Gospel of Mark Often Regarded Term Paper

  • Length: 10 pages
  • Subject: Mythology - Religion
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #25581768

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Jesus then recruits other disciples, such as James and John, and decides to spread the Word of God to other parts of the region while doing good deeds, like miraculously healing the sick and the blind. As a symbol of his personality, Jesus does not accept the role of prophet and then forbids his disciples to spread the idea that he is the messiah, due to "the contemporary messianic ideals of the Jews which he rejected" (Barclay 234). For the first time, this appears to be a weakness in the text, for after all of the exposition on Jesus as the Son of God, the "expected One," the author throws the reader into a contradictory quandary, for how could Jesus be prophetized as the Son of God while not acknowledging his role as the Messiah?

However, in Chapter 8, verse 31, Jesus clears up any questions concerning his role as the Messiah, for he states that "the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed...," an indication that Jesus will die at the hands of his enemies. The disciples find this rather hard to accept, possibly because they realize that their involvement as one of Jesus' disciples might contribute to their master's death and suffering.

Yet in Chapter 9, verses 2 thru 8, we find the so-called "transformation" event in which Jesus takes Peter, James and John up into the mountains where Jesus is "transformed" ("his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow," verse 3) and where Elias and Moses miraculously appear before them. Soon after, there appears a cloud "that overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, this is my beloved Son: hear him" (verse 7).

All of this occurs in the second half of the Gospel of Mark which up until its conclusion focuses on "the teachings of Jesus and several miracle stories, such as the possessed boy, the blind Bartimaeus, and the withering of the fig tree" (Peterson 256). The seeming contradiction in Chapter 8 concerning Jesus as the Messiah is thus overcome by this "transformation" event which by its very nature symbolizes the true position of Jesus as the savior of mankind, due to being "transformed" by God his Father.

One of the most important areas in the Gospel of Mark is the passion narrative which begins with the priests plotting the death of Jesus and concludes with the crucifixion. First of all, the prophesies associated with the passion commence with Jesus' anointing at Bethany ("There came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment... she brake the box and poured it on his (Jesus') head" (14:3), then proceeds through the betrayal of Judas Iscariot who "went unto the chief priests to betray (Jesus) unto them" (14:10), the words of Jesus at the Last Supper (the "Eucharist") -- "Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave it unto them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body... And he took the cup... he gave it to them, and they all drank from it... This is my blood of the new testament" (verses 22, 23, 24), and the arrest of Jesus ("cometh Judas...and with him a great multitude with swords and staves," verse 43).

Another important aspect of this passion narrative is Peter's denial of Jesus. In verse 28, Jesus says, "But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee;" Peter responds with "Although all shall be offended, yet will not I," whereby Jesus replies, "Verily I say unto thee, that this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice" (verses 29,30). This event is yet another strong piece of evidence for the otherworldly personality of Jesus Christ, for this shows that, along with being able to heal the sick, he can also foretell the future.

In Chapter 15, verses 24 thru 26, the author of the Gospel of Mark relates that "And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take/and it was the third hour, and they crucified him/and the superscription of his accusation was written over (his head) -- the KING of the JEWS." Although Jesus was by birth Jewish, the fact that he went against the priests of the temple and condemned them for practicing their "new religion" which contradicted the laws of Moses, makes it appear unusual that his executors would place a sign above him reading "King of the Jews."

The passion narrative then reaches its conclusion when the Roman centurion, standing beside the cross on Golgotha, observes "Truly, this man was the Son of God" (15:39). This statement is cleverly placed, for it takes the reader all the way back to the beginning of the gospel which "recalls the title and expresses the Christian faith in the pure value of the death of Jesus as a redemptive act" (Barclay 312).

The completeness of the Gospel of Mark lies in its continuity or the progression of its various segments that put together relate an entire story with a beginning, a middle and an end. Thus, its argument is very persuasive, due to the fact that within this gospel, one can find a literary structure made up of somewhat brief but clear sections of material based on eye-witness accounts and historical myth.

In some of these sections, one can find chronological time frames; in others, there are single broad themes, such as Jesus being the Son of God and his attitude toward Jewish custom and religious ritual. However, the author of this gospel has not presented his argument consistently, for he profoundly focuses upon certain themes and events while allowing others to fall to the wayside which might be explained by "the absence of an attempt to achieve a level of unity within the text of the gospel" (Peterson 356).

In regard to the author's neglect of facts and evidence in the Gospel of Mark, it is difficult to ascertain such things in a work of this nature, due to its adherence on faith as the guiding principle for accepting what the author has written. However, early Biblical scholars, such as Origen and Hilary of Poitiers, realized that paying close attention to the precise wording in the text could bring about new spiritual meaning.

Also, they assumed that "without indulging in allegory," they could "read a much more precise meaning into the words than the author had ever intended when he first sat down to write his gospel" (Peterson 378). According to Origen, the Book of Matthew concerns the genesis of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mark describes his gospel as the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Book of Luke describes his gospel as concerned with all that Jesus began both to do and to teach (Barclay 337).

But more important than searching for the lack of evidence in this gospel is the interpretation of the text itself which, by pure accident, may reveal inconsistencies. In the case of Origen, he had convinced himself that in producing an allegorical interpretation of even the smallest details of the text that he was not placing his own meaning on it. For the Christian, this is very essential, for "Just as man must read God's handwriting in the natural order of things, so he must read the intended meaning of God's carefully chosen words as they appear in the scriptures" (Barclay 389).

In such a work as the Gospel of Mark, evidence actually means nothing, for it is, in essence, a representative example of subjectivity, meaning that the author has inserted his own subjective viewpoint into the text. Also, since this gospel is a religious text, the use of evidence is not necessary, for the reader must depend on his/her own faith in order to appreciate what the author has written.

And since this gospel is so far removed from the present, the insertion of alleged historical incidents is also irrelevant, for the reader cannot possibly know whether or not these incidents actually happened, due to the fact that the reader was not present at the time of the occurrence and the lack of substantial archeological proof.

In summation, the Gospel of Mark contains a very powerful message to the Christian and to those that study and appreciate Biblical scholarship. The strengths within the text have much to do with the descriptions of Jesus and his disciples, the various miracles, the Eucharist, Peter's denial, the Last Supper, the betrayal of Judas Iscariot and finally the crucifixion itself and the final words of the Roman centurion ("Truly, this was the Son of God"). Compared to some of the other gospels in the New Testament, being Matthew, John and Luke, that of Mark is somewhat weak in its literary structure, especially…

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