The Miracles of Jesus in Mark
The miracles of Jesus, they are a center point of Jesus lore; considered literal by fundamentalists and figurative by liberal Christians. But, do the stories even go back to Jesus? Or are they later additions to the story?
The miracles are curiously not mentioned in the oldest surviving Christian documents, the epistles of Paul. The first mention of these miracles is in the Gospel According to Mark (believed to have been written after the Jewish Revolt of 70CE or Bar Kokhba Revolt of 132CE) which was later used as a source for Mathew and Luke. In Mark, the miracles seem to be divided into two groups of five. The first miracle is related to the sea, the second is an exorcism, the third and fourth are healings, and the fifth miracle is feeding of masses.
- Stilling the Storm (4:35-42)
- The Gerasene Demonic (5:1-20)
- Jairus’s Daughter (5:21-23, 35-43)
- The Woman with a Hemorrhage (5:25-34)
- Feeding the 5000 (6:34-44, 53)
- Walking on the Sea (6:45-51)
- Blind Man at Bethsaida (8:22-26)
- The Syrophoenecian Woman (7:24B-30)
- The Deaf Mute (7:32-37)
- Feeding the 4000 (8:1-10)
It also interesting to note that the Gospel of Mark is divided by two narrative of John the Baptist: the first half, with recounts a Galilean ministry, starts with Jesus’ baptism by John. The second half, with focus on event in Jerusalem, starts with a claim that John the Baptist has risen from the dead.
Dennis R McDonald in his book, The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark, has found that the story Mark’s gospel narrative shares too many parallels with Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey to be a coincidence. This may not be at all out of line, since Hellenized scribes would be familiar with the Greek classics. McDonald says:
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It is not clear precisely what kind of book the author set out to compose, insofar as no document written prior to Mark exactly conforms with its literary properties. Its themes of travel, conflict with supernatural foes, suffering, and secrecy resonate with Homer’s Odyssey and Greek romantic novels.