Teaching the Gospel of Mark

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Our men’s class will be starting a new series on the Gospel of Mark on Wednesday. The book divides so nicely after chapter eight that I decided to try something different. I am going to take the first eight chapters and then our men will be taking the last eight chapters. This will be an opportunity to equip our men to be improve their teaching skills. We will sit down and discuss their respective chapters one-on-one before they teach it and ask questions like: Where is the narrative trying to take us/how does Jesus teaching fit with the surrounding narrative? What questions do you ask of the text? What questions does the text ask you? How do you find the best resources in the church library? What does the text mean and how does that challenge us to live more fully? How do you structure a lesson in a way that appropriately follows the lead of the text and makes the main points of the text?

Here are a couple of resources I will be consulting:

College Press commentary on Mark by Allen Black of HUGSR
Israel’s Scripture Traditions and the Synoptic Gospels: Story Shaping Story  by Willard Swartley
Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels eds Joel Green & Scott McKnight
Mark for Everyone by N.T. Wright

What questions would you ask and what resources have you found helpful in teaching Mark?

0 Responses

  1. R.T. France, “The Gospel of Mark,” The New International Greek Testament Commentary, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002.

    John R. Donahue and Daniel J. Harrington, “The Gospel of Mark,” Sacra Pagina, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2002.

    Both of these commentaries would be good resources for you. However, not for the men you are trying to equip for better teaching…that is, unless you want them to run scared :-). Any ways, I do like you idea about equipping others for teaching as well.

    Ithaca Church of Christ
    Ithaca, NY

  2. I used the NIV Application Commentary when I preached though that book in Fall ’06. I found it helpful.

    I mainly followed the ebb & flow of the text when I went though it. I think, doing a Bible class that’s probably limited in number of weeks, I would focus more on this movement through the themes of Mark in the first 8 chapters rather than feeling the need to hit EVERY SINGLE verse along the way (I say focus on feeding the folks something they can’t feed themselves with). Spend a class talking about the thesis of the book (Mk. 1:1) & unpacking Jesus’ core message statement in vv. 14-15. Talk about the 5 opposition episodes with the Pharisees starting in chapter 2. Show the progression Mark leads us through with the way he structures his stories/teachings — for example, chapters 4-5 where he progresses by showing Jesus’ power over nature, over demons, over disease, and then over DEATH itself. Highlight a Markan sandwich or two: explain how they work & what Mark is trying to communicate there.

    In the sense of how the text informs us, I remember a conversation I had with Steve Cloer at Harding. He was preaching at a country church at the time & was walking through Mark with his folks. He said that the approach he was taking was showing how Jesus seems to consistently subvert our expectations. He described it as a, “What are you doing here, Jesus?” kind of theme for the Gospel of Mark. And I think that approach is useful. Why does Jesus stay up so late & rise BEFORE the crack of dawn to go pray in chapter 1? I mean, if there’s anyone who could say, “I’ll talk to you later, Dad,” it’s Jesus! Why did our Savior do that? Why does Jesus seemingly pick fights with the Pharisees. Lots of different peculiar actions of Jesus you could pick out to help your folks re-imagine the Christ.

    I’ll enjoy seeing snippets of that series of classes in the coming weeks.

  3. Rex,

    Great suggestions for some extremely in depth study!


    Sounds like a good book for our church library.


    I have that one on the shelf but forgot about it. Thanks for recommending it. I will have a look. Thanks also for the theme suggestion. I can tell it comes from experience. Good to be hearing more from you. God bless,


  4. Did Jack Kingsbury do a book on Mark? If so, you can bet it’s worth your time.

    I’m with Preacherman. If Gary Holloway has a book on Mark, it’s got to be good.

    Oh, and if you went to Harding Grad, don’t you have to mention “Mark as Story”?

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