Mary Ann Beavis: What Genre is the Gospel of Mark?

Mary Ann Beavis, Mark, Paideia Commentaries on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 16.

One eminently plausible suggestions regarding the genre of Mark is the observation that the Gospel is most at home in the domain of biblical narrative….Mark’s Jesus functions within a narrative world ruled by the God of Israel, where prophets like John the Baptist, Isaiah, and Elijah are revered; angels appear to minister to the Son of God (1:13); figures like Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (12:26), David, and Abiathar (2:25-26) are respected; miracles and exorcisms are possible; and prophecy is fulfilled. If Mark modeled the Gospel on the Jewish scriptures, an intriguing question is whether this means that he meant to write Scripture. In Mark’s time, although there was a concept of sacred, authoritative writings generally classified as Law, Prophets, and Writings (see the prologue to Sirach), there was no closed Jewish “canon” of Scripture. Hellenistic Jewish writings include many works modeled on the ancient scriptures…which were probably regarded as quasi-scriptural by some ancient Jews. Some of these books – such as Sirach, the Wisdom of Solomon, 1-2 Maccabees, Judith, Tobit, and even (for Ethiopia and Eritrea) 1 Enoch – are included in Catholic and Orthodox Christian Bibles. Possibly Mark was familiar with such writings and composed his book about Jesus in this tradition.

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