An Introduction to the Four Gospels for Critical Minds & Contemplative Hearts
A Seven-Week Online Bible Study &
Lecture Series with Father Vincent
In this fourth semester of our “Portraits of Christ” series, Fr. Vincent will continue to explore the structure, theology, and literary ‘brush strokes’ of Mark’s gospel. Our last semester concluded with Mk. 4:35-41, which narrates the dramatic scene of Jesus calming the storm as his disciple's boat is nearly swamped. Typical of Mark, the narrative ends with a question that is as germane to his first disciples as it is to his followers today, "Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him." (Mk. 35-41). The next chapters will move us steadily toward Mark's answer to that question, beginning with the most graphic narrative of an exorcism anywhere in the New Testament (cf. Mk. 5:1-20).
This semester will bring us up to the end of Jesus' public ministry (Mark 10), just before he enters Jerusalem to meet his fate on the Cross. Full of rich and poignant stories, we will see more of Mark's "intercalations" (i.e., "Marcan Sandwiches") in which he tells stories within stories to great dramatic effect. We will learn of many healings, raising children from the dead, and of the thorny theological issues raised by Mark's reference to Jesus' "brothers and sisters" (cf. Mk. 6:1-5). We will examine the story of the beheading of John the Baptist, the fascinating implications of the two versions of the Miracle of Loaves and Fishes (Mk. 6:30-44 and 8:1-10), and the astonishing story of Jesus' walking on the water. Perhaps most poignantly, we will cross over the mid-way point of the gospel (Mk. 8:22-26) and observe the startling transition that take place after that pivotal moment: The Jesus who is profoundly misunderstood throughout the first half of the gospel is now gradually unveiled precisely in and through his suffering. The overarching theme of Mark's portrait of Christ as "The Suffering Son of God" will open the way for us to understand the original audience of Mark's gospel and the suffering they endured.
Mark’s gospel is as rich as it is compelling, full of hidden mysteries, messianic secrets, and wisdom teachings that reveal far more theological depth than its apparent simplicity would suggest. In this ongoing exploration of Mark's gospel, we will continue to explore not only the text in fine detail, but the interpretive tools that assist us in revealing his ancient message to the modern Church. Especially designed for contemplatives, this fourth in our series of classes will continue our rich, meditative, and stimulating exploration of the Mark's gospel in ways that ground the life and practice of contemplative Christians today.