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School of the Word. The Gospel and the Gospels Module 4: The gospel of the current year. Overall Plan. Part 1: the Gospel and the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) Part 2: Jewish Bible in Christian worship (the “Old Testament) Part 3: The early church (Paul, John, Acts, Revelation).

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school of the word

School of the Word

The Gospel and the Gospels

Module 4: The gospel of the current year

overall plan
Overall Plan
  • Part 1: the Gospel and the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)
  • Part 2: Jewish Bible in Christian worship (the “Old Testament)
  • Part 3: The early church (Paul, John, Acts, Revelation)

part 1
Part 1

Module 1: The current context of faith

Module 2: The readings at Mass

Module 3: What is a gospel?

Module 4: The Gospel of the current year

Module 5: Mark’s portrait of Jesus

Module 6: Discipleship according to Mark

  • Features of Mark’s Gospel
    • Sandwiches
    • Concentric structures
    • Doubling
  • How would you know ?
  • Conversation

features of mark
Features of mark

features of mark sandwich
Features of Mark (Sandwich)

5:21-43 Jairus’s daughter and the woman with the haemorrhage

AJairus pleads with Jesus to save his daughter,

vv 21-24

BWoman with a haemorrhage touches Jesus


AJesus raises Jairus’s daughter,


features of mark sandwich1
Features of Mark (Sandwich)
  • 6. 14:1-11
  • A. Plot to kill Jesus, vv 1-2
    • B. Anointing of Jesus at Bethany, vv 3-9
  • A. Judas’s agreement to betray Jesus, vv 10-11
  • 7. 14:17-31
  • A. Jesus predicts his betrayal, vv 17-21
    • B. Institution of the Lord’s Supper, vv 22-26
  • A. Jesus predicts Peter’s betrayal, vv 27-31
  • 8. 14:53-72
  • A. Peter follows Jesus to the courtyard of the high priest, vv 53-54
    • B. Jesus’ inquisition before the Sanhedrin, vv 55-65
  • A. Peter’s denial of Jesus, vv 66-72
  • 9. 15:40-16:8
  • A. Women at the cross, vv 15:40-41
    • B. Joseph of Arimathea requests Jesus’ body, vv 15:42-46
  • A. Women at the empty tomb, vv 15:47-16:8

1. 3:20-35

A. Jesus’ companions try to seize him, vv 20-21

B. The religious leaders accuse Jesus of being in league with Beelzeboul, vv 22-30

A. Jesus’ family seeks him, vv 31-35

2. 4:1-20

A. Parable of the Sower, vv 1-9

B. Purpose of parables, vv 10-13

A. Explanation of the Parable of the Sower, vv 14-20

3. 5:21-43

A .Jairus pleads with Jesus to save his daughter, vv.21-234

B. Woman with a haemorrhage touches Jesus, vv. 25-34

A. Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter (35-43)

4. 6:7-30

A. Mission of the Twelve, vv 7-13

B. Martyrdom of John the Baptist, vv 14-29

A. Return of the Twelve, v 30

features of mark concentric1
Features of Mark: concentric

A 4:1-2 Introduction 2vv. 46

B 3-9 Sower 7vv. 105

C 10-12 Reasons 3vv. 52

D 13-20 Allegory 8vv. 146

C’ 21-25 Enigmatic Sayings 5vv. 74

B’ 26-32 Seed Parables 7vv. 117

A’ 33-34 Conclusion 2vv. 26

features of mark concentric2
Features of Mark: concentric

A. Entry into Jerusalem 11:1-11 Authority

B. Curse of the Fig Tree 11:12-14 Barren

C. Cleansing of the Temple 11:15-19 Cleansing

B1 The Fig Tree cursed 11:20-25 Barren

A1 Challenge to Jesus 11:27-33 Authority

features of mark concentric3
Features of marK: concentric

A. Warning: the Wicked Tenants who devour the owner’s property (12:1-9)

B. Psalms: Cornerstone (12:10-11)

C. Pharisees and Herodians: Caesar and God (12:13-17)

D. Sadducees: the Resurrection (12:18-27)

C’. Scribe: God and neighbour (12:28-34)

B’. Psalms: David’s Son (12:35-37)

A’. Warning: Scribes who devour the property of widows. (12:38-44)

features of mark doubling
Features of Mark: doubling

Mark 8:22   Then they came to Bethsaida. They brought a blind man to Jesus and asked him to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and brought him outside of the village. Then he spit on his eyes, placed his hands on his eyes and asked, “Do you see anything?” 24 Regaining his sight he said, “I see people, but they look like trees walking.” 25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again. And he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.”

Mark 10:46   They came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the road. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many scolded him to get him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man and said to him, “Have courage! Get up! He is calling you.” 50 He threw off his cloak, jumped up, and came to Jesus. 51 Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied, “Rabbi, let me see again.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has healed you.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the road.

features of mark1
Features of Mark

features of mark questions
Features of Mark: questions

Mark 8:14   Now they had forgotten to take bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15 And Jesus ordered them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod!” 16 So they began to discuss with one another about having no bread. 17 When he learned of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Have your hearts been hardened? 18 Though you have eyes, don’t you see? And though you have ears, can’t you hear? Don’t you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of pieces did you pick up?” They replied, “Twelve.” 20 “When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full of pieces did you pick up?” They replied, “Seven.” 21 Then he said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

how would you know
How would you know?

Why? When? Where? By Whom?

  • Manuscripts
  • External evidence
  • Internal evidence



P45Dublin, Chester Beatty LIbrary(3rd cent.)

Fragments from 4:36-12:28

P84 Leuven, University Library and Palestine Archaeological Museum, Khirbet Mird(6thcent.)

Fragments from chapters 2 and 6

P88Milan, P. Med. Inv. 69, 24 (4th cent.),


Mark 8:11-26


Uncial Codices or Codex Fragments

a (01) Codex Sinaiticus (4th cent.)

A (02) Codex Alexandrinus (5th cent.)

B (03) Codex Vaticanus (4th cent.)

C (04) Codex Ephraemirescriptus (5th cent.)

1:18–6:31; 8:6–12:29; 13:20–16:20

external evidence
External evidence


And the Presbyter used to say this, “Mark became Peter’s interpreter and wrote accurately all that he remembered, not, indeed, in order, of the things said or done by the Lord.

For he had not heard the Lord, nor had he followed him, but later on, as I said, followed Peter, who used to give teaching as necessity demanded but not making, as it were, an arrangement of the Lord’s oracles, so that Mark did nothing wrong in thus writing down single points as he remembered them.

For to one thing he gave attention, to leave out nothing of what he had heard and to make no false statements in them.”

  • Irenaeus (c. 180) assumes Mark was written in Rome
  • Clement of Alexandria: Mark was written in Rome
  • John Chrysostom: Mark was written in Egypt

internal evidence
Internal evidence
  • The Jesus story is presumed, so not primary evangelisation
  • Writes in Greek and always translates Aramaic elements: 5:41; 7;34; 14:36; 15:22, 34
  • Explains Jewish customs (not always accurately): 2:19;7:3-4; 10:2; 14:1, 12, 64; 15:42
  • Uses the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (the Septuagint or the LXX)
  • Sabbath, fasting and purity laws are issues: 2:1-3:6; 7:19 etc.
  • So, a mixed community on the edge of Judaism, integration being an issue
  • No references to large cities: agricultural imagery, poor people, small denomination coins, all indicate a lower socioeconomic group
  • Mistakesin geography (chs 5 and 7, and the Decapolis)
  • Chapter 13 points to a group directly affected by the Jewish revolt in Palestine.
  • Earliest known use is by Matthew (Antioch on the Orontes in Syria)


Mark 13:1   Now as Jesus was going out of the temple courts, one of his disciples said to him, “Teacher, look at these tremendous stones and buildings!” 2 Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left on another. All will be torn down!”

Mark 13:3   So while he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that all these things are about to take place?” 5 Jesus began to say to them, “Watch out that no one misleads you. 6Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and they will mislead many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. These things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8For nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines. These are but the beginning of birth pains.

Mark 13:9   “You must watch out for yourselves. You will be handed over to councils and beaten in the synagogues. You will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a witness to them. 10 First the gospel must be preached to all nations. 11 When they arrest you and hand you over for trial, do not worry about what to speak. But say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. 12 Brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 You will be hated by everyone because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.


Mark 13:14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. 15 The one on the roof must not come down or go inside to take anything out of his house. 16 The one in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. 17 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! 18 Pray that it may not be in winter. 19For in those days there will be suffering unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, or ever will happen. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved. But because of the elect, whom he chose, he has cut them short. 21Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe him.22For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, the elect.23 Be careful! I have told you everything ahead of time.

Mark 13:24   “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then everyone will see the Son of Man arriving in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 Then he will send angels and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

Mark 13:28   “Learn this parable from the fig tree: Whenever its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also you, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, right at the door. 30I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.


Mark 13:32 “But as for that day or hour no one knows it—neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son–except the Father. 33 Watch out! Stay alert! For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey. He left his house and put his slaves in charge, assigning to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to stay alert. 35 Stay alert, then, because you do not know when the owner of the house will return—whether during evening, at midnight, when the rooster crows, or at dawn– 36 or else he might find you asleep when he returns suddenly. 37 What I say to you I say to everyone: Stay alert!”

internal evidence1
Internal Evidence
  • James and John are dead (10:39)
  • Serious earthquakes occurred in 60 and 63 (cf. Pompeii in 62 and 79)
  • 62 Romans defeated by the Parthians
  • 64 Nero scapegoated Christians for the fire of Rome (Peter and Paul victims?)
  • 66 Menahem acted as messianic leader
  • 69/69 Simon emerged as “messiah”
  • 69 “The year of three emperors”
  • 70 Temple burned and destroyed
  • The “desolating sacrilege” seems to be still in the future
  • Hence, some time before 70 AD.

  • The gospel writer used sources, oral and written
  • He structured the presentation with great care
  • A one year ministry (editorial choice)
  • Mark offers an understanding of Jesus (Christology)
  • He gives a particular understanding of discipleship
  • The Gospel opens invitingly and ends intriguingly

task for the next day
Task for the next day
  • Write out in four or five points your own account of Jesus for you today
  • Read through Mark again or at least chapters 1, 8, 13 and just notice how the writer “presents” Jesus to his hearers / readers