Exegetical Study Mark 8 22 38 Contrast With the Story in Matthew and Luke Term Paper

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The Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke differ in terms of authorship, tone, and historical context. Their differences signal the richness of the Christian Bible and show how each of the core allegories and key moments in the life of Christ can be interpreted and re-interpreted for diverse audiences. The Gospel of Mark was most likely written by a disciple of Peter, and in fact may be the Gospel of Peter as told through Mark. Mark was known to be a "disciple and interpreter" for Peter (Kirby 2006 "The Gospel of Mark"). Irenaeus also notes that Mark was "the disciple and interpreter of Peter," and the Gospel of Mark was therefore "handed down to us in writing what was preached by Peter," (in Against Heresies III.1 and III.10.6, cited by MacRory 1910). Mark 8:27 is one of the passages that overtly pays homage to Peter. Jesus directly addresses Peter, who declares Jesus the Messiah (Mark 8:29; Matthew 16:16; Luke 9:20). The declaration of Jesus as the Messiah becomes the final line of demarcation between Judaism and Christianity.

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Moreover,, the Gospel of Mark predated the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Chronologically, the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke provide insight into how Christianity developed from being a subset of Judaism into an independent religion. Mark and Matthew were writing for primarily Roman audiences as well as to Jewish audiences open to the new covenant. Luke, on the other hand, wrote as a Greek gentile who was uncircumcised and also influenced already by the key teachings of Paul (Aherne 1910) for Luke, Christianity was not subversive but rather a legitimate theology. For Luke's predecessors Mark and Matthew, Christianity was attempting to distinguish itself from two opposing and hostile forces: that of the Jewish religious establishment and that of the Roman political authority.

Term Paper on Exegetical Study Mark 8 22 38 Contrast With the Story in Matthew and Luke Assignment

Even so, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were both "revised and expanded" versions of Mark's account (Donahue & Harrington 2002, p. 1). The life of Jesus is retold with the basic skeleton still intact even when Luke tells the tale. It therefore seems that the Gospel of Matthew and most likely that of Luke too were directly dependent on the Gospel of Mark (Kirby 2006 "Gospel of Matthew"). At least, the structure of the Gospels of Mark and Matthew share much in common (Harrington 1991). Both the Gospels of Mark and Matthew are likely to have been written in either Aramaic or Hebrew, whereas Luke was writing in Greek ("The Gospel of Mark" n.d.).

The approximate time of authorship for Mark and Matthew seems to have been during or immediately after the Roman destruction of the temple in 70 a.D. This major turning point in Jewish history also became a formative moment for Christianity: the time at which followers of Christ either aligned themselves with the new covenant of Christ or with the old teachings of Judaism. However, the Gospel of Luke was written long after the Jewish revolt and in a different historical, geographic, and cultural context. If Roman Palestine was the old world of Judaism, then southern Europe would become the new world of Christianity. This was the new world in which Paul and Luke would come to create the foundations of the Christian church.

The Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke all seem to be committed to creating a foundation of faith distinct from Judaism. In part, each of these three Gospels has as much a political as a religious message. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke attempt to prove to the Romans that Christianity is not a political threat and that the teachings of Christ offer salvation and power. Allegories of Christ's power are presented with increasing confidence, too. The Gospel of Mark is, for example, more subdued and evangelical in tone than the Gospel of Luke, which comes across as a more self-assured Christian text. Any political tone detected in the Gospel of Luke is geared more towards the evangelical nature of the text, whereas Mark and Matthew had definite reasons to appease Roman and Jewish readers.

The most notable difference, then, between the Gospels of Mark and Matthew vs. that of Luke is that Mark and Matthew were writing during a time of political turmoil during the Roman occupation. A Jewish revolt precipitated Roman ire. In response, the followers of Christ attempted to distance themselves from the Jews. Here was one of the early turning points in Christian community-building. Christianity could have become a subset of Judaism and remained there comfortably but instead, early disciples transformed the faith into one that was unique and differentiated from Judaism. The Gospels of Mark and Matthew testify to the differences between Judaism and Christianity.

The bulk of the turmoil between the Romans and the Jews has mainly vanished by the time Luke penned his gospel. Luke's audience was not Jews ripe for conversion to the new faith but rather, his fellow gentiles. One clear piece of evidence that Mark and Matthew were writing to a distinctly different audience than Luke was can be seen in the actual geographic anchors in the respective texts. For instance in Mark 8:27 and also in Matthew 16:13, the gospel authors anchor their text geographically in the Middle East. Matthew notes that "Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi," or as Mark puts it "to the villages around Caesarea Philippi," (Matthew 16:13; Mark 8:27). On the way, Jesus asks his disciples -- and indeed anyone around -- "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" (Matthew 16:13). Mark paraphrases Jesus's statement more simply and straightforwardly: "Who do people say I am?" (Mark 8:27). Both Mark and then Matthew detail the interaction between Jesus and Peter. The specificity of the interaction is an important distinction between the events that are told in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew vs. The Gospel of Luke.

Luke does not mention Caesarea Philippi, as if the geographic location was irrelevant to the story. Luke does not make a point to note that Jesus was passing through Caesarea Philippi. The author actually says, "Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say I am?" (Luke 9:18). Having Jesus pray in "private" with his disciples suggests that there was no political impetus for Jesus's mission. He is not located in Caesarea Philippi but in a generic spiritual zone that all potential believers can relate to. By distancing Jesus from Caesarea Philippi, the word of Christ was not spoken to what might be a hostile Roman or pagan crowd.

What's more, Luke also omits one of the most poignant moments in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark: when Jesus rebukes Peter by saying "Get behind me, Satan!" (Mark 8:33). In Luke's account, Jesus speaks to a general audience and does not have the personal interaction with Peter that is integral to the narrative given by Mark and then by Matthew. Thus, Luke seems to eliminate altogether the defensiveness with which Jesus responds to Peter. Jesus's reaction to Peter's sadness upon hearing the prediction of the messiah's death is one of the most notable aspects of the Gospels and thus one of the key issues that distinguishes Luke from Matthew and Mark.

Matthew drew from Mark, and most likely Luke did as well. However, the political tone is far tamer in the Gospel of Luke. The author is writing from a perspective that is not one of the oppressed but one that is increasingly empowered. This sense of confidence and political empowerment can be seen in several of the major passages shared in common by the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke. This is particularly why Mark 8:22-38 is one such section that can be critically analyzed for fruitful exegesis. Whereas Matthew retains the core tone and style that Mark conveys, Luke's Gospel denotes a major shift in Christian identity.

Mark's Gospel is written in a careful tone, one that shows that the author was aware of the intensity of Roman persecution of both Judaism and Christianity. According to Kirby's "The Gospel of Mark" (2006), the author's Christian milieu had been "suffering through tribulations." Those tribulations were mostly related to the revolt of the Jews and the Roman reaction: the destruction of the Temple. Mark seems to be presenting Christianity in a way that distances it clearly from Judaism. Christianity is presented as something that is not threatening to the Roman authority or culture, which is why Mark and Matthew take care to mention Jesus passing through Caesaria Philippi. Mentioning the Roman name is a judicious nod to the authorities. Jesus is also careful to warn Peter and all others who bear witness to the miracles that spreading the word about the Messiah would be the wrong thing to do. It is as if Jesus -- and the authors of the Gospels -- want the appease the Roman authorities. Luke does not seem as concerned about doing so and in fact writes as if… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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