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The Gospel of Mark as Theological Allegory

4. Conclusion

Book cover: Sowing the Gospel: Mark's Work in Literary-Historical Perspective by Mary Ann Tolbert

As many commentators have noted, Mark's narrative is full of irony. Perhaps the ultimate irony is that the gospel begins by announcing its central concern with the 'good news of Jesus Christ' [Mk 1: 1]. But a close study of the symbolism, metaphors and literary allusions suggests it contains very bad news—at least for the Judean Jews and the Jewish-oriented Christian Church. As we have seen, as well as promoting the Pauline Gospel, Mark is a biting tale of judgment and criticism against both these groups.

Mark concludes his gospel with a final challenge to the Jerusalem Church. Here, his focus is on the three women at the tomb. A mysterious young man informs them that Jesus has risen. The women are instructed to go tell the disciples that Jesus can be found in Galilee [Mk 16: 4–8]. As I mentioned in §3.1, Galilee is symbolic of an inclusive Church, open to all, both Jew and Gentile, based on 'faith in Christ' alone. This was the gospel that Paul preached. To follow Jesus, the Jerusalem Church must go to 'Galilee' by following the example of Paul and embracing the inclusive universal Church.

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