Conflict Between Jesus and the Disciples in Mark

The following is a paper submitted to Dr. Joshua W. Jipp in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the course NT 6211, Synoptic Gospels and Johannine Literature, at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, October, 2014.

Conflict between Jesus and the disciples is a prevalent theme in Mark’s gospel. But why does Mark repeatedly highlight this conflict? What is its significance? What purpose does it serve in Mark’s message and presentation of Jesus? This paper will seek to answer these questions by tracing the theme of conflict through three narrative sections, noting its development and rhetorical significance at each stage.

Galilean Ministry (1:14-8:21)

A lack of understanding among the disciples characterizes the conflict between Jesus and the disciples during Jesus’ Galilean ministry. At their first appearance, the disciples are committed and eager to follow Jesus. Upon being called by Jesus, they abruptly leave their current situation and follow him (1:17-20; 2:14).[1] Accompanying Jesus on his ministry tour, they are exposed to Jesus as a miracle worker and teacher. They even serve as an extension of his ministry (6:12-13; cf. 3:15).

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