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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

Working through Mark's Gospel

Overture in the Desert (Mk 1, 1–13 )

The Gospel drama begins in the Judean desert where the prophet John preaches a baptism of repentance. Jesus, the Galilean, makes his way south to the desert to proclaim his dedication to God. At the moment of baptism Jesus' true identity as the Son of God is revealed, and he is endowed with an abundance of God's Spirit. A haunting scene in the desert follows where Jesus struggles with Satan.

The Galilean Ministry of Jesus ( 1, 14–8, 21 )

This major section covers most of Jesus' public ministry. It takes place in Galilee, the northern region of Israel (see map #13).

  • 1, 14f . The keynote of Jesus' ministry: “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”

  • 1, 16–45 . The call of the first disciples and the first day of Jesus' healing ministry.

  • 2, 1–3, 6 . A series of conflicts with the religious leaders that ends with their determination to destroy Jesus.

  • 3, 7–4, 34 . The ministry of Jesus continues and so, too, does opposition to him. The misunderstanding of his family and the accusations of the Pharisees are reflected in the parable discourse of chapter 4 where Jesus states that the mystery of the Kingdom is revealed only to the disciples, not to those who oppose the Gospel.

  • 4, 35–8, 26 . The mission of Jesus widens in scope as he moves across the lake to Gentile territory and travels beyond the borders of Israel to Tyre and Sidon.

The Journey from Galilee to Jerusalem ( 8, 27–10, 52 )

This major section begins in the northernmost reaches of Israel, the town of Caesarea Philippi, where Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ. The attention of the Gospel now begins to fix on the upcoming Passion ( 8, 31; 9, 31; 10, 32–34 ), as Jesus and his disciples move south to Jerusalem. The section is also filled with Jesus' teaching on the meaning of discipleship. Two stories of Jesus healing blind men frame the entire passage ( 8, 22–26; 10, 46–52 ), stories that symbolize the difficulty the disciples have in grasping Jesus' teaching.

Death and Resurrection in Jerusalem ( 11, 1–16, 8 )

The rest of Mark's story takes place in Jerusalem, the Temple city.

  • 11, 1–12, 44 . Jesus' prophetic sign condemning the Temple introduces a series of controversies with the Jewish leaders.

  • 13, 1–37 . In the shadow of the Temple, Jesus predicts its destruction and counsels his disciples on the struggles of the community as it awaits the consummation of human history.

  • 14, 1–15, 47 . The climactic Passion account.

  • 16, 1–8 . The Gospel closes with the discovery of the empty tomb and the heavenly messenger's announcement of Jesus' victory over death.

As the notes explain (see comments on 16, 9–20 ) there are additional endings appended to Mark's Gospel, but these were added later by someone other than the evangelist. In our comments on the Gospel we will assume that the original ending to Mark's Gospel was 16, 1–8 .

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