Lectionary Year B
December 1, 2002
Step III: Composition
A. Immediate Context
(JFC) Pre - It is said (in Sojourner's "Living the Word") that the first 23 verses of
Mark's chapter 13, tell that "Jesus, with unsettling resignation, warns of the unparalleled suffering that must come before the 'Son of Man' comes . . ." They report that Peter, James, John and Andrew want to know when the tragedies will happen and Jesus tells them both that the temple will fall, that they are to be aware that imposters will come claiming to be He and that they will be handed over to the secular authorities and then and there they are to speak what the Holy Spirit gives them to say. He predicts that family members will betray them and others, but that they are to endure to the end to be saved. Next, He describes the "desolating sacrilege", as the NRSV translates it, when the wanna-be messiahs and false prophets will appear giving signs to lead them astray. Yet, He tells them to rely on what He already has told them.
Post - Mark 14 begins the full story of Jesus' approach to His death. It records Jesus' visit at Bethany when a woman poured costly ointment on His head which action angered some who said it could have been sold and the money could have been given to the poor. Jesus defended her deed and reminded them that His time with them was short. Next, Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests in order to betray Him. Then the disciples made ready for the Passover celebration and when there, Jesus foretold of Judas' betrayal and its consequences for Judas, who remained unnamed there and then. The Last Supper came next after which He spoke of their desertion, as in Zechariah 13:7. Then He told them of His eventually being raised up and going to Galilee to meet them there. Next, He took Peter, James and John with Him to pray at Gethsemane and when He went further alone and returned He found them asleep, thrice, after which Judas handed Him over to be arrested. In the trial, Jesus remained quiet until He quoted Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1. The council voted to condemn Him. Finally, Peter thrice denied knowing Him.
B. Organization of the Composite Whole
(JFC) "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 at 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) 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, but such were found in much early literature. 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, by BC, "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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