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Dr. Ryan O'Dowd, Chesterton House Senior Scholar


August 27, 2014 at 9:30 PM EDT


411 Willard Straight Hall

Mark can be thought of as “the Quenten Tarantino of the gospel writers.”  One moment Mark is racing through the story and the next he seems to stop time and focus our gaze on Jesus.  Come and learn more about this gospel, its skillful author, and its divine subject.

This 2-credit course* will explore Mark in light of its historical and cultural context, theological background and message, narrative styles and themes, and history of reception. We will learn why, for example, though scholars previously overlooked Mark relative to the other gospels, the book now receives more scholarly attention than any of the others. 

Students will explore in detail Mark’s unusual ending, its creative use of time in story-telling, and its suspenseful use of Jesus’ ‘messianic secret.’


*Course credit is provided by Gordon College. Cornell students interested in these courses should consult their college advising office in advance of enrollment, to determine whether they will be able to apply transfer credits to their Cornell record.

Students interested in exploring this opportunity are welcome to visit the first class session. 


Reading and major discussion topics:

  • The shaping of the books of the New Testament
  • Other ancient gospels
  • Mark, Peter, and the book of Acts
  • The synoptic problem.  Similarities and differences in Matthew, Mark, and Luke

The reading of the gospel text focuses on the following issues and questions:

  • The Son of Man in Mark
  • Mark’s use of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible
  • The abbreviated beginning and end of Mark: various explanations
  • The messianic secret in Mark
  • Pace: the use of time in Mark’s narrative
Chesterton House Painting