Lectionary Year B
February 2, 2003
Step III: Composition
A. Immediate Context
(JFC) Pre - The first 20 verses of Mark 1 begin with Malachi 3:1's prophecy that
God is sending one to prepare the way for the one being sought who will appear in his temple. Then John the Baptist picks up the theme by proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin. He baptized many in the Jordan River and proclaimed that one more powerful than he would come baptizing with the Holy Spirit. Then Jesus comes from Nazareth and John baptizes Him. He sees the Holy Spirit and hears a voice designating Him as God's Son after which He goes into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Next John is arrested and Jesus begins preaching the nearness of God's Kingdom's coming prompting repentance and belief in the good news. Some would call this preaching, "Jesus' 'Magnum Opus'." Then He calls His disciples.
Post - Verses 29 to 45 of Mark 1 find Jesus healing Simon's mother-in-law and others ill and/or demon possessed. Jesus moved on to preach, yet again, the message of the Gospel and to cast out demons throughout Galilee, His stated mission. Next He healed a leper whom He told to keep it quiet and go to show himself, healed, to the priest and offer a sacrifice. However, the healed man spread the word on his healing and Jesus had to avoid the cities and towns and remain in the countryside for a while after that.
B. Organization of the Compositional Whole
(JFC) It has been noted previously in these pages that, "Mark's objective is to
proclaim Jesus as the Son of God", (Schweizer). This Gospel, chapters 1-9, especially, seems to record collected traditions of Jesus' life, preaching, teachings and healings. The stories read as if they were compiled rapidly. They can seem almost unrelated or detached from one another. Some commentators see forecasts of Jesus' passion and death in such anecdotes as John's arrest in 1:15 and execution 6:14-29 and the Pharisees' opposition to Jesus at 3:6. Vincent Taylor's The Gospel According to Saint Mark seems to have the most detailed "Plan and Arrangement of the Gospel". It identifies the Introduction as in 1:1-13, the Galilean Ministry from 1:14 to 6:13, the Ministry Beyond Galilee from 6:14 to 8:26, Caesarea Philippi: the Journey to Jerusalem from 8:27 to 10:52, the Ministry in Jerusalem from 11:1 to 13:37 and the Passion and Resurrection Narrative concludes the outline. From the plot to arrest Jesus to His entombment, we get more detailed descriptions. Jesus' passion and death seem to be the goal toward which this work aims. Mark's Gospel, as briefly as it recites Jesus' encounters, does tell of the emotions the people have in reaction to Him and His ministries. Therein, we read of sorrow, pity, fear, amazement, anger and grief.
C. Issues of Authorship
(JFC) As previously noted in Bi 216 on line, the Gospel of Mark was probably "the
first of the Gospels committed to writing", as C. E. Mann says in The Anchor Bible. The author is unknown. The John Mark in Acts, Philemon, Colossians & II Timothy, might be the author. It was possibly written in Rome. The Roman context might be supported by Latin expressions, although such extractions were found in much literature of that era. Other places that might have generated this Gospel include Antioch in Syria, Alexandria or anywhere in Italy, according to James L. Price's Interpreting the New Testament. 7:3f indicate that this Gospel was written for Gentile readers. And, recall that we have seen in these pages, "In the MacArthur Study Bible, the following quote from Papias, the bishop of Hieropolis, written around 140 CE, 'And the presbyter [the apostle John] said this: 'Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ'." Some date in the 60's is likely since there is no very direct mention of Jerusalem's destruction in 70.
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