Almost three decades past, Nils A. Dahl called attention to the lack of
scholarship devoted to the study of God in the New Testament and in earliest
Christianity, dubbing it the "neglected factor". Since Dahl's remark, a handful of
studies have been devoted to filling this void. Yet there has been little concentration
on the study of God in the Gospel of Mark. It remains a neglected factor.
In light of this, the present thesis seeks to contribute to the filling of the void
by addressing the role that God plays in the narrative of the second Gospel. The
thesis utilises the methods of modern literary criticism, particularly those used to
discuss the presentation of characters in narrative. While the application of literary
criticism, and the study of characterisation, are not new in the study of Mark's story,
these methods have not been fully applied in the study of God in the Gospel. By
using literary criticism, this thesis extracts and describes the presentation of God in
the narrative. While there are specific references to God in the Gospel, and while
God also speaks in the narrative, this study broadens the scope of the investigation
through a close reading of the text to determine not only explicit but also implicit
references to God.
Following the introductory chapter, chapters two and three offer a close
reading of the Markan narrative with the specific purpose of showing where and how
God is presented in and through the Gospel. The aim of these two chapters is to
demonstrate how the narrator or characters within the story present God. These
chapters will serve as the foundation for ensuing discussions of Markan Christology
In chapter four, my attention focuses on the presentation of Jesus; Mark's
Christology. My concern in this chapter is with the way Jesus is presented through
the narrator's telling who Jesus is through Chrisological titles, and the way Jesus is
presented through the narrator's showing who Jesus is via the narration of Jesus'
actions and words. The aim of this chapter is to argue that the Markan Jesus is better
understood in relation to the Markan presentation of God, and thus the Christology of
Mark is better understood as an aspect of the theology of Mark.
In chapter five I address the Gospel's definition of discipleship. The concern
of this chapter is not primarily with the presentation of the twelve, but with the
presentation of discipleship as an aspect ofthe presentation of God. I argue that the
discipleship community of Mark's narrative, i.e. the authorial audience, is drawn by
the narrative to understand their lives of discipleship in relation not only to Jesus, but
also, and primarily, in relation to the God of Jesus and Mark's narrative.
Chapter six closes the thesis by summarizing the presentation of God in
Mark. This concluding chapter also offers an understanding of how a first-century
audience might respond to the Gospel's presentation of God.
This thesis demonstrates that 1) God plays a crucial and active role in the
narrative; 2) Mark's Christology and view of discipleship are better understood as
aspects of the presentation of God; and 3) the presentation of God in Mark may serve
as the fundamental purpose of Mark's Gospel.