Riddle me this: Jesus as a misunderstood puzzle. Mark’s story

17th century icon of St Mark via Wikimedia Commons

Unlike Matthew’s carefully introduced and triumphantly concluded story, Mark begins fairly abruptly and ends even more suddenly than it begins. That beginning reflects a sense of pace that Mark injects into his gospel; Jesus is constantly on the move, and his mission is presented with a sense of urgency fitting to a figure who is announcing that the kingdom of God has come close.

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Four portraits, no photo: every gospel tells a story

This post is in the series Rite Reading.

The order of the biblical books is is not accidental but deliberate. The Old Testament ends with prophecy. The New Testament begins with the gospel that puts the greatest stresse on Jesus as the fulfilment of prophecy. This is Matthew’s version of the story of Jesus.

The canonical order is almost certainly not the order in which the gospels were written. In a rare instance of near universal academic agreement, biblical scholars think that this sub-genre of ancient biography was invented by Mark: the first person to write a gospel.

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