(Re)Defining The Gospels: Mark As A Test Case, Part Two -- By: Wayne Slusser

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 23:2 (Fall 2019)
Article: (Re)Defining The Gospels: Mark As A Test Case, Part Two
Author: Wayne Slusser


(Re)Defining The Gospels: Mark As A Test Case, Part Two

Wayne Slusser

Abstract: The Gospel accounts are stories that report biographical, historical, and theological information regarding the central character, Jesus Christ. This article proposes that the Gospel of Mark not only possesses the elements of narrative that are typical to a story, but Mark also demonstrates that it fits into the subgenre classification known as theological narrative biography proposed in part one of this study. Mark’s story ultimately answers two questions: “Who is Jesus?” and “What is a follower of him to do?”

Key Words: Gospel, Mark, genre theological narrative biography, three-fold identity

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Studying The Gospel Of Mark As Literature

The focus of the preceding article (JMAT, Fall 2017, Vol. 21, no. 2) was the classification of the Gospel accounts as genre (narrative) and subgenre (theological narrative biography). The goal was to redefine the traditional long-standing term known as Gospel and explicate more fully and carefully the intent of the Gospel authors. The subgenre classification was necessary due to the fact that the Gospels are unique and unlike any other narrative. The examination of genre and subgenre captures the basic framework of the Gospels.

The second part of this study demonstrates that the elements of the narrative of Mark’s Gospel is a story comprised of episodes. These brief episodes are structured through three geographic locations (Galilee, “on the way” to Jerusalem, and Jerusalem). They are also communicated through the expressions

and/or responses of various characters or groups treated as characters (religious & governmental authorities, disciples, and crowd) as they interact with the unifying character and life of Jesus Christ (teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection).

Mark’s story contains a theological emphasis. It is more than a biography and history. The theological emphasis is one of the unique features of the Gospel accounts that serves as the basis for its subgenre category, theological narrative biography. Mark’s story emphasizes two aspects. He declares, defines, and affirms the identity of Jesus Christ as the Son of God throughout his story. This is the formal aspect. Mark also emphasizes the role of the disciples thus providing the significance and application of Jesus’ identity to the reader. This is the functional aspect. In other words, Mark identifies who Jesus is and in light of knowing him, what Jesus’ disciples ought to do.

Literary Genre: The Gospel Of Mark As Narrative

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