October 30, 2004

The Structure of Mark’s Gospel

Category: Bible - NT - Mark :: Permalink

In his lectures on “The Theology of the Gospel of Mark,” presented at the 1997 Biblical Horizons Conference. Jeff Meyers points out that there are exactly seven day-markers in the Gospel of Mark, and each section concludes with some kind of a reference to evening or morning. It may be possible, then, Meyers notes, to outline Mark in relation to the seven days of Genesis 1.

Day 1 (1:1-34): Water and Spirit

In Mark 1:32, we have evening. In Mark 1:35, we have morning. On this first “day” in Mark, we have the beginning of the Gospel (1:1). In Genesis 1:2, the Spirit hovers over the water and in Mark 1:10 the Spirit descends on Jesus as He comes up from the waters. We also have the wilderness (formlessness, emptiness, darkness; see Genesis 1:2). Jesus triumphs over the darkness of demonic activity and sickness.

Day 2 (1:35-4:34): The Firmament Separating Heaven and Earth

In Mark 4:35, we have evening. In Genesis, God distances Himself from creation by creating a firmament to separate heaven (where God lives) from earth. In Mark, Jesus goes off and people look for Him and can’t find Him. Jesus tells people to keep quiet about the things He’s done. He speaks about the secrets of the kingdom.

Day 3 (4:35-6:46): The Sea, Dry Land, and Plants

In Genesis, Day 3 starts with the separation of the waters and ends with the creation of plants. Day 3 in Mark starts with the sea about to overwhelm the disciples until Jesus calms the sea. There’s a lot of activity on the sea in this section. At the end of this section, Jesus feeds 5000 people, which may link to the creation of grain plants on the third day. In 6:46, we have evening again.

Day 4 (6:46-11:11): Light-Bearers Ruling in the Firmament

Day 4 is a long day in Mark’s Gospel, and that makes sense if Mark is about sonship and ruling. Jesus is establishing the light-bearers, His disciples, and is teaching them. In particular, He is teaching them how to rule (by service, not like the Gentile lords). In this section, too, we have the transfiguration and the healing of a blind man, both of which have to do with light. In 11:11, it’s late. The Greek word here is the word for evening.

Day 5 (11:12-19): Sea Animals and Birds

Day 5 in Mark’s Gospel is short. It’s about Jesus clearing the temple. The temple was designed to be a house of prayer for all the nations, and the nations (Gentiles) are often associated with the sea in the Bible. In 12:19, evening comes.

Day 6 (11:20-14:11): Man as Ruler/Mediator

Day 6 is another long section in Mark. It starts with Jesus praying. His authority is questioned, which has to do with Him as the true man who has dominion. In Mark 12, we have the parable of the garden and its keepers (think of Adam in the Garden). Jesus is anointed on this day.

Day 7 (14:12-15:41): Sabbath: The LORD Draw Near

In the evening (14:17) is the Last Supper. The disciples are self-seeking. Jesus alone draws near to sinners and gives Himself for them.

Day 8 (15:42-16:20): New Creation

The eighth day is the day of resurrection. It begins in 15:42 with another evening. Obviously there is a day or two in between, but in the text immediately after this seventh evening comes the morning on which Jesus rises again. The new creation thus begins on the eighth day in Mark’s Gospel.

This isn’t, of course, the only way that the Gospel can be outlined, but it may be one helpful way to read Mark.

Posted by John Barach @ 5:32 pm | Discuss (0)

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