Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Gospel of Mark: view from 30,000 feet

When I recently posted word clouds for the gospels, the point was a perspective-check. Is our focus right? Here is what I see when I look at the word cloud of Mark.

1. It's all about Jesus:
"Jesus" occurs more often than any other word: over 200 times. No other word appears even half as often.

2. It's full of people:
Following Jesus, you find "disciples" or the "twelve". There are "crowds" and "children", Peter, James, John. There are also Pharisees and Pilate.

3. It's an action book:
Mark is full of "ask" and "answer", "call" and "follow", standing, sitting, teaching, preaching, teaching, baptizing, hearing, and healing, full of going and giving and believing. And particularly in Mark, these things tend to happen "immediately" after each other.

4. It's full of places:
It's full of the houses where they stayed and the boats in which they fished and traveled. It's full of the synagogues where Jesus taught and the Temple. The only city that makes the word list for Mark is Jerusalem.

5. It's distinctively Jewish
There is much mention of Abraham, of Pharisees and priests, of Moses and the law, of synagogues and the Temple, of the city of Jerusalem and the sabbath.

6. It's very human
The book is full of humanity: not just the people as we have already seen but the details. "Touch" makes the top 100 word list, along with "hand" and "heart" and "head", along with eating and bread.

That gives its own view of what it means to follow Jesus. It gives an edge to the question: how are we doing on priorities?

No comments: