Bible As A Historical Document
MARK’S THEOLOGY REFLECTED IN WRITING
Mark and the other evangelists used basically five ways
to change, edit or enhance Jesus’ sayings to reflect their own
views of Christianity. According to the Five Gospels Book,
plagiarism and changing of writing was not a crime, but actually
very common Mark’s time. Besides, Mark never knew Jesus first-
hand, he somehow had to make a ‘story’ from basically Hearsay!
Mark groups different parables and sayings of Jesus by
topic; making a false impression that these things happened in
order. This may have little effect on changing the meaning of
the lesson, however it illustrates the fact that Mark was trying
to author a “readable” story for people, rather than a book of
facts. The best example would be in Mark 10:17-31 (Jesus Counsel
to the Rich) ; (Parable of The Camel and the Eye of a Needle).
It is doubtful that these things happened at the same time;
however, they are GREY in The Five Gospels anyway … and
probably didn’t happen as Mark describes. This brings us to
Mark’s writing style.
Mark seems to “tack-on” sentences to Jesus’ teachings to
make them more “Christian.” This really changes the meaning more
than any other tactic! Who knows what Mark may have edited-out
to accomplish what he wanted to impress upon his readers? In
this, he tries to interpret the meaning of Jesus’ actions … and
does this in a misleading way. For example: Mark 2:19, Jesus
regarding Fasting. Jesus makes a strong statement against
importance to fasting, but Mark (in 2:20) tags on:
“But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken
away from them, and they will fast in those days.”
This blatantly shows that Mark held higher regard for the
Old Traditions of Fasting rather than Jesus’ new teachings! This
is also an example of “Christianizing Jesus” according to
traditions that have already earned respect from Jews in their
tradition. (Wow, this is starting to sound like a fight between
Today’s Political Parties, isn’t it? ).
Finally, Mark likes to “soften the blow” of Jesus’ Hard
sayings. He does this for probably the same reason Paul preached
that Circumcision was not required for Christians. A good example
is The Unforgivable Sin (Mark 3:28-). Jesus clearly states that
words against the Holy Spirit are unforgivable. However, Mark
adds that “all things are possible with God,” which softens this
MARK ; THE PAROUSIA
Mark lived during the Jewish War of 66-70 ADE. Unlike
the later evangelists, Matthew and Luke, Mark believed the
Parousia was upon us, about to happen at any time! And, for
obvious reason: he lived in an extremely troubled time for the
Jews, and he had not been worried yet by the Parousia’s delay as
were later evangelists.
Mark 13:4 – ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And
what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?’
According to Mark’s writing, Jesus first predicts the
destruction of the Temple. However, Mark had written after the
destruction of the Temple in 70 ADE! This tactic agrees with The
Five Gospels: writing apocalyptic sayings of Jesus after they
have already been “fulfilled.” I would suppose he did this to
give credit to his writing of the second coming of God.
An example is the parable of The Fig Tree in Mark 13:28-
37. This addition, obviously written by Mark and not said by
Jesus, shows the urgency in which Mark expected the parousia:
“Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no
means pass away till all these things take place.”
You can easily see why the other evangelists, Matthew,
Luke ; John, re-wrote Mark’s apocalyptic writing to be more of a
“Sacred Time,” and less definite.
Mark used a common tactic of quoting scripture
(especially Dan, Isa, Mic & some Psalms) for his apocalyptic
writing. We also saw this in Paul’s letters years before.
People regarded scripture as fact, therefore a perfect tool to
give credit to Mark’s & Paul’s new writing!
Our own culture today is wrapped-up in tradition and
Bible quotes as undisputable fact, even though people twist these
things to promote their own interests! My own family justifies
their hatred for gays by quoting the Bible; they justify a
“Woman’s Place” by using the Bible; they justify their racism
through the Bible (saying that “Love your Brother” could only
possibly refer to people of your own color, because your brother
could not possibly be of another color); they justify violent
punishment for criminals by using the Bible; they choose their
political party according to their actions being as conservative
as the Bible.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish that my
own community was not still living in the dark-ages.
THE PARABLE: THE UNFORGIVING SLAVE
This parable reflects a part of our American Lifestyle
that is very Un-Jesus! Our culture, our government and our
judiciary system thrives on punishment; at least we don’t still
have debtors’ prison!
Contrary to Mark’s interpretation of this parable, I
belive it represents a type of perfect love for one’s neighbor
that is reflected in Jesus’ Kingdom of God. Rather than forcing a
rule upon the reader, as Mark does, Jesus meant it to be a story
where the listener may choose an appropriate mode of behavior;
for forgiveness cannot be compromised without undesirable
Instead, Mark adds a Threat to the end of the parable
(which is obviously NOT the words of Jesus)!
“That’s what your heavenly Father will do to you,
unless you find it in your heart to forgive …”
I find in many examples that Jesus wanted to have his
followers think for themselves, and make choices according to
their own conscious; He only made sayings and parables to aid
followers in finding the truth for themselves (much like
Socrate’s tactic for the finding of Truth or Justice).
Mark, for his own reasons, felt that it was his duty to
attach every saying of Jesus with a command or threat …
therefore making God seem vindictive!
CONCLUSION: COMPARISON TO MY FIRST PAPER
I remember that when I wrote my first paper, I made a
point to discuss quotes from Jesus that seemed foreign to my
traditional feeling for Jesus. I wanted to see something in
Jesus that I never knew before! Well, I was surprised to find
that these same quotes turned-up to be mostly Pink in the Five
Gospels (some grey, but no black)!
My first quote of Jesus was from Matthew 12:49-50; Jesus
refers to the multitudes as his mother and brothers. This
turned-up pink in the Five Gospels. I thought that this
quote represented Jesus as a God on a equal level with his
followers, creating a sense of community (I think that if Jesus
were around today (and wasn’t in an asylum), he would be a
Communist). To me, this contradicts today’s church of authority,
having Bishops, Deacons, etc.
Next, I quoted a few of Jesus’ words to live by in
chapters 6 and 7 of Matthew. Most of these quotes turned up pink,
however a few were mixed with grey, showing the additions of
Matthew’s redaction. I noted in my paper that I felt these rules
were simple & logical ways to lead a happy and loving lifestyle,
rather than hard rules that we are used to.
The next two quotes I used (Matthew 12:13 – Jesus
Breaking the Sabbath) (Mark 15:1-15 – Jesus’ dealing with P.
Pilate) were grey and black in the Five Gospels. The
interesting point to this is that these are the two quotes in
which I criticized Jesus’ actions. I made points that I thought
Jesus was a hypocrite in preaching to keep Jewish Law, and at the
same time, break the Sabbath! I also seriously questioned
Matthew’s interpretation that Pilate tried to save Jesus,
knowing that Pilate was not a friend to the Jews! It is
refreshing to me to find these quotes in grey & black, because
they were very confusing to me in forming an opinion about Jesus.
I have enjoyed this assignment because I really feel like
I am getting to understand the Historical New Testament! I
tested my knowledge of Jesus by reading his quotes from my New
King James Version Bible, and tried to spot additions that were
not Jesus’, and by guessing the color of some of his quotes. In
checking back with The Five Gospels, I found myself to be pretty
darn accurate! Amazing!
The Book Of Mark: An For Humanities Courses That Treat The Essay
Bible As A Historical Document
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