Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? Is one of them, maybe trying to study the Bible more. But you don’t know where to start. May I recommend the Gospel of Mark?
The Gospel of Mark has gotten short shrift in the studies of the Synoptic Gospels. St. Augustine saw it as an abbreviation of the Gospel of Matthew. The first commentary on the book was not till the 5th century. An early Church Father saw the Gospel’s style as somewhat unpolished and unrefined. It was basically relegated to the “red-headed step-child” position of the Synoptics.
This attitude in biblical circles continued until the 19th century.
What changed the attitude? The Synoptic Problem.
What was the Synoptic Problem? In the 19th century, scholars started looking at Synoptic Gospels and wondering how they all fit together, if possible. The scholars concluded that Mark was written first. If written first, then it was the most historical of the Gospels.
This method was pretty much the norm till about 1901. In 1901 a German named William Wrede wrote a book on Mark called the Messianic Secret. This book was critical of Jesus being the Messiah. Although scholars pretty much refuted it at the time. It still put the brakes on the study of Mark.
The impetus to study Mark gained steam in the 1950s. Due to something that is known as Redaction Criticism. In Redaction Criticism, the scholars started seeing the writers as purposeful theologians, moved by the Spirit of God to write deliberately. Some have claimed that the writers of the gospels just strung stories to gather like stringing beads on a string.
The above information is just a quick skim over some things you might deal with in studying the Gospel of Mark.
The Gospel of Mark is my favorite of the Synoptic Gospels. I call it the Chuck Norris gospel. It is the most action-packed of the gospels. In the first chapter alone. We have Jesus coming onto the scene. Being baptized, tempted, and calling disciples. Then, he heals a demonic in the synagogue at Capernaum. If that wasn’t enough, he heals Peter’s mother-in-law. A lot of action for 35 verses.
It also honestly shows the disciples. As you read the Gospel, you realize that they may not know who Christ was or his work. For example, three times, Jesus predicts his death. Three times the disciples do something boneheaded. Jesus then has to explain things to them to get them back on the right track.
Also, the writer Mark. Although he dropped the ball as a missionary companion to Paul and Barnabas, God used him to write his Gospel. Showing us that God allows “do-overs.”
I hope this might give you some information about the Gospel of Mark. Maybe even move you to read and study the first Gospel.
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