Gospel of Mark discussion questions RELS-233, Christianity (Rein), Spring 2010 1.

What surprised you most about Mark's gospel? 2. Imagine Mark as a work of literature, standing on its own, which is how most early readers would have encountered it. How would you summarize the "plot" of the book? Who are the main characters and how would you describe their personalities? 3. What does Jesus actually do during the three years of his ministry? 4. "Gospel" and "kingdom of God" are key terms for this document. How would you define them? What other key terms are there? 5. Characterize the relationship between Jesus and his closest associates (the twelve disciples). 6. One of the most striking elements of the Marcan story is the so-called "messianic secret," an expression which refers to Jesus' custom of trying to silence anyone who recognizes his true identity. a. What, in fact, is Jesus' true identity, according to Mark? b. Who is the first to recognize Jesus, and how does Jesus react? c. Who else does Jesus instruct to keep silent? Why do you think he does so? 7. The Gospel of Mark relates a number of miracles attributed to Jesus. List them. What, if anything, do they have in common? 8. What is your reaction to the so-called "Little Apocalypse" -- i.e., the predictions about the end of the world -- in Mark 24? 9. How would you summarize the final events of Jesus' life (and the events immediately after his death), according to Mark? 10. Finally, how would you describethe emotional tone of the book, seen apart from any other texts about Jesus? (If you want a great example of what I mean by this, skim this very personal essay by the musician Nick Cave (from the Bad Seeds) on Mark: http://j.mp/6fx6lg ).

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