The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary

The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary

The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary

The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary

Excerpt

Without question, Mark's Gospel is one of the most exciting and intriguing of ancient Christian documents. It may then come as something of a surprise that this Gospel was neglected for many centuries of Christian history, from at least the early Middle Ages until the nineteenth century. But scholarly discourse on Mark since the last decade or so of the nineteenth century has more than made up for the earlier neglect. The study of Mark today is an ever expanding growth industry. As G. G. Bilezikian says, like "Cinderella, the Gospel has at last been discovered but not yet explained." The sheer volume of recent studies, however, suggests that we are trying harder to grasp the meaning of this, the earliest of Gospels. Before we may examine the text, though, we must carefully weave through the critical minefield and answer some introductory questions that will affect our reading of it.

The Genre of Mark

"The first qualification for judging any piece of workmanship from a corkscrew to a cathedral is to know what it is — what it was intended to do and how it is meant to be used." C. S. Lewis was quite right in this remark, and it is espe-

1. G. G. Bilezikian, The Liberated Gospel: A Comparison of the Gospel of Mark and
Greek Tragedy
(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), p. 11.

2. C. S. Lewis, Preface to Paradise Lost (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1942), p. 1.
I must thank Christopher Bryan, A Preface to Mark (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993),
p. 9, for reminding me of this fine quote.

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