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Chapter 6 Jesus, the Suffering Son of God: The Gospel according to Mark The New TestamentBart D. Ehrman
What to Expect • The Gospel of Mark is the shortest and earliest surviving account of Jesus’ life • It establishes Jesus’ character in a series of scenes • The people in this Gospel have a hard time grasping Jesus’ identity • Do Jesus’ own disciples ever get it?
The Gospel according to Mark • Unknown author • Was a Greek-speaking Christian • Was presumably living outside of Palestine • Had heard stories about Jesus • “Mark” may also have used written sources • This Gospel was used by the authors of Matthew and Luke
The Beginning of the Gospel:Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God Who Fulfills Scripture • Traditions rooted in a Jewish worldview • Mark begins by calling Jesus the messiah, but this could mean a range of things • Future king of Israel • Cosmic deliverer • “Son of God” would have been a familiar concept: Like other sons of God, divinely inspired teachers or rulers
Jesus the Authoritative Son of God • Jesus is portrayed as authoritative, setting the stage for the rest of the Gospel • When he gives instruction, people hang on his every word • He drives unclean spirits out, heals the sick • He is still universally misunderstood, and becomes hated by religious leaders
Jesus the Opposed Son of God • Leaders oppose Jesus despite his deeds and faithfulness to Jewish Law • Question his actions and practices • Take offense at his associations and activities • Protest the actions of his followers • Authorities find him threatening • Authorities do not understand who he is
Jesus the Misunderstood Son of God • Through the first half of the Gospel, only a few recognize Jesus’ identity: God, Jesus himself, evil demons, the author, and the reader • Jesus’ own disciples fail to understand who he is • “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”
Jesus the Acknowledged Son of God • The sequence of the stories in the Gospel of Mark is significant: • Jesus heals a blind man only gradually • Jesus’ disciples have been blind to his identity, but gradually begin to see • Peter identifies him as “the Christ” but still sees him only dimly, as the deliverer of Israel, not the suffering Son of God
Jesus the Suffering Son of God • Readers are given several indications that Jesus must die • Jesus is explicit about this after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ • After each prediction, Mark shows that the disciples do not understand • Jesus is the messiah, but not in any way the Jewish authorities recognize
ch. 14 Betrayal, Last Supper, Arrest (cont.) Gethsemane–olive grove on Mount of Olives; prayer of agony Arrest – kiss of Judas; prohibits defense by sword; disciples scatter
Jesus the Crucified Son of God • Jesus’ disciples are shocked when Jesus fails to restore the kingdom to Israel • However, Mark’s readers have no doubt about the importance of Jesus’ death: • The curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the outside world is torn in half • The pagan Roman centurion recognizes Jesus as God’s Son
Jesus the Vindicated Son of God • The Gospel of Mark concludes after Jesus has risen, when the women flee the tomb and tell nobody • Mark demonstrated that the disciples never could understand what Jesus meant about dying and rising again
ch. 16 Discovery of Empty Tomb (Sunday) • Women come at dawn to anoint Jesus’ body. • “Angel” announces resurrection of Jesus. • Instructions to go to Galilee, where Jesus will appear. • “They went out and said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (v. 8). • Did Mark tell resurrection appearance in Galilee? Garden Tomb
Conclusion: Mark and His Readers • The first readers of this Gospel were Christians of Mark’s community • For Mark, following Jesus is not a ticket to glory, but a path to suffering • The lessons of Mark would make sense to a community experiencing persecution and hoping for vindication