Session 3: The Gospel of Mark

Aims

By the end of this session you should be able to: 

  • give an overview of the themes and structure of the gospel of Mark

  • be able to state approximately when the gospel was written and who the author may have been

  • give an account of how the main themes of the gospel relate to your faith journey and ministry as well as that of the church as a whole.

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Prayer

God love and life

May I learn more of you and of your love for

your people and your world as I look into the gospel

of Mark.  Open my eyes to new things in familiar passages and open my heart to the moving of your spirit.

Amen.

Introduction

This session introduces us to the main themes of Mark's gospel, when it might have been written, and some interesting things within it that we might never have noticed.  It is structured in the same way as the previous session and if you find yourself caught up iwth Paula Gooder's exploration of the book you can find a link the second part of the video in the 'Resources' section at the bottom of the page in case you'd like to watch that too. Again please treat the questions as a buffet and choose one or two that interest you to think and post about rather than trying to do all of them.

Part 1 Questions for Reflection

Did you ever notice how much the word 'immediately' occurs in Mark's gospel?  What effect do you think it has on the reader?

What do you think about the notion of the weakness of the disciples in Mark and how can it encourage us today?

Do you think that sometimes our own 'cries of despair' can also reveal our faith?

Post your thoughts on one question only on the Forum

Part 2 and Questions for Reflection

0:00 - 3.03 Time of Writing

a) Why do you think it's important to  know that Mark was the first gospel to be written?

 

3.04 - 12.23 How Mark Writes his Stories

b) Did you ever notice how much the word 'immediately' occurs in Mark's gospel?  What effect do you think it has on the reader?

c) It is interesting that although Mark's Gospel is the shortest it has the longest accounts of the incidents it narrates, there are just fewer of them.  What did you think about the 'little details' Paula noted that Mark puts in and what effect does that have on us as readers today?

d) What did you make of the difference Paula notes between the Scribes & Pharisees,the Crowd and the Disciples and the fact that actually the disciples often don't understand what Jesus is saying?  How do we respond to Jesus today and how is the church a bit like all of these groups?

12:24 - 20:29 The Beginning and the End

e) Had you ever thought about the end of Mark's gospel in the way Paula does?  How do you feel about it (it paints an unusual picture of failure on the part of the disciples and the women)?

 

 

What do you think all this has to say to the church today?

Post your thoughts on one question only on the Forum

[If you would like to watch the second part of this lecture you can find a link to it in the Resources section at the bottom of this page]

Spotlight on Doctrine

One of Mark's main themes was that Jesus is the Son of God. This has been the source of a great deal of debate over the centuries of the Christian Church, particularly the early centuries. It was not so much that Christians disagreed about Jesus being the Son of God but rather about just exactly what that meant.  Was Jesus God? That was the debate. In the 4th Century (325CE to be exact) a group of Christians at the Council of Nicaea decided that Jesus was indeed God (the term they used was 'consubstantial'  which means 'of the same substance as God') and that to say anything else was heretical. It was at the Council of Nicaea that the Nicene Creed was created and it contained the phase 'God of God' which in 381CE became 'very God of very God' as we still say it today. You may be familiar with the creed but if not you can read the full creed here

Spotlight on Spirituality

Another one of Mark's main themes was that Jesus was a Suffering Servant and that only through the suffering of the Cross could there be resurrection.  This theme has become the heart of their spirituality for many Christians.  A great Christian writer and mystic of the 16 Century, St John of the Cross, wrote about this as what he called the 'Dark Night of the Soul'.  Contemporary Franciscan writer and teacher Richard Rohr takes a similar view and says that true contemplation of God can only come through great love and great suffering (you can read his short meditation here). What do you think about these ideas? How do they sit with your own spirituality?

Reflection & Prayer

What has particularly struck you in this session?

 

Is there anything you found difficult and why do think that was?

 

What has particularly challenged you for your own faith journey, and what has comforted you?

Pray about what you have learned, thanking God for any new insights into the gospel of Mark and lifting to God anyone who has come into your thoughts as you have studied.

Something To Do This Week

How does your church respond to Jesus and how does it 'go and tell' the good news to those around?

How is it continuing the story of the good news?

Share some of what you have found on the discussion board in the Forum.

Resources

Overview of Gospel - Image

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