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Jeshua, Son of Mary: Reflections on the Gospel Ascribed to Mark

Jeshua, Son of Mary: Reflections on the Gospel Ascribed to Mark

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Jeshua, Son of Mary: Reflections on the Gospel Ascribed to Mark

138 pagine
2 ore
Jul 24, 2013


The Gospel of Mark is an invitation to anyone open to the stories told by believers about Jeshua, the son of Mary, about his life and especially his compassion for those excluded from society and struggling on the margins. Although Mark's Gospel was considered inferior to the other three common to Christians, most scholars today have come to recognize it as the first attempt to give an overall view of the life and death of Jeshua, making it the pioneer of a new literary genre.
Jul 24, 2013

Informazioni sull'autore

H. D. Kreilkamp is a graduate of the Pontifical Oriental Institute of Rome and Catholic University of America, has served as a professor at seminaries and colleges in the United States, and was cofounder of the Institute of Philosophy in Tanzania. His books include Origin of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and Come, Lord Jesus!

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Jeshua, Son of Mary - H. D. Kreilkamp



Thomas Merton stated forty years ago that we were just then beginning to see even further that: the Bible is everybody’s best book, and the unbeliever can prove himself as capable as anyone else of finding new aspects of it which the believer would do well to take seriously (Opening the Bible, p. 28). He then went on to prove it, citing many writers, dramatists, agnostics, and philosophers who drew much from it. I try to do as much, citing the gospel of Mark, which (Merton thought) portrayed Jesus as even tougher than the Jeshua portrayed by Matthew in his gospel.

The life of Jeshua, as Mark calls him in the sixth chapter (verse 3) of his gospel, is portrayed as truly Good News! There are many reasons why it is still so today, as I aim to show as much in this book. I call him Jeshua because that is what he was called by his fellow townsmen of Nazareth, where he was called the carpenter’s son, the son of Mary. Mark tells of Jeshua’s public life of preaching, healing, and reconciling sinners, especially those who were considered to be outsiders in society, people like many of us.

The stories Jeshua told were, to begin with, oral stories that were passed on from one person to the next for about forty years. The men Jeshua picked and called to be disciples to follow him, to help him proclaim the good news, began spreading the good news in Galilee, then in Judaea, while he lived among them. After Jeshua was condemned and executed under Pontius Pilate, the disciples continued to spread the good news of his life, death, and resurrection; they had now witnessed him alive, transformed, and risen from the dead. The good news spread like wild fire.

For my knowledge of the early Christian Church, I take and trust Irenaeus as the most reliable church father. From Irenaeus, and other writers with whom he was contemporary, we know that Mark was the companion of Peter in Rome, and that he had one purpose: to leave out nothing he had heard and to make no misstatements in his writing. Some of the stories Mark included in his account go back very far and give us important information about Jeshua.

The name Christ, which was added to that of Jeshua in the opening of Mark’s gospel, implies that when Mark wrote Jeshua was already called and considered Anointed by God, that is, the Messiah (the Hebrew word denoting a king). Since the days of Samuel the prophet, those so anointed were called and accepted as kings of the Jewish people: the first was Saul, then David, followed by Solomon. The title Christ was attributed to Jeshua by his disciples, and was accepted by Jeshua himself when he was on trial for his life and confronted by the Jewish high priest as to whether he was the prophesied King of the Jews (Mark 14:62). His followers accepted him as such, although his kingdom was not of this world but one of truth and justice. Then, as now, this is good news for all, and especially for those who accept his call to join him in proclaiming God’s love and compassion for all human beings.

Franz Overbeck considered the gospel (euaggelion in Greek) to be a new, Christian genre of writing that was centered on the good news of Jeshua’s life and death. However, Mark gives us no insight into Jeshua’s origins or his inner personal development. He is simply the evangelist who calls Jeshua the son of Mary. Nonetheless, Mark’s account is the first account of the heavens being split open at his being baptized by John the Baptist at the river Jordan (1:10).

Twenty centuries later the stories of Jeshua as told by Mark, the things Jeshua did out of compassion for people—the poor, homeless, jobless, and those alienated from society for whatever reasons, be they ethnic, sexual, or simply from misfortune—still ring true. Jeshua’s message to his disciples and to everyone lives on: I came so that they may have life and have it more abundantly(John 10:10). These words are those of the author of the Fourth Gospel, and they are a promise of a fuller human life for all of us. Yes, the words and works of Jeshua are still good news for all humanity. It should come as no surprise that the message of John 10:10 stands out in everything Jeshua did or said in the gospel ascribed to Mark.

Derived from the Hebrew, Jeshua means God saves [us]! The name Jeshua is very little understood that way today. It was the name given to him at his birth and by which he was known throughout his life. It was the name that Pontius Pilate nailed to the cross on which he died. It’s the name that was justified and proven innocent by God. And it is the name Peter used when he preached the news of Jeshua’s resurrection in the Jewish temple and acclaimed him as the source of our hope for eternal life.

My account as told in this book doesn’t address all the controversies surrounding his death and resurrection. As often as not, these details are distraction. Simply stated, Mark’s account remains a reliable source for the many reasons that Jeshua’s name was and is good news for those who grasp its meaning. However, if you want to investigate some of the sources I used to write this book other than the gospel of Mark, you can do so. I have included a list of these sources. For a more comprehensive history of the good news, you will find it detailed at length in the books I name there.

At the end of my account of the life, teachings, and sufferings of Jeshua as the Messiah, I add sources for readers who wish to pursue any of my insights further. While composing this account, I drew on reflections from a series of radio broadcasts I made on the Gospel of Mark. During those broadcasts, I discussed this gospel along with my wife, Mary Ellen, and our friends Earl and Betty Bliss. After reading a chapter of Mark, or a portion of it, the four of us would share our personal convictions about the meaning of it. I’m sorry to say, however, that although the comments of all were well received by the radio audience, only mine have found their way into print here. Yet I must acknowledge that our readings as a group, and my comments here on the Gospel of Mark, would never have come into print had they not been part of these conversations. The insights of the Spirit given to all of us have contributed to the formation of this book.

The Gospel of Mark is acknowledged by scholars today as being the first among the accounts. Although Mark’s account has not always acknowledged as the being the best account, it is acknowledged today as being authentic by the vast majority of Scripture scholars. Scholarship aside, for me it is the most moving of the four gospels. My hope in writing these few reflections is that others may find the words of Mark to be a guide to living in our world today. We have in this gospel the most impressive and memorable stories Christ told, and these stories never lose relevance. In addition, we have his assurance that after his departure from this earth, his Father would send his Holy Spirit to guide and help Jeshua’s followers grasp the central meaning of his message.

Let us not forget that Jeshua commanded his disciples to proclaim the good news; he didn’t command any of them to write it down while he lived on earth. Let us not forget that the good news he proclaimed is his, and that his Father and the Holy Spirit still live in our midst—which we take as our Christian inheritance. Let us remember that God is still with us. Let us trust and believe God will help us convey Jeshua’s goodness to all the world!

I want to express here my gratitude to those who have supported or assisted me and my wife, Mary Ellen, in witnessing the Good News. To our friends Earl and Betty Bliss, the Missionaries of the Precious Blood of Jesus, and the founders of Saint Joseph’s College in Indiana, thank you. Especially supportive among them were Fathers Leonard Kostka, Paul White, and Brothers Brian Boyle, Joseph Fisher, and Matthew Schaefer. Our daughter, Emmy Kreilkamp, also helped me in many invaluable ways. To all my friends I say Thank God! for all God’s gracious favors!

Walter Percy observed that our consumer society tends to make all of us seem like ghosts drifting through our city streets, schools, and parks, where we carve our initials on some square inch of wood somewhere, as if to prove we really existed (Elie, The Life You Save May Be Your Own, pp. 270–79). I leave mine here, as G. K. Chesterton left his, with my initials: H. D. K.

Chapter 1

The Gospel of Mark brings the good news (euaggelion) for all who will listen. The Gospel of Mark tells a story about events that occurred in Palestine. But these events were so striking that news of them spread quickly throughout the Roman Empire. Who first brought the good news to Rome? Pilgrims, probably, from Jerusalem. Some of these pilgrims were eyewitnesses to the events described in this story. Simon Peter was among them.

Early reliable tradition suggests that the Gospel of Mark began as an oral account in Aramaic that was written out in Greek. Most likely it was written in Rome, probably on a scroll, by someone who knew both Aramaic and Greek. A conversion of the story from Aramaic to Greek is evident throughout the Gospel of Mark (Trochme, Formation, p. 251). Aramaic was the language spoken by Jeshua. Aramaic names and sayings are still found scattered throughout this work. Sometimes the writer’s Greek is a bit stilted because finding an exact equivalent for many Aramaic words is difficult, if not impossible. It has been determined that the person who converted the oral Aramaic to the written Greek knew Greek better than he did Aramaic.

Greek remained in widespread use throughout the Roman Empire. It was used in Alexander the Great’s empire when it was overrun by the Romans. The audience for this Greek translation of the good news was for people who lived in the Roman Empire and its capital, Rome. The text was found later in various places in the empire. Even after the Roman conquest, Greek remained the language of the eastern half of the empire, especially in markets where people carried out their businesses. Simon Peter, for instance, would have used some Greek to sell his fish in the marketplace of Capernaum, a city on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Peter and most of his associates came from the region around the Sea of Galilee.

As the story relates, Peter and his associates were sent out by Jeshua to spread the good news to the ends of the earth. From Peter’s standpoint Rome was the center of that end of the earth. Peter reached Rome near the end of his life. He probably preached the good news in Aramaic in the Jewish synagogues in Rome, as he had done

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