GOSPEL OF MARK 2018 09 CH 15, 16


Boring, M. Eugene.  Mark: A Commentary.  Part of the New Testament Library commentary series edited by C.Clifton Black and John T. Carroll.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2006).

Byrne, Brendan.  A Costly Freedom: A Theological Reading of Mark’s Gospel.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2008).

Donahue, S.J., John R. and Daniel J. Harrington, S.J..  The Gospel of Mark.  Part of the Sacra Pagina biblical commentary series edited by Daniel J. Harrington S.J.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2002).

Duran, Nicole Wilkinson Duran, Teresa Okure, Daniel M. Patte editors.  Mark.  Part of the Texts @ Contexts series edited by Athalya Brenner and Nicole Wilkinson Duran.  (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2011)..

France, R.T.  The Gospel of Mark.  Part of the New International Greek Testament Commentary series edited by I. Howard Marshall and Donald A. Hagner.  (Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids MI, 2002).

Harrington, O.P., Wilfrid.  What was Mark At? The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary.  (Columbia Press, Dublin, 2008).

Hengel, Martin.  Studies in the Gospel of Mark.  Translated by John Bowden from the original German.  (Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene OR, 1985).

Myers, Ched.  Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus.  Twentieth Anniversary Edition.  (Orbis Books, Maryknoll, 1988/2008).

Myers, Ched & Marie Dennis, Joseph Nangle, OFM, Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, and Stuart Taylor.  “Say to the This Mountain”: Mark’s Story of Discipleship. (Orbis, Maryknoll NY, 1996).

Perkins, Pheme.  The Gospel of Mark.  New Interpreter’s Bible Vol. VIII.  Part of the New Interpreter’s Bible commentary series convened by Leander Keck.  (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1995).

Placher, William C.  Mark.  Part of the bible commentary serried Belief, A Theological Commentary on the Bible edited by Amy Plantinga Pauw and William C. Placher.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2010).

Ryken, Leland, James C.Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III, General Editors.  Dictionary of Biblical Imagery: An encyclopedic exploration of the images, symbols, motifs, metaphors, figures of speech and literary patterns of the Bible.  (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 1998).

Sweetland, Dennis.  Mark: From Death to Life. Part of the Spiritual Commentaries on the bible series edited by Mary Ann Getty-Sullivan.  (New City Press, Hyde Park NY, 2000).

Williamson, Jr.,  Lamar.  Mark.  Part of the Interpretation biblical commentary series edited by James L. Mays, Patrick d. Miller, and Paul J. Achtemeier.  (John Knox Press, Louisville, 1983)




This talk is by Catherine Upchurch

When the Berlin Wall fell the whole world watched.  It took longer to understand what it meant.  Something new and life-giving was the result.

Centurion: “Truly this man was the Son of God.”  Beyond simply watching, the centurion understood more than others what had taken place.  He is the first human to testify that Jesus was the Son of God.

What does it mean to us that Jesus is the Son of God?  What difference does it make?

How do these chapters of Mark help readers, then and now, move to understanding what it means and not just telling us what happened?

Verbal irony: when the speaker’s words have an obvious meaning but also convey a deeper truth.  He said he would rebuild the temple in 3 days, On cross – he saved others … , mocked etc.

Dramatic Irony: when events have an obvious or surface meaning but a deeper meaning is present beneath the surface.  Being clothed in purple, crowned with thorns.  Exchange of Barabbas for Jesus is another example.  Son of the Father

Irony as a tool in Mark’s hands to reveal the deeper truth of Jesus

5 times in these chapters: Jesus is hailed as “the King of the Jews”  Mark 15:2, 9, 12, 18, 26

Mark 15:9: “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” an intentional slap of the religious leaders by Pilate

Remember the pivotal point in chapter 8 when Jesus indicated what discipleship would  mean?  Mark 8:34 “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

Jesus had already been on the Way of the Cross since journeying to Caesaria Philippi. A life journey, a way of living.  Consequences are significant.  Redemptive suffering.  Service.

Mark 15:33 33 At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.

somewhat parallels the opening verses of the bible: Gen. 1:1-2 : “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth—2 and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss”   Darkness once again signifies chaos.

The tearing of the temple curtain – all people are in God’s presence

Beloved son: centurion, baptism of Jesus, parable of the vineyard

Burial story closes passion, reality of the death.  Earlier in ch. 10 James and John seek to sit at side of Jesus  Jesus responded: Mark 10:38  “Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”

Baptism associated with dying to self and rising to new life in Christ.

Tomb: becomes symbolic of the waters of baptism

The burial stone represents the obstacles in our lives that prevent us from living out our baptismal promises?  LaVerdier

Wrapping and anointing the body and then burial.  Years later gathering up the remaining bones and placing them in a small ossuary.

Mary Magdalene, Mary, the Mother of James, and Salome go to the tomb at the beginning of Chapter 16.  Expecting to find Jesus’ corpse.

Their fear?  Mark 14:27  “All of you will have your faith shaken.”

The amazement throughout the gospel may be that of spiritual ecstasy.

11 verses added by the church to elaborate and be consistent with the other gospels.  3 resurrection appearances (Mary Magdalene, 2 disciples along the road, the 11 remaining apostles)

The church’s mission is given by God.  Mark 16:15, 16  “”Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.”




Outline of chapters 15, 16:

  • Jesus before Pilate
  • Golgotha and crucifixion
  • care for the body of Jesus
  • ………
  • women come to the tomb and find it empty
  • appearances
  • commission / signs of belief


Williamson p. 269 points out that there are no neutral parties in these two chapters.  People either reject Jesus or commit to Him, no other option left.

Perkins p. 717: Prior to 6 C.E. Judea was governed by King Herod the Great and then by his son Archaeleus.  Archaeleus was removed and a prefect / governor was sent to rule the area.  At the time of Jesus the governor was Pilate.  He alone had the right to impose a sentence of death in the province.

Perkins p. 718: “…when the wealthy aristocrats in Jerusalem would not pay for building the city’s aqueduct, Pilate seized the money needed from the Temple treasury.  When the crowds there rioted, Pilate sent disguised troops into the crowd to beat the rioters with clubs.  Many people died from the beatings, while others were trampled in the ensuing rush to escape.”

Jesus before Pilate

Donahue p. 431: “Pontius Pilate was the prefect of Judea from 26 to 36 C.E.  Contemporary Jewish sources describe him as cruel and obstinate, not exactly as Mark does.  His headquarters were in Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean coast.  Since Jewish pilgrimage feasts (and especially Passover with its theme of national liberation) attracted large crowds and had the potential to inspire riots and uprisings, it was wise policy for the Roman prefect to come to Jerusalem and work with the local Jewish leaders in order to keep the peace.  Whether Pilate stayed at the Fortress Antonia on the northern edge of the Temple complex or (more likely) at Herod’s Palace on the western side of the city is a matter of longstanding debate.”

Pilate is “amazed” that Jesus – on trial for his life – does not respond to the accusations.

There is no record of a Roman policy of releasing prisoners but it was probably a good PR move to do so on big occasions.

Barabbas = Bar (son of) / Abba (father).  Donahue p. 432: “… the choice presented to the crowd – between Jesus of Nazareth (the real “Son of the Father”) and Barabbas – is rich in irony  and theological significance.”

Donahue p. 434: “Mark presents Pilate as both weak and pragmatic. He is weak in that he recognizes Jesus’ innocence and knows that the “envy” of the chief priests is behind the crowd’s demand but nevertheless he caves in to popular pressure.  He is pragmatic in that his goal is to prevent a riot in the Jerusalem at Passover time and so he takes the easy way out.”

another way to read it – Pilate was playing with all of the participants for his own amusement.  Perhaps he enjoyed exposing (at least for himself) the weaknesses and politics of these subjugated people.

Donahue p. 438 quotes Ray Brown’s epic “Death of the Messiah” (p. 698-705) on Pilate – that there are six historically verifiable events in the rule of Pilate where he deals with a crowd (by caving in) in a similar way – so perhaps this is in character for Pilate.

Perkins p. 718: Some scholars suggest that Roman legal procedures at the time held that if a defendant offered no defense that they were automatically considered guilty.

The Roman soldiers taunt and mock Jesus by dressing him in purple and crowning him with thorns.  The flogging constituted the actual torture.

They knelt down before him – as did the Gerasene demoniac.

Donahue p. 439: “In it Jesus appears as the Servant of God, the Son of God, the King of the Jews, and the Suffering Righteous One.”  That’s a lot to pack into a chapter, he is beginning to sum the gospel up?


Golgotha and crucifixion

Jesus is crucified at the third hour (9:00am) and dies at roughly 3:00pm.  Perkins notes (p. 723) that it often took 24 hours to die this way – hence Pilate’s surprise that it ended so soon.  a sign of the brutality of the flogging?

Perkins p. 273: “In the ancient Near East, cosmological signs were thought to accompany the death of great persons.  Mark’s readers probably knew the story that the sun had grown dark when Julius Caesar died as well.”

Simon helps carry the crossbeam at the requirement of the Roman soldiers.  This echoes the previous saying of Jesus – we must pick up and carry the cross ourselves.

Proverbs 31:6, 7 : “Give strong drink to anyone who is perishing, and wine to the embittered; When they drink, they will forget their misery, and think no more of their troubles.”


Williamson p. 276 – Mark, written for a predominantly (now) Gentile Christian community in the midst of a Jewish community, emphasizes that in the end Gentile Romans put Jesus to death and a Gentile Roman soldier is the first to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God.


At the baptism of Jesus the heavens torn open.  At the death of Jesus the temple curtain (with stars and signs of the zodiac on it ) was torn in two.


Psalm 22

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish?

My God, I call by day, but you do not answer; by night, but I have no relief.


Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the glory of Israel.

In you our fathers trusted; they trusted and you rescued them.

To you they cried out and they escaped; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.


But I am a worm, not a man, scorned by men, despised by the people.

All who see me mock me; they curl their lips and jeer;

they shake their heads at me:

“He relied on the LORD—let him deliver him; if he loves him, let him rescue him.”


For you drew me forth from the womb, made me safe at my mother’s breasts.

Upon you I was thrust from the womb; since my mother bore me you are my God.

Do not stay far from me, for trouble is near, and there is no one to help.


Many bulls surround me; fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me.

They open their mouths against me, lions that rend and roar.

Like water my life drains away; all my bones are disjointed.


My heart has become like wax, it melts away within me.

As dry as a potsherd is my throat; my tongue cleaves to my palate;

you lay me in the dust of death.


Dogs surround me; a pack of evildoers closes in on me.

They have pierced my hands and my feet.

I can count all my bones.





They stare at me and gloat; they divide my garments among them;

for my clothing they cast lots.


But you, LORD, do not stay far off; my strength, come quickly to help me.

Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the grip of the dog.

Save me from the lion’s mouth, my poor life from the horns of wild bulls.


Then I will proclaim your name to my brethren; in the assembly I will praise you:

“You who fear the LORD, give praise!

All descendants of Jacob, give honor; show reverence, all descendants of Israel!


For he has not spurned or disdained the misery of this poor wretch,

Did not turn away  from me, but heard me when I cried out.

I will offer praise in the great assembly; my vows I will fulfill before those who fear him.


The poor will eat their fill; those who seek the LORD will offer praise.

May your hearts enjoy life forever!”


All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD;

All the families of nations will bow low before him.

For kingship belongs to the LORD, the ruler over the nations.


All who sleep in the earth will bow low before God;

All who have gone down into the dust will kneel in homage.

And I will live for the LORD; my descendants will serve you.

The generation to come will be told of the Lord,

that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn

the deliverance you have brought.


Amos 8: 9-10

On that day—oracle of the Lord GOD—

I will make the sun set at midday

and in broad daylight cover the land with darkness.

I will turn your feasts into mourning

and all your songs into dirges.

I will cover the loins of all with sackcloth

and make every head bald.

I will make it like the time of mourning for an only child,

and its outcome like a day of bitter weeping.


Williamson p. 278: “While John depicts the cross as glory and Luke highlights Jesus’ solidarity with the oppressed, Mark (followed by Matthew) presents the crucifixion of Jesus as the paradoxical enthronement and coronation of the suffering King of the Jews.  This gospel points to Jesus on his cross and says ‘God is like that.’”

care for the body of Jesus

Deuteronomy 21:22, 23:

If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not remain on the tree overnight. You must bury it the same day; anyone who is hanged is a curse of God.  You shall not defile the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you as a heritage.


Donahue p. 454: “If the request came from a disciple of Jesus it is very unlikely that Pilate would accede to it.  This too indicates that Joseph had not been part of Jesus’ movement and that he was acting out of genuine Jewish piety and not out of some prior knowledge of and affiliation with Jesus.”

Chapter 16 notes

women come to the tomb and find it empty

Donahue p. 458:  with regard to the young man inside the tomb “Matthew understood this figure to be an angel, and this is probably as Mark intended it, but Mark does call him a neaniskos (“young man”), the same term he used to describe the young man clothed only in a linen cloth in 14:51.”

“he has been raised” a theological or divine passive, God has raised Jesus up.

Hosea 6:1,2

“Come, let us return to the LORD,

For it is he who has torn, but he will heal us;

he has struck down, but he will bind our wounds.


He will revive us after two days;

on the third day* he will raise us up,

to live in his presence.

Donahue p. 460: “What is exceptional and distinctive about the early Christian proclamation that Jesus has been raised is that this happens to an individual (and not to all the dead) within the course of human history (and not at the end time).”


Most scholars posit that Mark originally ended with “and they were afraid” (16:8)

Donahue p. 462: “their vocabulary, literary style, and content are very different from what is in the body of Mark’s Gospel, and these endings are unevenly represented in the manuscript tradition taken as a whole.  As Bruce Metzger states after a careful examination of all the evidence: ‘the earliest ascertainable form of the Gospel of Mark ended with 16:8’.’

The longer ending that we have today is not part of the better ancient manuscripts or the earliest ones.   Someone in the second century thought it needed a better ending than Mark supplied.  Why would Mark have ended so abruptly?  Perhaps because he knew the community knew the rest?




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