||No matter how careful an author tries
to be, their influence can be detected in their writing. From these,
sometimes subtle, clues we can begin to build a picture of Mark.
For this introduction, we will limit the areas of
investigation to the four indicated on the previous page.
Can we detect any particular features and
characteristics about the way that Mark joins together and
presents his material? Take a look at the
expanded text in the text-box (below) and see if you can detect
Don't worry, at this stage, it
is not always easy to spot the seams. Chapter 2 verse 1 poses as a
likely candidate. Here, Mark moves from establishing Jesus as a
healer and a teacher - look at how he collects together a number
of stories which emphasise this aspect of Jesus' ministry in
Chapter 1 - to begin a new theme. 2:1-3:6 comprise a group
of 5 'conflict' stories in which, again, the reader is presented
with the authority of Jesus.
have you noticed one particular word which keeps cropping up - 'and'
? Significantly, it often appears at the beginning of a sentence.
This is very characteristic of Mark's writing.
some, this makes the Gospel of Mark rather simplistic and crude, but
for others in injects a sense of immediacy into the narrative. What
do you think that it tells YOU about Mark as a writer and as an
editor (how he edits, compiles and presents his material).
This is where we can get a good impression
of the author's style and what s/he thinks is important to the
Take a look at two examples of Mark's
attempt to explain or clarify something in his text.
 They noticed that some of the
disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without
washing them.  (For the
Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they
thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition
of the elders;  and
they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash
it; and they are also many other traditions that they
observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.)
 "But when you see the
desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let
the reader understand), then those in Judea
must flee to the mountains."
Does it tell us anything about the type of
readers for whom Mark was writing?*
Furthermore, do these rather obvious
narrational intrusions indicate that Mark was reluctant in
altering his material?
complicated further by Mark's apparent misapprehension that
"all the Jews," at this time, washed their
|3. Characteristic words and
We have already come across Mark's habit of
beginning sentences with 'and'. Are there any other clues
to Mark's style?
Read again the account of the
leper in this (more) literal translation.
[there] comes to him a leper, begging him and kneeling
down, saying to him "If you are willing, you are able
to cleanse me."
being filled with tenderness, stretching forth his hand,
he touched and says to him, "I am willing, be made
immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.
with indignation, he immediately drove him out,
says to him, "See [that] you say nothing to anyone,
but go show yourself to the priest and offer, concerning
your cleansing, [the things] which Moses commanded for a
testimony to them."
going out, he began to proclaim many things and to spread
abroad the matter, so that he was no longer able to enter
a city openly, but he was outside in desert places; and
they came to him from all directions.
Reading this, particularly in an estuary
accent, that the style of writing is rather similar to that found
in a script for East Enders. Mark had a tendency to use the
historic present which uses the present tense to describe
something that happened in the past: "And [there]
comes...", "...and says to him...".
Another word which you might have spotted,
especially if you are familiar with the Gospel of Mark, is 'immediately'.
This is also a key word for Mark and, again, creates a feeling of
immediacy to his writing.
|4. Changes to the text when
compared with other instances. However, in this case, if other
people have used it, they may have changed elements - this does
not necessarily mean that Mark agreed with what he recorded, but
he at least was happy enough to include it in the form that it
appears in his Gospel.