Introduction to the Gospel of Mark

Introduction to the Gospel of Mark

The Gospel of Mark is distinctive within the New testament. It may be the oldest Gospel, but it post-dates some of Paul’s letters, from which we already have a good picture of the preaching of Peter and Paul. Mark paints Jesus in down to earth human form, willing to change his mind, vulnerable to the opinions of others, and especially those of the ones who opposed him.

Course code: INT002

Professor: Adrian Judd

Course description:

In this course you will be introduced to the Gospel of Mark and will become familiar with Jesus as the Good News that Mark’s Gospel introduces.

Alongside reading course materials, you will be given activities to do which will make you think about Mark’s Gospel and the Good News of Jesus Christ. You will focus on the primary text of Mark’s Gospel and build up your own understanding of what it means, based on a toolkit of tools with which you can study any Biblical text.

Who was Jesus? What was his understanding of his identity and mission? This course will help you answer these questions.


  1. To understand the Good News from the perspective of Mark
  2. To consider Jesus's self-understanding as son of God and Messiah
  3. To evaluate Wrede's theory of a Messianic secret

Learning outcomes:

  1. To practice using methods from the historical-critical method in the exegesis of Mark's Gospel
  2. To analyse the evidence for and against a messianic secret
  3. To distinguish the self-understanding of Jesus from Mark's understanding of Jesus and to evaluate the differences

Assessment methods:

A final assignment and a course quiz. 

Study procedure : 

Read through the activities and respond to the questions one at a time, forming your own opinion based on the work that you do. The activities do not look for right answers, but the right method, and for you to apply critical thinking to the texts and to learn to justify your opinions and to evaluate the opinions of others. In addition to this there are excerpts from books to read. This reading will prepare you for the assignment in which you will demonstrate your understanding of Mark’s Gospel.

You are encouraged to keep a learning journal in which you write down your reflections about the course activities. 

In this course you will read the Gospel of Mark and observe what is apparent through that surface reading. The good news of Jesus Christ is proclaimed by Mark, and the nature of the suffering Messiah is discovered. 

Course overview:


1.1 Mark’s Gospel in Canonical context
1.2 Summarising Mark’s Gospel
1.3 Mark as a murder mystery


2.1 Authorship of Mark
2.2 Dating of Mark
2.3 Structuring the drama
2.4 Other Jewish miracle workers


3.1 Keeping a secret
3.2 Spotlight on the crucifixion of Jesus
3.3 Beginning to read Mark


4.1 The Three Stages of Gospel Formation
4.2 Reading the Gospel for its Surface Impression
4.3 Josephus on John the Baptist
4.4 The first preaching in Galilee


5.1 Narrative Criticism and Mark
5.2 Mark is not a biography
5.3 The shorter ending of Mark
5.4 The longer ending of Mark Activity
5.5 The Historical-Critical Method and Mark


6.1 Mark’s Messiah
6.2 The Messianic secret
6.3 Son of God and Son of Man
6.4 Apocalyptic in Mark
6.5 Eschatology in Mark’s Gospel
6.6 Mark and his Readers