DISCIPLESHIP AND POSSESSIONS IN THE GOSPEL OF MARK: A NARRATIVE STUDY
The issue concerning the proper use of and a proper attitude toward possessions in the early church has become a major question in New Testament studies. Within various Christian traditions, appeal is made to Gospel texts as part of the foundation for differing views about contemporary economic and social issues. However, little in-depth study has been carried out about the relationship between discipleship and possessions in any of the Synoptic documents except Luke/Acts. The purpose of this dissertation is to provide such a study for the Gospel of Mark. Chapter one provides a survey of the relevant literature with regard to two areas: (a) the rise of interest in socioeconomic aspects of the New Testament in general and the Gospel of Mark in particular, and (b) studies in Mark that have addressed the issue of discipleship. The method for investigating this topic is that of tracing the development of the disciples as characters through the narrative and, while doing so, examining the relationship between the disciples and his/her possessions. Chapters two through four are exegetical. The analysis proceeds according to the sequence of the narrative and is divided into individual chapters according to the widely accepted three-fold structure of Mark's Gospel. Care is given so that the narrative flow and logic is maintained throughout the analysis. In chapter five it is concluded that Mark's view of discipleship and possessions is dominated by two foundational elements: (a) the distinctive eschatology, and (b) the mission of the early church. Eschatologically, two ages are posited, i.e., one that is passing and one that is Messianic and eternal. Possessions belong to the former so that their value is, therefore, relativized. Ecclesiologically, the mission is given such prominence that any possession rendered because of it results in eternal benefit. Two social forms of followers are said to be existent from the beginning of the movement: those who leave everything for the mission and those who retain possessions for the support of the mission. The document is seen as being directed to an eschatological and persecuted community identifying itself as distinct in the world yet called to evangelize every nation.
GREGORY LEE WAYBRIGHT,
"DISCIPLESHIP AND POSSESSIONS IN THE GOSPEL OF MARK: A NARRATIVE STUDY"
(January 1, 1984).
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