16 Jan 2013 
#35 Jesus, the uneducated teacher? Part 3: Mark's gospe

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In Mark's gospel, Jesus is called teacher/master ('didaskalos') twelve times. But only in a few of these instances Jesus' teachings are requested, and by no less than by a rich man (10:17, 20), Pharisees & Herodians (12:14), Sadducees (12:19) and a teacher of the Law (12:32). By contrast, his disciples (4:38, 9:48, 10:35, 13:1), or someone in a crowd (9:17), or Jairus' servants (5:35) are not after Jesus' teachings when they call him master/teacher. In one instance, Jesus identifies himself as master/teacher (14:14) but not for his teaching.

Was “Mark” trying to make a point, that Jesus was acknowledged as teacher by highly educated people? By the ones the less likely to see as such a lower class rural Jew?

According to Mk 4:11-12 “And he said unto them [the twelve], Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them [the others] that are without, all [these] things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest [with the intention of preventing (something undesirable); to avoid the risk of] at any time they should be converted, and [their] sins should be forgiven them.”

And 4:34 “But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples.”
“Mark” had Jesus not teaching crowds, except (allegedly) the twelve. But why would Jesus dump (unexplained) parables (2:13, 4:1, 34) on crowds, with no benefit for them (4:11-12)! That does not make sense, and the people would become angry or pay no more attention! But still these "oracles" are called teaching in 2:13, 4:1-2, 6:1, 6, 34 & 14:49. 
Please also note the disciples are administered mysteries, which does not say they would understand them correctly. And we are a long way from
a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles” of the Testimonium Flavianum.

And concerning parables, they obviously need to be explained. If not, the disciples would not understand them (4:13), as other things Jesus allegedly taught (9:32). And, when requested, the explanations from Jesus (to only the disciples) go only part way, with still a lot left for interpretation (4:14-20). And the disciples are never mentioned to comprehend any parable, explained or not.

Note: on this webpage, I demonstrated that Mark invented the Jesus' parable genre (as prophecies in disguise for most of them), which were easy to understand for later Christians (because these prophecies had been realized in their lifetime!), but rather difficult, before the facts, in Jesus' times!


In Mark's gospel, Jesus and the twelve go on trips outside Galilee, in Caesarea Philippi, the Decapolis and even into Phoenicia, but nowhere there Jesus is said to teach.

However, later in 10:1 "Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them."

But that verse is very suspect: it has a high concentration of “information”, seemingly adding up a large part of greater Palestine to Jesus' “classroom” and filling up a huge lack (the fact he was not mentioned to teach in his earlier journeys). It also goes against 4:11-12 quoted earlier.

Would it be an early interpolation? I think so, and there is a smoking gun to prove it:

During this alleged trip, "When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this." (10:10a). Which house was it?
The previous mention of a house is in 9:33a, only twelve verses earlier:
"They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, ..."
The house is in Capernaum, and not in Judea or across the Jordan! Therefore 10:1 is a later insertion.

Finally, in the earliest gospel, outside parables, prophecies and mundane statements, there are relatively few items which can be considered as teaching by Jesus. That is odd, for someone primarily seen as a teacher by many biblical scholars. But later, the other gospel authors will remedy to that, adding up many sayings, parables (some with "teaching" value), and even long sermons & discourses.

In conclusion, it seems “Mark” (and an interpolator) made some rather clumsy & confusing efforts in order to have Jesus as a teacher.

Cordially, Bernard

Tags: {historical Jesus} {Mark's gospel} {uneducated teacher}
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