Another theme perhaps present in all gospels, but given prominence in Mark is the so-called “messianic secret”. In biblical scholarship, the theme of the “messianic secret” is associated with the writings of William Wrede in the early 20th century. Wrede proposed that a messianic view of Jesus’ ministry was not present historically, but that such view developed in the Church post-resurrection. In Wrede’s view, Mark smoothed the difference by portraying Jesus as trying to keep his messianship secret during his life. Wrede’s view sparked great interest in the subject, and while his conclusions are not universally accepted today, his efforts resulted in highlighting the “messianic secret” as central to the understanding of the gospels. In my understanding, the message about this theme that I would convey to a religious education class, is that the “messianic secret” is related to the Old Testament understanding of the Kingdom of God by some people at the time of Jesus, namely, that the Kingdom of God would be fulfilled by a messianic figure. Jesus, in shrinking from public acclaim seeking to elevate him to a public position, reveals to us that his mission is not to establish a worldly kingdom, as he himself suggests in the Gospel of John 18:36.
Bibliography for Introduction to the Gospel of Mark
Brown, Raymond E. (1997). An introduction to the New Testament. New York, NY: Doubleday.
Brown, Raymond E., Fitzmyer, Joseph A., & Murphy, Roland E. (1990, 1968). The New Jerome
Biblical Commentary. Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Catholic Encyclopedia – Entry on Kingdom of God. Retrieved November, 2009, from
Catechism of the Catholic Church. (1994). New York, NY: Doubleday.
Easton Bible Dictionary – Entry on Son of God
Hay, Lewis S. (1967). Mark’s Use of the Messianic Secret. Journal of the American Academy of
Religion: Oxford University Press, 35(1), 16-27.
Richards, H.J. (1959). “The kingdom of God”. The Furrow, 10(6), 377-389.
International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia -Entry on Son of God
NAB Introduction to Gospel of Mark. Retrieved November 2009, from http://www.nccbuscc.org/nab/bible/mark/intro.htm
Pope Benedict’s (February 2 2009) address “On the Messiah”. Retrieved November, 2009 from
Ryan, Judith (class Notes, Gospels CG 5113, Fall 2009).