Lectionary Year B
October 5, 2003
Mark 10:2-16

Step III: Composition

A. Immediate Context

(JFC) Pre - Mark 10's first verse sets the stage where Jesus leaves Galilee (9:30) and going into Capernaum (9:30) to go into the "region of Judea and beyond the Jordan" where "crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he taught them." Post - Mark 10:17-31 tell of a man asking what he must do to inherit eternal life and Jesus quotes the Ten Commandments. When the man claimed to have obeyed the Ten Commandment, Jesus told him to sell all he had and give to the poor, upon which saying the man "went away grieving, for he had many possessions." Next, Jesus uses the "camel more easily goes through the needle's eye than a wealthy man enters God's Kingdom". The disciples realized how hard it is to gain eternity, but Jesus reminded them that "with God all things are possible." Then Jesus acknowledged that the disciples had left all to follow Him and that such sacrificers will receive in eternity many rewards and that "many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."

B. Organization of Compositional Whole

(JFC) These data have appeared previously in Bi 216 on line. "Mark's objective is to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God", Sweizer notes. Chapters 1-9 of Mark's Gospel collect traditions of Jesus' life, preaching, teachings and healings. The accounts read as if they were compiled rapidly. Some seem almost unrelated if not detached from one another. Some commentators find forecasts of Jesus' passion in such passages as of John's arrest in 1:15 and his execution in 6:14-29 and the Pharisees' opposition to Jesus in 3:6. Vincent Taylor's The Gospel According to Saint Mark has the most detailed "Plan and Arrangement of the Gospel", where it identifies the Introduction as in 1:1-13, the Galilean Ministry from 1:14 to 6:13, the Ministry Beyond Galilee from 6:14 to 8:26, the Caeserea Phillipi: the Journey to Jerusalem from 8:27 to 10:52, the Ministry in Jerusalem from 11:1 to 13:37 and the Passion and Resurrection narratives conclude the outline. From the plot to arrest Jesus to the entombment, we get much more detailed descriptions. Jesus' passion and death seem to be the goal toward which this Gospel aims. Mark's Gospel, as briefly as it records Jesus' encounters, does tell of the emotions the people have to Him and His ministries. Therein we read of sorrow, pity, fear, amazement, anger and grief. Furthermore, Lamar Williamson, Jr., in the Interpretation commentary series says, "The Gospel of Mark is . . . a combination of traditions about Jesus presented in story form, a narrative constituting good news about God and his kingdom, and a writing which occupies a place of fundamental importance in the scriptures of the church."

C. Issues of Authorship

(JFC) As previously reported, the Gospel of Mark was probably "the first of the Gospels committed to writing," as C. E. Mann says in the Anchor Bible. Although Taylor has no doubt that "Mark, the attendant of Peter . . . the John Mark of the Acts and the companion of Paul" wrote this Gospel, the author is really unknown. That John Mark in Acts, Philemon, Colossian and II Timothy, only might be the author. It was probably written in Rome. The Roman context seems to be supported by Latin expressions, although such extractions were found in much literature of that era. Other places that might have generated this Gospel include Antioch in Syria, Alexandria or anywhere in Italy according to James L. Price's Interpreting the New Testament. 7:3f indicate that this Gospel was written for Gentile readers. And, we recall that we have seen in these pages before, "In the MacArthur Study Bible, the following quote from Papias, the Bishop of Hieropolis, written around 140 CE, 'And the Presbyter [the apostle John] said this: "Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, the exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ"." Some date in the 60's is likely since there is no very direct mention of Jerusalem's destruction in 70.

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