On Reading Mark With Two Eyes

“Reading Mark With Two Eyes:
An essay on Mark’s ancient, distant text and the meaning it can hold for us today
The purpose of the essay is to advocate a way of reading important texts of sacred tradition, a way that is true to their original meaning and intent, so far as possible, and a way that invites them to speak to our present, existential concerns and faith. The book which I published in May, 2013, The Seminal Gospel: Forty Days With Mark, exemplifies this “way” or mode of reading; hence, it calls attention to elements in Mark’s story that “stand out” in one way or another (puzzling, surprising, “revealing”, etc.) and relates these elements to theological or spiritual insights.

The argument of the essay is that Mark’s book is called a “Gospel” because it brings to light the gospel, or good news, brought by Jesus that the kingdom of God is at hand. Each of these terms (among others) is a mystery of faith; that is, in order to be meaningful they must be understood and lived out in faith. Jesus himself is presented as a prophet (a teacher who speaks in obscure parables, because mysteries of faith demand it), a charismatic healer and exorcist (powers that demonstrate the gospel in action), and a “community organizer” (gathering followers and commissioning them to take up his three-fold ministry). Thus his ministry is the model for our own ministries–clerical, lay, and communal–a perception that alienation from sacred tradition obscures. Jesus by his notorious “speaking with authority” exemplifies the essence of historical Unitarianism, namely spiritual freedom, and by his charismatic compassion exemplifies the essence of historical Universalism, namely universal love.

Mark’s Gospel is seminal because it plants the seeds from which a vast sacred tradition (a tradition that includes Unitarian Universalists today) grows. But this will remain a mystery to us, unless we learn to read this pregnant text with both critical discernment and spiritual hunger, the two eyes of faith.

[Note: The book is available from the author, or from Amazon or Barnes and Noble, paperback or ebook; or see the author’s blog site, www.campicello.wordpress.com.]“