Updated: Oct 4
Continuing along the theme of the New Testament and my assignments, a weekly reflection paper was required that provided a summary of the weekly readings. If you noticed in my previous post, I referenced Shelia McGinn’s book, “The Jesus Movement of the Early Church.”, I will continue with her book over the next few post with a summary, also side various Books of the New Testament. This week entails The Gospel of Mark and the first chapter of McGinn.
The World Jesus Inherited and the Gospel of Mark
June 1, 2017
Written by: Esther Steele
Shelia McGinn proves a history concerning the two to three hundred years of the Eastern world before Jesus’ birth and discusses how many of the Jews were “Hellenized” or to make Greek. Greek became the vernacular of commerce and government throughout the known world. Many Jews emigrated from their ancient homeland, known as the diaspora. Through the diaspora Jews spread the work of God, but many were also compromising their beliefs, being dominated by the Greco-Roman culture. There was not just one form of Judaism, but at least five (McGinn, 2014, pp. 25-41).
The Sadducees, an elite class who ministered in the Jerusalem temple, had tremendous wealth and influence and believed in the Torah, but not in the messiah. The Pharisees, promoted Jewish rituals and scrupulous observance of the Mosaic Law, believed in the Torah, but looked at it in a philosophical view, and believed in the coming of the messiah. The Essenes studied the Jewish laws and tried to uproot pagan influences, accepting both the Torah and the Prophets, The Essenes are attributed to the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Zealots were a military group, defenders of the Mosaic Law and Jewish national life, they began the war of independence from Rome around 66 CE. And the last of the five groups was the Jesus Movement, or “Followers of the Way”. McGinn concludes this chapter by discussing historical sources and their uses (McGinn, 2014, pp. 41-47).
The Gospel of Mark begins with John the Baptist baptizing Jesus and people from Judea, in the river Jordan. Mark goes on to discuss Jesus’s forty days in the desert, of the gathering of Jesus’ disciples, the miracles, healings, parables, and teachings performed by Jesus. Mark writes of the transfiguration on the mountain, he writes of the beheading of John the Baptist, of the Last Supper, the betrayal and arrest of Jesus, the trial, and the crucifixion. Mark concludes with the resurrection of Jesus and his appearance to the disciples (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 2010).
After reading both, I am able to have a better understanding of the culture that Jesus lived in, the beliefs of the people, and the government. Trying to read and understand any passage or book without a context of when, where, and the happenings of the world, can be difficult at times. The history really helped to put the Gospel of Mark into an easier-to-understand context. I Am still left with the question, “Why did Jesus change Simon’s name to Peter and John the brother of James to Boanerges (Mk 3:16-19)?”
Next week’s post will discuss the movie "King of Kings", 1961