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The Gospel of Mark The Surprise Ending in a Gospel of Secrecy Session 4 Photo by Vojta Kolencik.

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Presentation on theme: "The Gospel of Mark The Surprise Ending in a Gospel of Secrecy Session 4 Photo by Vojta Kolencik."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Gospel of Mark The Surprise Ending in a Gospel of Secrecy Session 4 Photo by Vojta Kolencik

2 Series based on The Gospel of Mark By Donald H. Juel 1999 Abingdon Press The Surprise Ending in a Gospel of Secrecy Session 4

3 Opening Prayer Merciful Father, We ask you to come in power to heal our blindness to those in need, and our deafness to your command to act with love for all, Engrave your law on our hearts so that we will no longer be hard hearted but will have flexible, living hearts to follow in your ways. Overcome our fear with a willingness to tell what you have done for us. Amen.

4 Mark’s Surprise Ending

5 What Shall We Read? Modern translators have manuscripts of Mark not available to earlier translators Variety of Markan endings –Mark 16:1-8 –Mark 16:1-8 & 16:9-20 (“The Longer Ending of Mark”) –Mark 16:1-8 & “The Shorter Ending of Mark” –Mark 16:1-8 & 16:9-20 & The Shorter Ending –Mark 16:1-8 & 16:9-20 & comment on disciples’ unbelief Most choose to end with verse 8 –Based on most reliable & ancient manuscripts –Most difficult reading Jerome chose the longer ending of Mark for the Latin Vulgate

6 Choice of Some Modern Translations NIV – 16:1-8; 16:9-20 NJB – 16:1-20 (Footnote on ending in Pocket Edition) NRSV – 16:1-8; Shorter Ending; 16:9-20 REB – 16:1-20 (No notes though other editions may include) RSV – 16:1-20 (Footnote on ending) TNIV – 16:1-8; Note in text; 16:9-20

7 Mark 16:1-8 Mark 16:1 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" 4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you." 8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

8 Mark’s Ending 3 women who come to anoint Jesus’ body exceed the legal requirements –Preparing a body for burial allowed on Sabbath Women know there is a stone over entrance, yet proceed to tomb with spices –On arrival, find stone already rolled away Women enter the tomb where they see “a young man (neani,skon) …clothed in a white robe” (16:5) –This word used only one other time in Mark – to describe the young man who flees naked at Jesus’ arrest Here at the end is the command to tell, yet the women flee in terror Young man’s words to the women reflect Jesus’ predictions Not a satisfying ending Mark 15:46 Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid. Mark 16:6 But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you."

9 How Does Mark’s Ending Affect Us? Ending is unsatisfying despite –Jesus having been raised –Instruction to tell – the story has not ended Juel rejects conjectures about lost ending as attempts to supply a satisfying ending The women who have followed Jesus to the cross and come to anoint his body now fail like the disciples Many promises / predictions have been made in the story of Mark’s gospel & have been fulfilled –Jesus’ death & resurrection –Peter’s denial & the disciples’ desertion Who can be faithful to these promises? As Jesus could not be confined in the tomb, so the promises cannot be contained within the story. So long as God is not the main actor in the story, and so long as the reality of God is excluded from the world of the actual reader, the narrative is bound to disappoint. If the story is to become “good news” to anyone, it will depend upon God’s work beyond the ending of Mark’s story. (p. 176)

10 A Gospel of Secrets

11 Secrecy in Mark’s Gospel Wrede first pointed out Mark’s theme of secrecy –Mark 1:34 –Mark 3:11-12 Demons & unclean spirits recognize who Jesus is Jesus commands the silence of these supernatural beings because they speak the truth Only the reader of Mark’s gospel is in on the secret about Jesus Peter’s confession marks a transition point in the gospel (8:27-30) Secrecy stands opposed to the open proclamation to the message Jesus & his followers preach (3:14-15) Secrecy seems to reinforce division of people into “insiders” & “outsiders” (4:11-12) –Secret must include more than Jesus’ identity –Followed by saying about disclosure of what is hidden (4:21-22) –Secrecy is temporary (9:9) At Jesus’ resurrection, the time has come to tell (13:10-11) –This telling the preview of a greater revelation (13:24-26) Mark 1:34 And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. Mark 3:11 Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, "You are the Son of God!" 12 But he sternly ordered them not to make him known. Mark 8:27 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" 28 And they answered him, "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." 29 He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah." 30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Mark 3:14 And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, 15 and to have authority to cast out demons. Mark 4:11 And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; 12 in order that 'they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.'" Mark 4:21 He said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? 22 For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. Mark 9:9 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. Mark 13:10 And the good news must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Mark 13:24 "But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in clouds' with great power and glory.

12 Solutions to the Secrecy Problem Some think “historical” Jesus kept identity secret due to presumed danger & potential for misunderstanding Wrede’s solution builds on source analysis –Assumes Jesus the Messiah developed after resurrection –Says Mark linked earlier understanding of Jesus as sage / prophet with new concept of Jesus as Messiah

13 The Disciples Mark portrays the disciples as rather dense –Mark 4:40-41 –Mark 6:49-52 –Mark 8:17-21 Their hardened hearts, like a state of blindness is not something the disciples have control over – healing is required If sight and insight are gifts of God, there must be some reason to imagine God will open eyes and ears, most especially in the case of those whom Jesus has chosen. (p. 186) Mark 4:40 He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" Mark 6:49 But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid." 51 Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. Mark 8:17 And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?" They said to him, "Twelve." 20 "And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?" And they said to him, "Seven." 21 Then he said to them, "Do you not yet understand?"

14 Jesus Heals the Blind (& Blindness) 2-stage healing of blind man (8:23-25) –Some blindness seems to require a second touch Peter’s confession occurs 2 verses later (8:27-33) –Has the disciples’ blindness yielded to a second touch? –Same Greek word (e`pitima,w) is translated “sternly ordered” & “rebuked” Also used to rebuke the wind & sea (4:39) & the demons (1:25; 3:12; & 9:25) Jesus rebukes / sternly warns Peter because it is the wrong time for general dispersal –And Peter does not understand the full consequences of his confession as he demonstrates almost immediately Mark 8:23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, "Can you see anything?" 24 And the man looked up and said, "I can see people, but they look like trees, walking." 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly Mark 8:27 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" 28 And they answered him, "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." 29 He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah." 30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. 31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."

15 Some Words on the Ending Mark’s ending is not satisfying to the reader Juel notes that even so, we have promises –Jesus “has been raised” –Jesus has gone ahead of the disciples to Galilee Reading the text in a community of faith makes a difference –Within a faith community, individuals can bear witness that God continues to act Only if Jesus is alive and active beyond the confines of the story— and only if Jesus acts on particular people in the present—can the Gospel story be experienced as the beginning of the good news. If Jesus is absent and God is silent, Mark’s Gospel can only be experienced as disappointing and unsettling. (p. 191)

16 Bibliography Juel, Donald H., The Gospel of Mark, Nashville : Abingdon Press, Vojta Kolencik, “Winged Lion of St. Mark”, August 25, 2007, photo used by permission under Creative Commons license.


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