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Is It Plausible that Jesus Kept the Whole Thing a Secret??

Back to the Messianic Secret in Mark.  As we have seen, 19th century scholars by and large determined that Mark’s Gospel was the first to be written, and from that they concluded that it was a straightforward factual description of what actually happened in the life of Jesus.  In their view, unlike the other Gospels, Mark had not invested his story with any (or many) literary touches – i.e. fictionalized any of it – and he hadn’t imposed his own theology onto the account.  He laid out what really happened, and Matthew and Luke, then later John, took this factual account and modified it in light of their literary and theological interests.

So if you wanted to know what happened in the life of Jesus: read Mark!   And for the various gaps (why did Jesus do this? Why did he start doing that?  What drove him to do this other thing?) you provided plausible, psychological explanations of what Jesus was thinking at the time.

William Wrede’s book in 1906, Das Messiasgeheimnis (The Messianic Secret) called that view seriously into question.   Wrede found that there was indeed a literary purpose behind Mark’s writing, which can be seen in a certain motif or theme found on many layers of the stories that he narrated, which, in Wrede’s judgment, and for reasons he explains, really could not be historical (even though everyone always had taken them as historical) (and many readers still do!).  If they aren’t historical, what are they doing in Mark’s Gospel?  They are Mark’s spin on the story of Jesus.  They are literary touches that have “fictionalized” the account (my term, not his).

The theme Wrede noted involved Jesus’ constant attempts to keep his messiahship a secret.  If the messiah came to earth, wouldn’t he want someone to know?  Not for Mark.  Jesus tries to cover it up.  But why?   The common explanation you still hear today: Jesus didn’t want anyone to know he was the messiah, because that would rouse opposition and he would be executed too soon, before he fulfilled his mission.   A common explanation you would have heard in the 19th century: Jesus had to ease his disciples into the amazing realization of who he was.  He knew it would take some time and training, so he did it slowly.

There are other explanations.  586 of you are coming up with one!   But…

To see the real meat of this post, you will need to belong to the blog.  It won’t cost much to join, every cent you pay goes to charity, and you will then have the benefit of knowing!  Wanna know?  Join!

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Wrede’s Revolutionary Claim about the “Messianic Secret”
Who CARES if Mark was the First Gospel Written?



  1. Avatar
    Nichrob  February 18, 2019

    Really enjoying this topic. Thanks…!!

  2. Avatar
    godspell  February 18, 2019

    I find much merit in this argument, but even the best argument can be taken too far. Mark’s Jesus DOES want people to understand him–“If you have ears, hear!” He’s frustrated by the inability of even his disciples to understand his message, which is not solely or even primarily about his being Messiah. His goal isn’t indoctrination–it’s illumination. It’s to find the ones who can hear.

    God could make any person of faith Messiah. He was chosen, made God’s adopted son to fulfill this task, but this is not due to any special qualities he possesses, any unique Davidian pedigree, and he knows he is a sinner. “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.”

    What Mark’s Jesus most wants is not for people to embrace him as Messiah–he doesn’t want them to know at all, unless they can see it for themselves, as Peter briefly does, since then they’d just follow him blindly, which isn’t the path to salvation, which can only come from personal understanding. Nobody can save you but you, just as nobody can damn you but you. (I know, it sounds like a self-help mantra, but where do you think they got it from?)

    The point is to reach as many as he can in the short time remaining–so that they can avoid the fate of the goats. Many can never be reached, many can achieve the Kingdom without his help, but so many waver between, and he just wants to make them see what he sees.

    Stevie Smith, in her poem “The Airy Christ” got it exactly right–and that poem was directly inspired by a new translation of Mark’s Gospel.

    So on this point, I must humbly dissent. If you have ears, hear! 😉

    • Lev
      Lev  February 19, 2019

      “What Mark’s Jesus most wants is not for people to embrace him as Messiah–he doesn’t want them to know at all, unless they can see it for themselves”

      I suppose the problem with this is the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem in Mk 11 (but found in all four gospels) – it seems that Jesus is making a bold statement about himself here!

      I also note that near the beginning of Mark there’s the story of Jesus forgiving the paralysed man. In response to the outrage, Jesus says: “so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Mk 2:10) and then heals him. Rather than keeping his identity secret, he dramatically provides proof.

      • Avatar
        godspell  February 20, 2019

        Well first of all, I said “Mark’s Jesus.” Who I think is closer to the real Jesus, but still a character in Mark’s mind, built around stories Mark has heard or read. Mark’s interpretation of those stories, and as I said, not meant to be taken literally in all respects, but rather to get certain points across to the reader, who will almost certainly know most or all of these stories already.

        Secondly, I think we can take it as a historical fact that Jesus did enter Jerusalem, since he was crucified there and all. Mark’s description of the ‘triumphal entry’ (a term cobbled up after the fact) is pretty bare bones indeed–it seems some people are excited, but of course Jesus did have some kind of following at this point, and they would have been alerted to his arrival. And enthusiasm tends to be contagious. Many other people most of us have never heard of developed much larger followings–and were then forgotten. Because there was nothing there other than enthusiasm, which fades as quickly as it arises.

        Mark may have felt he had to include the entry, since it was known to have happened. Clearly Jesus is making some kind of statement, but he’s been doing that all through the gospel, and people keep failing to get it. Are some of these people acclaiming him as Messiah? Perhaps, but in what sense?

        As Bart has many times noted, Jesus never refers to himself as the Son of Man, and it’s unlikely that is a title he applies to himself. The Son of Man is an angelic entity who will come to earth to bring the Kingdom into being. Jesus is forgiving sins in that being’s name, not his own. That is an interpretation, of course–but why not just say “I forgive your sins.” “Your sins are forgiven” is not the same thing at all. Any Catholic priest can forgive sins–but in the name of God (or Jesus)–not in his own right. I do not believe this indicates Jesus is claiming any direct authority of his own. He is a surrogate for a higher power. A tool God is making use of. And while he may think of himself as Messiah, he has his own understanding of what that means. Which no other human shares.

        • Lev
          Lev  February 22, 2019

          “Jesus never refers to himself as the Son of Man, and it’s unlikely that is a title he applies to himself.”

          I don’t believe that’s true. In Mark’s gospel Jesus frequently identifies himself as the Son of Man: Mk 8:31, 9:9, 9:31, 10:33, and 10:45.

          In Q, we have: Mt 11:18-19 / Lk 7:33-34, Mt 8:19-20 / Lk 9:57-58. In Matthew, we have 26:45. In Luke, we have 22:48.

          In John’s gospel, Jesus is explicit:

          “They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he.” Jn 8:27-28

          “Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered, ‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’” Jn 9:35-37

          That’s five independent 1st-century sources all claiming that Jesus identified himself as the Son of Man.

          • Avatar
            godspell  February 24, 2019

            But in the third person, which he doesn’t usually employ when speaking of himself. And those same sources have him raising the dead and changing the weather, and they contradict each other a lot. I don’t consider John’s gospel much of a source, since John considered Jesus to be the Incarnate Word of God, and I KNOW Jesus didn’t believe that. Nor did he believe himself to be the begotten son of god.

            Some of these references are clearly fictive, since none of Jesus’ followers would have been present when he was questioned before his crucifixion. Mark goes out of his way to say the disciples didn’t understand who Jesus was–and yet he’s telling them he’s the Son of Man? Directly? Okay, we don’t have to take Mark literally on that, but I do think Mark is correct to say Jesus teaches more by allusion.

            Though I largely find Bart’s interpretation of the Son of Man references convincing, I have myself questioned it–I’d forgotten this exchange from some time back–scroll down to the comments section–sorry, I do go on, don’t I?


            Jesus was a visionary, a mystic. Such people don’t see the world the same way as most of us, and it’s nearly always a mistake to take them literally when speaking in this mode. Jesus could at the very same time identify himself with the Son of Man, and think of that as a separate being from himself. It would have been genuinely hard for the disciples to follow his drift, and nobody was sitting there taking notes. They would have reinterpreted everything he’d told them after he died, and they started having visions of him resurrected.

            Jesus knew himself to be a man. He may have believed at some point (perhaps after his death) he’d become something more. Or he may have believed he was a sacrifice that would impel God to finally send a supernatural agent to separate the sheep and goats.

            Or Bart could be right, and he thought the Son of Man would come to make him a king-but if that is the case, he wasn’t referring to himself suffering and dying. Then we have to explain how he thought a supernatural being could suffer and die. Which isn’t drawn from the Old Testament.

            With mystics, there are no simple explanations. And definitely no literal ones.

  3. Avatar
    Ask21771  February 18, 2019

    Why would john make nero’s name 666 using hebrew if his intended audience didn’t know hebrew

    • Bart
      Bart  February 19, 2019

      It’s far more mysterious that way. That’s why he indicates it’s hard to understand!

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    JohnKesler  February 18, 2019

    Why does Luke (8:10) retain Mark’s harsh reason for the parables–*so that* people won’t understand–while Matthew (13:13) softens the reason: parables were because the people *already* didn’t understand?

    • Bart
      Bart  February 19, 2019

      Luke is simply copying his source (though he does get rid of the idea that the point is to keep them from repenting and being forgiven!); Matthew realizes it’s a problem, and so changes it.

      • Avatar
        JohnKesler  February 19, 2019

        Since Luke eliminates the line from Mark 4:12b, “…so that they may not turn again and be forgiven,” why does he retain Mark 4:12a rather than altering it too, as Matthew did?

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    pmwslc  February 18, 2019

    In Mark 8:34 it says “Whoever would come after me must take up the cross and follow me”. Take up the cross? Would people living then have understood that statement in the same way we do now? Were others before Jesus who were crucified on a cross required to “take up” their own cross in those days? Or is this a reference to Christ’s own Passion, added by Mark, who knew by the time of its writing that Christians would understand the meaning?

    • Bart
      Bart  February 19, 2019

      Yes, it is clearly a reference to Jesus’ followers imitating his own fate.

  6. Avatar
    AstaKask  February 18, 2019

    Mark quotes Isaiah here; do you think he believed this was a prophecy about Jesus or just something that fit Jesus’s time as well as Isaiah’s?

    • Bart
      Bart  February 19, 2019

      My sense is that he was hinting that it was a fulfillment of prophecy.

  7. Avatar
    Brand3000  February 18, 2019

    Dr. Ehrman:

    This is interesting because while Mark seems more ‘sober’ and straightfoward in some ways, what do you think about the fact that Mark records a great number of miracles, about 20 including the resurrection. And some might say ironically it is actually John with the fewest, only 8 including the resurrection. Feeding the 5000, Walking on Water, the Miraculous Catch of Fish, and the resurrection are the only that are multiply attested to…Do you think this gives them more credibility?

    • Bart
      Bart  February 19, 2019

      The resurrection in John is not a miracle that Jesus does, but one that is done for him. That means he does seven miracles. The perfect number. That’s surely not an accident. And they are obviously narrated in a far more spectacular way than in the other Gospels, and for clear purposes (teh “light of the world” can heal the blind; the “bread of life” multiplies loaves; the “resurrection and the life” raises the dead, etc)

      • Avatar
        Brand3000  February 19, 2019

        Dr. Ehrman,

        …and 8 is the number of new beginnings, so it makes sense for John that the 8th miracle would be the resurrection. So who do you think the writer of John was, an intellectual? What do you think is the best evidence of John’s independence i.e. material not found in the synoptics? Radically different language style?

        • Bart
          Bart  February 20, 2019

          Interesting. Where is 8 the number of new beginnings in the Bible? Yes, all the literary authors of antiquity were “intellectuals” in relation to the general population; definitely in the 1%. But like American wealthy, there are the 1% and the 1%!

          • Avatar
            Brand3000  February 20, 2019

            Here are a few:

            * God rested on the 7th day & the 8th day was a new beginning
            * God saved 8 people on the ark in order to have a new beginning for mankind.
            * Circumcision, the Sign of entering the Covenant is on the 8th day.
            * Abraham, father of the faithful, had 8 sons.
            * David, great king of Israel & a man after God’s own heart, was the 8th son of Jesse
            * On the 8th day of preparation, Aaron was called by Moses to serve as high priest
            * When the temple was restored after the Babylonian exile, the outer area was consecrated for 8 days & another 8 days were spent consecrating the inner area
            * Hanukkah, an 8 day festival
            * Per the Feast of Tabernacles there is an 8th day, called the ‘Last Great Day.’
            * After 7 wks. of spring harvest, the next day, the 50th day, is Shavuot /Pentecost, also the 8th day of the 7th week.
            * The number of Jesus, whose name in the Greek adds up to 888.
            * 8 men (according to tradition) – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, James, Peter, Jude and Paul – were chosen by God to write the NT

  8. Avatar
    Ask21771  February 18, 2019

    How do we know that the number of the beast is six hundred sixty six and not 600, 60 and 6

    • Bart
      Bart  February 19, 2019

      IN Greek that’s the same thing. (And in English 600, 60, and 6 are numbers — plural — not a number — singular)

  9. Avatar
    flshrP  February 18, 2019

    I read a book some time ago by Dennis R. Macdonald entitled “Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark”. He makes the case that Mark was a first century, classically trained, Greek-speaking Christian who wove characters and events from Homer into his Gospel. To the extent that it’s difficult for me to see if there’s anything in Mark that is even faintly historical. Mark’s Gospel may just be an interesting literary work of fiction, i.e. Mark is making it all up.

    Tell me how wrong I am. I’m looking for a TIL experience here.

    • Bart
      Bart  February 19, 2019

      Yes, it’s an interesting case he makes. But I’ve never bought it. Most of the “borrowings” from Homer are simply widespread common motifs in the literary world at the time. There are good reasons for thinking Mark isn’t just making it all up, though, since that wouldn’t explain why similar traditions are found in numerous sources that have no familiarity with Mark.

  10. Avatar
    Stefan  February 18, 2019

    Do you think that the reason that Mark has Jesus say that the girl is just sleeping, is for more realism, so that he (the Jesus character within the story) tries to provide a cover for the miracle he’s about to do, making it possible to keep it under cover afterwards? So that when they find out she’s alive they have been given an explanation beforehand? Like “whoa, ok, he was right, she really was just asleep!”

    A way for Mark to try and make it just a little bit realistic that Jesus thinks it can be kept under cover? It’s still pretty unrealistic of course.

    • Bart
      Bart  February 19, 2019

      Yup, probably. Notice he says the same thing about Lazarus in John 11, even though the man’s been dead and buried for four days!

  11. Avatar
    fishician  February 18, 2019

    As a college professor I am sure there are times that you feel your students see but do not perceive and hear but do not understand! I am sure that is not your intention, but I must say I have had teachers in the past who seemed to be more interested in weeding out students with their tests rather than actually imparting knowledge. Could that apply to Jesus? Maybe he was just trying to sort out those who didn’t belong in the coming kingdom, rather than trying to save them. Nah… Looking forward to tomorrow’s post!

    • Avatar
      godspell  February 21, 2019

      Very interesting point, but suppose he didn’t believe he could save anybody?

      Jesus seems to have believed that you could enter the Kingdom without ever being told of its coming–and that knowing of its coming would not guarantee you a place within it. Admittance is determined by how you treat others, and by faith (the latter being expressed and revealed through the former).

      So how is he weeding anyone out? That isn’t his calling. He can’t possibly talk to more than a relative handful of people even in Palestine, and he believes this impacts the entire world, places he’ll never see. The Son of Man can do this weeding (a term he used himself) when he comes, being a supernatural entity empowered by God, sharing God’s omniscience.

      Based on comments he made, I think Jesus would have considered it an open question whether he’d make the cut. He could still fail in the end. As could anyone.

      But believing himself to have had this revelation, of course he has to share it. Now we don’t have to assume he was as oblique as Mark says, but he’d still believe that blind acceptance of what someone says isn’t getting you didley. You have to understand yourself, in your own mind, your own soul, what is right, and be willing to behave that way even if it gets you nothing but the satisfaction of living a good life.

      Perhaps his disciples were meant to have some leading role in this coming Kingdom–he could imagine people being quite confused and shocked by the cataclysm that had transformed the world, which most would have not seen coming. They would need leaders, and the disciples are being groomed for that. But it seems he didn’t think he’d be around to perform that task. Or maybe that is the cup he is asking God to let pass his lips–not the suffering, but the loss of the Kingdom. He’d like to see that Promised Land. But of course, Moses never saw his.

      You don’t know anything, understand anything, until you grasp it yourself. Rote acceptance of what someone else says is less than nothing. It doesn’t get you a thing except maybe a passing grade on your exam.

      Jesus is thinking more like a doctoral dissertation–and the Son of Man would not be a most exacting doctoral committee.

      • Avatar
        godspell  February 26, 2019

        Arg. WOULD be a most demanding doctoral committee.

        Not for the first time, I wish the edit button didn’t expire after a few minutes, but I suppose that would give rise to various abuses.

  12. Avatar
    dankoh  February 18, 2019

    My thought (I will have to read Wrede now to see what he says) is that Mark invented this secrecy to explain why the Jews had not had hailed Jesus as the messiah in his lifetime and were not doing so now. This fits the progression of increasing anti-Jewish polemic from Mark to John: in Mark, Jesus as messiah is kept secret from the Jews; by the time of John, the Jews know Jesus is/was the messiah but rejected him because the devil was in them.

    • Bart
      Bart  February 19, 2019

      Yup, that’s become one of the scholarly positions *after* Wrede!

      • Avatar
        dankoh  February 20, 2019

        Well, I’ve read Wrede (GTU library is a great resource) and I see his point, though it’s not spelled out quite this way. I’m trying to get my hands on Raisanen (umlauts omitted) on Mark but it’s elsewhere at the moment. Have you written on this idea that Mark is using the secrecy to cover up that the Jews aren’t acknowledging Jesus as messiah?

  13. Avatar
    XanderKastan  February 18, 2019

    How likely is it that Mark’s interpretation of at least some of Jesus’ parables are different than what Jesus meant? In that case, do we have any way of knowing what Jesus intended? I have a particular parable in mind: The sower of seeds. Seems kind of obvious what it means, at least roughly, but is that just because I am so familiar with the interpretation(s) given in the synoptic gospels?

    • Bart
      Bart  February 19, 2019

      Yes, that’s a classic example in scholarship of Mark adding an interpretation that is not at all what Jesus had in mind. It is widely thought that Jesus did not mean it as an allegory, with a point-by-point reference to different kinds of soils, etc. And it’s very hard to know: is he differentiating between different seeds or different soils?

      • Avatar
        fishician  February 19, 2019

        Reminds me of “Being There” where Chauncey the gardener is thought to be a genius for spewing out drivel about gardening!

        • Bart
          Bart  February 20, 2019

          Fantastic movie. I used to teach it in a class on the portrayals of Jesus in film.

          • Avatar
            godspell  February 22, 2019

            It is a great film.

            But Jesus would have hated TV.


          • Bart
            Bart  February 24, 2019

            The big debate these days is whether he would have watched FOX or MSNBC….

          • Avatar
            godspell  March 1, 2019

            Does nobody watch C-SPAN anymore?

            The point of Chauncey Gardiner is that he’s so alienated from humanity, people think he’s a genius. His whole life is television, because his being somewhere in the autism spectrum makes real human interaction impossible.

            Could anyone be less like Jesus, as we see him in the gospels? He goes out of his way interact with people most others avoid. He’s far less abstracted from humanity than most of us with all our media filters, none of which he could imagine. And of course he’s spending very little time with the rich and powerful.

            To the extent the film invokes Jesus (as it clearly does in the final image), it’s to say that modern society has become so shallow and alienated from reality that it takes emptiness for profundity. There really is no one there in Chauncey, but no one is what they want.

            Jesus directly engaged his society, and while we also often see what we want to in him, treating him as a mirror, he still had points of his own to make, which we can find, if we put our own narcissism aside and really behold the man. There is someone there, and he still has questions to ask.

            And he wouldn’t be watching television. He’d probably do do your set what he did to the moneychangers’ tables. He’d see it as a related problem. We get too wrapped up in things that don’t matter. Though I suppose gardening matters too.

          • Bart
            Bart  March 3, 2019

            No, sorry. Your two choices are FOX and MSNBC….

  14. Avatar
    BrianUlrich  February 18, 2019

    There are students who think that faculty deliberately make things hard to understand so as to weed out those we deem unworthy.

  15. Avatar
    joncopeland  February 18, 2019

    Thanks for these posts on the messianic secret. In Mark 5:19-20, why does Jesus tell the Gerasene demoniac to “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you”? This seems to betray the secret. I still think the theory holds, but can’t figure out why the exception.

    • Bart
      Bart  February 19, 2019

      Yup, it is interesting. But at least here, it is only the inner family that is to know.

  16. Avatar
    Pattycake1974  February 18, 2019

    For the longest time, I thought Jesus could read but maybe not write. Then I thought perhaps he received some sort of education through oral learning. But after reading this post of how Mark has Jesus teaching in parables to make his own point about the identity of Jesus, why think that Jesus taught in parables at all? If he was truly destitute and illiterate, then I really can’t see him coming up with pithy sayings that employ various types of literary devices. Matthew and Luke could just as easily have been using parables to suit their own purposes without any of them originating back to Jesus.

    I could see Jesus being an apocalyptic preacher who said memorable things that stuck in people’s minds: teachings about the Son of Man, separating the sheep and the goats, God’s kingdom, etc… But to pass down parables orally, even 1 parable with accuracy, seems next to impossible. It seems more plausible for Mark to take well-known, Jewish parables and possibly tweak them to match Jesus’ principles. Didn’t it also take a while to teach a parable to an audience? I don’t see how Jesus would have had the leisure to formulate them in his mind much less teach them. The Beatitudes seem even more impossible for an illiterate peasant to create considering their rhythmic pattern.

    • Bart
      Bart  February 19, 2019

      The idea is that even illiterate people can be fantastic story tellers. In my part of the world (think Appalachia) it’s a quite famous phenomenon. Whether Jesus’ own stories were preserved intact is another quesiton. But since he is independently said to tell parables (i.e. in sources that don’t know each other) in Mark, Q, M, L, and Thomas — it seems he probalby did.

      • Avatar
        godspell  February 21, 2019

        Jesus is good at very short figurative fables meant to bring across a point–as was Aesop, if Aesop really existed and wrote some or all of his fables. I wouldn’t call him a particularly great storyteller, since there’s very little character development, and his plots are a bit predictable and one-note at times. Not enough twists. He never experiments with narrative form much, and relies too much on the third person. This is getting silly, isn’t it?

  17. Avatar
    Camus137  February 18, 2019

    Very interesting. In other words, possible evidence that Mark is not a straightforward account of Jesus’ actions, and the author likely did a fair bit of editorializing.

    I’m assuming the author of Mark is writing in an early era where the figure of Jesus was relatively unknown. Perhaps he introduced the Messianic secret as a way to justify the relative obscurity of Jesus? In other words, he admits that Jesus is an obscure figure but spins it as something that Jesus did intentionally, not due to a lack of ability or influence during his life.

    Perhaps Matthew and Luke were writing in a later time when they didn’t have as many contemporaries asking why they have never heard of Jesus if he was so important?

    Alternatively, maybe the author of Mark is grappling with the fact that the emerging christology of Jesus as a divine figure doesn’t square neatly with facts of his teachings and life. People were probably asking “if this character Jesus is x and y and z and his death and resurrection have these divine ramifications, why didn’t he just say so?” Mark could be trying to bridge the gap and explain this discrepancy by claiming that Jesus concealed those aspects on purpose (rather than him simply having made or believed such extraordinary claims himself.)

    Looking forward to your next post, especially any sections about why Matthew and Luke may have decided to down play or eliminate this aspect.

  18. Avatar
    brenmcg  February 18, 2019

    But isnt all this in Matthew too? Matthew 13 has tells us Jesus only spoke to the crowd in parables, quotes the same Isaiah verse and talks about keeping hidden the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom.

    Also Matthew 13:13 quotes Jesus “though seeing they do not see, though hearing they do not understand” followed by Jesus quoting Isaiah “ever hearing but not understanding,ever seeing but not perceiving”.

    The order of seeing>hearing is switched around in the two quotes and “do not see” replaces “perceive”. Luke just has Jesus’s quote with the order see>hear while Mark quotes Isaiah but has the see>hear order of Jesus’s quote.

    Isnt the best explanation for this that Mark if following Matthew and Luke’s ordering but using the words of Isaiah?

    • Bart
      Bart  February 19, 2019

      Some of it is in Matthew. He defintely gets rid of the statement that Jesus tells parables SO THAT no one will understand.

  19. Avatar
    john76  February 18, 2019

    Maybe for Mark this was all to show that he thought the original Christian movement was a Jewish version of a mystery religion. Mark 4:11 says: “And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables.”

    • Avatar
      Hngerhman  February 19, 2019

      Dr Ehrman – what is your view on the historicity of Mk 4:11? It certainly does work for the Markan author to backfill the Messianic Secret, but it also seems to track well with the theory of Jesus’s conviction being predicated on Judas divulging Jesus’s inner-circle-only claim to messiahship. Thanks a ton!

      • Bart
        Bart  February 20, 2019

        I think it aligns too closely with Mark’s own agenda to count on it being historical.

  20. Avatar
    balivi  February 18, 2019


    “Wrede found that there was indeed a literary purpose behind Mark’s writing,” Absolutely true!
    which confirms what I said: Mark is a Paul allegory. Look:
    “Jesus arrives on the scene and says no, she’s just “asleep.” (Mark5:39)
    And Paul: 1Cor 15:18, 1Cor 15:20, 1 Thess 4:13-15

    BUT, in Mark 5 Jesus also says: “Don’t be afraid; just believe”. What to believe? Here it is revealed in Paul’s gospel, which is revealed, “from faith to faith”, or “from faith for faith”.
    That is to say: don’t see the little girl !! Not must to see, the little girl !!! If you see the little girl, you have no faith, because the “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Heb11:1). Believe in the Christ (“from faith”)! And if you believe in (that is, you see the Christ) the Christ, you see the live little girl too (the not visible, “for faith”).

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