Literary Styles of the Bible
We continue with our study of Mark and Matthew in this discussion. We have explored the background, content, structure, and themes of these two Gospels. Now we will approach them through our dual lens of Life and Faith. These are two large categories that capture what God has done for us (“Life”) and our response to God’s gifts (“Faith”). These specific terms don’t show up frequently in every book of the New Testament. They are simply convenient labels for these parts of the divine-human relationship. As you read portions of Mark and Matthew, keep your eyes open for a passage that captures some insight about what God has done for us. Also, look for a passage that portrays something about our response to God. You may often find both in a single passage. That’s great, but you still need to have two separate passages for this discussion. We hope that over time and through practice, you will begin to notice these aspects of the Bible whenever you open it.
Upon successful completion of the course material, you will be able to:
- Explain aspects of God’s gifts and our response in Mark and Matthew.
- Bible (any version and format of your choosing)
Here is an example of a model post for this discussion, using passages outside of your assigned reading in Mark and Matthew. (Note you may not use these two passages in your initial post.)
Life and Faith in Mark and Matthew
Mark narrates Jesus’s healing of the man with a “withered” hand in 3:1-6. Working with one’s hands was crucial in the subsistence culture of Jesus’s day in Palestine. The man is in the synagogue on the Sabbath, so his disfigured hand violates the purity of the place. Jesus poses the question to his opponents: “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill.” Thus, Jesus equates “doing good” and “saving life” even though the man is not in immediate danger of death. Jesus restores this man to the full functioning of his body, enabling him to work and use his hand as a gift from God. In the same way, we can help people to live life to the fullest around us.
In Matthew 12:46-50, Jesus’s mother and brothers come to speak to him. Someone informs Jesus, assuming that his kinship loyalty would cause him to immediately go out to them. Instead, Jesus takes the opportunity to radically redefine family. He says that his disciples, who have responded in faith by following Jesus, are how his real family. The response that Jesus is looking for is “doing the will of my Father in heaven.” Here, obedience is the sibling of faith. The two go hand in hand. Jesus says that obedience to God’s will runs thicker than the blood of family. The shared response of obedient faith to God binds people together even more strongly than family ties.
- Review the assessment criteria in the rubric for this assignment.
- Read Chapter 3-10 from the Gospel of Matthew.
- Read Chapters 8-16 in the Gospel of Mark.
- Identify one passage from Mark and one passage from Matthew that illustrate either or both “Life” and “Faith” as explained above.
- Compose an initial post of 200-250 words that identifies your passage and explains where and how you see the themes of Life and Faith at work in each of them. You do not need to quote the entire passage, but you should use specific pieces of each passage in your explanation.