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New Testament and Mission

Historical and Hermeneutical Perspectives

Johannes Nissen

This book brings together insights from two fields of study: biblical scholarship and missiology. The Great Commission in Matthew’s Gospel is often seen as the biblical foundation for mission. The New Testament, however, reflects a variety of models for mission. Each model is examined with regard to historical meaning as well as hermeneutical significance. The final chapter focuses on three issues of great importance for the present situation: unity and diversity in mission, the gospel in relation to cultures, and Bible and dialogue models.


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3. Crossing boundaries: Mission in Mark's Gospel 37


3. Crossing boundaries: Mission in Mark's Gospel Introduction "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15). This text is considered by many to be the mission command par excellence. The command seems to have all the most important elements in mission: Its content is summarized in the good news. Its address is to the whole world; and its focus is on the proclamation as the instrument of mission. However, the mission command is part of the "longer ending" of Mark (16:9- 20), which is an addition intended to bring the conclusion of Mark into line with those of the other Gospels. Moreover, certain promises are added in vv. 16-18: whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever rejects the message will be condemned. And specific signs will accompany those who believe. By using the name of Jesus they will cast out demons; they will speak in tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands and drink poison unharmed. They are also entrusted with the gilt of healing. Two points should be noticed. First, the "longer ending" contains early Christian tradition which probably gives us an insight into very common and popular views. Similar promises can be found in other parts of the New Testament, e.g. Luke 10:17-19. Doubtless we find in these traditions traces of a "charismatic" oriented mission in early Christianity which may well have formed the background for the work of Paul's opponents in 2...

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