The Call of the Disciples in Mark -- By: Donald E. Cook

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 11:1 (Fall 1993)
Article: The Call of the Disciples in Mark
Author: Donald E. Cook

The Call of the Disciples in Mark

Donald E. Cook

Professor of New Testament
Faculty Lecture, October 10, 1990

In a persuasive essay in New Testament Studies quite a few years ago, Leander Keck argues for understanding Mark 1:1–15 as the introduction to the Gospel.1 In the process of developing his thesis, Keck observes that following 1:1–15 the format of the Gospel up to Caesarea Philippi is structured about several calling narratives but does not elaborate the point.2 The purpose of this study is to examine Mark 1:16–8:30/31 from a literary-critical perspective in order to show how and why the gospel story is developed.

I am convinced that the evangelist organized his Gospel in the first half not only to tell the story of Jesus but to present an understanding of discipleship heavily weighted with Christology. To do this Mark has unfolded his story of Jesus about four accounts of the calling of the disciples, each of which is followed by a carefully drawn narrative which complements the call. I shall refer to these as calling narratives: I, 1:15–2:12; II, 2:13–3:12; III 3:13–6:6a; IV 6:6b–8:30/31.


In order to get the matter before us, we shall first summarize each of the calling narratives as narrative and point up some of the more or less obvious events and theological (thematic) emphases in each.

Call I, 1:16–2:12

The first calling takes place beside the Sea of Galilee (1:16). Jesus sees the four who are named (1:16, 19) and summoned (1:17, 20), and whose obedient response is immediate (1:18, 20). Jesus’ call is expressed once by (1:20). These narrative details are almost identical to those in Call II (cf. 2:14, 17).

In the events which follow at Capernaum...

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