Themes in Mark


1.  Hidden vs. Revealed

-- In Jesus's lifetime he made no public claims about himself

--In fact, he deliberately concealed his identity and mission

--True disciples are those who believe in the absence of evidence

--Uses the literary device of outer brackets vs. inner frame (messianic entry to Jerusalem conceals Jesus's true mission of sacrifice)


2.  Who is Jesus?

--Jesus comes from nowhere and ends nowhere (empty tomb)

--He was a real person who suffered and died

--He is primarily a man of power

--He works on behalf of people but doesn't comfort them

--Titles for Jesus: Son of Man, Son of God, Christ/Messiah


3.  Jesus was killed unjustly by the Jewish leadership

--His claims were misunderstood: he wasn't a political threat nor did he really mean to threaten the Temple

--He is a different kind of Messiah

--His death was somehow necessary


4.  Necessity of faith

--God demands faith

--Faith is always difficult and hidden

--Salvation may be for the few

--Following Jesus requires suffering and persecution


5.  Apocalyptic themes

--Jesus's death will inaugurate a new and more just age

--Symbols of the new age:  the messianic entry, the messianic feast, reconstitution of the twelve tribes

--Those suffering now will endure later


6.  Foreshadowing a Gentile church

--Jewish leadership reject Jesus

--Crowds approve but are clueless

--Even the core group misunderstands him

--Outsiders are the insiders:  demons, women, outcasts, gentiles

--This community is imagined using the vocabulary of Judaism