The Gospel of Mark (Gk. Κατά Μάρκον Ευαγγέλιον) is the second of the four canonical gospels in the New Testament and is a synoptic gospel. It is anonymously written but traditionally ascribed to Mark the Evangelist (also known as John Mark), a cousin of Barnabas. The gospel narrates the life of Jesus of Nazareth from John the Baptist to the resurrection (or to the empty tomb in the shorter recension), but it concentrates particularly on the last week of his life (chapters 11-16, the trip to Jerusalem). Its swift narrative portrays Jesus as a heroic man of action, an exorcist, a healer and miracle worker. It calls him the Son of Man, the Son of God, and the Christ
(the Greek translation of Messiah).
Two important themes of Mark are the Messianic secret and the obtuseness of the disciples. In Mark, Jesus often commands secrecy regarding aspects of his identity and certain actions. Jesus uses parables to obscure his message and fulfill prophecy (). At times, the disciples have trouble understanding the parables, but Jesus explains what they mean, in secret (). They also fail to understand the implication of the miracles that he performs before them.
Following Augustine of Hippo, see also Augustinian hypothesis, the Gospel of Mark was traditionally believed by Christian churches to be based on the Gospel of Matthew, an epitome, and accordingly, it is placed after that gospel in most Bibles. However, most contemporary scholars regard it as the earliest of the canonical gospels (c 70). According to the two-source hypothesis, it was one source for material in the other synoptic gospels, Matthew and Luke.
- John the Baptist (1:1–8,6:14–29)
- Baptism of Jesus (1:9–11)
- Temptation of Jesus (1:12–13)
- Good News (1:14–15)
- Calling Simon, Andrew, James, John (1:16–20)
- Capernaum (1:21–34)
- Galilee preaching tour (1:35–39)
- Leper and Paralytic (1:40–2:12)
- Recruiting the tax collector (2:13–17)
- Question about fasting (2:18–22)
- Sabbath observance (2:23–3:6)
- Multitude at the Sea of Galilee (3:7–12)
- Commission of the Twelve (3:13–19,6:7-13)
- Jesus and Beelzebub (3:20–35)
- Parable of the Sower (4:1–9,13-20)
- Purpose of parables (4:10-12,33-34)
- Salt and Light (4:21–23,9:50)
- On measuring (4:24-25)
- Parable of the Growing Seed (4:26–29)
- Parable of the Mustard Seed (4:30–32)
- Rebuking wind and waves (4:35–41)
- Demon named Legion (5:1–20)
- Synagogue leader's daughter (5:21–43)
- Hometown rejection (6:1–6)
- Feeding the 5000 (6:30–44)
- Walking on water (6:45–52)
- Fringe of his cloak heals (6:53–56)
- Clean and Unclean (7:1–23)
- Feeding the dogs (7:24–30)
- Healing a deaf mute (7:31–37)
- Feeding the 4000 (8:1–9)
- No sign will be given (8:10–12)
- Beware of yeast (8:13-21)
- Healing with spit (8:22-26)
- Peter's confession (8:27–30)
- Son of Man (8:31-33, 9:30-32, 10:33-34)
- Those who want to follow should pick up a cross (8:34-37)
- Return of the Son of Man (8:38-9:1,14:62)
- Transfiguration (9:2–13)
- Disciples' exorcism failure (9:14-29)
- The First must be Last (9:33-37)
- Those not against are for (9:38–42)
- If thy hand offend thee (9:43-49)
Journey to Jerusalem|
Events in Jerusalem
The gospel itself is anonymous, but as early as Papias in the early 2nd century, a text was attributed to Mark, a cousin of Barnabas., who is said to have recorded the Apostle's discourses. Papias' authority in this was John the Presbyter. While the text of Papias is no longer extant, it was quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea:
- This, too, the presbyter used to say. ‘Mark, who had been Peter's interpreter, wrote down carefully, but not in order, all that he remembered of the Lord’s sayings and doings. For he had not heard the Lord or been one of his followers, but later, as I said, one of Peter’s. Peter used to adapt his teachings to the occasion, without making a systematic arrangement of the Lord’s sayings, so that Mark was quite justified in writing down some of the things as he remembered them. For he had one purpose only – to leave out nothing that he had heard, and to make no misstatement about it.
Irenaeus concurred with this tradition, as did Origen of Alexandria, Tertullian, and others. Clement of Alexandria, writing at the end of the 2nd century, reported an ancient tradition that Mark was urged by those who had heard Peter's speeches in Rome to write what the apostle had said. Following this tradition, scholars have generally thought that this gospel was written at Rome. Among recent alternate suggestions are Syria, Alexandria, or more broadly any area within the Roman Empire. In any case, many scholars do not accept the Papias citation as a reliable representation of the Gospel's history, pointing out that there is no distinctive Petrine tradition in Mark.
It has been argued that there is an impending sense of persecution in the Gospel, and that this could indicate it being written to sustain the faith of a community under such a threat. As the main Christian persecution at that time was in Rome under Nero, this has been used to place the writing of the Gospel in Rome. Furthermore, it has been argued that the Latinized vocabulary employed in Mark (and in neither Matthew nor Luke) shows that the Gospel was written in Rome. Also cited in support is a passage in First Peter: "The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son."; Babylon being interpreted as a derogatory or code name for Rome, as the famous ancient city of Babylon ceased to exist in 275 BC.
However, the Rome-Peter theory has been questioned in recent decades. Some scholars believe that the Gospel of Mark contains mistakes concerning Galilean geography and customs, supporting that the author, or his sources, were unfamiliar with the actual geography of that area and its customs, unlike the historical Peter. Furthermore, certain scholars dispute the connection of the gospel with persecution, identified with Nero's persecution in Rome, asserting that persecution was widespread, albeit sporadic beyond the borders of the city of Rome.
It is generally agreed among contemporary scholars that the Gospel of Mark was the first of the canonical gospels to be written, whereas the traditional view, popular amongst the Church fathers and especially Augustine of Hippo, holds that Mark was composed second, after the Gospel of Matthew (see Augustinian hypothesis). This assertion of Markan Priority is closely associated with the Two-Source Hypothesis, Q hypothesis, and the Farrer hypothesis (see below).
There are differing opinions as to how late Mark could have been written. Most scholars agree with the Two-source hypothesis
that proposes that Mark was one of the sources for the other Synoptic Gospels
; according to this viewpoint the latest possible date for Mark depends on the dating of Matthew and Luke. A papyrus find
among the Dead Sea Scrolls
, dating before 68, has been identified as a fragment of the Gospel, but this is not widely accepted. A wide range of recent critical scholars
believe that Mark was written at the earliest after the fall of Jerusalem
and the destruction of the Second Temple
Pre-70 (Before the destruction of the Second Temple)
Two papyrologists, Fr. Jose O'Callaghan and Carsten Peter Thiede, have proposed that lettering on a postage-stamp-sized papyrus fragment found in a cave at Qumran, 7Q5, represents a fragment of Mark (); thus they assert that the present gospel was written and distributed prior to 68. Computer analysis has shown that, assuming their disputed reading of the letters to be correct, only Mark matches these twenty letters and five lines among all known Greek manuscripts. Some papyrologists question this identification of the fragmentary text,
based on the assumption that all early papyrus Gospel manuscripts were printed as codices., and the assumption that a copy in a scroll format would not have been made for the Qumran librarians. While no other known Greek work matches its wording, no extant copy of Mark contains the phrase "to land" found in 6:52–53.
John Robinson in 'Redating the New Testament' proposes an even earlier date. He accepts Marcan Priority and dates Luke/Acts no later than 62. Therefore, if Mark was written before Luke/Acts, Robinson dates Mark to the mid fifties.
Post-70 (After the destruction of the Second Temple)
Dating of Mark after 70 AD is based upon the belief that Jesus could not have supernaturally prophesied future events, but the text of Mark must reflect events that had already occurred. Thus, the dating of Mark divides those who consider supernatural prophesy by Jesus as impossible from those who view it as possible that Mark could have been written before the events described took place.
, known as the "Little Apocalypse
", is a key passage for dating the text. Using the method of Higher Criticism
to analyze the Biblical text and to discover the historical framework in which it was written, correspondences have been seen by scholars between this passage and the calamities of the First Jewish Revolt
of 66–70. The passage predicts that Herod's Temple
would be torn down completely, and this was done by the forces of the Roman general Titus
in the year 70. Scholars have also pointed out that the last verse of the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen
alludes to the slaughter and exile of the Jews from Jerusalem by the Romans after 70 (according to historians, the Jews were excluded from Jerusalem only after the Bar Kokhba revolt
). Others see the reference in to the false
accusation that Jesus threatened to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days as another reference to the destruction of the Temple in 70.
A small group of scholars, including the German radical critical scholar Hermann Detering, see a 2nd century date for Mark. These scholars make the case that the "Little Apocalypse
" refers to the events of the Bar Kokhba Revolt
of 132-135, and which they see as a much better fit to events described in this text than the First Jewish Revolt
of 70. The parallels that they see are as follows: The Emperor Hadrian
in the year 130 started to rebuild the city of Jerusalem
as a pagan Roman colony
named Aelia Capitolina
. The Abomination of Desolation
according to this hypothesis alludes to the statue of Jupiter Capitolinus
that the Emperor Hadrian
attempted to install in a temple to Jupiter
on the Temple Mount
. The leader of the revolt, Simon Bar Kokhba
claimed to be the anointed Jewish Messiah
(cf. ). The Romans suppressed the revolt with as many as twelve legions, and pursued a scorched earth policy. According to the second century Roman historian Cassius Dio
, 580,000 Jews were killed, 50 fortified towns and 985 villages razed. See also Ten Martyrs
The general theory is that Mark is a Hellenistic gospel, written primarily for an audience of Greek-speaking residents of the Roman Empire. Jewish traditions are explained, clearly for the benefit of non-Jews (e.g., ; ; ). Aramaic words and phrases are also expanded upon by the author, e.g., ταλιθα κουμ (talitha koum, ); κορβαν (Corban, ); αββα (abba, ).
Alongside these Hellenistic influences, Mark makes use of the Old Testament in the form in which it had been translated into Greek, the Septuagint, for instance, ; ; ; ; also compare with Daniel . Those who seek to show the non-Hellenistic side of Mark note passages such as ; ("Son of the Most High God"; cf. Genesis ); ; and . These also indicate that the audience of Mark has kept at least some of its Jewish heritage, and also that the gospel might not be as Hellenistic as it first seems.
The gospel of Mark contains many literary genres. Paul's letters were already surfacing around 40–60, and the Gospel of Mark came at a time when Christian faith was rising. Professor Dennis R MacDonald writes:
- Whether as a response to the Jewish War (66–70) or to the deaths of the earliest followers of Jesus, or to the need of a definitive version of Jesus' life, or to objectionable theological trends, the author of the Gospel of Mark recast traditional materials into a dramatic narrative climaxing in Jesus' death. It is not clear precisely what kind of book the author set out to compose, insofar as no document written prior to Mark exactly conforms with its literary properties. Its themes of travel, conflict with supernatural foes, suffering, and secrecy resonate with Homer's Odyssey and Greek romantic novels. Its focus on the character, identity, and death of a single individual reminds one of ancient biographies. Its dialogues, tragic outcome, and peculiar ending call to mind Greek drama. Some have suggested that the author created a new, mixed genre for narrating the life and death of Jesus.
Mark and the synoptic problem
The first three, or synoptic
, gospels are closely related. For example, out of a total of 662 verses, Mark has 406 in common with both Matthew and Luke (known as the "triple tradition" material), 145 with Matthew alone, 60 with Luke alone, and at most 51 peculiar to itself, according to one reckoning. The commonality goes beyond the same selection of what stories about Jesus to tell, extending to the use of many of the same words in which they are told. The synoptic problem
is an investigation into whether and how the gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke used each other or common sources.
Most researchers into the synoptic problem have concluded that Mark was written first and used by Matthew and Luke ("Markan priority"), as first proposed by G. Ch. Storr in 1786 and popularized by the critical scholarship that began in the mid-19th century. Another hypothesis known as the Augustinian hypothesis follows the traditional view that Matthew was the first Gospel, followed by Mark and then Luke. The other major alternative to Markan priority is the Griesbach hypothesis, which holds that Mark was written third as an abbreviating combination of Matthew and Luke.
There are two solutions to the synoptic problem that are based on Markan priority. Firstly, the Farrer hypothesis, that Mark wrote first followed by Matthew then Luke, each writer using the work of his predecessors. Secondly, the more dominant Two-Source hypothesis (2SH) posits that the gospels of Matthew and Luke also draw extensively from a now-lost "sayings" collection—called Q, after German Quelle, "source". Most supporters of the 2SH do not think there is a literary connection between Mark and Q, but a couple of active scholars, such as Burton Mack, have argued that Mark had some knowledge of Q.
To further complicate the matter, in recent years there have been various hypotheses postulating other sources for Mark, generally proposed to explain certain difficulties with the two source hypothesis. It is argued that Mark gave an order and plot to the material found in his sources, and also added some parenthetical commentary. Other scholars have argued that canonical Mark is a gospel harmony, composed of Antiochian and Asian pre-Markan sources also found in Matthew and Luke, respectively.
Losses and early editing
Mark is the shortest canonical gospel. Manuscripts, both scrolls and codices, tend to lose text at the beginning and the end, not unlike a coverless paperback in a backpack. These losses are characteristically unconnected with excisions. For instance, has been found in two different forms. Most manuscripts of Mark, including the 4th-century Codex Vaticanus, have the text "son of God", but three important manuscripts do not. Those three are: Codex Sinaiticus (01, א; dated 4th century), Codex Koridethi (038, Θ; 9th century), and the text called Minuscule 28(11th century). Bruce Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament states: "Since the combination of B D W all in support of [Son of God] is extremely strong, it was not thought advisable to omit the words altogether, yet because of the antiquity of the shorter reading and the possibility of scribal expansion, it was decided to enclose the words within square brackets."
Interpolations may not be editorial, either. It is a common experience that glosses written in the margins of manuscripts get incorporated into the text as copies are made. Any particular example is open to dispute, of course, but one may take note of , "Let anyone with ears to hear, listen," which is not found in early manuscripts.
Revision and editorial error may also contribute. Of the many earliest versions of Mark that have survived no two agree in their wording. Most differences are trivial but , where the leper approached Jesus begging to be healed, is significant. Early (Western) manuscripts say that Jesus became angry with the leper while later (Byzantine) versions indicate that Jesus showed compassion. This is possibly a confusion between the Aramaic words ethraham (he had pity) and ethra'em (he was enraged). Modern translations follow the later manuscripts for this passage.
Starting in the 19th century, textual critics have commonly asserted that , describing some disciples' encounters with the resurrected Jesus, was a later addition to the gospel. Mark 16:8 stops at the empty tomb
without further explanation. The last twelve verses are missing from the oldest manuscripts of Mark's Gospel. The style of these verses differs from the rest of Mark, suggesting they were a later addition. In a handful of manuscripts, a "short ending" is included after 16:8, but before the "long ending", and exists by itself in one of the earliest Old Latin
codices, Codex Bobiensis
. By the 5th century, at least four different endings have been attested. (See Mark 16
for a more comprehensive treatment of this topic.) Some scholars believe that a scribe who was copying the text thought it was vague and/or confusing how it ended, so he added v. 9-20 for additional clarification.
Irenaeus, c. 180, quoted from the long ending, specifically as part of Mark's gospel. The 3rd-century theologian Origen of Alexandria quoted the resurrection stories in Matthew, Luke, and John but failed to quote anything after , suggesting that his copy of Mark stopped there. Eusebius and Jerome both mention the majority of texts available to them omitted the longer ending. Critics are divided over whether the original ending at 16:8 was intentional, whether it resulted from accidental loss, or even the author's death. Those who believe that 16:8 was not the intended ending argue that it would be very unusual syntax for the text to end with the conjunction "gar" (γαρ), as does Mark 16:8, and that thematically it would be strange for a book of good news to end with a note of fear (εφοβουντο γαρ, "for they were afraid"). Some of those who believe that the 16:8 ending was intentional suggest a connection to the theme of the "Messianic Secret". This abrupt ending is also used to support the identification of this book as an example of closet drama, which characteristically ended without resolution and often with a tragic or shocking event that prevents closure.
Secret Gospel of Mark
A Mar Saba letter
ascribed to Clement of Alexandria, copied into a book at the Mar Saba monastery and published by Morton Smith
in 1973, contains references to a previously unknown Secret Gospel of Mark that gives information about the Gospel of Mark's possible Roman
origin. While most Clementine scholars agree that the letter sounds authentic, a number of scholars remain unconvinced that an early Secret Mark existed, asserting that the "Mar Saba letter" is a modern-day forgery
. Whether it should be included in the history of the Gospel of Mark and, if so, where, is still debated.
The Gospel of Mark differs from the other gospels in content, language, and detail.
Characteristics of Mark's content
The narrative can be divided into three sections: the Galilean ministry
, including the surrounding regions of Phoenicia, Decapolis, and Cæsarea Philippi (1-9); the Journey to Jerusalem
(10); and the Events in Jerusalem
- Unlike both Matthew and Luke, Mark does not offer any information about the life of Jesus before his baptism and ministry, including neither the nativity nor a genealogy.
- Jesus' baptism is understated, with John not identifying Jesus as the Son of God, nor initially declining to baptize him, nor sharing Jesus' vision of the dove and the Father's voice.
- Son of Man is the major title used of Jesus in Mark (; , , ; , ; , ). Many people have seen that this title is a very important one within Mark’s Gospel, and it has important implications for Mark’s Christology. Jesus raises a question that demonstrates the association in Mark between "Son of Man" (cf. Dan 7:13–14) and the suffering servant in —"How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt?" (9:12b NRSV). Yet this comparison is not explicit; Mark's Gospel creates this link between Daniel and Isaiah, and applies it to Christ. It is postulated that this is because of the persecution of Christians; thus, Mark's Gospel encourages believers to stand firm in the face of troubles.
- Jesus "explained everything in private to his disciples" while only speaking in parables to the crowds. His use of parables obscures his message and fulfills prophecy ().
- The Messianic Secret, Jesus' command to unclean spirits and to his disciples that they not reveal his identity, is stronger in Mark than in the other gospels.
- To the question "Are You the Christ?", Jesus gives the direct answer, "I am": ; cf. , , , , , , , .
- Mark is the only gospel that has Jesus explicitly admit that he does not know when the end of the world will be (). The equivalent verse in the Byzantine manuscripts of Matthew does not contain the words "nor the Son" (but it is present in most Alexandrian and Western text-type). See also Kenosis.
- "No sign will be given to this generation" ; Matthew and Luke include "except for the sign of Jonah" , . See also Typology (theology).
Characteristics of Mark's language
The phrase "and immediately" occurs nearly forty times in Mark; while in Luke, which is much longer, it is used only seven times, and in John only four times. The word law
) is never used, while it appears 8 times in Matthew, 9 times in Luke, 15 times in John, 19 times in Acts, many times in Romans.
Latin loanwords are often used: speculator, sextarius,
centurion, legion, quadrans, praetorium,
caesar, census, flagello, modius, denarius Mark has only a few direct Old Testament quotations: , , , , , , . Mark mostly uses the present tense, even when describing past events, Luke changes about 150 of these verbs. Mark frequently links sentences with and, Matthew and Luke replace most of these with subordinate clauses.
Extensive use of literary allusion
The Gospel of Mark makes extensive use of literary allusion to the Tanakh
, or Old Testament
. In some cases these allusions exist in the other synoptic gospels as well, but this is generally due to the synoptic gospels sharing a significant amount of text. According to the two-source hypothesis
, Mark was used as a source for the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Under this hypothesis, some literary allusion in the Gospel of Mark were lost when the scenes were copied by the other gospel writers. One case of literary allusion in the Gospel of Mark comes from the crucifixion scene, which is crafted from literary allusions to Psalm 22 and Amos 8.
Some Christians consider these to be cases of prophecy fulfillment. Scholars, however, consider these to be cases of literary allusion, where the author used existing passages from the Jewish scriptures to craft the details of the scene and provide sub-textual meaning to the events. The passage from Amos 8 would be relevant after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 and implies that the meaning of the crucifixion according to the author is a justification for the destruction of the Jewish people by the Romans during the Jewish war of 67-72.
To a large extent, the narrative of the Gospel of Mark is a running series of literary allusions to the Jewish scriptures.
Other characteristics unique to Mark
- The testing of Jesus in the wilderness for forty days contains no discourse between Jesus and Satan, and only here are wild beasts mentioned ().
- The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (). Not present in either or . This is also a so-called "Western non-interpolation". The passage is not found in the Western text of Mark.
- People were saying, "[Jesus] has gone out of his mind", see also Rejection of Jesus ().
- Mark is the only gospel with the combination , the other gospels split them up: Mark 4:24 being found in and ; Mark 4:25 being found in and , and .
- Parable of the Growing Seed ().
- Only Mark counts the possessed swine; there are about two thousand ().
- Two consecutive healing stories of women; both make use of the number twelve (and ).
- Only Mark gives healing commands of Jesus in the (presumably original) Aramaic: Talitha koum Ephphatha (). See Aramaic of Jesus.
- Only place in the New Testament Jesus is addressed as "the son of Mary" ().
- Mark is the only gospel where Jesus himself is called a carpenter (). In Matthew he is called a carpenter's son ().
- Only place that both names his brothers and mentions his sisters (Matthew has a slightly different name for one brother and no mention of sisters ).
- The taking of a staff and sandals is permitted in but prohibited in and .
- The longest version of the story of Herodias' daughter's dance and the beheading of John the Baptist ().
- Mark's literary cycles:
- * - Feeding of the five thousand;
- * - Crossing of the lake;
- * - Dispute with the Pharisees;
- * - Discourse about food defilement.
- * - Feeding of the four thousand;
- * - Crossing of the lake;
- * - Dispute with the Pharisees;
- * - Incident of no bread and discourse about the leaven of the Pharisees.
- Customs that at that time were peculiar to Jews are explained (hand, produce, and utensil washing): .
- "Thus he declared all foods clean. NRSV, not found in the Matthean parallel .
- Jesus heals using his fingers and spit at the same time: ; cf. , , , ; see also Exorcism.
- Jesus lays his hands on a blind man twice in curing him: ; cf. , , , , , laying on of hands.
- Jesus cites the Shema Yisrael: "Hear O Israel ..." (); in the parallels of and the first part of the Shema is absent.
- Mark points out that the Mount of Olives is across from the temple ().
- When Jesus is arrested, a young naked man flees: . A young man in a robe also appears in , see also Secret Gospel of Mark.
- Mark doesn't name the High Priest, cf. , , , .
- Witness testimony against Jesus does not agree ().
- The cock crows "twice" as predicted (). See also Fayyum Fragment. The other Gospels simply record, "the cock crew". Early codices 01, W, and most Western texts have the simpler version.
- Pilate's position (Governor) isn't specified, , cf. , , .
- Simon of Cyrene's sons are named ().
- A summoned centurion is questioned ().
- The women ask each other who will roll away the stone cf. .
- A young man sits on the "right side" cf. , .
- Afraid, the women flee from the empty tomb. They "tell no one" what they have seen compare with , , , .
- Mark is the only canonical gospel with significant various alternate endings (see Mark 16, Possible Scenarios); however, most of the contents of the traditional "Longer Ending" are found in other New Testament texts and are not unique to Mark, see Mark 16#The Longer Ending. The one significant exception is 16:18b "and if they drink any deadly thing", it will not harm those who believe, which is unique to Mark.
Some Christians consider Mark
to be divinely inspired and will see the gospel's theology as consistent with that of the rest of the Bible. Each sees Mark
as contributing a valuable voice to a wider Christian theology, though Christians sometimes disagree about the nature of this theology. However, Mark's contribution to a New Testament theology can be identified as unique in and of itself.
The identity of Jesus as the Son of God is an important one in the gospel, occurring at the strategic points of 1:1 ("The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God") and 15:39 ("Surely this man was the Son of God!"). However, the phrase "Son of God" is not present in the original reading of the Codex Sinaiticus
at 1:1. and Bart D. Ehrman
uses this to support the notion that the title "Son of God" is not used of Jesus until his baptism, and that Mark
reflects an adoptionist view.
Adoptionism holds that the Father adopted Jesus as the Son, usually contrasted with trinitarianism, which holds that the Son is eternally one with the Father. Luke and Matthew portray Jesus as being the Son of God at the time of birth, while John portrays the Son as existing "in the beginning". Adoptionism was common in the early church but declared heretical at the end of the 2nd century.
Ehrman’s view that this textual variant is of theological significance has been rejected by Bruce Metzger and Ben Witherington III.
Meaning of Jesus' death
The only one explicit mention of the meaning of Jesus' death in Mark occurs in where Jesus says that the "Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom (lutron) for many (anti pollōn)." According to Barnabas Lindars, this refers to Isaiah's fourth servant song, with lutron referring to the "offering for sin" (Isaiah 53:10) and anti pollōn to the Servant "bearing the sin of many" in Isaiah 52:12. The Greek word anti means "in the place of", which indicates a substitutionary death.
The author of this gospel also speaks of Jesus' death through the metaphors of the departing bridegroom in , and of the rejected heir in . He views it as fulfilling Old Testament prophecy (, and ). Some also see here the New Covenant of and .
Many scholars believe that Mark structured his gospel in order to emphasise Jesus' death. For example, Alan Culpepper sees Mark 15:1-39 as developing in three acts, each containing an event and a response. The first event is Jesus' trial, followed by the soldiers' mocking response; the second event is Jesus' crucifixion, followed by the spectators mocking him; the third and final event in this sequence is Jesus' death, followed by the veil being rent and the centurion confessing, "truly this man was the Son of God." In weaving these things into a triadic structure, Mark is thereby emphasising the importance of this confession, which provides a dramatic contrast to the two scenes of mocking which precede it. D. R. Bauer suggests that "by bringing his gospel to a climax with this christological confession at the cross, Mark indicates that Jesus is first and foremost Son of God, and that Jesus is Son of God as one who suffers and dies in obedience to God. Joel Marcus notes that the other Evangelists "attenuate" Mark's emphasis on Jesus' suffering and death, and sees Mark as more strongly influenced than they are by Paul's "theology of the cross".
- Brown, R., et al. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall, 1990.
- Bultmann, R., History of the Synoptic Tradition, Harper & Row, 1963.
- Dewey, J., "The Survival of Mark’s Gospel: A Good Story?", JBL 123.3 (2004) 495-507.
- Ehrman, Bart D., Misquoting Jesus, Harper Collins, 2005.
- Grant, Robert M., A Historical Introduction to the New Testament Harper and Row, 1963: Chapter 8: The Gospel Of Mark
- Guy, Harold A, The Origin of the Gospel of Mark, Hodder & Stoughton 1954
- Holmes, M. W., "To Be Continued... The Many Endings of Mark", Bible Review 17.4 (2001).
- Ladd, George Eldon. A Theology of the New Testament Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987.
- Mack, Burton L., 1993. The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian origins, HarperSanFrancisco.
- McKnight, E. V., What is Form Criticism?, 1997.
- Neill, Stephen and Wright, Tom, The Interpretation of The New Testament 1861-1986, Oxford University Press, 1990, 1989, 1964, ISBN 0192830570
- Perrin, N., What is Redaction Criticism?
- Perrin, Norman & Duling, Dennis C., The New Testament: An Introduction, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1982, 1974
- Schnelle, Udo, 1998. The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings (M. Eugene Boring translator), Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998.
- Telford, W. (ed.), The Interpretation of Mark, Fortress Press, 1985.
- Tuckett, C. (ed), The Messianic Secret, Fortress Press, 1983
Online translations of the Gospel of Mark: