We’ll be studying Mark’s gospel.
Why? Because I want to have a fresh vision of Jesus during Lent, and studying the gospel is a great way to do that.
Why Mark? Because it is the shortest and most immediate gospel. I love how the language of Mark has a sense of urgency and simplicity. It is almost like a fisherman himself is telling you the stories with short, sharp immediacy and enthusiasm.
In fact, the voice of a fisherman is behind the gospel of Mark. The sacred tradition is that John Mark was the cousin of Barnabas. The first disciples of Jesus met in his mother’s house in Jerusalem. He was chosen to accompany Barnabas and Paul on their missionary journey, but later transferred over to accompany Peter. The early traditions say that Mark was with Peter in Rome, and this is referenced in the first Epistle of Peter. They say Mark recorded the preaching of Peter to compile the gospel.
When was it written? It’s not too hard to date the gospel because Mark doesn’t tell us about Peter’s death. We know Peter and Paul died in 65 AD in the persecutions of Nero. The Acts of the Apostles–which is all about Peter and Paul–don’t mention their deaths. Surely if they had died by the time it was completed their martyrdoms would have been recorded–after all John’s gospel does mention Peter’s death.
The gospel was probably written for a Roman audience of whom some were Gentiles. This is because Mark takes time to explain to his readers some of the Jewish customs and traditions.
Because of the date of the death of the apostles Peter and Paul we can date most of the New Testament to before 65 AD. Mark probably wrote the stories down between 60 and 65 AD as the persecution seemed imminent and it did not look like the Lord was going to return within the lifetime of all the disciples.
Of course modernist scholars dismiss these early ratings. They want the gospels to be much later, but it seems more sensible to take the evidence from the historians and writers we do have who were closest to the events and the unanimous opinion from the early days is that Mark really did write it and that the stories are based on the memories and experiences of Peter.
So I hope you’ll join me as we begin the Blobble study tomorrow on Ash Wednesday. Tune in and tell your friends!