Helen Bond’s The First Biography of Jesus– Part Fifteen

Helen Bond’s The First Biography of Jesus– Part Fifteen May 31, 2020

BEN: Your discussion of the structure of Mark in Chapter 3, especially at the smaller unit level is quite helpful, but I was surprised there was no discussion of the theological structuring Mark uses (unless the passing remark at the bottom of p. 104 counts), namely Who and Why questions are raised about Jesus and his disciples and their behavior in Mk. 1-8. The who question about Jesus is answered at Caesarea Philippi in Mk. 8, in terms deliberately reiterating Mk. 1.1. Then, and only then are we told about the main mission of Jesus in 3 straight chapters, some 4 times— ‘the Son of Man must suffer many things, be killed, and on the third day rise’ with the 4th iteration in Mk. 10.45 being more expansive about the function and purpose of Jesus’ death. Only after all this do we have the tale of Mission accomplished, the Passion narrative and its sequel in Mk. 11-16. This seems to me to be a very deliberate theological structuring of the whole book. Comments?


Hmmm, as I say, I think Mark is written to people who are already Christ-followers. They already know and believe that Jesus is the Christ, and they know the basic storyline. What they presumably do not have already is a biographical outline of Jesus’ life. I’m not particularly persuaded by the argument that Mark’s readers don’t know that Jesus is a suffering Messiah – if most of them are Gentiles (as I think likely) then the first time they heard the concept of ‘Messiah’ was in connection with the dead and rising Jesus (ie there’s nothing to correct!). Mark’s purpose is less an attempt to put across a particular ‘theology’ (except in so far as he underlines God’s will for creation as expressed in Scripture and the death/resurrection of Jesus) as a way of life which his audience are called on to follow.

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