Lectionary Year B
October 12, 2003
Mark 10:17-31

Step III: Composition

A. Immediate Context

(JFC) Pre - Mark 10:1-16 report Jesus' traveling and teaching, here about divorce, marriage, remarriage and adultery, responding to the Pharisees' trying to test him with a question. He next answers the disciples' question, re: what He told the Pharisees. Then He tells them to "let the children approach Him, for of such belongs God's Kingdom."

Post - Verses 32-45 of Mark 10 tell of Jesus and His entourage's going on toward Jerusalem and of the disciples' amazement and the crowds' fear at Jesus' teachings. Next, He tells the disciples, again privately, about His impending death at the hands of the chief priests and the scribes. Then, James and John request privileged places in His coming glory. Jesus tells them that such positions are not His to grant, rather they are for whom it "has been prepared". The other ten disciples get angry at James and John, but Jesus tells them those desiring to be great and/or first must become servants. Finally, here, Jesus states that "the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many", according to the NRSV translation.

B. Organization of Compositional Whole

(JFC) Again, 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 Caesarea Philippi: 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, anger, amazement 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) Also 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 direct mention of Jerusalem's destruction in 70.

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