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Posted June 5, 2004

Book: Mark: Storyteller, Interpreter, Evangelist
Author: Francis J. Moloney
Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA, pp.224

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

The earliest and briefest of the four Gospels has traditionally been ascribed to a disciple named Mark. Though overshadowed by its lengthier neighbors in ages past, its pages hold rich rewards for those who ask the right questions. Who was “Mark” and what were his purposes — historical, theological, or otherwise? How does his shaping of the story of Jesus of Nazareth and the origins of Christianity continue to inform our understanding of the “good news” today?

In Mark: Storyteller, Interpreter, Evangelist, renowned biblical scholar Francis J. Moloney explores these questions in a lucid, fresh, and broadly accessible presentation that will profit all those who wish to encounter one of the Christian faith’s earliest proponents and the inventor of its most revered literary genre, the gospel.

“If you are seeking a reliable and engaging introduction to the Gospel of Mark, look no further. Moloney’s work presents students and pastors, as well as scholars, with a reliable account of how the Gospel of Mark became such a central text in contemporary New Testament studies, and it offers us an engaging reading of the Markan story that opens new vistas. Moloney provides a thorough study of Markan Christology and ecclesiology, and his final chapter, “The Good News of Human Failture,: is the most insightful statement of Mark’s accomplishment I have read. Clearly written and always compelling in its presentation, Mark: Storyteller, Interpreter, Evangelist is the perfect introduction to a serous reading of the Markan Gospel. Carefully researched and based on an insightful reading of the Gospel text, it will remain a staple of Markan studies for years to come.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The prologue of the Gospel of Mark expressed God’s design for his beloved Son. It as marked by a series of exalted christological claims for Jesus. The story of the gospel that followed indicated how God was well pleased with his beloved Son, whose final words were: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The “good news” according to Mark takes many unexpected twists and turns, between the exalted Christology of the prologue and its tragic ending. The most surprising feature of the story is the dominant role played by Jesus’ crucifixion, associated with the total failure of his disciples. John Drury said it well: “Between the understanding given us in its first verse and the radical incomprehension and insecurity of the subsequent tale, Mark’s book gets its energy.” As the story comes to a close, not only Jesus, but also the reader is forced to ask the question, which comes from Ps. 22:1: “Why have you forsaken me?” Is this the way God treats his beloved Son?

This question is answered by the presence of God, through his agents. The stone has been rolled away, a messenger from God is found in the empty tomb, and the Easter proclamation announces that Jesus, the crucified Christ and Son of God, the suffering Son of Man, has been vindicated in the resurrection. God has raised Jesus the Nazarene from the dead: “You are seeking Jesus the Nazarene, the crucified one. He has been raised. Look at the place where they laid him.” The main feature of the “good news” of the Gospel of Mark is that, in the end, it is good news about God. Jesus looked forward confidently to the vindication of the Son of Man in the resurrection and his hopes were not thwarted. God did not abandon Jesus, despite his anguished cry from the cross. Nor will God thwart Jesus, despite his anguished cry from the cross. Nor will God thwart Jesus’ other promises: he will gather the elect from the four corners of the earth, coming as judge at the right hand of God at the end of time.

The same good news continues to be announced to subsequent disciples of Jesus, Christian readers of the Gospel of Mark. As Christians continue to fail and flee in fear, they are told that God’s action in and through the risen Jesus overcomes all such failure. Mark the evangelist provided the Christian tradition with a story that is a resounding affirmation of God’s overcoming all imaginable failure, in and through the action of the beloved Son. The God of Israel is the God and Father of Jesus. Jesus is God’s beloved Son, and he delights in his Son. Jesus’ unconditional self-gift on the cross reveals that he is the Christ, the Son of God. This is the life story that reveals God’s design, and lay the foundation for a new temple, not built with human hands. It also looks further, beyond the limitations of human history, and promises the possibility of a new future for all who are prepared to follow the man wh came to serve and not to be served, to lay down his life as a ransom for the many. Jesus, the crucified Son of Man, will return and gather the elect from the four corners of the earth. Herein lies the authority of Jesus, who never fails his failing disciples. The words addressed t the struggling disciples at the transformation are addressed to all who take up this gospel, and read it as good news: “Listen to Him.”

Table of Contents:

Part I: Mark

Chapter 1: The Author of Mark in history

Which Mark?

Why Mark?

Where and When?


Chapter 2: History and Theology

The historian

The theologian


Part 2: Mark the Storyteller

Chapter 3: Mark’s story

The plot of the Gospel of Mark


Chapter 4: Mark 1:1-8:30: Who is Jesus?

The beginning

Jesus and the Jews

Jesus and his new family

Jesus and the disciples


Chapter 5: Mark 8:31 – 16:8: Son of Man, Christ, and Son of God

Jesus and the disciples on the way to Jerusalem

Endings in Jerusalem

The passion of Jesus

The epilogue


Part 3: Mark the Interpreter

Chapter 6: Mark the interpreter of Jesus of Nazareth

Jesus and the Kingdom of God

Jesus as the Christ

Jesus as the Son of God

Jesus as the Son of Man


Chapter 7: Mark the Interpreter of the Christian Community

The disciples

The Christian community at the table of the Lord


Part 4: Mark the Evangelist

Chapter 8: The Good News of the Gospel of Mark


The Good News of human failure