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the Gospel According to Mark
Disclaimer: Not a Christian, nor doing this to tease Christians. Virtually all research done through wikipedia

Just for my own interest, I'm going to read a book out of the bible. We're going to use the King James Version, and stop at Mark 16:8, because apparently the bible archaeologists reckon the remainder of Mark 16 was written by later theologians.

According to the two-source hypothesis, Mark and a lost "Q source" were sourced for the writing of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, with Mark being the most consistent among them. Apparently John is a whole other deal.

[Image: 600px-Synoptic_problem%2C_two-source_hypothesis.svg.png]

Mark was written in Greek, for Greek-speaking Christians. Before the written culture of the bible, Christians would have spread their religion orally, and I imagine the understanding of Jesus matured differently in each community.

Chime in if you're interested, or if you have Christian knowledge to share.
Mark 1
so there are 16 books, and each book is broken up into lines? phrases? sentences? something like that. let's get started

Mark1:1-3 Wrote:[1] The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;
[2] As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
[3] The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
just intro, I think Mark claims to be writing with divine authority

Mark1:4-9 Wrote:[4] John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
[5] And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.
[6] And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
[7] And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
[8] I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
[9] And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
and here we have John the Baptist, an ascetic holy man. He predicts that someone will outshine his holiness but he seems alright about it.

Mark1:10-15 Wrote:[10] And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
[11] And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
[12] And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.
[13] And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.
[14] Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
[15] And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
So God legitimises John the Baptist's claim, but then Jesus is driven into the wilderness. Satan and dick with Jesus for 40 days, but he has the angels and the wild beasts as like a support group. John ends up in jail. Jesus' sentence in forest jail finishes and he goes to Galilee.
I'm not sure if by "believe the gospel" Mark is saying that Jesus is endorsing the gospel of Mark before it was written, or endorsing the "good news"(a literal translation of the Greek word gospel) of himself before spreading it.

Mark1:16-20 Wrote:[16] Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
[17] And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
[18] And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
[19] And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.
[20] And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.
Jesus casually recruits four fishermen. The "fishers of men" concept seems to me as ominous as "shepherd of man", in that you're treating humans as edible animals. But those seems to be the compelling metaphors of the day.

Mark1:21-34 Wrote:[21] And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.
[22] And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
[23] And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,
[24] Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.
[25] And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.
[26] And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.
[27] And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.
[28] And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.
[29] And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
[30] But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her.
[31] And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.
[32] And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.
[33] And all the city was gathered together at the door.
[34] And he healed many that were sick of diverse diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.
So when Jesus and his 4 fisherman friends (I believe they are the first of the disciples?) reach Capernaum and people are impressed by Jesus not relying of scripture like the scribes in the synagogue, which seems pretty ironic seeing that modern christianity is so reliant on scripture. He then performs exorcisms and healing miracles for the whole town.

He also prevented the devils he exorcised to identify him as the son of god. I'm not sure why though, he's already achieving local fame and a following, at this stage his magic benevolence is clear regardless of his relationship with God.

Mark1:35-45 Wrote:[35] And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
[36] And Simon and they that were with him followed after him.
[37] And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee.
[38] And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.
[39] And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.
[40] And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
[41] And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.
[42] And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.
[43] And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away;
[44] And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
[45] But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.
Here Simon has joined Jesus' party, and they travel the local region, performing more exorcisms. Jesus then cures a leper, and tells him to be quiet about it, but instead becomes his best PR worker and makes him even more famous.

So that's Mark1! Jesus is foretold by John, then after a month and a half in forest jail becomes a healer and exorcist in Galilee, gains 5 disciples, and becomes famous.
Mark 2

Mark2:1-7 Wrote:[1] And again he entered into Capernaum, after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.
[2] And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.
[3] And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.
[4] And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
[5] When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
[6] But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
[7] Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?

Here Jesus and his entourage return to Capernaum, where last episode they cured Simon's mum. Here he has forgives the sins of a man with palsy (a form of paralysis). Some "scribes" take note of this, because only god has that power (and confession is presumably not a practice in Judaism).

Mark2:8-12 Wrote:[8] And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
[9] Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?
[10] But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)
[11] I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
[12] And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

Here, we learn that Jesus is either intuitive or psychic (either is fine). In response to the concerns of the scribes, he uses this logic: Just like a man can forgive sins, so too can be cure palsy. He then proceeds to do just that.
I'm quite sure what the deal is, is Jesus saying that any man is capable of channeling a miracle? Jesus does explicitly say "the Son of man hath power".

Mark2:13-17 Wrote:[13] And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.
[14] And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.
[15] And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.
[16] And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?
[17] When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Here the scribes and the Pharisees (a group within Judaism distinguished by strict adherence to tradition) question why Jesus is hanging out with sinners. His analogy describes him as a physician for the soul, which is fair seeing as he can forgive sins. Morally upright people probably need less sins forgiven. Publicans are apparently also bad guys, but it seems like they are just Roman civil servants.

Mark2:18-22 Wrote:[18] And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?
[19] And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.
[20] But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
[21] No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.
[22] And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.

The scribes and Pharisees then ask why Jesus is not fasting, as is appropriate in this context. Jesus responds that this is his proverbial wedding and it would be rude not to feed everybody. He then says "when the bridegroom shall be taken away[...] they shall fast" which just sounds bizarre. Can you only eat when you're celebrating a miracle? He then goes on to criticise clothes repair and recycling.

Mark2:23-28 Wrote:[23] And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.
[24] And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?
[25] And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?
[26] How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?
[27] And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
[28] Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

Let's just first recognise that it's probably okay for Jesus to eat corn that's not his; he did after all cure a bunch of people all over the region. The Pharisees question Jesus about breaking the rules of the sabbath. He responds first by telling how the Judaic hero David also broke the rules when he had need to, and then said that because the sabbath is was made for man, man should do what he wants during the sabbath. God created the sabbath not for us to devote ourselves to him but so we could rest and eat and be merry. Cool, I'm all for that.

Both the suggestion that men have the power to perform miracles and forgive sin, and that the sabbath is day off rather than a day of religious asceticism give Mark2 pro people vibes.

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