My notes on Mark’s Gospel

The Gospel of Mark is the first written & shortest of the Gospels, was the least used in antiquity, 

  • Mark is the shortest gospel with only 746 verses, compared to 1068 in Matthew and 1140 in Luke. Almost all of Mark’s verses are included in the other two gospels, except for a mere 50 verses exclusive to Mark. This was one reason why Mark’s gospel was the least used in antiquity and St. Augustine even referred to Mark as “the abbreviator of Matthew”. Realizing Mark’s gospel may have been the first Greek gospel written and possibly a source for the others, it has found great favor with modern scholars and students of Scripture. ~ Steve Ray

The ending of Mark’s Gospel is uncertain

  • The ending of Mark is somewhat uncertain with several extant endings. Though not proven to be the words of Mark himself, the longer version included in Catholic and most other Bibles has early support (e.g., Tatian, St. Irenaeus), and the decree on Scripture at the Council of Trent removed any doubt for Catholics as to the longer version’s inclusion in the sacred text, and therefore its inspiration (Denzinger, no. 784). ~ Steve Ray

The Gospel of Mark is the oral teachings of Peter

  • “St. Peter gave Mark the first-hand account of “all that Jesus said and did” and the Holy Spirit inspired Mark to put it in writing. So, as we read the Gospel of Mark we are reading the oral teaching of the great Apostle Peter who was now a very humble man. In each of the other Gospels Peter holds a place of great prominence (walking on water, given the keys, renamed “Rock”, appointed shepherd, etc.) but none of this is found in Peter’s preaching. In Mark we only read of Peter’s weaknesses and failures—he has learned humility and leaves it to others to promote his unique authority” ~ Steve Ray.
  • Mark’s gospel is a gem of simplicity, fast-paced action, and intimate knowledge of the truth. It is picturesque, written in the manner of simple folks without the polished linguistics of other New Testament writers. One can imagine the big fisherman speaking rapidly and passionately to a crowd in Rome. He is thinking in Aramaic, his original language, yet trying to relay his eyewitness account realistically and convincingly so they can understand in their native tongue. Peter, not the intellectual giant but the average working man, gesticulates with his calloused hands as he tells them the Good News, what he experienced, what impressed him. And there at his side is his trusted friend Mark interpreting and writing so that twenty centuries later we could believe from the mouth of an eyewitness that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. ~ Steve Ray

Mark emphasizes the power and action of Jesus as God

  • Writing for a primarily Roman audience, Mark emphasizes the power and action of Jesus, something the Romans knew and respected. In the RSV New Testament, the word “immediately” is used 75 times, an amazing 35 of which are in the Gospel of Mark. Romans were men of action, power, and orderliness. Jesus is shown to be in complete control and on the move. ~ Steve Ray
  • In Mark’s gospel there is no Sermon on the Mount or hierarchical Church, no Petrine primacy or High Priestly prayers—Mark invests all his energy into proving the power and divinity of Jesus. He leaves the rest to the other apostles and inspired writers. His main goal is not so much to present Jesus as the Messiah of the Jews, but, speaking to the Romans, he is more interested in demonstrating Jesus as the Lord of history and master of creation. ~ Steve Ray.
  • “The principle purpose of St. Mark is enunciated in the first verse of his Gospel: ‘The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.’ His aim is identical with the preaching of St. Peter, who declares that Jesus Christ is ‘the Lord of all’ (Acts 10:34−43), and thus his entire Gospel serves to prove the divinity of Christ” (John Steinmueller, A Companion to Scripture Studies, 3:85).

Mark is written for a non-Jewish audience

  • That Mark is writing to a non-Jewish audience is apparent from the fact that his Jewish terminology is translated and the geography of Israel is explained; in fact, twice Mark gives a Latin explanation for a Greek word (Mk 12:42; 15:16). Twice Jesus limits his ministry to Jews in Matthew’s gospel saying, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt 15:24), but you will not find this in Mark; rather, you find Jesus ministering to crowds from Gentile lands (Mk 3:8−10). And, it is a Roman centurion who concludes the Gospel with the declaration, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” ~ Steve Ray.

Jesus is depicted as servant & son of God

  • There is no genealogy given in Mark. Jesus is the servant of God and servants need no genealogical introductions. However, Mark tells us straightforward that Jesus is not only a servant, but an obedient son. He opens his Gospel with the revealing words “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” which tips his hand right from the start: the theme is set. Even a demon blurts out—”You are the Son of God!” The Gospel concludes with the same affirmation of Jesus’ identity, this time by a Roman centurion, a leading man of the very nationality Peter and Mark are trying to convert and teach. At the foot of the cross the worldly, political, Roman centurion declares, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” ~ Steve Ray

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