Summary Mark Chapter 1

Going through this, I realize that commenting on the gospels will be different than doing so for Paul. The thoughts there were shorter; here we have episodes, entire stories of varying length. As such, there are sentences, or sections, that are pretty much pure narrative, that don’t require extensive–if any–comment. Then we get to the matter of summaries. In this case, waiting to do an entire chapter was probably a mistake, but it wasn’t exactly obvious when to insert summaries. This will, I hope, sort itself out more effectively with time.

What we encountered:

    • The Good News of Jesus Christ begins here. At his baptism. Not at his birth.
    • It was written in the prophet Isaiah. Paul did make some OT references, but they were much more of an ad hoc sort of thing. Here, this sets the theme for the coming story of the good news. Reference to (Deutero-) Isaiah, what has become known as the “Suffering Servant” theme.
    • John the Baptist. Who was he? Did he belong to another group? We don’t immediately get that impression. How does his asceticism fit in with the times? Was Jesus a disciple? Probably. Did Jesus seek to capitalize on John’s heritage? After all, all of Jerusalem and Judea came to him. Did Jesus seek to attach himself, or expand his role to attract former disciples of the Baptist? Perhaps.
    • Holy Spirit. Or holy spirit. Or holy breath. Or, how about ‘sacred breath’. That really changes the way we would look at this expression. This needs to be looked at. The term is introduced by the Baptist, and not by, or in relation to Jesus.
    • Jesus of Nazareth gets baptized. Then he is thrown into the desert by–you guessed it–the spirit. Is this an attempt to have Jesus emulate his mentor?
    • Voice from “the heavens”, saying, “this is my son…” The voice is from the “heavens”, i.e., the sky, and not from “heaven.” This is my son–now he is? What about before?
    • John is arrested, Jesus says the time is fulfilled, and takes John’s arrest as his cue to start his own ministry.
    • Calling of Peter and Andrew, James and John. All of them may have been young men. Peter is the only one demonstrably married. Did he have kids? Not mentioned.
    • Preaching in the synagogues on the Sabbath. We are told this was an event that occurred more than once. However, we are told a story that, on the face, seems to take place continuously, in a single day.
    • Jesus astounds his listeners. He preaches with ‘authority’. He expels an unclean spirit, who announces that Jesus is “The Holy One of God.” Clever plot device, having the spirit make the proclamation. He heals Simon’s mother-in-law.
    • Word gets out about Jesus. He is more or less mobbed by people who wish to be healed, or that Jesus will heal a loved one. Jesus heals many, and expels many unclean spirits. There was, apparently, an epidemic of unclean spirits in Galilee in the First Century CE.
    • Jesus and the disciples go to the surrounding towns, because Jesus says, this is why he came. He heals a leper, and tells the leper not to tell anyone. Didn’t work, b/c by the end of the chapter we are told Jesus has attained so much notoriety that he can no longer enter a town openly.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we discussed the idea that, perhaps, Mark represents the step between Paul, for whom Jesus may not have become The Christ until after the resurrection, and Matthew/Luke, for whom Jesus was The Christ from birth.


About James, brother of Jesus

I have a BA from the University of Toronto in Greek and Roman History. For this, I had to learn classical Greek and Latin. In seminar-style classes, we discussed both the meaning of the text and the language. U of T has a great Classics Dept. One of the professors I took a Senior Seminar with is now at Harvard. I started reading the New Testament as a way to brush up on my Greek, and the process grew into this. I plan to comment on as much of the NT as possible, starting with some of Paul's letters. After that, I'll start in on the Gospels, starting with Mark.

Posted on December 22, 2012, in Chapter 1, gospel commentary, gospels, mark's gospel, Summary and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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