Why Mark? Why Now?

Placher summarizes why Mark is particularly relevant to our time:

(1) Historical: Of all the sources available to us, Mark get us closest to Jesus own lifetime. (2) Political: The great theologian Karl Barth used to say that theology should be done with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. The newspapers these days are full of stories of war and torture in the Middle East and the church debates about whom to ordain and whom to exclude. Indirectly, Mark turns out to have a lot to say about such topics. (3) Literary: Mark is an odd text-abrupt, sometimes clumsy, written in Greek totally without literary polish, yet astonishing in its complexity, its allusiveness, its anticipation of the techniques of “postmodern” literature. Written by an ill-educated author long ago, it has amazing similarities to the work of some of the most sophisticated storytellers of our time. (4) Theological: One of the most important themes in recent theology has been a rebellion against pictures of God as unchanging, unaffected by the vicissitudes of the world in favor of an idea of God as, in Alfred North Whitehead’s beautiful phrase, “the great companion-the fellow-sufferer who understands.” We encounter such a God not only in twentieth and twenty-first-century theologians, but also-more than anywhere else in the New Testament- in the gospel of Mark.

Of the 4 of these I am most interested in his exploration of the theological. But with the abrupt ending to Mark it is worth noting that Placher’s untimely ending interrupted him from providing his final reflections to a book that appears also lacking in final reflections.


2 thoughts on “Why Mark? Why Now?

  1. I’ll venture to add one to Placher’s list. Mark is relevant to our time because it is short, and we (post)moderns have short attention spans. It’s not quite the fast food gospel, but it’s at least the 20 minute sermon as opposed to Matthew’s 45 minute sermon.

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