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New Testament

Mark's Gospel

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According to most scholars, Mark’s gospel was the first gospel to be written and so is a highly original work. Few documents of its era are so vivid and accessible. Originally written in Greek, the common language of the Greco-Roman Empire, its style is vigorous and colourful and full of the details sometimes left out in the other gospels.

Jesus emerges from the pages of Mark as one full of conviction and urgency, as compassionate and authoritative, as teacher and healer. Yet he is a sign of contradiction for the society which surrounds him and eventually he is condemned and executed.

Was that the end of the story?

Mark’s gospel says no. Mark’s gospel claims that Jesus, the victimised and slain, is none other than the son of God. It invites each of its hearers to answer the question at the heart of the gospel ‘Who is Jesus?’ and to wrestle with the implications of the further question ‘What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus?’

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USING THE RESource ‘RICH TEXT’ INTRODUCTIONS TO THE GOSPEL of MARK In the Classroom

A brief word about the Gospels
The gospels themselves are inspired interpretations of the meaning of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ arising from the earliest experiences of believers in Jesus Christ. Through all ages of the Church they stand as documents which Christians will read, study, pray over and apply to their own lives and situations, and through which God will speak to them. As such they are rightly called ‘the Word of God’. As foundational documents of the Church they also stand as a reference point against which Christians may judge the authenticity of their lives as Christians and the extent to which the Church is fulfilling its call.

The Gospel Introductions in RESource
The visual introductions to the gospels on RESource are brief interpretations
(not inspired) of each gospel presented to get you started on a closer study of each particular one.

• First of all you might like to consider the advantages and disadvantages of trying represent the gospels in images at all? (While Christianity has generally been at ease with the use of sacred images, Judaism and Islam avoid the use of images in conveying holy truths.)

• How do you feel about the cartoon technique used by the artists in this particular introduction. What is helpful what is distracting? In what way are they presenting stereotypical images? Is this how you yourself imagine Jesus, the disciples, First Century Palestine? What influences how we imagine these things?

• Consider your own image of Jesus. Could you easily convey this visually or in other way? Why or why not?

• Do the gospel introductions in RESource tend to suggest or reinforce the idea of Jesus as a ‘fantasy’ figure rather than as a ‘real’ figure? How close can we get to the ‘real’ Jesus?

• What about other representations of Jesus in art or film or even at the Sydney WYD Stations of the Cross. Which ones attract you? Which are less helpful for you? Can you explain why?

The RESource Introduction to the Gospel of Mark
Since the question of Jesus’ identity is critical in the gospel of Mark, this visual introduction to the gospel uses the question ‘Who is this man?’ as a stimulus to thinking about the themes of this gospel.

• The presentation starts ‘underwater’. Why might this be? (Think of the significance of water to Christians and also the first event in the life of Christ recorded in Mark’s Gospel.) Bubbles rise to the surface and a fish swims by. What is the Christian symbolism of the fish? We see Jesus upon the Lake of Galilee . In what region does almost all of Jesus’ ministry take place in the gospel of Mark?

• Search Mark’s gospel for passages that suggest the different identifications (blasphemer/healer/victim etc.) of Jesus proposed in the flash presentation.

• A red screen introduces the frames concerning Jesus’ death. What’s the impact of the colour red? What does the colour suggest or symbolise? The passion narrative occupies a proportionately larger part of Mark’s gospel than do the passion narratives in the other gospels. What do you know about the meaning of being a victim? a scapegoat?

• Rene Girard has studied how violence and scapegoating has shaped societies. What do you think of his theory? Can you provide some further examples of where you see this happening in our society, in our communities, in our families?

• How is the crucifixion scene idealised in this presentation? What visual techniques are used to single out the significance of Jesus’ death? Is this legitimate use of media? Why or why not?

• If Jesus’ actual death was quite different to this, what do you suppose caused the Roman soldier to make his declaration of faith? Explain how this could also be a device used by Mark, almost at the end of his narrative, to make a point about who Jesus was and who it was that recognised his true identity?

Having viewed these introductory screens what are some of your expectations of Mark’s gospel?