My obsession with the Gospel of Mark might seem odd at first glance. But consider this: it’s the most basic of the four canonical gospels, no one knows who wrote it, we don’t know why it was written, it is the oldest known narrative of Jesus, all other Gospels are based on it or are in some ways responding to it. Therefore, this Gospel essentially invented the story of Jesus, making it one of the most important documents of all time, literarily and/or historically.
This document is a mystery; a mystery that will almost certainly never be solved. But that doesn’t mean certain quack scholars like myself won’t give it a shot.
Unfortunately, when you spend an inordinate amount of time researching a specific topic, people tend to read more into it than what’s actually there. I try to keep that in mind while reading Mark. I don’t find this gospel to be a particularly brilliant document and whatever “themes” are there, I think, is just a reflection on the reader.
Case in point is the abrupt ending at 16:8 (the original ending, after Jesus’s death, when the women enter his tomb only to find a man in there telling them to go to Galilee):
“Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”
Mark 16:8 NIV
What a weird way to end a story eh?
And maybe the author of Mark did have an “artistic” purpose for ending his or her story in that way. I just think he (or she) ended it there because why the hell not? I’m not saying it was a GOOD decision, just A decision.
So never read more into Mark than what’s actually there. But there does seem to be a growing consensus amongst scholars regarding its genre: it’s a Greco-Roman biography.
I think Helen K. Bond, in her book The First Biography of Jesus, makes a pretty good case for this. While Mark doesn’t fit perfectly with the biographical genre, it does share enough of its characteristics to possibly shed some light on the meaning behind this strange document.
But whatever Mark’s intention was, as Bond summarizes in her book, the story of Jesus IS, essentially, the Gospel of Mark. So whatever your beliefs are, there is a great deal of historical worth in that.
Personal update: my career at the toilet factory might be coming to a close. New management is taking over and, although they can’t fire me, they can make my life difficult which is how they treat veterans whenever they want a clean slate.
I don’t understand why new managers feel the need to do this, but so it goes.
So again, might be extremely busy for the next month while I find a new career. I may be writing A LOT or writing very little. Sucks, but life goes on.