Title

The Gospel according to Mark

τὸ κατὰ Μᾶρκον εὐαγγέλιον,

What is a gospel?  Who is Mark?  The musical play “Godspell” that opened on Broadway in 1971, was based on the Old English ‘godspel.’  Like the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον, this Germanic based word gospel means good news or good tidings.  This term originally meant the Christian message itself.  However, in the second century, it came to be used for the books where this message was set out.  Thus, the gospels became known as the written accounts of the life, actions, and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.  This Gospel of Mark is anonymous since there is no explicit mention of a named author within the text itself.  This title (Τὸ κατὰ Μᾶρκον εὐαγγέλιον), however was added some time in the second century, perhaps by Papias of Hierapolis (60–130 CE), an early bishop and apostolic father.  Traditionally, this work has been ascribed to John Mark, the companion of the apostle Peter, who may have transcribed the teachings of Simon Peter.  This John Mark was the son of a widow named Mary as indicated in Acts, chapter 12:12.  He also accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journeys, since he was also the cousin of Barnabas, as indicated in Colossians, chapter 4:10.  However, he  left Paul and Barnabas for some unknown reasons in Acts, chapter 13:13.  Today, most scholars agree that his anonymous Gospel of Mark was the first written gospel, probably written between 66–70 CE, during Emperor Nero’s persecution of the Christians in Rome or the Jewish revolt.  Thus, the authors of Matthew and Luke used Mark with a second document called the Q source.  This short Gospel of Mark was written for a gentile audience in a simple Greek style that is often called “street Greek.”  This Greek style is thus vivid and concrete showing a very active Jesus with less teaching or preaching.  Mark explained Jewish traditions and translated Aramaic terms for his Greek-speaking Christian audience who would not have understood them.  Some suggest Rome as the origin of this gospel since there are some Latin terms.  Others have suggested Antioch, the 3rd largest city in the Roman Empire.  This author may have been influenced by Greco-Roman writings, but all his references are from the Jewish Greek version of the Septuagint Bible or the Old Testament.

 

 

 

 

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The various forms of biblical interpretation

There any number of ways to read the Bible.  We have to find our comfort level.  Remember that there is always more than what is written down.  Hermeneutics reminds us that how we approach the text will tell us what the outcome will be.

The moral use of the Bible

Some see the Bible as some sort of instruction manual on how to live a supposed good life.  Somehow, the Bible serves as a backup proof text for all the great questions in life.  A biblical response is either good or bad, not subject to argumentation.  You can only discuss the text.  Putting your life and belief system in the Bible means that you are trumping every other argument.  “The Bible tells me so” ends the discussion and the argument.  You can only agree, disagree, or argue about the meaning of the text, if your morality is based on the Bible.

The anointed prince (Dan 9:25-9:27)

“Know therefore!

Understand!

From the time

That the word

Went out

To restore,

To rebuild

Jerusalem,

Until the time

To the coming

Of an anointed prince,

There shall be seven weeks.

For sixty-two weeks,

It shall be built again

With streets,

With a moat,

But in a troubled time.”

Once again, there is the problem of weeks and years. Clearly the text says weeks. Many have interpreted as years, 7 weeks as 7 times 7 or 49 years, and 62 weeks as 7 times 62 or 434 years. It would take a period of time to rebuild Jerusalem. That was clear and everyone knew and understood that. Who then is this new anointed prince? Is this a messianic expectation? From the time of the announcement of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, it would take 7 weeks (or 49 years) before this new anointed prince would take over. Was this a reference to the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the captivity or the 2nd century BCE Greek takeover of the Temple? Finally, it would take 62 weeks (434 years) to rebuild the city with streets and a moat. However, even this time would be troubled. There are more questions than answers here.