We are aiming to read the Gospel of Matthew from the beginning and progress towards the end. Yet to do this well, we need some sense of where we are going. Few of us will be reading the Gospel stories for the first time but possibly too few of us have read the Gospel right through. This can be our first step so that we have a proper overview of the whole story.
However, we need to see how Matthew has taken the story of Mark and adapted it for his purposes. Therefore it is with an overview of the Gospel of Mark that we must begin.

Thus I have divided this overview into two pages. On this page we will look at the story of the Gospel of Mark. On the next page, we can then explore Matthew's story and how he has changed Mark.

If you are already familiar with the story of Mark, you can move straight on to our overview of the story of Matthew.

Alternatively, you may decide at this point to begin with my reading of the Gospel of Mark. There is much to be said for reading Matthew having first read Mark closely. What follows is just a brief outline of Mark's story.

Aim of the Overview

It is most important at this stage that we don't get locked into detail, there will be plenty of time for that. Our aim now is to see the flow of the two Gospel stories and so have an idea of how Matthew how changed Mark in his telling of the story. Done well, this overall review will provide us with an essential background for our detailed reading.

The Lion of St Mark

The Story of Mark

We approach Matthew's story therefore by seeing how he has taken the story of Jesus as told in the Gospel of Mark in order to recast it in his own way. We will discover how Matthew has added extra material available to him from other sources. As with all the evangelists, Matthew's aim in writing would have been primarily to fulfil the needs of his community. We can only get some understanding of those needs through a careful reading of the Gospel.

We find something similar happening with the Gospel of Luke: both Matthew and Luke have based themselves on the story that was told by Mark. Both though adapted that story for their own purposes so as to present their own portrait of Jesus. That is why I (along with the vast majority of commentators) regard Mark as the earliest Gospel.

To begin our orientation therefore, I invite you to read through the Gospel of Mark: this is a reading simply in order to follow the main flow of the story, it need be no more than a quick read. Your Bible may well have sections and subsections which will be a useful guide. The details of the story and the actions of Jesus in Mark are not important at this stage.

Therefore read with pencil and paper available and make notes. Look especially for changes of time and place as the story unfolds.

From this, consider the major developments in the story, where are the key turning points? Remember, I am asking this as a general question; we don't want to get caught up in the details of Mark's Gospel.

After that, have a look at my response.

We are now ready to continue with our overview of the Gospel of Matthew itself.