‘The Gospels express the faith of the early Christian communities’ Evaluate this quotation
The three Synoptic Gospels of Mark, Luke and Matthew describe events from a similar point of view, but each author has a different purpose. John Mark wrote to give strength to persecuted , Christians. Matthew, on the other hand, sought to convince Jews that Jesus was the Messiah they had been waiting for.
Inferences can be drawn from the wording of Mark’s Gospel that it was written for Gentile Christians living in Rome. Mark’s explanation of some Jewish customs and traditions would be unnecessary for a Jewish audience; for example that ‘all the Jews do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands’. Roman (Latin) vocabulary is used such as ‘legion’ and ‘denarius’ , a Roman currency word, indicating that the audience was situated in Rome.
The Gospel of Matthew is written from a Jewish perspective and is therefore thought to be the Gospel of the Jews. It includes many phrases applicable only to Jews. Only Matthew’s Gospel reports Jesus saying: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel". Matthew also references the Old Testament more often than other Gospels, suggesting a Jewish audience.
Mark’s Gospel often mentions persecution and suffering, such as: ‘Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.’ At the time of writing, Roman Christians were suffering under Nero who blamed them for the Great Fire of Rome. Mark wrote: ‘For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’. Words such as these provide evidence that he sought to comfort Roman Christians by helping them identify their suffering with that of Jesus to help them stay strong in a perilous time.
Mark’s Gospel also highlights the disciples’ misunderstanding that Jesus was to suffer and die for them to save humanity. When Jesus began to teach that he must suffer, Peter challenged...
Bibliography: Peterson, Dwight N. The Markan Community in Current Debate. The Netherlands: Brill. 2000
Winn, Adam, The Purpose of Mark’s Gospel
(Accessed 3rd March 2012)
Heard, Richard An Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1950 http://www.religiononline.org/showchapter.asp?title=531&C=551 (Accessed 4 March 2012)
Gospel of Mark: The Servant of God, http://www.abideinchrist.com/messages/markintro.html (Accessed 3rd March 2012)
Goosen, G. & Tomlinson, M., Jesus Mystery and Surprise, (1989) E.J. Dwyer, Sydney, pp. 60-64.
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