Tag Archive for 'Mark'

Women in the Gospel of Mark

The late Alan Cole, in the introduction to his commentary on Mark has a section about women. I’d like to outline what he says and start off with a quote he writes at the end of the section, which is just as true today as when he wrote it.

[W]omen take their natural place as followers of Jesus alongside men, with no special comment, in this the first story of Jesus* and his earliest disciples. Mark is sometimes described as a ‘primitive’ gospel, but this attitude shows true Christian maturity and naturalness of approach, to which it is hard to feel that we have attained today, in spite of all our artificial striving for it. Perhaps the simplicity of the Spirit brings more balance than all the complicated theological argument on either side, with their ‘special pleading’, that we so often hear today.

* meaning “the earliest Christian gospel”

  • Jesus had a close group of women followers, several of whom are named in Mark — Mary Magdalene, Mary, mother of James and Joses, and Salome, for instance (Mark 15:40; 15:47; 16:1).
  • A young girl, daughter of Jairus, raised from the dead, is the first recorded miracle that Jesus performed (Mark 5:23). She was addressed as ‘talitha’, ‘child’ (Mark 5:41). The girl’s mother was called in to witness her resurrection along with her father which shows a “thoughtfulness and consideration for women rarely seen in the ancient world.”
  • On the way to the house of Jairus Jesus healed a woman of a long-standing hemorrhage. She was addressed as ‘daughter’ (Mark 5:34); also signifying she was saved and forgiven her sins. Her faith is singled out for praise by Jesus (Mark 5:34). Mark records these as matter of fact without comment.
  • Jesus was identified as ‘Mary’s son’.
  • Jesus saw women and men equally as God’s creation (Mark 10:6) and demanded that women, as much as men, should be protected in marriage, disagreeing with the Pharisees interpretation of the law of Moses regarding divorce (Mark 10:11).
  • Jesus rebuked the disciples when they tried to deny mothers from bringing their children to Him for a blessing.
  • Jesus saw the giving up of sisters, mother or wife as great a sacrifice for the kingdom as giving up brothers or father (Mark 10:29).
  • Jesus seemed to have special concern for mothers with young children who would be living during the trials of the end times (Mark 13:17).
  • A woman anointed Jesus’ head with costly perfume at a meal that took place at Simon the leper’s house (Mark 14:3). “Wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” (Mark 14:9)
  • The women disciples stayed and watched Jesus while He was on the cross (and some say women are emotionally weaker?).
  • Women disciples were witnesses to both his death and resurrection even though Jewish law wouldn’t accept the testimony of women as evidence.

Addendum: Coincidentally, there have been quite a few posts on women’s issues lately. I just want to be clear in that this post isn’t in response to any of them. I just happened to have this in the hopper for a while. I will say though that in his actions and words, Jesus was a feminist as far as advocating equality for women without needing to explicitly say so, as Mark demonstrates. It should be obvious.


Photo © Jeff at Scripture Zealot

Had a great time reading through Mark

I like to read commentaries all the way through. There I said it.

After reading a lot about Jesus (The Historical Jesus? Christology? I’m still confused on the terms.) and the Gospels, I started reading regular commentaries with Romans and went all the way through Revelation. A review on Keener’s great Revelation commentary is forthcoming.

Now I want to go back to the Gospels and read commentaries on those and Acts. I just got done finishing a read-through of Mark. I was mesmerized. Wow. I don’t know how to describe it. Mainly, the Holy Spirit illumined things that I hadn’t noticed before, as happens to all of us.

I was going to try to read as much as I could at once to get a good overview but needed to slow down to savor it. Just the first two chapters are so rich.

I also think that reading commentaries has helped me learn how to better read the Bible in some respects. To me it’s like reading the Bible in slow motion with a learned scholar leading me through how to look at the details, read things in context, think about what the author meant to say to his original audience etc. (And education of these things is sorely lacking in the church.) I can’t say how much this has helped. And I haven’t even gotten into hermeneutics proper yet.

Now I will be starting with a commentary on it by Alan Cole.