This research assignment aims to analyse and interpret an influential part of the New Testament - Mark's Gospel. An analysis of Mark and his community will be discussed as well as interpreting Jesus' teachings and his significant theme of Discipleship as it was then and in present society. A Gospel in general, is a textual document written in narrative form of the good news and teachings proclaimed by Jesus to announce the power of God. Mark's Gospel is one of four others (Matthew, Luke and John), where each Gospel has its differences in structure, language and theological slants. Mark's Gospel is divided into three main sections: The Ministry of Jesus, Jesus' prologue of foretelling his Passion, and his Passion and Death. Mark set out on a mission of God to carry on the word of Jesus with Paul, where Mark was traditionally known to be closely linked to one of Jesus' disciples - Peter, which many of the stories in the Gospel relate to his perspective and point of view.

Much of Mark's stories may have originated from Peter through oral transfer (as it was common in those times) and discussions with Paul, as well as accounts from the Old Testament. Mark's community mainly consisted of Gentiles who lived in Rome as opposed to Jesus followers in Israel who were Jews. Gentiles are classified as people of any religion that are not Jewish, and of non-Jewish origins such as the Romans. In particular the Roman Centurion (army officer) who professed that Jesus was truly the Son of God (15: 39), is one of many reasons that suggest Mark's community to be Gentile. This is a significant part in the Passion narrative, as the Centurion - being a Gentile is one of the first people to have faith and believe in Jesus after his death, which is relevant to the Kingdom of God. Also, many of Jewish customs are explained for non-Jewish followers as well as Mark's translation of Latin words written in Greek (Mark: A Gospel for Today, 1989).

Mark's community endured much suffering under the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero that was persecuting Christians for practicing their Monotheistic faith and preaching the word of Jesus. For Mark's community, in continuing the word of Jesus and to spread the good news, the people faced many difficulties as to convert to Christianity. These barriers included the geographical differences of Rome and Jerusalem as well as having their own opinions and beliefs. Scholars believe that Mark's Gospel is written in around 64-65 AD, being about thirty years after Jesus' death and resurrection (Mark: A Gospel for Today 1989 p.

18) decreased the legitimacy and belief of the accounts offered to Mark's readers. Although the Roman society questioned Monotheism, the strength of Mark's community to Jesus had overthrown their past beliefs, whereby their loyalties had met with the many hardships and dangers of Roman hierarchy - just as Jesus' followers did. The concept of 'seeing' the ways of Jesus and that He is the Messiah, is to truly understand the message being portrayed throughout the Gospel, and not the surface meaning that is being represented literally. This concept was very significant to Jesus and his followers as to interpret the meaning without being said, most parables being related to the Kingdom of God and Jesus' miracle stories.

Times were harsh and difficult to spread and teach the words of Jesus, as Mark's community would face persecution. The disciples of Jesus could 'see' more than other believers could perceive, from being apart of Jesus' life with close relationships, as they were taught the fundamentals from Jesus himself to understand his teachings in much more depth and fluency than others. There were many similarities among Jesus' twelve disciples and Mark's community, as both groups share the strong faith in Jesus and God's power by spreading the good news to others as well as experiencing hardships caused by arrogant hierarchy and society. According to Mark, Jesus was known for his parables and miracles; however these parables or stories of morale have a more in-depth meaning, than the literal connotation that is provided on the surface of such stories. Jesus said to his disciples that many would 'hear, but not understand' the parables with its messages with the Kingdom of God, which highlights the importance to 'see' or interpret a deeper understanding. However, the miracles played an important part in 'seeing' from when one were to witness a miracle than 'proof' would help others to see the true power of God.

There were many difficulties for readers of Mark's Gospel, as to understanding the 'son of God' and his mysterious yet glorified ways, due to the harshness of the society during the time of Jesus and Mark's community. People were not allowed to think with such freedom and to 'blasphemy' as it appeared then. However many of Jesus' followers did not allow their strong faith and belief in him to disappear as the Kingdom of God has come near (1: 15). There are many reasons that show the difficulties for Jesus' community to understanding and 'seeing' that Jesus is the Messiah such as the conflicts evident between Jesus and the Jewish hierarchy because of his interpretation of the law.

This may have caused people to be afraid of power. The parables and stories told by Jesus were difficult to understand and interpret its metaphoric symbolism, as well as the skepticism associated with miracles performed by Jesus. The miracles of Jesus curing physical health, also show the power God has over evil, and the power to cure incurable diseases, which aid others to 'see' that Jesus is the Messiah from the proof of his miracles. Jesus says that miracles occur from the strong faith and belief that they have (which is evident in many miracle parables).

This is also contradictory to the other approach in those times where people with none or little faith witness a miracle, and then they are inclined to have faith in Jesus and God's power. The Kingdom of God is mentioned many times within the Gospel of Mark. This notion is mentioned in collaboration of the parables that Jesus taught which was very important to Jesus. His message is the same - whether one is born Jew or Gentile, they are invited into the Kingdom of God if they allow themselves to live and serve by commandments of God.

This was important to Mark's community as they consisted of Gentiles, and is made clear the Kingdom is for all who seek a life in worship of God. The Kingdom is not a physical human place, but is found in the hearts and souls of people who accept the Gospel and Jesus' teachings, whereby God rules his creation and history. Jesus thought of God's Kingdom to be made of people who love and have faith in him and who accept God as King. Also after one's death and judgment, God welcomes those who love and serve the Lord into the Kingdom (St.

Mark's Gospel, 2001) The statement made by W. Wre de that Mark's Gospel, above all is described as a "Passion Narrative with an extended introduction." This being an exaggeration is relatively true as Mark's Gospel begins at The Proclamation of John the Baptist, opposed to the other Gospels beginning at The Divinity of Jesus Christ, The birth of John the Baptist and the Betrothal of the Virgin Mary. Mark's Gospel predicts with accuracy his Passion evident in chapter 8: 22 - 10: 52, which discusses the Messianic Secret and tells the disciples on what sufferings Jesus must endure, as well as foretelling future references and events of death and resurrection. The Messianic Secret is a significant point in this Gospel, as it portrays the mystery and disbelief that Jesus is in fact the Messiah, until his true identity is unveiled and no longer a secret after he is raised from the dead. Many accounts in the Gospel show Jesus concealing that he is the Messiah, which is evident in 8: 26 when Jesus cures a blind man at Bethsaida quoting 'Do not even go into the village', to prevent others from acknowledging the blind man's regained eyesight. Again these verses portray a message to have a continuous faith in Jesus by following him until death and sharing his suffering, thus into the Kingdom of God.

It is a very important part of the Mark's Gospel as it is made clear that Peter has realized that Jesus is the Messiah (whereby the Disciples are made aware of the secret) and that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead (Mark: A Gospel for Today, 1989). Compared with the other Gospels the position of the Passion narrative and its relevance, shows Jesus's suffering as did Mark's people, and the tortures and portrayals of friends and family being well known to Mark's community. Mark's Gospel also refer to how Jesus - an innocent man may be judged and punished, just as the 'Jesus Followers' were persecuted by the Romans at the time of Mark. Discipleship is where one lives by God's will and put themselves last behind all things, as well as being prepared to follow in the ways of Jesus (Mark's Gospel: An Interpretation for Today, 1970). It is fundamental to enter the Kingdom of God, where this theme is portrayed in Mark's Gospel to be very important. There are three stages of Discipleship according to Mark: (I) Response by Disciples to Jesus though lack of understanding.

(II) Misunderstanding of God and Jesus, which in effect causes the growth of fear, (III) and the rejection and desertion of the faith. This concept is evidently translated to modern times whereby a Christian may be a believer of Jesus. However the stages leading to an unfortunate outcome (such as deaths, depression etc. ) may also lead to the rejection and desertion by the faithful. The foundations of discipleship are very much the same in present society as it was in the time of Jesus. The interpretation offered is that the 'church' is the basis of Christianity, and just as Jesus' disciples left all their possessions behind to follow Jesus.

Though Discipleship does not result in poverty, but living a true live in accordance with God, and the Messiah. However, recontextualised in modern contexts - priests have also undergone this concept and discarded monetary values to serve under the authority of Jesus and to spread the good news and give guidance to those who are lost, just as Jesus' disciples did. Nevertheless, this does not stipulate the right for people in such high ranks of 'Holiness' to exclude or criticize others' views, and to make unaccountable judgments on the behalf of God. We should persist on the tolerance and respect of other's viewpoints. This theme also gives hope to 'Jesus Followers' that it is not the end for God's people. Written By: Marcus Huynh Copyright Bibliography: Danes, Christopher & Simon.

(1989) Mark: A Gospel for Today. Lion Publishing, England. Geddes, Gordon & Griffiths, June. (2001) St.

Mark's Gospel. Heinemann Publishing, Melbourne. Cooper, Robin. (1970) Mark's Gospel: An Interpretation for Today. Hodder & Stoughton, Abington.

Available: web Last Accessed 22/05/05.