Gospel of Mark


#1

Today in Bible study we finished up our review of the Gospel of Mark. It got me thinking… why do you think the Gospel ended so abruptly? I know Mark’s style of writing is short and sweet, but it seems to come to an abrupt end. But then in the Bible, it also shows alternate endings (long/short version)… so that got me thinking, who wrote those? And why? For people like me who felt like the Gospel was not complete???

Anyone care to share their thoughts on this?

God Bless!!!


#2

I think the purpose why the Gospels are presented in such a way is for us to fill in the gaps. Jesus wants us to fill in those gaps. That is why they were written in the way they were. We need to think, to contribute and to discover what also is there contained in what was not written. The person that will help us with that is the Holy Spirit.


#3

Since none of us were there when Mark wrote it, there are as many theories as there are people. If you have a New American Bible, the footnotes to Mark Chapter 16 have about as good a theory as any why the Gospel seems to end so abruptly:shrug:


#4

If you want some interesting facts on it, go to YouTube and in the search box type in Misquoting Jesus (it’s the one that is 1:35:20 in duration) by Bart Ehrman(he’s a New Testament scholar at the Univ. of N. Carolina)


#5

Recall St. Mark was the companion of St. Peter. St. Peter was a “Wanted man. Dead or alive.” eventually.

St. Peter was wanted by the Sanhedrin and eventually by the Romans as well.

Keep all of this in mind and ask yourself if you can think of a possible scenario where St. Peter is writing his Gospel (St. Mark of course doing the writing), and now all of a suuden: “We gotta stop writing . . . and we gotta stop NOW!”


#6

Interesting theory.

Hadn’t thought of it that way.

You can make a case that ACTS ended abruptly when the Roman soldiers arrested Paul and Paul’s entourage in the Christian persecutions of A.D. 64. Luke was executed along with Paul.

But, of course, it is generally accepted that Peter was in Rome along with Paul and was also caught up in the persecutions and killed.

So you are saying that Mark was busy writing his Gospel alongside Luke, who was just finishing up Acts, and BOTH were arrested at the same time and left documents unfinished.

Interesting.

A good read is Hagan’s “Fires of Rome” on Paul’s ministry and the High Priests’ involvement in the Roman persecutions.


#7

Hi Laura, I’d say that the Gospel does not so much finish abruptly as go “overtime”. The denouement of Mark’s Gospel is really the crucifixion; this is where all the elements of the Gospel converge with Jesus being revealed as Son of God on the cross. In a sense, the rest of the story after this is an addendum.


#8

My own personal theory is that one of the reasons Mark was first written was to return a sense of Jesus’ own history to the Christological debates that shaped the earliest church. If you look at the oldest, pre-Pauline writing in the letters of Paul, including Romans 1:4-7, Philippians 2:6-11, and others, it appears that the very first response of Christians to the Resurrection was “WHAT THE HECK JUST HAPPENED???” These early texts represent the record of the early church trying to find a way to understand what to many of them must have been incomprehensible – the resurrection of Jesus. Among those early texts cited by Paul is 1 Corinthians 15:3-7. That’s actually the first time in history that witnesses to the resurrected Christ are recorded in some fashion. And here’s where Mark comes in – there are no women mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7.

Paul’s own writings, from the late 40s to 50s, offer minimal biographical information about Jesus (1 Cor 7’s interdiction on divorce being an exception). So if you look at the early church, for the first 30 years after the resurrection, the writings reflect a heavy degree of Christological inquiry. Paul is kind of an exception, but almost everything we have suggests that the biography of Jesus was not part of the first creeds or writings of the church.

I think Mark wrote for a combination of reasons – the immanent destruction of Jerusalem, the uncertain fate of the Jewish Christian church at Pella, and a need to preserve the biographical information to which Mark had access. Since Mark was writing in the broader context of the high Christology of the early church, his gospel weaves that Christology into the biography of Jesus as he understood it. And here’s where the short ending comes in…

If you look at 1 Corinthians 15, there are no women in the account of resurrection witnesses. One theory as to why Mark 16 ends at verse 8 is that it’s a way to assert that the first witness to the resurrection was a woman, in a manner that is absolutely consistent with the creed of 1 Corinthians 15. In Mark, Mary Magdalene doesn’t see the risen Lord himself. But it is her testimony that Mark records. One way to reconcile 1 Corinthians 15 with the gospels is to say that both are right! Mark ending at 16:8 allows that to be.

The thing that’s actually trickiest is figuring out why the other gospels DO feature women as witnesses to the actual resurrection. That there is a seemingly consistent tradition independent of Mark, that of women embracing the resurrected Jesus (Matthew 28:9-10 and John 20:17) suggests that the answer isn’t totally pat.

There’s another bit of exegetical necessity in Mark. The silence of the women in Mark 16:8 can be read as an ironic twist that Mark is repeating from 14:9. In that verse, Jesus says that the woman who anointed him will be remember wherever the gospel is proclaimed. Yet the irony in Mark is that she doesn’t have a name. I see potential parallels between the namelessness of a woman whom Jesus says will be remembered constantly and the notion that Mark records the women at the resurrection as being afraid to talk. To me, women in Mark are fascinating, in that they present challenges to the earliest credal professions we find in quoted in Paul’s writings.


#9

Hi Laura,

i think Mark was written after Peter’s preaching in Rome. Peter was probably reading from both the gospel of Matthew and of Luke with his preaching being recorded in shorthand by scribes, as was the custom.

web.nebrwesleyan.edu/groups/synoptic/index.html

virtualreligion.net/primer/griesb.html

I don’t think Mark was intended to be a gospel, just a shorthand account of Peter’s preaching from Matthew and Luke.

I think one of the early Christian writers mentions that Peter was asked if a text could be created from his preaching and he didn’t much care either way.

jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1582193?uid=3738224&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21103379064091

everydaychristian.com/blogs/post/10315/

theopedia.com/Gospel_of_Mark


#10

I personally believe that Mark wrote more than one copy of his gospel, as I feel most Biblical authors did the same. Why would they not since it was such an important work and meant for distribution. I also feel that some of the authors wrote their accounts in more than one language such as Greek, Aramaic, etc. since in places like that there are many dialects in a given area. So this would mean that one author writing multiple accounts would probably have variant readings among their copies. All copies being from original author and just as authentic.


#11

I don’t think there’s any critical scholar who believes that Matthew was written before Mark. To give an example germane to the OP, why would the author of Mark cut out the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus?

I also don’t think that any critical scholar believes the traditional legend that Mark was Peter’s secretary, who wrote in Rome. Modern scholars have raised the possibility, even likelihood that Mark was written near Galilee. One such prominent scholar is the recently-deceased Sean Freyne, whose extensive archaeological and historical work on the Galilee suggests that Mark’s gospel was written near Galilee. Catholic historians, such as Fr. John Meier, quote Freyne fairly routinely.

“Traditional” stories – such as Papias’ – aren’t totally correct, even if they were written within a century after Jesus’ execution. Of course, Papias said that Mark became the “interpreter” of Peter. Papias himself talked about how Judas Iscariot died, and his story did not agree with the gospels:
Judas walked about in this world a sad example of impiety; for his body having swollen to such an extent that he could not pass where a chariot could pass easily, he was crushed by the chariot, so that his bowels gushed out.

So the conclusion of this response is that the traditional stories we have about Mark being Peter’s secretary are highly unlikely to be true.


#12

Critical scholars usually choose the opposite side of tradition, and tend to go to the extreme. The story of Papias actually harmonizes the account of Judas found in the gospels and the one in Acts. Not every tradition handed down by the Church Fathers are accurate, but I believe their testimonies are very reliable when examined as a whole and discerned by traditional thinking Catholic scholars.


#13

I don’t think this is so. Look at John Meier, a Catholic priest, or N.T. Wright, both of whom are orthodox Christians. They’re both critical scholars.

To be objective, it’s important to use historical-critical methods to look at the Bible history. Even Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has written this much. If you’re not critical, look at citations like this one from Hegesippus:
James, the Lord’s brother, succeeds to the government of the Church, in conjunction with the apostles. He has been universally called the Just, from the days of the Lord down to the present time. For many bore the name of James; but this one was holy from his mother’s womb. He drank no wine or other intoxicating liquor, nor did he eat flesh; no razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, nor make use of the bath. He alone was permitted to enter the holy place: for he did not wear any woollen garment, but fine linen only. He alone, I say, was wont to go into the temple: and he used to be found kneeling on his knees, begging forgiveness for the people-so that the skin of his knees became horny like that of a camel’s, by reason of his constantly bending the knee in adoration to God, and begging forgiveness for the people. Therefore, in consequence of his pre-eminent justice, he was called the Just, and Oblias, which signifies in Greek Defence of the People, and Justice, in accordance with what the prophets declare concerning him.”
James the Just, head of the Church???

Here’s more from Hegesippus:
“There still survived of the kindred of the Lord the grandsons of Judas, who according to the flesh was called his brother. These were informed against, as belonging to the family of David, and Evocatus brought them before Domitian Caesar: for that emperor dreaded the advent of Christ, as Herod had done.

When they were released they became leaders of the churches, as was natural in the case of those who were at once martyrs and of the kindred of the Lord. And, after the establishment of peace to the Church, their lives were prolonged to the reign of Trojan.”

It’s natural for the kindred of the lord to become heads of the Church???

The story of Papias actually harmonizes the account of Judas found in the gospels and the one in Acts.

I don’t see that. Papias says that Judas survived after Jesus’ resurrection, his body swelled so large that he couldn’t walk where a chariot could, and that he was run over with a chariot. It’s only the spilling of bowels that’s similar, which suggests an independent tradition from which both Acts and Papias draw.
Here’s Acts 1:18
*“He bought a parcel of land with the wages of his iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out.”
*
Matthew 27:5
“Flinging the money into the temple, he departed and went off and hanged himself”

Not every tradition handed down by the Church Fathers are accurate, but I believe their testimonies are very reliable when examined as a whole and discerned by traditional thinking Catholic scholars.

I’m not saying that the Church Fathers aren’t reliable, but that if we want to actually look at the history of the early Church, which is part of the exegesis called for by the OP, we need to use the same type of historical-critical methods that are used by Biblical historians such as Benedict XVI.


#14

Historical critical method has a majority position that makes it appear as if much of Scripture are forgeries, myths, and a compilation of various hands that were thrown together for each book. It has caused more people to doubt the authenticity of Scripture than about anything else I’ve seen. It is prone to treating secular historians with greater regard than Biblical testimony. It even says things like Daniel and Jonah are not the authors of their books, even though Christ himself quotes them and refers to them as historical figures, yet the historical critical folks will say they didn’t even exist, especially Jonah, which is against what the Church and Jewish history has always believed. Then to claim that people used the names of the apostles and prophets in order to trick readers to believe it was them in order to make their writing more attractive, which is deceptive and dishonest, and then somehow it is canonical despite the deception? I cannot imagine devoting my life and time to a faith that had a Bible that was thought to be put together with such a lousy method of construction. I prefer to follow the traditional pious understanding that has been understood by the Church from the beginning, not what some protestant classroom invented system that some modern Catholic theologians have embraced in order to try to fit the latest fads of scholars. I love pope Benedict, but not all his preferences are infallible or in line with the popes before him. But this is all nonbinding stuff we are talking about, so it makes no difference which position we hold as far as our positions as Catholics.

As for the Papias quote, it does reconcile that discrepancy between the death of Judas found in Acts and the gospel.

As for the Church Fathers and their testimonies, again let me repeat that it is good to follow their testimonies with discernment and through the guidance of traditional Catholic scholars.


#15

Well, I’m glad to disagree amicably here.

I don’t know of any scholar in a major university, Catholic or otherwise, who doesn’t use the historical-critical method as one of their foremost analytical approaches. According to a survey of theological seminaries by Yale professor Dale Martin (who’s a high church Anglican), both Protestant and Catholic, the historical-critical method is the overwhelmingly dominant primary approach to historical analysis and exegesis taught in the United States.

Scholars from Pope Benedict XVI to Dale Martin have also both recognized that by itself, the historical-critical method doesn’t provide you with a clear answer or with theology. I personally see no challenge to orthodox Catholic faith in reading the gospels with a critical eye in mind. My faith is only enriched and emboldened by it.

As for the Papias quote, it does reconcile that discrepancy between the death of Judas found in Acts and the gospel.

Again, I’ll amicably disagree.

As for the Church Fathers and their testimonies, again let me repeat that it is good to follow their testimonies with discernment and through the guidance of traditional Catholic scholars.

And I’ll agree with you, as long as “traditional Catholic scholars” doesn’t exclude anyone using objective methods of historiography.


#16

I respect those who are of higher education and their efforts because there is value in the methods. But in the area of Biblical scholarship I prefer St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, Cornelius a Lapide, St. Jerome, John Henry Cardinal Newman, etc. That’s the company I prefer to be in.


#17

The historical critical method is just that. A method.

Having gone through the Theology course at a (supposedly) Catholic university it is quite obvious that since Bismark, the historical critical method has been abused by politics.

The politics today have changed but the abuse continues.

Having also a science degree, my personal view is that those in ‘the new revisionist’ Theology are abusing the historical critical method and pretending to follow a method, akin to the scientific method.

I am extremely scathing of such a pseudo-scientific method which is just anti-Christian politics wrapped in the veneer of respectable process.

If we are going to discuss things such as the authorship and order of the gospels then we should be referring to what we can reasonably know using evidence. Not to a century or more of anti-Christian politics being peddled through our universities.

It is no reasonably position to say ‘these other people reckon this…’ so therefore it is true.


#18

True, but it represents one of the primary methods by which nearly all modern historians and many historical theologians approach ancient texts, including the Bible and the Church Fathers. The Pontifical Biblical Commission, serving at the behest of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a 1993 report containing a preface written by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as head of the CDF, and making this statement:
*“The historical-critical method is the indispensable method for the scientific study of the meaning of ancient texts. Holy Scripture, inasmuch as it is the “word of God in human language,” has been composed by human authors in all its various parts and in all the sources that lie behind them. Because of this, its proper understanding not only admits the use of this method but actually requires it.”
*

Having gone through the Theology course at a (supposedly) Catholic university it is quite obvious that since Bismark, the historical critical method has been abused by politics.

That’s entirely true, but it’s not only abuse. Protestant scholars of the “First Quest for the Historical Jesus” from up to Schwietzer and through Bultmann were, in my opinion, making a totally reasonable attempt at understanding scripture. Many mainline Protestant denominations felt outgunned and collapsed into a wishy-washy approach to Jesus, based in the existentialist theology of Bultmann, who claimed we could know nothing of the historical Jesus and that faith was all that mattered.

But the way science and history work is not to say “these studies using this method came up with conclusions that we don’t like because they seem to undermine orthodoxy.” It’s to say “these studies using this method had these assumptions and these contradictions, and when we account for new information we think this is a better explanation.”

The politics today have changed but the abuse continues.

There have always been politics. All humans are fallen. And the abuse isn’t just among those with an anti-religious agenda. There have been plenty of scrupulously orthodox Catholics who also abuse the interpretation of scripture by refusing to read it in any way other than canonically. They anachronistically insert high Christology into every piece of scripture. They use statements in from author to rebut an interpretation of another author’s book. They sternly shake their fingers at anyone who asks about what seem to be contradictions in scripture. In general, they imply that the purpose of Bible study is to conform one’s will and intellect to the Church’s understanding of scripture from no later than the Council of Trent.

Having also a science degree, my personal view is that those in ‘the new revisionist’ Theology are abusing the historical critical method and pretending to follow a method, akin to the scientific method.

I’m a scientist too. What is the proper response to a study that has conclusions with which you disagree? To denounce the method and authors of that study, and walk away? No. In science, you publish another study using methods that are as least as good as those employed in the study with which you disagree.

I am extremely scathing of such a pseudo-scientific method which is just anti-Christian politics wrapped in the veneer of respectable process.

That’s fine. Using shoddy science to push an anti-religious agenda is reprehensible, I agree.

But don’t be scathing against all people who are trying to use objective, scientifically-informed methods to investigate scripture. I myself don’t have a great deal of regard for people who recoil from scientific or historical studies that seem to raise questions about their beliefs. That’s idolatry.

If you’d rather not wade into the morass of Biblical history, that’s fine. The center of the faith is our relationship with Jesus, not knowlege and human reasoning. As St. Paul says in last week’s 2nd reading:
“I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of Spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.”
But if you’re going to talk about Biblical history, intellectual honesty is absolutely vital.

If we are going to discuss things such as the authorship and order of the gospels then we should be referring to what we can reasonably know using evidence. Not to a century or more of anti-Christian politics being peddled through our universities.

I think before we go down that path, we need to understand the kinds of evidence that you would find acceptable for reaching conclusions about Biblical authorship and history. Is redaction-criticism OK? What about looking at textual variants? Perhaps a review of ancient Jewish attitudes toward crucifixion? Or Aristotelian views of human reproduction?

It is no reasonably position to say ‘these other people reckon this…’ so therefore it is true.

“Nullius in verba,” right? What about the Magisterium? When the Pontifical Biblical Commission (which, granted, is not a dogmatic body) calls the historical-critical method “indispensable” is that really just a wink and a nod to make it appear that the Catholic Church is being objective?

Real historical research is never easy. But my faith tells me that the Catholic Church has a definitive answer to every historical question, not from theology overriding objective history, but from a history that reflects God’s unfolding purpose for his creation. The fulcrum of all history is the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and no matter how many rabbit holes I go down, that faith has never led me wrong.


#19

Tough to apply any real science to the study of ancient history when dealing with manuscripts.

In fact it is impossible, and to say some study is scientific is disingenuous.

You can find errors in every source and strictly speaking scientifically that should eliminate them as credible sources.

So at the outset we should agree that any “conclusions” drawn on the early Church are based on REASONABLE speculations.

But what is or is not reasonable is variable and contentious.


#20

In the beginning of Chapter one, of Mark in St. Thomas’s Catena aurea, the Angelic Doctor quotes one of the greatest doctors, St, Jerome, who said, “Mark the Evangelist, who served the priest-hood in Israel, according to the flesh a Levite, having been converted to the Lord, wrote his Gospel in Italy, showing in it how even his family benefited Christ.”

In responce to the opening post, the abrupt nature of the writing might be by the mode the levites.

And for those who have soreness for impious ears or presentation. Know that Pope Benedict XV said of Jerome, “Foremost among these teachers stands St. Jerome. Him the Catholic Church acclaims and reveres as her “Greatest Doctor,” divinely given her for the understanding of the Bible.” (Spiritus paraclitus, 1)

According to St. Bonaventure, Theological knowledge is pious knowledge that is believeable. Philosophical knowledge is innate knowledge that is investigated. Hence, it is concern of theologian to taste the fruit of the Church and from which the taste is rightly the piety of her doctors. And from which we call that pious fruit theology.

(Considering that I owe due recourse to the poor I shall seek the apposite censure of myself at the sight of head of predestination found in their personhood. And concerning my heart it is impious to the poorest of folks. Do be ready for the time when you have to accuse yourself, my pride had to admit that as well)


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