Mark Themes

There is an emerging consensus that the Evangelists were more theologians than historians, selecting material from an oral historical tradition to illustrate their distinctive theological perspectives oriented to their respective audiences.

Jesus is portrayed as the Messiah, the "Son of God", a prophet, healer and teacher but Mark's primary purpose is to combine the Theolgia Crucis with the Thelogia Gloriae. It is difficult to over estimate the problem he faced in turning the ignominy of the crucifixion into a Messianic triumph.

Mark declares that he is writing: "The Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God" (Mark 1:1) and this is mirrored by the cry of the Centurion (Mark 15:39). Although for Mark Jesus is the Messianic King (Mark 15:32), one of the more puzzling aspects is that Jesus repeatedly demands that this fact is kept secret: of the Disciples (Mark 8:30; and Mark 9:9); of those healed (Mark 1:40-44; 5:43; 7:36; 8:26); and even of the demons (Mark 1:23-25; 1:34; 3:11-12. The leaders are kept from the truth (Mark 3:22; 4:10-12; 8:11-12); and Jesus withdraws from the crowds (Mark 4:10; 7:17; 9:28); and hides ([passage=Mark 7:24; Mark 9:30). There are many theories to explain this but the most plausible is that the Disciples did not understand Jesus and the crowds thought he was a magician; and so Mark sees Jesus the Messiah as incognito. Sonship is cited at crucial moments (Baptism, Mark 1:11; Transfiguration, Mark 9:7; Gethsemane, Mark 14:36) and is a key element in Jesus control of the demons (Mark 3:11). He is omnisicent (Mark 2:8; 5:32; 39; 6:48; 8:17; 9:4; 9:33; 11:2; 11:14; 12:9; 13:12) and omnipotent over demons and illness (Mark 1:21-28; 1:29-31; 1:40-45; 1:1-12; 3:1-6; 5:1-20; 5:24-34; 5:35-43; 7:24-30; 7:31-37; 8:22-26; 9:14-29; 10:46-52); the natural elements (Mark 4:38-41); and death (Mark 5:22-24; 5:35-43).

Mark also stresses Jesus' humanity: compassion ([passage=Mark 1:41; Mark 6:34; Mark 8:2); indignation (Mark 3:5; Mark 9:19; Mark 10:14/]); distress and sorrow ([passage=Mark 7:34; Mark 8:12; Mark 14:33-36); anger (Mark 1:43; 3:5); and tiredness (Mark 4:38). Within 50 years of the death of Jesus  Mark is feeling his way towards the balance of Chalcedon (451).

Until recently Matthew was singled out as the Evangelist who described Jesus as a teacher but this is now a recognised theme in Mark (Mark 4:38; 5:35; 9:17; 9:38; 10:51; 11:21).

Partly taken from:

Harrington, Wilfrid J., O.P.: Mark, Realistic theologian: The Jesus of Mark, Columba Press, Dublin, 1996.

KC viii/05.

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