Introduction to the Book
Draft one of the book is complete. Just about 150k words and 600 pages. Now comes another difficult aspect of writing which is the editing. I am certain that there will be many corrections, additions, and deletions. One important part is to make sure the story flows and the logic behind the theological is correct and true to the text. What follows is the opening introduction to the book.
Several years ago, when I started reading the Bible, I did what I thought I should do, I started at the beginning. Reading through the Old Testament was informative but was certainly taking quite a while to get through. I finally came to a point of frustration, stopped reading, and turned to the New Testament. After all, I wanted to know more about Jesus and what he taught. Thinking back on that experience, I never gave much thought as to who the authors of these “books” of the Bible were. Initially, and to a certain degree I still am, was of the belief that these writings were the inspired word of God. That in fact, for the Gospels, some people who were named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John each sat down and being in the spirit wrote out their stories. For example, with the Gospel According to Mark, I thought some guy named Mark wrote this book in one sitting. However, after reading a variety of introductory comments in various study Bibles, I came to understand that this fellow named Mark, who was a close understudy and scribe of the apostle Peter wrote the book. Again, through personal preconceptions I thought that since Peter was Jesus’ right hand man, he must have been important. So then, naturally one would guess that he had a personal secretary who traveled with him to write everything down as it happened. And that is what I thought and believed for many years. I wonder how many people currently hold this same belief.
As time went on and I came to understand the complexity of the stories that make up the Bible. I realized that with the gospels, three were remarkably similar and one was not. I remember thinking that was odd. Then, with more in-depth reading, I saw that the first three gospels, while similar were distinct and even varied with some of the wording regarding the same event. Over time, I began to look more closely at the text. Still, even though I observed more peculiarities within the text, my faith never diminished. In fact, it became stronger as the more I saw reinforced the reality that the Bible was not a two-dimensional set of words on a page. The stories became real and in a sense three dimensional.
So, what then inspired this book? Having found myself with quite a bit of time on my hands and not wanting to allow my mind to go idle, I stated reading theology books. It might be best to mention that some thirty years ago I completed my master’s degree in Biblical Studies. So, naturally I started to catch up with this personal passion. One series of books I came across was written by John P Meier called, A Marginal Jew. It is a six-part series on the Historical Jesus. This term, ‘Historical Jesus’ describes the attempt to discover what the historical person, Jesus said and did. To appreciate this study, one must be able to set aside their personal faith views of Jesus and/or theological views of Jesus that one holds. And be reassured that one is not committing blasphemy by trying to get back to the ‘Historical Jesus.’ Indeed, there are volumes of books on this topic and the literary techniques that are applied by scholars. With respect to this, it was the opening verses of the Gospel According to Luke that brought about my interest.
1:1 Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have
been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed on to us by those who from the
beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 I too decided, after investigating
everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent
Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have
Now, for some reason this really struck me as an odd statement in several ways. Luke, or the evangelist who wrote this gospel says:
1. That many people before him have written some type of story about Jesus.
2. And Luke describes these writings as an 'attempt' to write out 'orderly accounts.'
3. These stories apparently originated from firsthand eyewitnesses.
4. Then Luke states he felt compelled for some reason, although he never clarifies his
doubts for the legitimacy of these orderly accounts, to write out a better version of the
5. In other words, the author of Luke is going to write out a ‘better’ version than the
6. And of course, the purpose is he wants Theophilus to know the truth, of which can only
be found in Luke’s version because his was going to be more 'orderly.'
Why then is this unusual? Well, in the academic world of Biblical Studies there is a literary theory referred to as the ‘Four Source Theory’ that states Mark was the first gospel written (about 65-75AD) then Matthew and Luke (80-85Ad) and finally John (around 90 AD). Therefore, as the ‘Four Source Theory’ goes, since Mark was written first and since there is quite a bit of similarities between Mark, Matthew, and Luke, that the writers of Matthew and Luke had access to Mark when they wrote their stories. Therefore, they were dependent on Mark. John though similar does not exhibit the same dependency even though similar traditions are shared. Again, there is quite a bit of documentation if you want to understand more about the ‘Four Source Theory.’
So, if Luke is dependent to a degree on Mark, and Luke writes that he feels compelled to write a ‘better and more orderly account of Jesus,’ what did he believe was so unorderly about Mark? This is why Mark is so intriguing. Who really was this author and what was he trying to say to his audience? What was his thought process and composition approach in his specific type of genre? What can be said for certain about this gospel is:
1. It was written in the universal language of the time, Greek. Although, the community
Jesus lived and taught in, the language was Aramaic.
2. The author was educated to a certain degree because he was literate. At that time, it is
estimated that 90% of the people were illiterate. In Acts 4:13, it states that Peter and his
companion were uneducated or illiterate. They could not read or write.
3. Although the author was educated, his writing style is still rough.
4. Many have speculated about the audience to which Mark was written. The church at
Rome however tends to be the leading candidate though.
5. The author, as seen in the text has a familiarity with the Jewish tradition and Aramaic
6. Form critics are quick to show that Mark did not sit down one night under the
moonlight and write out this story from his recollection. In fact, it is more likely that he
collected these Jesus Traditions and molded them into a story to fit his collective belief
7. And finally, there is no evidence of who this author was or what his name or perhaps
her name was.
8. The earliest tradition about authorship comes from Eusebius the bishop of Caesarea
who lived in the mid fourth century. Eusebius in turn quotes from Papais the bishop of
Hierapolis, another church father who lived in the mid second century. It was Papias
who first spoke on the authorship of the Gospel of Mark when he wrote that:
9. This also the presbyter said: Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down
accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done
by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he
followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no
intention of giving a connected account of the Lord's discourses, so that Mark
committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he
was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to
state any of them falsely." These things are related by Papias concerning Mark.
All of this stands behind the motivation for this writing. It is a historical novel that attempts to tell a story that includes some historical truths. Obviously, the characters are fictional, but the gist story of the story has some merit. Also, please understand that in no way is this an attempt to re-write the Gospel of Mark or to infer any doubt about the inspiration behind the Gospel of Mark. It is a project that took the basic information, the different historical (literary factual) pieces and painted a new and perhaps fresh outlook on an old story.