In yesterday’s post I began to address the question: What is the Messianic Secret?  This is a term that scholars have applied for over a century to the Gospel of Mark, where Jesus repeatedly tells anyone who suspects his identity not to reveal it.  Why?   To make sense of this “Secret” of Jesus, it is important for us to have a fuller understanding of Mark’s portrayal of Jesus.

One of Mark’s major themes, quite apart from how one explains the apparent “secret” of Jesus’ messiahship, is that no one in Mark’s Gospel (remember, I’m speaking ONLY of Mark now; not the other Gospels) seems to understand who Jesus is.  Here is how I explain that in my discussion of Mark in The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings.


One way to establish misunderstanding as a Markan theme is to read carefully through the first half of the Gospel and ask, Who realizes that Jesus is the Son of God? The answer may come as a bit of a surprise. Clearly God knows that Jesus is his Son, because he himself declares it at the baptism (1:11). And since this declaration comes directly to Jesus (“You are my beloved Son”), the reader can assume that he knows it as well. In addition, the evil demons recognize Jesus as the Son of God; on several instances they scream it out when they encounter him (3:11; cf. 1:24). Who else knows? Only two other persons: the author of the Gospel, who recounts these various tales, and you, the one who reads them.

Throughout the first half of this Gospel, no one else …

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