Original Research

Mark, the Gospel of the suffering Son of Man: An encouragement directed to a despondent religious minority in the city of Rome

F.P. Viljoen
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 36, No 3 | a518 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v36i3.518 | © 1970 F.P. Viljoen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 August 2002 | Published:

About the author(s)

F.P. Viljoen, School of Biblical Studies & Bible Languages, Potchefstroomse Universiteit vir CHO, South Africa

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In his narrative the author of this Gospel starkly emphasizes the humiliation and suffering of Jesus as the Son of Man (i.a. 10:45). In doing so, Mark emphasizes that Jesus’ way to be the Christ is the way of suffering. In several instances Mark describes Jesus’ disciples’ ignorance of this fact. Special focus is placed on the ignorance of Peter when confessing Jesus as the Christ.

The point of departure for this article is that the Gospel of Mark was written to a specific believing community. It is argued that Rome, rather than Syria or Galilee, most probably was the Sitz im Leben and reason for the second Gospel. Furthermore it is reasoned that the context of Rome provides a relevant hermeneutical key to the understanding of the text of this Gospel.

Seen from this perspective, Mark purposefully emphasized the humiliation and suffering of Jesus on his way to glory in order to encourage his despondent readers during or directly after the persecution in the days of Nero 64 CE.

Evidence from tradition has indicated that Peter, the great leader of the Christian community in Rome, died as a martyr. This left the Christians in Rome without a leader, fearful and discouraged. The Gospel displays evidence of a Petrine eyewitness account that implies a close link between this apostle and Mark. Although at first Peter did not realize the necessity for Jesus to suffer, the Gospel of Mark clearly explains it with its focus on the passion narrative. Jesus had to walk the way of suffering. In Mark the word “way” is used in a significant manner to indicate that Jesus’ via dolorosa had implications for Peter and still has implications for all those who follow Him by confessing Him as the Christ. Christians are called to follow in his footsteps with suffering and endurance. Accordingly, Mark adds a paradoxical connotation to the term “Gospel”. “Gospel” is the good news of the salvation in Jesus. This message, however, is also concomitant with suffering and even the loss of life.


Discipleship; Following Jesus; Markan Audience; Context; Social Location; Situation


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Crossref Citations

1. Christen-dissipelskap in die Markusevangelie as critique op die welvaartsteologie
Gerhard C. Van Emmenes, Pieter A. Rousseau, Francois P. Viljoen
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi  vol: 51  issue: 1  year: 2017  
doi: 10.4102/ids.v51i1.2190