The lion of St Mark


ORIENTATION: The Gospel Story

The Gospel of Mark is not too long to be read at one sitting. As we begin reading the Gospel, a good start would be to set aside an hour and read the Gospel straight through. This is not a reading in detail, that will come next. At this stage, we need to pick up the story which the evangelist is telling: how does it unfold and what are the important turning points? Who are the principal characters and how do they relate to Jesus? Try to keep your reading moving; it is the overall plot of the story that we are seeking at this stage. This first read is the basis for detailed reading which will follow.

If you are reading the Gospel in a group, it would be good if someone could read the Gospel aloud to the whole group (or take chapters by turns). Then, share your reactions afterwards. Done well, this will make a great impact.

It is important as well to have pen and paper handy and to jot down what strikes you as you read or listen. Can you find the major turning points in the story? Can you see any patterns emerging? See how the various movements of Jesus are a good guide to the unfolding story. Where does the Gospel end - and what do you make of the ending?

It is also useful to come to some initial thoughts about the characters in the story. Jesus himself of course is central. What do we make of his disciples? Who are against Jesus? Are there others involved who strike you as significant?

All this is just a preliminary view, a first impression. It may help to use a translation like the NRSV which has no headings or sub-headings. We will be seeing how editorial additions are often an obstacle to our reading.

A response from me would be useful now.

We are now ready to begin reading the Gospel more closely, beginning with our overview of the first chapter of the Gospel. This includes the all important prologue which is followed by the first episodes of the Gospel story.