Posted by / Wednesday, 29 March 2017 / No comments

The characteristics of Mark's gospel

Action driven
One of the features of Mark’s gospel is that it is action driven. Mark wrote with much more pace than the other synoptic gospel authors. Mark seem to be in a hurry, so sometimes, many stories are crammed together. The book starts with a bang and ends abruptly. He used words like “immediately” most of the time.

Another feature of the gospel of Mark is that he seems to have written the gospel for the world and not for the Jews alone.  When he used words that were exclusive to the Jewish custom, he explained them for the benefit of non-Jewish readers. He used expression like “Corban” and Talitha kumi” but he explained them so that the Gentile nation can understand what he was trying to say.

Mark’s style displayed a level of repetitiveness. He employed tautology in certain portions of his work though some might argue that he employed them for the sake of emphasis. For example, Mark wrote that Jesus healed at evening, when the Sun was set. In the story of the feeding of the five thousand, he also described the crowd as sitting on the green grass.

Use of rough language
Mark’s language was not very refined. He wrote it the way it was, without giving it any colouration. In the story of the storm on the Sea, Mark recorded that the disciples asked Jesus, “Master, do you not care if we perish?” Also, in the story of the woman with the issue of blood, there was a large crowd following, then suddenly Jesus asked “who touched me”. Mark recorded the disciples as asking Jesus, “You see the crowd pressing around you yet you said ‘who touched me.’” This is an indication that Mark used a rough language to carry his message across. These expressions were toned down when the other synoptic writers recorded the same events.

Mark’s portrayal of Jesus
Mark sometimes portrayed Jesus in a very negative light. He recorded some of the very unsavory remarks by his family and friends about him. When Jesus went to Nazareth, for example, some of his relatives and friends thought he was mad. Mark recorded that they considered him to be “beside himself” meaning he must have gone insane.

Humanity of Jesus
Mark tried to portray the human side of Jesus. He would capture Jesus behaving like a normal human being. In the story of the storm on the Sea, Mark recorded that Jesus was asleep in the stern of the boat. So he was human after all. He also portrayed Jesus as someone who could feel hunger pangs and could also be angry. When he expected the fig tree to have fruits, it was because he was hungry. When he could not find the fig fruits to eat, he became angry and cursed the tree. All these show the human aspect of the man Jesus.

1. What are the major characteristics of Mark’s gospel?

2. Highlight six characteristics of the gospel of Mark.

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