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John Dominic Crossan: Jesus The Parable of God

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Published on Aug 4, 2011

Mark's is the first of the written gospels. It's really the one that establishes... the life of Jesus as a story form. It develops a narrative from his early career, through ...the main points of his life and culminat[es] in his death. And, as such, it sets the pattern for all the later gospel traditions. We know that both Matthew and Luke used Mark, as a source in their composition and it's also probable that even John knew something of Mark in tradition. So, Mark is really the one that sets the stage for all the later Christian gospel writings.
For Mark, Jesus is a somewhat enigmatic figure and that's very important to his way of telling the story. Jesus is mysterious. Jesus intentionally keeps people from understanding who he really is, at times. At times, Jesus actually silences the demons who would announce his true identity. When he performs a miracle, he tells people, don't say anything to anyone about what I have done. He even takes the disciples away, off into a corner, and teaches them privately so that others won't hear and understand the message. He seems to be a very secretive kind of figure in Mark's gospel.

Now, why does Mark tell the story this way? It seems to be the case that he uses this motif of secrecy and misunderstanding as a way of reconceptualizing the image of Jesus. There's something about the the previous understandings of Jesus, even within the Christian community, that Mark feels compelled now to correct and to give a new meaning for, and it probably has something to do with the post-war experience. Why had it all happened? What had gone wrong? Why was Jerusalem destroyed? Mark tells the story in such a way to make sense out of that, in the light of the death of Jesus.
And the way Mark tells the tells the story of the death of Jesus... is to see him as a lonely figure who goes to his death abandoned by all of his followers and supporters and even abandoned by his God. Jesus from the cross says ..., "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me"? The Jesus of Mark's gospel is a lonely figure, at times, waiting for the vindication of God.

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