Who was Jesus Christ?
This question has sparked debate not only for those of Christian faith, but also for scholars in the field of religious studies. The New Testament of the Bible is generally considered proof that Jesus was the Son of God in the Christian religion. However, when we take a closer look at the gospels, each one seems to tell a different story of this “Messiah”. The gospels of Mark and John are so radically different that it is difficult to believe they are telling the story of the same man.
The book of Mark, one of the three Synoptic, is considered by scholars to be the most historically accurate of the gospels in the New Testament (Coggan 1). Mark’s gospel presents Jesus’ word as a third person perspective. He seems to document what he saw without forming an opinion, thus portraying Jesus as a human being who made mistakes. Teachings are written in the form of parables strung together, a “carefully constructed piece of theological writing in the form of a literary narrative” (Amoss 1). He is documenting the life of Jesus and what he witnessed, as opposed to forming an opinion analyzing the teachings.
John’s gospel is so different from the Synoptic that some scholars wonder if he even had access to the other gospels. The book of John takes a theological approach to the teachings of Jesus, as opposed to a historical one. Instead of documenting what he saw, he reflected upon his personal understanding of Jesus. Scholars generally do not consider John’s gospel authentic. Relatively, this particular portion of the New Testament is the basis of the Christian religion (Coggan 1). The gospel of John does not contain any parables, which suggests that he may have taken Jesus’ message out of context. John portrays Jesus as a supernatural being, appearing to believers even after his death. Christians find this particular gospel appealing because it comforts them to believe that they can have eternal life in a wonderful place like Heaven (Guyette 1). It is human nature to fear what we do not know or understand, so it makes sense that Christianity would adopt John’s gospel, as it is more captivating than Mark’s observational report. It’s intriguing how the same event can be interpreted in different ways and how things get taken out of context.
A specific example of the major differences between Mark and John is Jesus’ last words on the cross. John’s version says: “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30). Mark’s version says the last words were: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). John’s version seems more fitting for Christianity because it portrays Jesus as the supernatural entity Christians believe he is, accepting death like a hero and savior. Scholars say Mark’s Jesus was imperfect.
Both Gospel Books of Mark and John do not look at Jesus Christ’s lineage or Family, They also talk about Jesus being born by a virgin through the Holly spirit. They only talk about His life in Adulthood and his teachings. In contrast, John talks about Jesus as being a Galilean who had been considered an outcast by the Jewish people claiming that He did not originate from Bethlehem (David Pratt p29).
David Writes further in contrasting the Gospel according to Mark and that According to John by indicating that John talks about how Jesus chased away all the money changers and traders from the temple (John 2:13-22)..“Get these out of here! How dare you turn my father’s house into a market” (John 2:16) John goes ahead to write about how Jesus challenged the Priest to raze down the temple of which he would rebuild in 3 days. Contrary to John in the Book of (Mark11:15-19).Jesus is quoted saying “Is it not written, my house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? But ye have made it a den of thieves” (Mark11:17).Mark also talks about Jesus cursing the Fig tree.
The Gospel according to Mark talks about Jesus as having not taught in Judea but Galilee. It is also reported that Jesus make a 70Miles walk to Jerusalem on only one occasion. On the Disciples of Jesus there have been a lot of differences in John and Mark’s writings. Mark talks of John, Peter and James as being Jesus’ confidents (David Pratt 29).
On the other Hand in Johns writing it is clear that Jesus’ preaching’s were mainly concentrated in Jerusalem with only a few occasional teachings in Galilee. On Jesus’ disciples John mentions Peter as not being very close to Jesus and Ignores John and James. He instead introduces other two disciples; Nicodemus and Nathanael. (David Pratt 29)
On Jesus’ Crucifixion there are whole turns of events that don’t add up in this two people’s writings. John writes Jesus was not tried nor sentenced by the Sanhedrin. He goes ahead to report that Jesus was Crucified on the Passover eve (David Pratt30).Contrary to John, Mark writes about Jesus being tried and later sentenced by the Sanhedrin of Jewish Priests, Mark as opposed to John writes about Jesus’ death as occurring on the Passover. (David Pratt 30.)
After Jesus’ Burial John writes of only one woman visiting his tomb as I quote “It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdalena came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,’ she said, ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.” (John 20:2-8), He does not write about any appearance of an Angle to the woman at the tomb (David Pratt 30.).
As opposed to John, Mark wrote that three disciples who were women visited His tomb. As I quote “And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, they come to the tomb when the sun was arisen. And they were saying among themselves, who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the tomb? And looking up, they see that the stone is rolled back: for it was exceeding great. And entering into the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, arrayed in a white robe; and they were amazed”(Mark16:1-5) But found it empty only for a man clad in white to appear to them from the inside. (David Pratt 30)
Both Mark and John’s original Gospels don’t talk about Jesus appearing to His disciples. This part is later on added in the New Testament of the Bible. John does not mention anything on Jesus ascension. While this part is briefly found in the Gospel according to Mark a section that was added from the Manuscripts by Luke. (David Pratt30)
In conclusion, the New Testament Books that talk about Jesus’ Gospel are Mathew, Mark, Luke and John .Despite all talking about one Person Jesus Christ. The controversy greatly cropped up in the ways and the facts about the writings of Mark and John. Several Scholars namely; Amoss, George Junior, Coggan, Sharon, Guyette, Frederick, Harris, W.Hall 111, David Pratt the list is endless have just tried to argue out and sight the disparities and similarities in the Gospel according to Mark and John.
Amoss, George Jr. “Introduction to the Christology of Mark’s Gospel” Quaker Electronic
Archive (1979). Quaker Online. Web. 3 November 2010.
Amoss takes on a scientific analysis of the Christology of Jesus in the Book of Mark. Although the website is semi-religion based, it was interesting to see an opinion influenced by both religious teaching and scientific fact.
Coggan, Sharon. “Introduction to Religious Studies” Religious Studies 1610. University of
Colorado Denver. Denver, 13 October 2010. Lecture.
Coggan’s lecture looks at the history of Christianity from a historical point of view. She
Quotes several philosophers, theologians, and scholars, giving unbiased information and historical accuracy.
David Pratt (2001) The Origin of Christianity: The Jesus mysteries (page 29-30)
In this article David Pratt talks about “Devine confusion” where he looks at the four Gospel Books According to Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. Through his work he clearly brings out the controversy in this writers Birth, preaching life and death of Jesus Christ.
Guyette, Frederick. “Sacra mentality in the Fourth Gospel: Conflicting Interpretations”
Ecclesiology 3.2 (2007): 235-250. PDF file.
Guyette’s article questions the authenticity of John’s gospel, addressing questions such as, “Why does John omit all reference to the Lord’s Supper?” and “Why does John associate his ‘Bread of Life’ teaching with the multitude rather than the intimate circle of disciples?” The article is effective in giving descriptive suggestions of the reasoning behind John’s style of interpreting the message of Jesus.
Harris, W. Hall III. “Major Differences between John and the Synoptic Gospels” Commentary
On the Gospel of John (2010). Bible.org. Web. 25 October 2010.
Harris explains in this article that the Synoptic (Mark, Matthew, and Luke) are written in a third person, descriptive fashion as though the authors are documenting their observations. John, although also in third person, is more so a reflective interpretation preaching faith and specific ways of living.
“John” The Holy Bible: New International Version. Colorado: International Bible Society, 1984.
Scholars in the field of religious studies see the gospel of John in the New Testament as the least historically accurate, although it is generally the most accepted by the Christian religion. John introduces the theory of realized eschatology, the idea that there is no end of the world, but spiritual rebirth instituted by Jesus. The book of John does not contain any parables, which is radically different from the Synoptic.
“Mark” The Holy Bible: New International Version. Colorado: International Bible Society, 1984.
The gospel of Mark in the New Testament is said to be the most historically accurate when it comes to what scholars believe Jesus actually said. This primary source compares and contrasts the word of Jesus with that of John’s gospel, which is thought to be the most inaccurate. Mark’s gospel describes Jesus as less-than-perfect and human (by mentioning his failures, etc.) which is why he is generally not referred to in the Christian religion.
Shellard, Barbara and Francis J. Maloney. “The Gospel of John: Text and Context” Journal of
Theological Studies 58.2 (2007): 647-650. PDF file.
Shellard takes a look at the analysis of the Gospel of John in Maloney’s point of view. Mooney describes John as an evangelist who preaches faith beyond the understanding of Jesus himself. John seemed to be more concerned with converting non-believers than describing the life of Jesus and his teachings.
Walsh, Richard and Suzanne Watts Henderson. “Christology and Discipleship in the Gospel of
Mark” Religious Studies Review 33.1 (2007): 64-77. PDF file.
Walsh synthesizes different authors’ interpretations of the Bible in this article into a
General review, although this is narrowed down to one particular section referring to Suzanne W. Henderson’s view on Christology and the Book of Mark. Henderson explains how Jesus’ disciples fail because they do not participate in the Kingdom of God enterprise and refers specifically to six early passages in Mark’s gospel.