gospel ends abruptly at verse 8 for they were afraid. In other manuscripts, a space is left after verse 8 and before the beginning of Luke.

Some theologians believe that the original ending of Mark was lost and that Ariston, who was a disciple of the Apostle John, of who Papias speaks, supplied the conclusion which we now have. If this is so, then the final passage can be accepted with the same assurance as that with which accept Mark himself as the disciple of Peter, and Luke as the disciple of Paul.

Many regard this conclusion, as being fully authentic because of its connection with the Apostle John. We must never forget the possibility however, that Mark could have ended his Gospel in this abrupt manner, thus finishing the record with the bare but triumphant announcement of the resurrection. Yet the emphasis on fear in verse eight makes a strange ending.

Matters Peculiar to Mark

Almost the whole of Mark is found in either Matthew or Luke or both. There are two miracles and one parable which are found only in Mark. The two miracles are:

i) The healing of the deaf and the dumb man (Mark 7:31-37)
ii) The healing of the blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26)

The parable is:

i) The seed growing secretly ( Mark 4:26-29)

Outline on the Book of Mark

The contents of the Gospel according to Mark may be outlined on almost the same pattern as that which underlies Matthew’s Gospel. To put the analysis in this way will serve at the same time to bring up into clear relief the striking correspondence that there is between them.

a) Introduction (1:1-13)
b) Beginning of the Ministry (1:14- 3:12)
c) Ministry at Capernaum and by the Lake (3:13-7, 23)
d) Retirement to remote Districts and more Private Ministry (7:24-28)
e) East of Jordon (Chapter 10)
f) Last Days in Jerusalem (Chapters 11-13)
g) Passion, Death and Resurrection (Chapters 14-16)

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