In order to understand why the gospels in the New Testament were written, we must know exactly what was occurring during that period in history. When the Gospel of Mark was written, we know there was a great deal of political unrest due to the Emperor Nero. The main question we must ask ourselves is, if the Gospel of Mark was written as a political response to Nero’s reign instead of a religious scripture, would it lessen the value of the gospel in a religious sense. The answer to this question will most likely vary amongst people because everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. However, if this Gospel was written as a political response, in my opinion, it does lessen its value as a religious scripture.
Looking back to the beginning of Nero’s 14-year reign in the year 54 CE we immediately see the political context which confronted the author of the Gospel of Mark. Nero was 16 years of age at the time and because of this he picked two advisors who heavily influenced him. Under the tutelage of Seneca and Burrus, Nero increased power to the Senate and once again provided some semblance of democracy to Rome. However, as Nero grew older and his priorities changed, he became increasingly arbitrary and self-indulgent. He poisoned his stepbrother and eventually executed his mother because of their efforts to seize the throne. During this time, he reduced the power of his advisors and accused them of embezzlement and treason. He became extremely paranoid and those he disliked were either exiled or executed.
The event most often recorded about Nero’s reign was the fire in the year 64 CE. About one third of the city was destroyed completely during the blaze that lasted five days. Regardless of Nero’s relief and reclamation efforts, rumors were circulating that he had personally set the fire in order to clear land for his new palace. To deflect these rumors, Nero looked for a scapegoat and found it in the new religious group known as Christians. He had authorities round up known Christians, who were then interrogated, tortured and then executed not for the fire but for the crime of “hatred against mankind”. Nero systematically executed his enemies without remorse. However, Nero’s reign would come to an end in June of 68 CE when he committed suicide after being declared an enemy of the state from a rejuvenated senate. Although Nero was popular among the people, the aristocrats and members of the senate were disgusted with his performances.
The events of Nero’s political reign influenced the author and set up the context on which the Gospel of Mark was written. Everything Nero did was for the wrong reasons. He acted selfishly and had no moral values. He murdered his mother, stepbrother, and everyone who was close to him. He only cared about himself and was definitely not worried about the people of Rome. The Gospel of Mark opposes his values by primarily focusing on moral teachings. Rather than strict religious teachings, the gospel was written as a pragmatic approach to teach the Roman citizens about living life and always doing the right thing. Through parables, Jesus told stories of helping the poor and doing what is morally right. In my opinion, the Gospel of Mark was written as a way to deter Romans from believing in the unjust kingdom that was ruled by Nero. It was written to influence them to live in the Kingdom of God, which was one of moral values and one that taught people to come together for something greater than themselves.
The Gospel of Mark was written to address a broad audience. The audience consisted of both Jews and Romans who were immersed in artistic, intellectual, and the literary life of the Roman Empire. They were all into the pervasive philosophical movements of the day and lived with the theme of moral and spiritual reformation of the person and society. There were others in his audience who recognized the Empire of God through Jesus’ parables and teachings...
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