Category:Gospel of Mark (text)

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The Gospel of Mark (see Online Text) is a New Testament document.


The Gospel of Mark is commonly regarded as the earliest extant Gospel, written shortly after 70 CE. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke both depend on Mark.

According to ancient Christian traditions, the author of Mark was not a eyewitness, but a disciple of Peter, who recorded his preaching "accurately" but "with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord's sayings."

(1) Mark's gospel is about a man, Jesus of Nazareth

A man “from Nazareth in Galilee” (1:9). “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, Joseph, Jude and Simon? And are not also his sisters with us?” (6:3)

There is no infancy narrative, no virgin birth in Mark: Mark knows nothing about Bethlehem or the father of Jesus, Joseph.

A man who like many others was inspired and attracted by the teaching of John the Baptism and was baptized by him.

(2) Jesus was preacher/teacher and miracle-worker

People called Jesus “teacher” (4:38; passim), or “rabbi” (10:51; 14:45), or “lord/master” (7:28; 11:3.6). He had disciples.

Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom and how to enter the kingdom? - “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (10:15) - Following the moral laws: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?…” (10:17ff) - Sharing goods: “Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor… How hard it will be for those who have health to enter the kingdom of God” (10: - Forgiveness: “Forgive as that the Father will forgive you” (11:25)

People were astonished about his authority: “They were astonished at his teaching; for he was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes… What is this? A new doctrine taught with authority. He commands the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (1:22.27)

(3) Jesus' teaching was controversial

John the Baptist foretold the coming of the Messiah and the coming of the Kingdom of God. “One mightier than I is coming after me” (1:7).

Like John, Jesus foretold the coming of the kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel” (1:15). “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom has come with power” (9:1; see also 13:30)

Jesus also taught about “how to enter” the kingdom, against the priests and the well-to-do. “To love God and one’s neighbor as oneself is much more important than sacrifices” (11:33). “How difficult is for a rich man to enter the kingdom” (10:23).

Who were Jesus’ followers? Even his family thought that Jesus is “out of his mind” (3:20-21). No member of his family (not even his mother) is present at the moment of Jesus’ death.

There were discussions and controversies, with the Pharisees (about the interpretation of the Torah), even with the disciples of John (2:10). No controversy is instead recorded with the Essenes.

Jesus sharply criticized the authorities of the Temple, in particular with the Sadducees. The final confrontation at Jerusalem, with Jesus disrupting the cult in the Temple, led to his execution by the Romans.

His disciples were his true family (3:31-34). There are also “women from Galilee” (15:40-41), and sympathizers, like Joseph of Arimathea (15:43)

This raised questions about Jesus’ identity. Who was he?

(4) Jesus' Identity

Jesus' preaching raised questions about his identity. Who was he? “Who do people say that I am?” (Mark 8:27-30)

One of the prophets: “Some people said: he is a prophet, like one of the prophets” (6:15; 8:28).

Jesus called himself a prophet: “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country” (6:4).

The apocalyptic teacher: Elijah or John the Baptist redivivus. “Some people and Herod Antipas said: John the Baptist has risen from the dead” (6:14-15). “Some people said: He is Elijah” (6:15; 8:28).

But for Mark Jesus is more than an apocalyptic prophet, announcing the Kindgom: Jesus is the King, the Messiah, the beloved Son of God:

(5) Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God

Since its beginning, Mark claims that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. “The beginning of the good news of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1).

Jesus first received such a revelation when he was baptized by John (Mark 1:10-11): “[Jesus] saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven: You are my Son. The Beloved, with you I am well pleased”

Then, this became the understanding of the disciple (Mark 8:29): “Who do you say that I am? Peter answered: You are the Messiah”

God confirmed this view in the Transfiguration before three disciples (Mark 9:7): “A cloud overshadowed [Peter, James and John], and from the cloud there came a voice: This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”

This is a proclamation of the divine messiahship of the Son, not of his identity with the Father. According to Mark, Jesus himself refused to be addressed as God: “A certain man said: Good teacher… Jesus said: Why do you call me good? No one is good but only God… And the man said: Teacher…” (Mark 10:17-20).

Besides, Jesus “sternly ordered [his disciples] not to tell anyone about him [being the Messiah]” (Mark 8:30). Why? What is the reason of this “messianic secret”? What kind of Messiah was Jesus?

(6) Was Jesus the Son of David?

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus never refers to himself as the “Son of David,” or “the King of the Jews.”

In first-century Judaism of people we have evidence of people who claimed, or were claimed to be the Messiah, the “son of David”, people like Judas the Galilean, Theudas, up to Bar-Kokhbah in the second century. There were several leaders of messianic anti-Roman movements, supported by the Zealots, who claimed to be the beloved Son of God, the Messiah, the “son of David.”

There were also people who called Jesus the “Son of David” in the Gospel of Mark:

  • “A blind man.” He is actually healed when he finally refer to Jesus as “Rabbuni (=my teacher)” (10:46-52).
  • The crowd when Jesus entered Jerusalem: “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!” (11:9-10)
  • Pilate: “Are you the king of the Jews?” (15:2). “What do you want me to do with the King of the Jews?” (15:12). The Roman soldiers and the high priests in mockery: “Hail, King of the Jews!” (15:18); “Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe!” (15:32). The inscription bearing the charge against Jesus was, “the King of the Jews” (15:26).

However, once asked if the Messiah was the son of David, Jesus dismissed that claim: “How can the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself, by the Holy Spirit, declared: --The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet. David himself calls him [=the Messiah] Lord; so how can he be his son?” (12:35-37). The Messiah is the Lord, not the son of David, and Jesus is not the human Messiah.

(7) Mark's Answer: Jesus was the Messiah Son of Man

In Daniel, there is an angelic, messianic figure, “like a son of man.” (Dan 7:13ff). He is not the Judge but the one who receives from God power and glory forever as representative “of the people of the Holy Ones of Most High” (7:27).

In the Parables of Enoch, the Son of Man of Daniel becomes the eschatological Judge, who was created before time and at the end will sit on the throne and will defeat the evil angels. The Judge must be the “Holy One of God” (i.e., the highest angel, cf. Mk 1:24), as no human being will ever defeat the demons that are responsible for the presence of evil on earth.

Mark refers to Daniel according to the Enochic interpretation.

John the Baptist: the imminent coming of the Messiah. - “Prepare the way of the Lord…” (1:3) – “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me” (1:7)

In similar terms, Jesus announces the imminent coming of the Kingdom and of the Son of Man: - “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel” (1:15) - “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power” (9:1) -- “This generation will not pass away till all these things have been accomplished” (13:30) – However, “no one knows the hour; neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only he Father” (13:32) - “They will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds with great power and majesty. And he will send forth his angels, and will gather his elect from the four winds…” (13:26-27)

(8) The two comings of the Son of Man

The human Jesus is the heavenly Messiah, the eschatological Judge: “The High priest said: Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One. Jesus said: I am, and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven” (14:61-62)

But the Son of Man was also given authority “on earth” (neither Enoch nor Melchisedek have any authority on earth):

  • Over the Law: “He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (1:22) -- “The Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath” (2:23) -
  • Over the demons: “he commands even to the unclean spirits and they obey him” (1:27)
  • For the forgiveness of sin: Jesus as the healer of sinners. “The Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” (2:10)

The Son of Man was on earth on a rescue mission. The sinners are his target. “It not the healthy who need a physician, but they who are sick. For I have come not to call the righteous but the sinners” (2:17)

The death and suffering of the Son of Man are also for the forgiveness of sins: “The Son of Man must suffer… and be put to death and after three days rise again” (8:31) -- “The Son of Man must rise from the dead… and suffer” (9:9, 12) -- “The Son of Man must be put to death and after three days rise again” (9:31) -- “The Son of Man must suffer… and be put to death and after three days rise again” (10:33-34) -- “The Son of Man goes his ways, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed” (14:21) -- “The Son of Man has come not to serve but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (10:45) -- “The hour has come: the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners” (14:41)

(9) Summary

As the Zealots were a Jewish messianic movement that claimed that the Messiah son of David had to come BEFORE the end of times to lead the battle against the nations, so the Christians were a Jewish messianic movement that claimed that the Messiah son of Man had to come (or better, already came) BEFORE the end of times to grant forgiveness of sin to those who believe in him, and would then return at the end of times as the Judge in the Last Judgment.

The Gospel of Mark in ancient sources

Eusebius, Historia ecclesiastica (quoting Papias)

II [15,1] ...So greatly did the splendor of piety illumine the minds of Peter's hearers that they were not satisfied with hearing once only, and were not content with the unwritten teaching of the divine Gospel, but with all sorts of entreaties they besought Mark, a follower of Peter, and the one whose Gospel is extant, that he would leave them a written monument of the doctrine which had been orally communicated to them. Nor did they cease until they had prevailed with the man, and had thus become the occasion of the written Gospel which bears the name of Mark. [15,2] And they say that Peter — when he had learned, through a revelation of the Spirit, of that which had been done — was pleased with the zeal of the men, and that the work obtained the sanction of his authority for the purpose of being used in the churches. Clement in the eighth book of his Hypotyposes gives this account, and with him agrees the bishop of Hierapolis named Papias. And Peter makes mention of Mark in his first epistle which they say that he wrote in Rome itself, as is indicated by him, when he calls the city, by a figure, Babylon, as he does in the following words: "The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, salutes you; and so does Marcus my son." [16,1] And they say that this Mark was the first that was sent to Egypt, and that he proclaimed the Gospel which he had written, and first established churches in Alexandria...

III -- [39,14] ...And now we must add... the tradition which (Papias) gives in regard to Mark, the author of the Gospel. [39,15] "This also the presbyter said: Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord's sayings. Wherefore Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For of one thing he took especial care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictitious into the statements." These things are related by Papias concerning Mark.

Gospel of Mark in manuscript tradition

Gospel of Mark in Scholarship


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

  • Sower (I) (4:1–9) // Matthew 13:1-9; Luke 8:4-8; Thomas 9; 1 Clement 24:5)
  • Sower (II) (4:13-20) // Matthew 13:18-23; Luke 8:11-15
  • Mustard Seed (4:30–32) // Matthew 13:31-32; Luke 13:18-19; Thomas 20

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

  • Empty Tomb (16:1-8) // Matthew 28:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-10
  • < Appearances of Jesus (16:9-18) > // 1 Corinthians 15:3–9; Matthew 28:8–20; Luke 24:13–49; Acts 1:1–11; John 20:11–21:25
  • < Ascension of Jesus (16:19-20) > Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:9-11

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Pages in category "Gospel of Mark (text)"

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