Introduction to Mark, Part 1: Why Mark?

The late Robert Guelich of Fuller Theological Seminary observes (and perhaps overstates!): “Eclipsed for centuries as an abridged edition of the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke, this Gospel was rediscovered for its own sake in the nineteenth-century quests for the historical Jesus” (“Mark” in Dictionary of Jesus & Gospels).  In other words, church history has not always given Mark the attention he deserves, and that is part of why I aim to focus here in this blog rather than on Matthew, Luke, or John (at least for now : ).  And please don’t get me wrong– all four Gospels are Holy Writ and are hence equally wonderful.  Beyond my attempting to reverse its neglect in former years, I love Mark because it is fast-paced (the word for “immediately” occurs 42 times in this short book!) yet reflective, it is sophisticated in its use of the Old Testament, it emphasizes Christ’s kingdom over and against that of Satan and of Rome, and most of all, its two main themes are my two favorite ones of all time:  Christology (who is this Jesus?) and discipleship (how should we relate to him?).  And these two concepts are joined at the hip, as noticed by the late R. T. France of Oxford University: “It is in their discovery of and response to who Jesus is that the disciples occupy our attention; discipleship is the proper outcome of a healthy christology” (The Gospel of Mark, p. 28).

In upcoming posts, I’ll briefly consider a few other introductory issues (such as genre and structure) before we look at a few texts in Mark.  Until then, consider spending some more time with Mark yourself, whether as an old friend or a new one.

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