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St. George

Alternate Lecture on: NT 600 New Testament Survey

Alternate Lecture on: NT 600 New Testament Survey

Gospel of St. Mark

by Brother Timothy Kenney, OSM, PhD

The Gospel of St. Mark is the second of the Four Gospels of the New Testament.

We learn from Acts 12:12, that Mark was the son of Mary, in whose house the first Christians used to gather and whose land included the Garden of Gethsemane. Mark knew Jesus Christ personally, and in fact, the episode of the young man in Mark 14:51-52 fleeing in the Garden when Jesus was arrested is considered by many writers to be autobiographical, as this appears only in the Gospel of Mark.

Mark is also mentioned several times in the New Testament, as a companion of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 12:25), but primarily of Peter, who calls Mark his "son" (1 Peter 5:13). In fact, post-Apostolic writers in the second century considered Peter a primary source of Mark's Gospel, as Mark was considered to be Peter's "interpreter." From Rome, Mark went to Egypt and converted many to Christianity there, both in Alexandria and in the rural areas. On his return several years later, he was captured and martyred. St. Mark is considered the founder and first martyr of the Church of Alexandria. Many Biblical scholars suggest it was written in Rome, but, if that were so, the earliest manuscripts would likely be written in Latin. Alexandria is another possible location.

Orthodox generally accept the time of St. Mark's Gospel to have been written after St. Peter's martyrdom in 64 AD, but before the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 AD. The narrative nature of St. Mark's concise Gospel is primarily directed to the Gentiles. The Gospel of Mark is straightforward but dramatic. For example, the opening sentence declares Jesus the Son of God, and God the Father and the Holy Spirit appear in the first few lines! Jesus declares his mission in Mark 1:15, and proclaims the coming of the Kingdom of God. Likewise, the human emotional side of Jesus is perhaps best portrayed in the Gospel of St. Mark.

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A general outline is provided below:

With the theme of the book being that of Christ the Servant. The key verse, 10:45, provides the key for two natural divisions of the Gospel: the Servant’s service (1:1-10:52) and the Servant’s sacrifice (11:1-16:20). We can divide this into five simple sections:

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I. The Preparation of the Servant for Service (1:1-13)

1:1-1:8 -------- The Proclamation of John the Baptist
1:9-1:11 -------- The Baptism of Jesus
1:12-1:13 --------- The Temptation of Jesus

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II. The Preaching of the Servant in Galilee (1:14-9:50)

1:14-1:15 ------- The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry
1:16-1:20 -------- Jesus Calls the First Disciples
1:21-1:28 ------- The Man with an Unclean Spirit
1:29-1:34 ------- Jesus Heals Many at Simon's House
1:35-1:39 -------- A Preaching Tour in Galilee
1:40-1:45 ------- Jesus Cleanses a Leper

2:1-2:12 -------- Jesus Heals a Paralytic
2:13-2:17 -------- Jesus Calls Levi
2:18-2:22 -------- The Question about Fasting
2:23-2:28 -------- Pronouncement about the Sabbath

3:1-3:6 -------- The Man with a Withered Hand
3:7-3:12 --------- A Multitude at the Seaside
3:13-3:19 -------- Jesus Appoints the Twelve
3:30-3:30 ----------- Jesus and Beelzebul
3:31-3:35 --------- The True Kindred of Jesus

4:1-4:9 --------- The Parable of the Sower
4:10-4:20 ---------- The Purpose of the Parables
4:21-4:25 ---------- A Lamp under a Bushel Basket
4:26-4:29 --------- The Parable of the Growing Seed
4:30-4:32 --------- The Parable of the Mustard Seed
4:33-4:34 ---------- The Use of Parables
4:35-4:41 ---------- Jesus Stills a Storm

5:1-5:20 --------- Jesus Heals the Gerasene Demoniac
5:21-5:43 --------- A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed

6:1-6:6 -------- The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth
6:7-6:13 ------- The Mission of the Twelve
6:14-6:29 -------- The Death of John the Baptist
6:30-6:44 -------- Feeding the Five Thousand
6:45-6:52 -------- Jesus Walks on the Water
6:53-6:56 ------- Healing the Sick in Gennesaret

7:1-7:23 ------- The Tradition of the Elders
7:24-7:30 ------- The Syrophoenician Woman's Faith
7:31-7:37 -------- Jesus Cures a Deaf Man

8:1-8:10 ------ Feeding the Four Thousand
8:11-8:13 ------ The Demand for a Sign
8:14-8:21 ------- The Yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod
8:22-8:26 ------ Jesus Cures a Blind Man at Bethsaida
8:27-8:30 -------- Peter's Declaration about Jesus
8:31-8:38 -------- Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

9:1-9:8 ------- The Transfiguration
9:9-9:13 ------- The Coming of Elijah
9:14-9:29 -------- The healing of a Boy with a Spirit
9:30-9:32 -------- Jesus Again Foretells His Death and Resurrection
9:33-9:37 -------- Who Is The Greatest?
9:38-9:41 -------- Another Exorcist
9:42-9:50 --------- Temptation to Sin

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III. The Preaching of the Servant in Perea (10:1-52)

10:1-10:12 -------- Teaching about Divorce
10:13-10:16 --------- Jesus Blesses Little Children
10:17-10:31 --------- The Rich Man
10:32-10:34 ---------- A Third Time Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection
10:35-10:45 --------- The Request of James and John
10:46-10:52 ---------- The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus

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IV. The Passion of the Servant in Jerusalem (11:1-15:47)

11:1-11:11 -------- Jesus' Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem
11:12-11:14 --------- Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
11:15-11:19 --------- Jesus Cleanses the Temple
11:20-11:26 --------- The Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree
11:27-11:33 --------- Jesus' Authority Is Questioned

12:1-12:12 --------- The Parable of the Wicked Tenants
12:13-12:17 --------- The Question about Paying Taxes
12:18-12:27 --------- The Question about the Resurrection
12:28-12:34 --------- The First Commandment
12:35-12:37 --------- The Question about David's Son
12:38-12:40 --------- Jesus Denounces the Scribes
12:41-12:44 --------- The Widow's Offering

13:1-13:8 --------- The Destruction of the Temple Foretold
13:9-13:13 --------- Persecution Foretold
13:14-13:23 --------- The Desolating Sacrilege
13:24-13:27 --------- The Coming of the Son of Man
13:28-13:31 --------- The Lesson of the Fig Tree
13:32-13:37 --------- The Necessity for Watchfulness

14:1-14:2 --------- The Plot to Kill Jesus
14:3-14:9 --------- The Anointing at Bethany
14:10-14:11 --------- Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus
14:12-14:21 --------- The Passover with the Disciples
14:22-14:25 --------- The Institution of the Lord's Supper
14:26-14:31 --------- Peter's Denial Foretold
14:32-14:42 --------- Jesus Prays in Gethsemene
14:43-14:52 --------- The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
14:53-14:65 --------- Jesus before the Council
14:66-14:72 --------- Peter Denies Jesus

15:1-15:5 --------- Jesus before Pilate
15:6-15:15 --------- Pilate Hands Jesus over to Be Crucified
15:16-15:20 --------- The Soldiers Mock Jesus
15:21-15:32 --------- The Crucifixion of Jesus
15:33-15:41 --------- The Death of Jesus
15:42-15:47 --------- The Burial of Jesus

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V. The Prosperity of the Servant in Resurrection (16:1-20)

16:1-16:8 --------- The Resurrection of Jesus
16:9-16:11 --------- Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
16:12-16:13 --------- Jesus Appears to Two Disciples
16:14-16:18 --------- Jesus Commissions the Disciples
16:19-16:20 --------- The Ascension of Jesus

The outline above demonstrates the obvious theme of St. Mark's Gospel in portraying Jesus as ‘Christ the Servant.’ Mark is addressed primarily to the Roman or Gentile reader. As a result, the genealogy of Jesus is omitted along with the Sermon on the Mount and the condemnations by the religious leaders receive less attention. Also, since Mark presents Jesus as the Worker, the Servant of the Lord, the book focuses on the activity of Christ as a faithful Servant effectively going about His work. Only eighteen out of Christ’s seventy parables are found in Mark. Some of these parables are only one sentence in length, but he lists over half of Christ’s thirty-five miracles, the highest proportion in the Gospels.

His Feast Day is commemorated on January 4th in the Orthodox Church.

We now turn to the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke in our next article.

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