by Elizabeth Struthers Malbon
Professor Emerita of Religion and Culture, Virginia Tech
Christ Episcopal Church, Blacksburg, Virginia
This is liturgical Year B, the year of Mark’s Gospel in the three-year cycle of lectionary readings. But, in churches who follow the Revised Common Lectionary, we have not yet read much of Mark’s Gospel since the church year began in Advent late last November. During the Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany seasons, we read from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke on a number of Sundays and occasionally from John. During the end of the season of Lent and the season of Easter, the Gospel of John, which does not have its own year in the three-year lectionary cycle, takes center stage. But on the Second Sunday after Pentecost, this year June 6, we finally return to the short and powerful Gospel of Mark for some sustained reading.
The Gospel of Mark has been my research focus as a New Testament scholar. Thus, I have had opportunities to provide introductions to or overviews of Mark’s Gospel on a number of occasions, some of which are available electronically. Here are some links:
- “Hearing Mark’s Gospel,” a blog written for St. Brendan’s Episcopal Church, outside Pittsburgh, December 6, 2017: https://www.stbrendans.org/single-post/2017/12/05/Hearing-Marks-Gospel
- “Exploring the Markan Jesus’ ‘Sea Crossings,” a blog written for the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars, January 18, 2020: https://aabs.org/esm-markan-crossings/
- Two video lectures presented via Zoom to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, East Hampton, Long Island, March 6 and 13, 2021, and now available on YouTube:
And here are two links to dramatic storytelling of Mark, word-for-word by memory, by a Lutheran pastor, theologian, and national colleague and friend of mine, Rev. Philip Ruge-Jones:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhqMmDhc0UU (Mark 1:1-8: 9)
https://www.facebook.com/ANKOSfilms/videos/i-tell-you-this-is-the-way-it-is-the-passion-according-to-mark/1882968051735717/ (Mark’s Passion Narrative, Mark 14:1-16:8)
Most scholars recognize the Gospel of Mark as our oldest Gospel and an important source for at least Matthew and Luke’s Gospels, and possibly John’s Gospel as well. Mark is also the shortest Gospel and has long been overshadowed by the other three canonical Gospels, as even the number of Sundays when Mark is not read in Mark’s lectionary year, Year B, suggests. But in
the 20th and 21st centuries, the Gospel of Mark has received renewed scholarly appreciation for its carefully structured storytelling, giving evidence of its birth as a story to hear and retell and witness to its staying power as a well-told tale of good news.