Mark's 'biography' of Jesus is the earliest of the four gospels, and influenced them all. The distinctive feature of this biography is the quality of 'good news', which presupposes a world dominated by the forces of evil.John Painter shows how the rhetorical and dramatic shaping of the book emphasises the conflict of good and evil at many levels - between Jesus and the Jewish authorities, Jesus and the Roman authorities, and the conflict of values within the disciples themselves. These matters of content are integral to this original approach to Mark's theodicy, while the stylistic issue raises the question of Mark's intended readership.John Painter's succinct yet thorough treatment of Mark's gospel opens up not only these rhetorical issues, but the social context of the gospel, which Painter argues to be that of the Pauline mission to the nations.

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