Over the past few months I have created a special on-line course on the Gospel of Mark titled “Creating Jesus: Why Mark’s Gospel was Forgotten,” that is now available. This is a college level mini-course, with seven video lectures filmed in 4K quality, along with a Study Guide containing notes, maps, bibliography, and other supplementary materials that I have prepared specifically for this course to guide you through–very similar to what I do in the classroom. This was my most effective and popular course, to both graduates and undergraduates, in my four decades of teaching at the University of Notre Dame, the College of William and Mary, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Now that I am retired, I am offering this course more widely through MVP Courses to the public. You will own the course for life, with permanent access to the 4K quality videos along with the course materials you can download as PDF files. You can read more about signing up for 👉 “Creating Jesus: Why Mark’s Gospel Was Forgotten?” at this link—with no obligation to purchase unless you decide to order it:
In this short interview with Derek Lambert, creator of MVP Courses, I offer an overview of the course and my approach to Mark. Check it out. I think you will begin to get a glimpse of Mark that you might have never encountered before.
I am convinced that The Gospel of Mark is the most influential piece of literature from the ancient world. Even though Paul’s letters are written earlier, they offer us no “Jesus Story.” Mark is our earliest narrative presentation of the figure of Jesus. However, it is purposely constructed as a “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” And even though it is now embedded in the New Testament, it is essentially lost and forgotten.
Matthew and Luke are essentially “rewritten Mark”—or better, “overwritten Mark.” These writers use Mark as their main source, but utterly deconstruct and, as a result, essentially “destroy” it. Even though they incorporate up to 80-90% of Mark as their core story—once edited and embedded in their narrative, Mark as Mark basically ceases to exist.
In that sense it has remained “unread” for the past two millennia. Mark is in fact a kind of anti-gospel or counter-gospel. It could even be seen as “anti-Christian.” It stands in opposition to the master narrative of the Jesus Story that becomes the heart and core of the Christian Gospel—cobbled together from Matthew, Luke, and John—and the early Christian Creeds, all of whom completely lose—and even reject—Mark’s presentation.
In this course I pull Mark out of the New Testament, strip it from later forms of orthodox and dogmatic Christianity, and place it in its original historical context—as a post-War apocalyptic treatise following the destruction of Jerusalem in the summer of 70 CE. Its view of God, of Israel, and of the Messiah, is utterly opposite of, and opposed to, what emerged as early Christianity.
The focus of the course is a detailed exposition of the gospel of Mark as Mark. Mark is a skillfully constructed as a three-part drama, with clear literary motifs that move the story along in very carefully worked out directions, ending with a dead messiah, forsaken by God, his contemporary Jewish culture, and even his closest followers and disciples. The reader is left alone at the end, to try and sort out what it all means, with no direction home. And yet, embedded in the narrative, is a certain “understanding” of the message, but only for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.