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In at the kill The Passion, Mark 14—15

At last we come to the ending – the Markan Passion, a dark scene to which the whole gospel has been leading. Jesus has made his way to Jerusalem, and this geographical concentration has brought the conflict into focus: a lion’s story should always end with a kill, but the narrative has warned us that it is the lion who will die. Mark’s gospel has been often called a ‘Passion narrative with a long introduction’; equally, the carefully linked sequence of the Passion was thought to be the only narrative to have come to Mark from his sources. However, attention to Mark’s literary skill as an author questions these assumptions. To see 80 per cent of a work as mere introduction is rather an overstatement; equally, however the Passion material came to Mark, the same mind has carefully narrated it to form a fitting climax to his story. The gospel is a life of Jesus – and ancient biography usually gave detailed attention to the subject’s death as a way of summing up his life. To go back to the image of our symphony, now all the themes – power and conflict, discipleship and misunderstanding, identity and authority, kingship and suffering – come together to build the final climax…

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