Original Research

Mission, identity and ethics in Mark: Jesus, the patron for outsiders

Ernest van Eck
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 69, No 1 | a2003 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v69i1.2003 | © 2013 Ernest van Eck | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 May 2013 | Published: 19 June 2013

About the author(s)

Ernest van Eck, Department of New Testament Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa


In this contribution the relationship between mission, identity and ethics in Mark was investigated by means of a postcolonial and social-scientific reading, with a focus on patronage as a practice that constituted the main bond of human society in the 1st-century Mediterranean world. Mark’s narrative world is a world of three kingdoms (the kingdoms of Rome, the Temple elite and God). Each of these kingdoms has its own gospel, claims the favour of God or the gods, has its own patron, and all three have a mission with a concomitant ethics. Two of these gospels create a world of outsiders (that of Rome and the Temple), and one a world of insiders (the kingdom of God proclaimed and enacted by the Markan Jesus). According to Mark, the kingdom of God is the only kingdom where peace and justice are abundantly available to all, because its patron, Jesus, is the true Son of God, and not Caesar. Being part of this kingdom entails standing up for justice and showing compassion towards outsiders created by the ‘gospels’ of Rome and the Temple elite.


Gospel of Mark; mission; identity; ethics; postcolonial theory; social-scientific criticism; patronage; kingdom


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