The purpose of Mark's gospel.
ESZTER.ANDORKA at student.kuleuven.ac.be
Wed Apr 5 03:26:45 EDT 2000
I do not think that Mk would be secondary to Mt and Luke. In contrary, I
believe that Mk was a source of both. (Maybe not exactly the same Mk that
we know, but a not much different edition.) But your question was about
the purpose of the gospel. Let us see:
I can interpret "purpose" on two ways. First about the use, setting or
function of Mk in the life of the marcan community. I would agree those,
who claim that 1. Mk was a kind of christian paschal haggadah, a text to
be read (recited) in the night of pesach for the entire community; 2.
this event had an initiative function for the catechumens, who had been
baptised than , probably at dawn. The text has several hints into both
directions. You can consult for ex. the book of Benoit Standaert:
L'Evangile selon Marc. Not a brand new book (early 80ies), but very
detailed in this regard.
"Purpose" of Mk can mean the particular bias of the author, in the sense
that he (I think he was male) wanted to form his community, react onto
conflicts and challenges experienced by the community and its members. The
marcan scholarship provides numerous possible answers. Some of them:
1. Inner conflict of christians. Mk wants to side with one of the groups.
(ex.: Weeden, Kelber)
2. Inner conflict of christians. Mk wants to mediate. (ex.: Betz, Robbins)
3. Christians in the situation of persecution. (Maybe related with the
4. A rather peaceful period, after persecution - temptation of being like
Combinations of these are also possible, maybe needed. I would say: yes,
there were hardships in the recent past of the community. I think the
conflict had to do with the antijudaist tendencies of Rome in the late
60ies. The members of the community reacted on different ways, some toook
on more conflicts and suffering, some less. Mk tries to encourage the
christians in their threatened existence, (see 8,31ff) and changing social
sitaution (3,33), but wants a kind of openness toward those who failed:
Besides we can detect the traces of a conflict on authority within
christian circles. I think Mk is not a friend of James and his followers,
neither wants to accept a full authority of the 12, but this is not his
main point. I also think that the texts discussing the issues of Jewish
law and customs were not burning, actuel problems of the marcan community.
If you follow the Griesbach-hypothese, you can still take any of these
answers (,only that you need to explain, why was Mt and Lk unsufficient
for these purposes).
I hope it helps.
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