Musings on Mark: A Promising New Series on the Gospel of Mark

Over on Twitter, I was recently followed by @bibleautopsy. It must have slipped under my radar because I didn’t look into their profile, nor did I follow back. But after I saw a tweet in which they tagged Joshua Bowen, I wanted to see what their website bibleautopsy.com was all about. I’m glad I did. Their aim is expressed on their home page: “Dissecting the Bible in a secular and academic way – removing the scales of inerrancy and fundamentalism.” Now that’s a mission I can get behind

There are only three posts up on the site, all written by Micah Bartlett, and all having to do with the Gospel of Mark. The first has to do with historical context: Who wrote it? How does it relate to the other so-called Synoptic Gospels? What was the historical situation in which it was composed? The answers given are fairly standard among critical scholars and offer those not as familiar with Markan scholarship a way to dip their toes into the broader ocean of the literature on the Gospel. The second post covers the layout and structure of the book, following the work of R.T. France and his commentary. France saw Mark as a three-act drama and his commentary reflects that understanding.[1] Bartlett also brings up the messianic secret as well as the Gospel’s abrupt ending. In the third and most recent post, we read of unique features of the Markan text. There is a discussion of Markan Christology (with which I have a few quibbles), the naked youth of Mark 14:51-52, and the Passion account.

I’m looking forward to future posts from Bartlett as he performs an autopsy on the Bible. Though I have to admit, with its focus on critical scholarship, it feels more like an exorcism. The demons of fundamentalism are forced to flee as the text is investigated closely. In any event, I am pleased to commend this site to my readers.


[1] R.T. France, The Gospel of Mark, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002), 11-15. It should be noted that France was careful to not attribute to Mark this scheme of a drama in three acts but to observe that “any structure we [as readers] discern is a matter of our reading of the text, not of Mark’s direction” (p. 13). France was, of course, not denying structure in Mark generally but only that such structures are more often than not in the eye of the beholder and to some degree arbitrary.

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