Introduction to Mark (90 Day Reading Plan)

So, I know that if you have been keeping up with the 90-day reading plan you are done with Mark. Despite that I do want to give a little bit of background on the Gospel of Mark. Most modern Biblical scholars think that Mark was the first of the Gospels to be written down. In fact, those same scholars think that the book of Mark may have inspired the writing of the other Gospels. It was almost certainly known to the authors of Matthew and Luke. If Mark was the first Gospel to be written down, when was it written? While there is no way to be certain the most common answer falls between 64 C.E. and 69 C.E. To give some historical context, this would mean that it was written around the time of the great fire in Rome and the fall of Jerusalem. Some of you may be thinking the 64-69 C.E. seems like a very late date to write about Jesus. To us waiting years after an event to write about it does seem very strange; however, in the disciples’ culture most people couldn’t read so the gospel was spread by word of mouth. People told the stories of Jesus over and over again and it is that oral tradition which preserved the Gospel until it was finally written down. So, what prompted the writing of the first Gospel? Once again, we cannot know for sure but many people think it was to help strengthen the church through a period of intense Roman persecution. Much of the emphasis is on Jesus’ suffering and death and the need to persevere through it. This also meant that the audience was most likely non-Jews and that would clarify some of the explanation Mark gives for Jewish cultures. One last thought about the book of Mark… who wrote it? You may have noticed that the author does not identify himself at the beginning of the book or sign it at the end. This means that the truth of the matter is that we have no idea who wrote Mark. What we do know is that from very early in the Christian movement, this book was identified by leaders, preachers, theologians and other Christians with John Mark. John Mark was a close friend and associate of Peter and Paul. This would have given him access to all sorts of stories about Jesus. In addition, it would have put him in place to see the need of the church for this particular book. There may be a lot of things that we don’t know for sure about Mark, but the most important thing to remember is that from its writing down to the present day it has informed and inspired generations of Christians. This shows that it has a lot to offer us today.


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