The second gospel has traits that stand out greatly. Peter's personality is reflected almost in each of his pages. It resembles him by the speed of movements, by activity, by impulsiveness. Speed of action is one of the main features. The report passes from one event to another with extraordinary rapidity. It has been properly named the gospel of Mark of the film of the ministry of Jesus. The intensity of detail is another of its distinctive distinctives. Although Mark is the shortest of the four gospels, he frequently recounts vivid details not found in the accounts of the same subject in Matthew or Luke. Extraordinary attention is paid to the appearance and gestures of Jesus.

The third salient characteristic is the pictorial description. In reporting the feeding of the five thousand, Mark tells us that the people sat on "ranchos" or groups on the green grass.

The gospel according to Mark is, preeminently, the gospel of action. It not only covers Jesus' longest discourse (the discourse uttered on the Mount of Olives), but does not let facts or actions pass. It emphasizes works rather than the words of Christ. Mark records eighteen of Jesus' miracles, but only four of his parables.

His way of emphasizing actions is appropriate in a gospel written probably in Rome and directed mainly to the Romans. Mark uses ten Latinisms and makes fewer references to the Old Testament than the other evangelists. It explains Jewish customs to Roman readers. He does not even use the word law, which appears eight times in Matthew, nine times in Luke, and fourteen times in John.

Considering that he writes to the Romans, he omits any reference to the genealogy of Jesus as well as to his childhood. The Romans were more interested in power than in genealogies. Hence we note that in this gospel Jesus is presented as the great Victor of storm, of demons, of sickness, and of death. He is the Servant of the Lord (compare Isaiah): first the victorious Servant, then the suffering Servant, and finally the Servant triumphant in the resurrection.

Although the gospel according to St. Mark is first and foremost historical, a strong theological content is observed. The first verse gives us the characteristic trait: "Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God". The Deity of Jesus is repeatedly accentuated, either explicitly or implicitly. It is the Son of Man, the Messiah, the One by whom the long ages have waited. In one of the most vigorous theological passages of the synoptic Gospels is affirmed the declaration of Jesus that the Son of Man came to "give his life a ransom for many" (10:45). As the first verse of the book says, it is primarily the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of salvation through his atoning death.



Almost unanimously the early church attributes the second gospel to Mark, the cousin of Barnabas and companion of Paul and Peter. Most Bible interpreters maintain that this is the oldest of the four gospels. It can be safely stated that it was written between the 50s and 70s of our era.



Ralph Earle

Doctor of Theology