Mark My Words: A Journey Through the Gospel of Mark

Paul H Mannes - Presented Fall 2014 - Trinity Presbyterian Church, Arlington VA

Abstract: The intentional and lucid connections of words make for strong and powerful sentences.  The more sentences carry their full weight in a paragraph, the more the writer is able to make the readers to understand and feel about the subject.  The more the readers feel about the subject the more the message carries them into the future with new thoughts and potential purpose.  The more meaning they find in their lives the more intentional and lucid may well be the connections in the words they use in conversations.  Mark my words.

The Gospel of Mark is such an intentionally written “life of Jesus”.  Mark uses words to connect section of his material to overwhelm the reader with feelings and thoughts that carry them into the next section.  The compounded sections make for a story of intrigue, mystery and wonder.  By studying the connections of words used by Mark, the Gospel explains itself to the reader.  The challenge will be in letting those connections, though both tacit and vague, come to light in reading the Gospel   It has been suggested that one should read the Gospel as though “meeting Jesus for the first time.”  I would suggest rather allowing the Jesus, already met, or at least already present in the story, to guide us through the words of the pages to a new and deeper appreciation of the story heard more often than understood.  We will “mark-up” the text in the process of connecting the words as Mark uses them.  Let us call this a scribal deductive process.  By noting, marking, and asking to be shown the connections and linkages, Mark will guide us through his own thoughts to the story of Jesus he wanted to tell in this, the Gospel of Mark.  Mark My Words.

Methodology: An inductive study into the themes and structure of the Gospel of Mark

1.       Wilderness                                      John The Baptist               Jesus                   Where God Appear
2.       Immediacy                                      Repetition of “Immediately”                       Short Sentences

(Yet contrast with those section with minute details.)

3.       Old things / New things                 Law / Traditions                                but I say to you                                                                         Old Wineskins   New Wine
4.       Nature of Authority                        Who has it?       

                                                                     What does it look like?

                                                                     What purpose does it fulfill?
5.       Character of Faith / Fear                Sight / Blindness

                                                                     Faith / Traditions

                                                                     Servant / Leader
6.       Parabolic Storyboards                     (Situation around a Parable)

                                                                      Herod Story

                                                                      Feeding Stories

                                                                      Sower and Seeds

7.       Jesus in Mark                                     More than a Prophet

                                                                      A Servant

                                                                      A Teacher

                                                                      The Messiah

                                                                      The One to believe and follow

Assumptions and Transparency

1.       I am already convinced of the authority of the text.  That issue is resolved for me.

2.       I accept the miracles as in keeping with the authority of the One who performs them.

3.       I believe Mark had an intention in shaping the Gospel as he does.  His words and stories have intent and create patterns.

4.       I am convinced that the themes in Peter’s sermon (by tradition) are the general framework for Mark’s Gospel.

5.       I believe the structure of the Gospel is an interpretive support in my understanding.  That is, the text needs to be read in larger sections consistent with that structure.

6.       Though ultimately not important to the inner logic of Marks meaning, I accept the theory which has Mark as the first Gospel written around the year 60 – 65 CE.

7.       Unlike Bart Erhman, I believe Jesus is clear about who he is and what he is about as he is presented in the Gospel account.  I believe the early church did not develop their understanding of the Divinity and Humanity of Jesus as much as came to realize it’s fundamental truth from their exposure to the text of scripture and their experience in community and worship in the Spirit as they were challenged to articulate their faith to a secular world.

8.       I accept the shorter ending of Mark (16:8) as the authentic and abrupt ending.


Links to Introduction material and commentary.

The Gospel of Mark: An Introduction by Paul H Mannes

Mark My Words: A Commentary by Paul H Mannes - (in process)

The Gospel of Mark - Text Pages

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