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Relationship to New Testament. The relationship of Mark to the New Testament as a whole is discussed at ____. The similarities and differences among the four gospels (and Acts) are discussed at ____.
Story. Mark consists of three major sections, plus a short prologue and a short epilogue:
- Chapter 1a: Prologue: Before Jesus's ministry begins. Jesus is introduced as the fulfillment of both ancient and current prophecy, as the son of God by the voice of God himself, as one who can survive interacting with Satan and wild beasts, and as one to whom angels minister.
- Chapters 1b-8a: Galilean ministry. Jesus teaches with authority, not like the scribes who teach as mere interpreters of Moses. A major theme of Jesus's teaching is to reject many of the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees that go beyond the law of Moses, and in the parable of new wine in old bottles he rejects the Jewish religious leadership as unsuited to accept his new doctrine. Jesus also performs many miracles that show forth his power such as healing, raising Jairus's daughter to life, and calming the storm. He also casts out many unclean spirits, who consistently identify Jesus as the Holy One of Israel, but who Jesus commands to be silent. A major theme in Mark is the frequent failure of his friends, the religious leadership, and even his disciples to understand both his teaching and who he is.
- Chapters 8b-10: Journey to Jerusalem. This transition section begins with Peter's confession that Jesus is more than just a great prophet, but is in fact the Christ. Jesus then foretells three times his death at Jerusalem, or the unique ministry that can be performed only by the Christ. Jesus also introduces the theme that there is a cost to discipleship, not only for Jesus himself as the Christ, but also for each of his disciples, as in the story of the rich young man. Another major theme in Mark is that Jesus did not come to be a great hero, but came instead to be the servant of all.
- Chapters 11-16a: Passion Week. Jesus enters Jerusalem on Sunday, heralded by the people as a Messianic king. On Monday and Tuesday he foretells the destruction of Jerusalem in his cursing of the barren fig tree, the parable of the wicked husbandmen, and the Olivet Discourse. The week ends with his humble sacrifice as savior to bring about the atonement and resurrection. On Wednesday he is anointed for burial. On Friday he eats the Passover, institutes the sacrament, suffers in the Garden of Gethsemene, is condemned, and dies on the cross. On the following Sunday he rises from the tomb..
- Chapter 16b: Epilogue: Jesus commissions his disciples. The resurrected Lord appears to his disciples and commissions them to go forth and continue the work begun during Jesus's Galilean ministry in Chapters 1-8a: teaching, baptizing, healing, and casting out unclean spirits.
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Mark include:
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- Author: John Mark. Most non-LDS scholars believe that Mark was the gospel written first and that the other two synoptic writers used his gospel as a kind of first draft. In contrast, most LDS scholars believe that Matthew was written first because Matthew’s version of things is what we find in Christ’s teaching to the Nephites. We are not certain who Mark was, but a strong and very old Christian tradition says that he was the John Mark mentioned in Acts. There he is Paul’s assistant in missionary work (Acts 12:25; 13:5). He appears to have been a member of a wealthy Jewish-Christian family in Jerusalem and the cousin of a wealthy landowner, Barnabas (Acts 4:36-37; Colossian 4:10). Based on that, some have speculated that his family owned the Garden of Gesthemane and that he was the young man who escaped capture when Jesus was arrested in the Garden, but the evidence for that speculation is not very strong. The fact that he gets Palestinian geography wrong is reason to believe that if he was from a Jerusalem family, he did not live there long himself.
- For a reason that we do not know, Paul refused to continue to work with Mark at the end of the first mission, though Barnabas used Mark (Acts 15:37-39). However, Mark and Paul seem to have been reconciled later, for his name appears throughout the letters of Paul (for example 2 Timothy 4:11 and Philemon 24).
- Mark also seems to be the person to whom Peter refers as “my son” (1 Peter 5:13). Tradition has it that he was Peter’s interpreter, though that can mean “the person who explained Peter’s teaching” rather than “the person who translated them from one language to another”, and it may be he rather than Peter himself who after Peter’s death wrote down 2 Peter, which appears to be a collection of Peter’s sayings comparable to The Words of Ezra Taft Benson rather than an original speech by Peter. If this is correct, then Mark may also be a collection of Peter’s recollections recorded by Mark, perhaps after Peter’s death.
- According to the early church historian, Eusebius, Clement (the bishop of Alexandria in the second century A.D.) said that Mark’s gospel was written for those being taught in Rome and that, after it was completed, Peter read it and ratified it for use in church. Though that seems to me to be reasonably possible, some other early writings say that Mark completed his gospel after Peter’s death. If so, he may have been writing down the things he had learned from Peter. The Greek of Mark is much less sophisticated than that of the other gospels, and he focuses on a series of brief and self-contained stories that prepare the reader for his lengthy treatment of the Garden of Gethsemane, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. For Mark, events are the focus rather than doctrines. Eusebius also says that Mark did not put the events of his gospel “in order,” but he is unclear as to what he means by “order.”
- Audience. The Gospel of Mark is widely thought to have been written for an audience of Romans, whether Christian or pagan. A comparison of the apparent intended audiences of each of the four gospels is treated at --page--.
- Setting. The historical background setting of the four gospels is treated at --page--.
- Chronology. A joint chronology of the four gospels is treated at --page--.
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The movement is stories of power - organization of the church - stories of power - organization, etc.
Misunderstood who Jesus is
Jesus is presented as a hero but reveals that he is in fact a servant
Outline and page map
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- Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy (1:1-8)
- Authority: The people are astonished at Jesus's authority (Chapter 1b)
- Jesus begins preaching: the time is at hand to repent and believe (1:14-15)
- Jesus calls four fishermen as disciples (1:16-20)
- Jesus teaches with authority, astonishment (1:21-22)
- Jesus exercises authority over unclean spirits, amazement and fame (1:23-28)
- Jesus heals many and casts out unclean spirits (1:29-34)
- All men seek for Jesus (1:35-39)
- Jesus heals a leper, fame (1:40-45)
- Conflict: Jesus's doctrine contradicts traditional practice (Chapter 2-3a)
- True religion: Jesus forgives sins and heals a man with palsy, amazement (2:1-12)
- True religion: Jesus associates with sinners who are in need of a physician (2:13-17)
- True religion: Jesus's disciples do not fast while he is with them (2:18-22)
- Jesus's family and Jewish leaders do not admit or understand (Chapter 3b)
- People gather from all around and Jesus heals many (3:7-12)
- Jesus ordains twelve to teach, heal, and cast out unclean spirits (3:13-19a)
- Jesus is accused of being not himself (3:19b-35)
- Hearing: parables about discipleship and the kingdom of God (Chapter 4a)
- Jesus teaches in parables (4:1-2)
- Parable of the sower (4:3-9)
- Explanation of the parable of the sower (4:10-20)
- Parable of the lamp under a bushel (4:21-23)
- Those who hear will receive more (4:24-25)
- Parable of the growing seed (4:26-29)
- Parable of the mustard seed (4:30-32)
- Jesus teaches in parables (4:33-34)
- The people marvel at Jesus's power (Chapter 4b-6a)
- Jesus's power over the elements: he calms the sea, feared (4:35-41)
- Jesus's power over unclean spirits: Gadarene demoniac, all marvel (5:1-20)
- Jesus's power over health and life (5:21-43)
- Disciples fail to understand the extent of Jesus's power (6b-8a)
- Jesus commissions twelve to teach, heal, and cast out unclean spirits (6:7-13)
- Death of John the Baptist (6:14-29)
- Jesus feeds the 5,000 (6:30-44)
- Jesus walks on the water, not consider feeding the 5,000 (6:45-52)
- Healings at Gennesaret (6:53-56)
- True religion: discourse on washing and defilement (7:1-23)
III. Journey to Jerusalem (Chapters 8b-10)
- Jesus heals a blind man in Bethsaida (8:22-26)
- Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ (8:27-30)
- Jesus foretells his death #1: discipleship is sacrifice (8:31-9:1)
- Mount of Transfiguration (9:2-13) (9:2-13)
- Jesus casts out an unclean spirit (9:14-29)
- Jesus foretells his death #2: discipleship is humble service (9:30-37)
- He that is not against us is for us (9:38-41)
- Offending little ones (9:42)
- The cost of discipleship: if thy hand offend thee ... (9:43-50)
- Marriage and divorce (10:1-12)
- Receiving heaven as a little child (10:13-16)
- The cost of discipleship: wealth (10:17-31)
IV. Passion Week (Chapters 11-16a)
Sunday through Wednesday (Chapters 11-13)]
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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Translations and Lexicons.
Related passages that interpret or shed light on Mark.
- The Joseph Smith Translation made changes to 423, or more than 60%, of the 678 verses in Mark. With so many changes, readers just have to constantly consult the Joseph Smith Translation. Most significant changes are incorporated into the LDS edition of the Bible. All changes are noted in Wayment's Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.
References cited on this page.
- Wayment, Thomas A., ed. The Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the New Testament. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2005. (ISBN 1590384393) BX8630 .A2 2005.
Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.
- Wayment, The Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the New Testament, p. 92-143.