Bible Month - June 2021

Dear Friends,

June is Bible Month and this year the Churches in our Circuit are going to explore the Gospel of Mark.  Mark is the Gospel used in this year’s lectionary readings, so we’ve already explored it quite a lot this year.

Mark’s Gospel is generally regarded as the earliest Gospel to be written.  We’re not really sure who Mark is but early church tradition tells us that “Mark became Peter’s interpreter and wrote accurately all that he remembered.” (Bishop Papias, 2nd Century) and Clement of Alexandria wrote: “As Peter has preached the word publicly at Rome…many requested that Mark…should write them out.”  It was probably written between AD 60 and 70.  It seems clear that Mark was a committed believer who records the events in Jesus’ life interwoven with themes and quotations from the Old Testament to lead his readers to the conclusion that Jesus is the Son of God.

Kent Bower writes in the introduction to the Bible month Study Guide:

This is the work of a highly skilled writer.  Whatever its source, Mark is responsible for its content and shape.  He has collected, selected and omitted material.  He carefully crafted the narrative, using available literary techniques…His writing is fast paced with a favourite word ‘immediately’ taking us almost breathtakingly from one scene to another.

You will find it helpful to read through each week’s allocated chapters before Sunday.  You might like to try reading the whole Gospel in one session or maybe try listening to it – there are some recordings made by David Suchet available on the internet for example.  You could use a study guide or commentary to help your study and reflection.  As you read it through or listen to it, notice what strikes you about the story – are there things that you have never noticed before?

Suggested study guides and commentaries include:

Tom Wright: Mark for Everyone (SPCK 2001)
Morna D Hooker: The Gospel According to Saint Mark (Blacks New Testament Commentaries 2009)
Pope Francis: The Gospel of Mark: A Spiritual and Pastoral Reading (Orbis 2020)

These websites have some useful information about Mark:

These are the chapters and themes for each week:

Week 1:  Mark 1:1 – 3:35  Identity and Mission
Week 2:  Mark 4: 1- 8:21  Mission and Boundaries
Week 3:  Mark 8:22 – 10:52  On the Way
Week 4:  Mark 11:1 – 16:8  Passion Week

I commend our Bible month to you.  I encourage you to give time and energy to read and reflect on Mark’s Gospel carefully.  And listen closely to what God is saying to you personally, to our churches and our circuit. 

With every blessing
Catherine Bowstead