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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

The Gospel According to Mark - Introduction

Probably the oldest of the Gospels, Mark is a collection of traditions about Jesus brought together around 70 C.E. The import of the term “collection” should not mislead one to suppose that the material is presented haphazardly. On the contrary, the author depicts Jesus' early ministry as centered in Galilee, where he proclaims the imminence of the rule and salvation of God (the kingdom) and performs wonders; at its climax comes Peter's confession of faith and the first announcement of the passion ( 8.27–33 ). From that crucial point, the story moves relentlessly toward the cross and resurrection (chs. 14–16 ). Within this general framework, other “turning points” may also be found: e.g. 1.14; 3.6; 10.1 .

Moreover, certain motifs can be identified as of special concern to the evangelist. Perhaps the most important of these, at least in the Galilean section, is the victory over demonic forces to be seen in Jesus' healing activity. While the power which achieves that victory is exercised publicly, another Markan idea has to do with maintaining secrecy with respect to Jesus' identity (e.g. 1.34 n. ). And the reader discovers a remarkable obtuseness even among the disciples (e.g. 8.17; 9.32 ) as another theme.

The book's purpose is succinctly expressed: to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God ( 1.1; 15.39 ).

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Oxford University Press

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