Examining the New Testament - Lesson 3
Around the year 70, an early Christian put the story of Jesus into written form for the first time. Though the location is uncertain, the best guess is a Christ-community near the northern border of Galilee in the Jewish homeland.
Mark is also the shortest gospel. It has sixteen chapters, compared to Matthew’s twenty-eight, Luke’s twenty-four, and John’s twenty-one. It is important though as the gospels of Matthew and Luke clearly later used Mark when they wrote.
It is challenging to read Mark as the first gospel—as if the other gospels didn’t exist and this is our first encounter with the story of Jesus. It requires imagining that we haven’t already heard about Jesus from the other gospels, from Christian preaching and teaching, and from what is taken for granted about Jesus in Christian and popular culture.
Mark’s story is striking because of what it does include and what it does not include.
There are no stories of Jesus’s birth or early years. It begins with Jesus as an adult.
The large collection of teachings (about two hundred verses) shared by Matthew and Luke and commonly assigned to Q do not appear in Mark.
Many of Jesus’s best-known parables are not in Mark.
In Mark Jesus never publicly proclaims his identity.
Mark has no stories of the risen Jesus appearing to followers