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Overview Of Mark's Gospel (part 1)

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St Mark (Part 1) 

"So somewhere in the sixth decade of the first century, in the city of Rome, Mark procured a reed-pen and papyrus and sat down to compose the earliest Gospel". (A M Hunter) 

Did you know that:  

  • Mark's Hebrew name was John; Marcus was Latin
  • His mother, Mary, was hostess to the mother church in Jerusalem
  • He knew Jesus
  • He was Peter's friend and secretarial assistant
  • He once travelled with Paul and Barnabas
  • He angered Paul by returning home; later shared Paul's imprisonment in Rome
  • He wrote his Gospel in Rome
  • He was probably between 40 and 50 years old when he wrote the Gospel  

Why did he write his Gospel? 

  • Many who could say "I remember Jesus as a man" had "fallen asleep" or had been executed during Nero's persecutions
  • New converts to the young churches needed instruction in the Christian faith and wanted to know more about him whom they called Lord and Master
  • The need was felt for a written record

How do we know he wrote the Gospel? 

  • From the writings of Early Church leaders between 100 and 180 AD
  • That Mark wrote the Gospel is agreed by Biblical scholars

What sources did he have? 

  • His own memories of Jesus during the last week of Jesus' life
  • More from Peter's memories
  • He lived among people who had memories of Jesus
  • A preached outline of Jesus' message
  • A collection of Jesus' sayings which acted as a guide for Christian behaviour
  • As well as all the above being passed on orally there would be circulating what we might call "teaching notes"

What should we notice about Mark's style and content? 

  • His grammar is doubtful; his prose inelegant; he was not a professional writer
  • He writes simply and dramatically
  • He inserts details which can only have come from eye-witnesses
  • He gives us vivid pictures of Jesus
  • He shows us the humanity of Jesus
  • Never let us forget that he is sure Jesus is the resurrected Son of God

"This book embodies nothing less than the record of what Peter preached and taught about Jesus. Mark is the nearest approach we will ever have to an eye-witness account of the life of Jesus." (William Barclay) 

See also St Mark (Part 2) 

Christian Education Committee, 2003


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