John J. Kilgallen | Aug 31 2008 - 1:55pm | 2 comments
In offering a systematic interpretation of Mark’s Gospel I follow him chapter by chapter with what can be called a ’center-slightly left’ interpretation; this is in accord with many, many Catholic exegetes today. By following what I write, you will see practically what it means to be ’center-slightly left’. Mark wrote the first Gospel, and he wrote it most likely in Rome, around 70 AD. Most everyone agrees that the audience to whom he wrote was one very acquainted with suffering, particularly a suffering for the faith in Jesus. The Gospel, then, is a life of Jesus, the adult, which will help Christians of Rome to hold on to Jesus with courage, conviction and determination. If Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians can be a guide, we can presume that these early Roman Christians, while baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and baptized into him, needed ever deeper understanding of this Jesus. Ever more deeply must they go, if the hope to survive suffering in his name, to plumb the depths of the meaning of Jesus and to understand as well as possible what Jesus taught them about living with God. No doubt at the time of their conversion and baptism they needed teaching both about Jesus and about his lessons, but now in 70 AD Mark felt the circumstances dictated a life of Jesus which would help deepen the Christological and moral aspects of his church. John’s Gospel makes the remark that ’Jesus did many things, but I have chosen these...’ The same is true for Mark. He knew many things about Jesus (it would be most unlikely that he did not know much of what later writers wrote), but he chose what we have before us. What he chose is enough for his purpose, he believes; indeed, his purpose in writing dictated what he would choose, and so every piece of the Gospel should fit into his purpose. Thus, if we are eager to know what a Gospel passage or saying means, we also very much want to understand why Mark would include this story or word in his Gospel. With these ’background’ statements understood, we move to understand what Mark’s Gospel said to his audience and enjoy for our own lives what he emphasized about Jesus to them. John Kilgallen, S.J.