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 In a previous work, Mark: Servant of God, I looked at Mark in the context of its Jewish background. In the current study, I want to look at Mark more extensively in relation to its history, scholarship, and literary components. In posting this, I am well aware that no work on Mark can ever really be said to be complete, and my intent will be to continue work on these pages as I have time. Much of what has previously been written here can be considered an investigation. As with any investigation, conclusions derive from a sifting of information. At this point, I am ready to begin with some of those conclusions. I have in mind three of my recent papers:  "Son of Man: the Story of Jesus in Mark" states the Gospel of Mark has gained unprecedented and growing importance for both theology and literature. Acknowledged as one of the great pieces of world literature, Mark has come across time and space to give us Jesus the man in a connected, if periscopic, narrative, however brief, stark, and oracular, absent of birth stories and resurrection. This image has vividly affected modern culture, and it is the image of “the Son of Man” that becomes the focus of this paper. Scholarship, granting the possibility that Jesus may not have said the words attributed to him, seems to have settled on three possible interpretations of “Son of Man”:  a present, earthly Son of Man, a suffering Son of Man, and a future coming Son of Man. At the heart of most of the ambiguity and controversy lies a question of authority: whether Jesus got his power from heaven or from earthly origins. Jesus refused to answer this question: “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”  Instead, Jesus then, as now, asks another question about identity:  “But who do you say that I am? This paper concludes the following:  Readers today will encounter Mark the storyteller as he tells the story of Jesus, a man who came into history, lived in history, and died as a man in history; they will encounter a metaphorical narrative in which ultimately the quest for factuality vanishes. They will hear again the familiar words, “Who do you say I am?” and hear Jesus’ own words, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”  

"The Messiah Has Done It: A Structural Approach to Jesus’ Identity in Mark" and "The Longer Ending of Mark." The first  identifies an overall structure in Mark that climatically satisfies the question of who Jesus says he is.” The paper focuses on Mark 14:61-62 as the climactic and pivotal point of the Gospel: “Jesus’ actions in leaving the temple, speaking of its destruction and a coming future, lead directly into the actual climatic chapter 14, where Jesus, before the council, is asked by the high priest whether He is ‘the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One’ (61). Jesus not only accepts the title but speaks to its fulfillment in a future when  people ‘will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven’” (62).

The challenge  with the third paper is to take up another question—whether Mark’s account ends with verse 8 or includes the last twelve verses. The longer ending readers will recall contains Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalen early on the first day of the week, who tells those who have been with Jesus only not to have them believe he is alive (9-11); included, also, is an appearance to two disciples, who went back and told the rest, only to be met with disbelief on their part (12); Jesus commissions the disciples (14-18); and finally, the account ends with the ascension of Jesus. If, in fact, Mark can be understood structurally as building to the point of Jesus’ own identity of himself as Messiah, with this question satisfied, why should Mark continue on past Jesus’ final Messianic cry from the cross: “’Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (15:34). Crain declares: “The final chapter serves as Mark’s dénouement; readers find themselves left to contemplate all that has happened, and invited to think about it.” The final twelve verses, of course, move well beyond what has happened into an account of what becomes the result of what has happened: his appearances, commission, and ascension. It may be further observed of denouement that any remaining mysteries, questions, secrets can be explained by the author. In the case of Mark, understood as answering definitively, the matter of Jesus’ Messiahship, what remains to be said is what will come of Jesus raised from the dead. How very logical that Mark should end with his appearances, his commission, and his ascension These serve to wrap up the story of an eschatological event, which has moved its readers from Temple traditions into the advent of the Church of the Messiah.

At this point, these papers have been submitted for consideration for publication in other journals so that they cannot be included here in their entirety. If they are indeed accepted, I will provide a link to them; if they are not accepted, I will include them, at some point, in this web--perhaps as links in this introduction.

The main point is that the investigation contained herein fails to come of age. Minimally, I plan to revisit the chapters and make some changes and add notes to point readers in the direction of conclusions I can now claim as my own.

 



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