The Gospel of Mark

paradox3

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Today we move on to Mark.

Many thanks to everyone who joined the discussion on the Matthew thread. I enjoyed it very much and have decided to use the same approach for Mark's gospel. I will post a chapter every day . . . a brief summary and a reflection based on my own thoughts.

As for my biases in reading Scripture, I certainly have them. I am a United Church member, pretty much in the middle of the road for my denomination. I see the Bible as foundational to Christian faith and find it fascinating. I view it as a combination of history, mythology and faith testimony.

In this discussion I hope we will hear from people with a variety of approaches to Scripture. We are sure to find varying interpretations of the passages we study. Let us be open to the Spirit and try to avoid arguing for our personal perspectives. On the Matthew thread, we had posters with a range of viewpoints and I learned quite a bit from our interactions.

I am not totally opposed to tangents on these threads. However, discussion is often better served by starting a new thread which will attract others interested in that particular topic.

Please try to keep focused on Mark as we proceed. There may be good reasons to bring other Scriptures into the conversation but please indicate when you are doing this.

Let's begin!
 

paradox3

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Summary: Mark 1:1-45

1. John the Baptist comes baptizing in the wilderness and preaching repentance for the remission of sins. Many present themselves for baptism in the Jordan River. John predicts the One coming after him who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.

2. Jesus arrives to be baptized. The heavens open and a voice is heard, saying, "You are My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." (1:11)

3. The Spirit immediately drives Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted for forty days.

4. John is put in prison and Jesus begins to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God, saying, "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." (1:15)

5. The first four disciples are called.

6. In Capernaum, Jesus enters the synagogue on the Sabbath and teaches. A man with an unclean spirit cries out. The spirit is rebuked and leaves the man. The fame of Jesus begins to spread immediately.

7. Peter's mother-in-law is healed. The fever leaves her and she gets up and serves.

8. Many are healed after sunset. Jesus does not allow the demons to speak because they know Him.

9. Jesus preaches in synagogues throughout Galilee and casts out demons.
 

paradox3

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Reflection: Mark 1:1-45

A fast paced and full first chapter!

I am struck by the "bare bones" nature of this gospel and can see where Matthew embellished some of the stories. There is no birth narrative, of course, and the gospel writer opens with a fulfillment of prophecy from the Hebrew scriptures.

What is meant here by the Kingdom of God being at hand? Mark 1 does not seem to read as end times theology but it is probably too soon to determine this.

Interesting focus on Jesus preaching in synagogues. And the demons talk!

What are we to make of the demons already knowing Jesus? Did He meet them in the wilderness, perhaps?
 

Luce NDs

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Narrative ??????? All is narrative ... being that limited souls just don't associate with immortal ... thus schism!

The infinite is unknown to mortal process ... that which is very emotional and spirited ... no stretch to it!
 

Seeler

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The first thing that jumps out at me in reading the first chapter of Mark, besides its fast pace, is the believe in demons. The author of this gospel obviously believed in demons – that they were real and present. This was a common belief in the first century CE and throughout most of history. It doesn't seem so, now.

I don't believe in demons. At least not how I think that they are understood. Do you?

If we don't believe in demons, how do we understand Mark's writing?
 

paradox3

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Yes, the writer of this gospel believes that demons are real & present and able to communicate separately from the individual they possess.

Do I believe in demons? No, not in the way this writer does but metaphorically speaking, I do. "Demons" can be seen as those hurts and so on that we have absorbed and find ourselves unable to "release".

The healing powers of Jesus might have been largely concerned with the release of such "demons" and/ or psychosomatic illness. There is also much power in hope and I believe Jesus was a source of hope. I also think he was a highly charismatic leader. Why else would the fisherman have been so willing to drop their nets and follow Him?
 

Luce NDs

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The first thing that jumps out at me in reading the first chapter of Mark, besides its fast pace, is the believe in demons. The author of this gospel obviously believed in demons – that they were real and present. This was a common belief in the first century CE and throughout most of history. It doesn't seem so, now.

I don't believe in demons. At least not how I think that they are understood. Do you?

If we don't believe in demons, how do we understand Mark's writing?
Demons evolve in the rushes ... like Moses as a thought conceived in the land of imagination ... Egypt? Creates Muses in differentiation ...
 

Mendalla

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What are we to make of the demons already knowing Jesus? Did He meet them in the wilderness, perhaps?
He's the son of God. Presumably, they know their enemy?

Demons are a wonderful literary/sprirtual concept that can symbolize so much. However, I have no reason to see them as more than that, ie. as a real thing.
 

Redbaron

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In comparison to the other 3 canonical gospel, here, Jesus sure hits the ground running. He covers as much ground in ch. 1 as Matthew and Luke spend 3 or 4 chapters outlining.
I don't see demons as personal, self-aware entities; I see them sort of as connections between people (could be angelic or demonic, depending on outcome!) Sort of like mob control, or attitude catching on to others. One can see the phenomenon at work at, say, a political rally, or, in days of yore, a medicine show. Something like that.
 

BetteTheRed

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This was, in fact, my argument for starting with Mark. In the Five Gospels, the Jesus Seminar puts Mark first. It feels very sparse and foundational when contrasted with Matthew or Luke.
 

unsafe

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I didn't believe in Spiritual demonic entities until I personally experienced one in my home and had an exorcism preformed in my house by a Padre ------then I believed -----cause all activity stopped after he left -----
 

paradox3

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This was, in fact, my argument for starting with Mark. In the Five Gospels, the Jesus Seminar puts Mark first. It feels very sparse and foundational when contrasted with Matthew or Luke.
Yes, and it is commonly understood that Mark is the oldest gospel. I can see the logic in starting with Mark for study purposes. OTOH there might be some advantages to having it sandwiched in between the two writers who used it as a base and expanded it.

At any rate, we are here now. There has been talk of doing another bible study but nothing has materialized yet. So I am proceeding as planned. Glad to have you and others aboard!
 

Mendalla

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This was, in fact, my argument for starting with Mark. In the Five Gospels, the Jesus Seminar puts Mark first. It feels very sparse and foundational when contrasted with Matthew or Luke.
OTOH, the reality is that the church put them in the order they did and that's how most people engage with them. Until the Five Gospels becomes the canon, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John is the "correct" order and how people use them. So there is a good, valid argument for doing that traditional order, too. The Bible is about more than just scholarship, whatever the Jesus Seminar may think (to be clear, I respect their work but they are just one more group of scholars/commentators on a book with many many such groups).
 

Waterfall

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He's the son of God.

In some early manuscripts for Mark 1:1, "son of God" was left out and in others it was left in. Scholars are still debating whether this was an intentional or accidental omission by scribes.
Bart Erhman considers it intentionally placed in order to have Jesus as "son of God" before His baptism. Others consider it an accidental omission because Mark speaks of Jesus as son of God later in Mark.
 

Redbaron

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I recall one 'historical' argument for placing Matthew first was that it used a lot more of the Hebrew Scriptures (in terms of 'fulfilled prophecy') and was therefore a more logical link between OT and NT.
 

Mendalla

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Mark 1:6 said:
6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
Gotta love how John the Baptist becomes the stereotype for "voices crying in the wilderness" ever since. Python references the image often in gags about prophets and hermits.

More seriously, I think John makes for a very strong opening here, stronger than Matthew's begats. He's essentially the "chorus" announcing the start of the drama and introducing its themes, both himself and in the verse from Isaiah that introduces him. Something, of course, that John-Michael Tebelak and Stephen Schwartz recognized in writing Godspell, which opens with John the Baptist singing "Prepare Ye".

More comments to come (yes, I'm hoping to keep up this time).
 

paradox3

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Here is a beautiful hymn:

VU 18: There's a Voice in the Wilderness

Verse 1

"There's a voice in the wilderness crying, a call from the ways untrod.
Prepare in the dessert a highway, a highway for our God.
The valleys shall be exalted, the lofty hills brought low,
Make straight all the crooked places, where God, our God may go!"

It was written in 1925 to celebrate church union. It is based on the prophecy from Isaiah but curiously has become an Advent hymn. The words seem to relate more to the Kingdom of God or God's imperial rule than the birth of Jesus.

And in Mark, John the Baptist is heralding the ministry of Jesus, not His birth.
 

BetteTheRed

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It is based on the prophecy from Isaiah but curiously has become an Advent hymn. The words seem to relate more to the Kingdom of God or God's imperial rule than the birth of Jesus.
I don't think of Advent as a time for preparing for a physical birth, but a celebration of the gifts of Godde to the building of Godde's kin-dom - hope, peace, joy and love.
 
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Mendalla

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Here's the unclean spirit story from the NRSV:

23 Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24 and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.
I am quite certain that this, and other examples of "demons" or "unclean spirits" like this are just the pre-modern attempt to account for mental illnesses. Not clear in this case what was the problem and not sure it matters. I am quite sure that today this man would be treated for being bipolar or schizophrenic or something. No spirits involved.

So how, then, do we take this passage today? Here we see Jesus having authority over the spirit world but if we discount the existence of that world in favour of a modern mental illness explanation, does it simply mean he can heal "spiritual" disorders, ie. mental ones? Or does it mean he has some kind of authority over own inner life, our "spirit"? That he can command our "spirit"? Not entirely sure myself.
 

blackbelt1961

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Summary: Mark 1:1-45

1. John the Baptist comes baptizing in the wilderness and preaching repentance for the remission of sins. Many present themselves for baptism in the Jordan River. John predicts the One coming after him who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.

its interesting that John who had never met Jesus knows about a spiritual rebirth of the Holy Spirit

2. Jesus arrives to be baptized. The heavens open and a voice is heard, saying, "You are My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." (1:11)

Gods one testimony in who Jesus is



7. Peter's mother-in-law is healed. The fever leaves her and she gets up and serves.


more testimony in who Jesus is, supernatural power over natural sickness

8. Many are healed after sunset. Jesus does not allow the demons to speak because they know Him.



thease unclean spirits know exactly who Jesus is, but Jesus shuts them up, Christ is in no need of there testimony. What Jesus does, he does by the Power of the Father alone, including Testimonies from the healed.
 
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