Introduction to the Gospel According to St. Mark

“According to early Christian sources, Mark was not among the original disciples of Jesus Christ, but he later converted, became an assistant to the Apostle Peter, and wrote his Gospel based on what he learned from Peter (see Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, trans. Kirsopp Lake, Loeb Classical Library, no. 153 [1926], 297). If Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source when writing their Gospels, as some scholars postulate, then Mark’s association with Peter may help explain why Matthew and Luke would use Mark as a source. . . .

“Early Christian sources state that Mark wrote his Gospel in Rome, perhaps shortly after the Apostle Peter suffered martyrdom in about A.D. 64. Most scholars today believe that the Gospel of Mark was written between A.D. 66 and A.D. 73. . . .

“One-third of Mark’s Gospel deals with the Savior’s teachings during the last week of His life. Mark bore witness that the suffering Son of God was ultimately vindicated—Jesus did in fact rise from the dead. This testimony meant that the Savior’s followers need not fear; when they faced persecution, trials of faith, or even death, they were following their Master. They could endure with confidence that the Lord would help them and that all His promises would ultimately be fulfilled. . . .

“Mark’s narrative begins suddenly and dramatically and maintains a brisk pace, recounting events in quick succession. Mark frequently used the words straightway, immediately, and anon (at once), giving the effect of rapid pace and action. Even though over 90 percent of the material in Mark is also found in Matthew and Luke, Mark’s account often includes additional details that help us more fully appreciate the Savior’s compassion and the responses of people around Him (compare Mark 9:14–27 with Matthew 17:14–18). Mark is the only Gospel that relates the parable of the seed growing by itself (see Mark 4:26–27), the healing of a deaf person in the Decapolis region (see Mark 7:31–37), and the gradual healing of a blind man at Bethsaida (see Mark 8:22–26).

“Mark, more than the other Gospel writers, recorded the disciples’ shortcomings (see Mark 4:36–41; 6:52; 8:14–21). The disciples’ weaknesses stand in contrast to their great faith and successes, which are depicted in the book of Acts, helping us appreciate the transformation brought about by the Resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. Among the important themes in Mark are the question of who Jesus was and who understood His identity, the Messiah’s role as a suffering servant, and the disciple’s role as one who must ‘take up his cross, and follow [Jesus]’ (Mark 8:34 ).”

(New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2018], 99, 100.)

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