In preparation for the lecture ‘Mark and the Mission of God’, I was surprised by the distinct absence of this Gospel throughout the Bible and Mission literature. There seems to be much greater emphasis on Matthew, Luke and even John concerning Mission theology and not so much on Mark. To say that Mark is not used at all would be a fallacy, as a smattering of references can be noted. But even the mighty Bosch in Transforming Mission only cites four references from this Gospel.
Could this be the product of previous generations of scholars not taking Mark seriously, by relegating it behind the later Gospels, whose writers rework, edit, mould, and shape some of Mark’s original writing? Or is it that the concept of Mission is so intrinsic to Mark that it is often missed by in-depth exegesis? Do we miss the wood for the trees? Often it can be the cursory reading of a book that enables the reader to see the overall big picture. In their The Biblical Foundations for Mission Senior and Stuhlmueller write,
One of the first things to be noted about the Gospel of Mark is that it faithfully transmits the basic content and thrust of the kingdom ministry of Jesus. Given the mission implications of this motif, we should not overlook this fundamental datum before turning to Mark’s particular emphasis. (p213)
Perhaps with the emphasis on form, redaction and other critical methodologies or the rush to find the ‘historical Jesus’, we have missed the basic premise that Mark was more missionally minded than we first thought.