The Gospel according to Mark:
Literary Features & Thematic Emphases

by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

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Paratactic Style:

Thematic Groupings:

Three-fold Patterns, often with Progressive Heightening:

Inclusios and Intercalations:

A1)  2:1-5 – A paralytic is brought to Jesus
    B)  2:6-10 – Dispute over Jesus’ authority to forgive sins
A2)  2:11-12 – Jesus heals the paralytic
A1)  3:20-21 – Jesus’ family goes out to restrain him
    B)  3:22-30 – the Beelzebul controversy
A2)  3:31-35 – Jesus’ family arrives; who is his “true family”?
A1)  4:3-8 – Jesus tells parable of the sower and the seed
    B)  4:10-12 – Why does Jesus speak in parables?
A2)  4:13-20 – Jesus explains parable of the sower and the seed
A1)  5:21-24 – Jairus asks Jesus to heal his dying daughter
    B)  5:25-34 – a hemorrhaging woman touches Jesus’ clothes
A2)  5:35-43 – Jesus raises the daughter of Jairus to life
A1)  6:7-13 – Jesus sends out the twelve apostles on a mission
    B)  6:14-29 – the death of John the Baptist is recalled
A2)  6:30-31 – the apostles return, reporting what they had done
A1)  8:22-26 – Jesus gives sight to a blind man near Bethsaida
    B)  8:28—10:45 – three passion predictions; discipleship teachings
A2)  10:46-52 – Jesus gives sight to blind Bartimaeus near Jericho
A1)  9:1 – the coming of the Kingdom of God in power
    B)  9:2-8 – the Transfiguration of Jesus
A2)  9:9-13 – the coming of Elijah and of the Son of Man
A1)  11:12-14 – Jesus curses a fig tree outside of Bethany
    B)  11:15-19 – Jesus expels sellers and buyers from the Temple
A2)  11:20-25 – the fig tree is withered; the importance of faith

A1)  14:1-2 – chief priests want to arrest and kill Jesus
    B)  14:3-9 – a woman anoints Jesus at Bethany
A2)  14:10-11 – Judas arranges to betray Jesus to the chief priests

A1)  14:54 – Peter enters the courtyard of the high priest, and sits by a fire
    B)  14:55-65 – Jesus is interrogated by the council of the chief priests
A2)  14:66-72 – in the courtyard, Peter denies knowing Jesus three times

Use of “Literary Echoes” for retrospectives or foreshadowing:

Repetition of Key Words and Phrases:

Realism in Narrative Details:


The “Messianic Secret”:

Special Relationships of Narrator and Reader:


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