What is your view of the “big picture” of the Gospel of Mark?

I invite everybody to post a response to the above question.  What is your view of what the Gospel According to Mark is really about?  How does Mark carry out its aims?  Do you believe the author of Mark used sources?  What was Mark saying about the apostles and the church?  What are your view on these “big picture” questions?

Back in gear

Just to let all readers of this blog know that I now intend to put more posts on this blog, and that I look forward to reading more posts from others on this blog as well.

I now have the honor of teaching a continuing education class for clergy in the Diocese of Western Louisiana on Mark, and I am about to begin (on February 27th) a new class for my own church members on Wednesday nights. So I have a lot of motivation to work on this blog.

With every good wish,

Approaches to Mark: What am I leaving out?

It seems to me that the following are the most important questions or perspectives that one would need to consider when interpreting Mark. I invite you to take a look at this list and to respond by telling me which approaches I have omitted, and why any approaches to Mark that aren’t on this list are important.

So, here’s my list:

1. The question of the historical Jesus, and the quest to find the earliest sources for the life of Jesus (Life of Jesus research, source criticism).
2. The Synoptic Problem and its majority solution, Marcan priority (source criticism).
3. The oral tradition of the life and teachings of Jesus, and how Mark utilizes it (form criticism).
4. The Greek text of Mark and its history of transmission (textual criticism).
5. The emergence of the Κατὰ Μάρκον Ἐυαγγέλιον (Gospel According to Mark) in early church history.
6. Mark in comparison with patterns from the Hebrew Bible.
7. Mark in comparison with the larger tradition of teacher/disciple narratives (socio-rhetorical criticism).
8. How Mark does characterization (literary criticism).
9. The theology of the Gospel of Mark.

Why is reading Mark important?

To Christians, reading the Bible is important because through it we come to understand better God’s revelation to us.  The four gospels of the New Testament convey to us the words and deeds of Jesus during his earthly life.  If we want to have some reasonably accurate idea of what Jesus did and taught, we have no choice but to read the gospels.  Jesus lived in the first century of our era.  The New Testament gospels were written in that same century.

To read (and thus to interpret) the Gospel According to Mark, or any part of the Bible, it is appropriate for us to have our head engaged as well as our heart.  There are a lot of questions that have been asked about the Gospel of Mark, and many answers have been given.  I believe that it’s a good thing to read the Bible with both your head and heart engaged.  That is very much according to my church tradition as an Anglican.

On another page in this blog, you will see a Working Bibliography on the Gospel of Mark.  These are books that seem to me to be important.  They include commentaries and other books going back into the 19th century.  I’ll probably comment on a good many of them, and I invite you to comment on any of them to which you have access.

First post: Beginning at the Beginning of the Gospel According to Mark

This is the first post of my new blog, the Gospel of Mark. This blog has the domain name of gospelofmark.net.

I am putting together this blog to enter into conversation with others about the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament.  I am developing a continuing education course on Mark which I hope to offer, starting in August 2011.

This blog will focus on all the issues involved in the interpretation of the Gospel of Mark.  Of particular interest to me are modern commentaries, starting with the commentaries of Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer, and continuing with those of Henry Barclay Swete, Ernst Lohmeyer, and Vincent Taylor.  I do practice several of the methods of historical criticism.

I’m also fascinated by what scholars in the early church said about St. Mark and the Gospel According to Mark, but that won’t be the main focus of this blog.

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