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II. On Reading The Gospel of Mark

II. On Reading The Gospel of Mark

A previous generation of Christians learned to read the gospel of Mark as though it were a simple collection of episodes in the life of Jesus. Mark, it was supposed, wrote his story merely by placing these episodes end-to-end, in the same way that children string beads together to make a necklace. More and more, however, we understand that the gospel of Mark itself is a unified narrative, and that it must be read as such. Mark tells the story of Jesus from a distinct perspective, preaching the Good News of God by narrating certain aspects of Jesus' ministry (see Green, Gospels).

This truth is important for lay reader and preacher alike, for it determines how the gospel of Mark should be read. The meaning of an event is not complete in the few verses within which Mark narrates it. Rather, the whole story Mark tells sets the context for understanding its parts. Readers are encouraged to study the whole gospel, paying attention to the themes Mark traces throughout. With this larger mural in view, they will be much better equipped to understand, as Mark intended, the significance of the various scenes of the gospel.