Carson, D.A., and Douglas Moo An Introduction to the New Testament - Second Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005. "Mark" Carson & Moo, pp. 169-197
Carson and Moo identify seven basic sections in Mark's Gospel, identified by six transitional paragraphs.
1. Preliminaries to the ministry (1:1-13)
2. First part of the Galilean ministry (1:16-3:6)
3. Second part of the Galilean ministry (3:13-5:43)
4. The concluding phase of the Galilean ministry (6:7-8:26)
5. The way of glory and suffering (8:27-10:52)
6. Final ministry in Jerusalem (11:1-13:37)
7. The passion and empty-tomb narratives (15:1-16:8)
As with the other gospels Mark does not identify the author by name. The title appears by about A.D. 125. Papias, quoted in Eusebius (translated by Kirsopp Lake in Ecclesiastical History vol. 1, 3.39.15 LCL Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1926) says, "And the presbyter used to say this, 'Mark became Peter's interpreter and wrote accurately all that he remembered, not indeed, in order, of the things said or done by the Lord. For he had not heard the Lord, nor had he followed him, but later on, as I said, followed Peter, who used to give teaching as necessity demanded but not making, as it were, an arrangement of the Lord's oracles, so that Mark did nothing wrong in writing down single points as he remembered them. For to one thing he gave attention, to leave out nothing of what he had heard and to make no false statements in them."
Papias is likely referring to the presbyter John, probably the apostle. If Papias is right, then, Mark as the evangelist is recognized by first generation Christians. The ascription of Mark as the author goes against early church tendencies to "associate apostles with the writing of the New Testament books" (p. 174). Though we can't identify Mark as the author through hard and fast positive evidence, "nothing in the second gospel stands in the way of accepting the earliest tradition that identifies John Mark as its author" (p. 175).
There is some evidence that Mark may have written in Rome. It is suggested by several authors in the early church. There are a number of Latinisms in the Gospel. Peter and Mark are identified as being in Rome in the early sixties. Nothing exists to point to any place other than Rome with the exception of Chrysostom, writing about 400, suggesting that Mark may have been in Egypt.
A Date in the 40s
This early date is suggested by the possibility that Mark's reference in 13:14 to the "abomination that causes desolation" is to an image of Caligula set up in Jerusalem in A.D. 40. But to harmonize this with a Roman provenance requires Peter and Mark to be in Rome earlier than the other documents would suggest.
A Date in the 50s
It is possible that Peter was in Rome as early as the mid 50s. This suggestion of an early date for Mark's Gospel is consistent with the idea that Luke referred to Mark in his preparation of his gospel and that Luke and Acts are dated as early as A.D. 62, consistent with Paul's status in prison at the end of Acts.
A Date in the 60s
Many scholars date Mark in the 60s due to traditions that he wrote after Peter's death and due to Mark's emphasis on persecutions which were very common in Rome around A.D. 65.
A Date in the 70s
The suggestion for a date as late as the 70s is based on the idea that Mark 13 represents the sack of Jerusalem by the Romans. However, the narrative in chapter 13 is not a specific description which would only fit that attack. If Jesus is able to predict events in the future there is no reason to date the composition after 70.
AUDIENCE AND PURPOSE
Mark seems aimed at a primarily Gentile Christian audience. There are many Latinisms and the translation of Aramaic expressions suggests that Mark is informing people who are not from the Jewish culture. His style is typical of that which could be used in public oration, suggesting an audience of listeners, not readers.
Defining the purpose of a gospel is very difficult, as Mark and the other evangelists tend not to tell their purpose. In recent years, Carson and Moo show that critics have focused on four representative areas - eschatology, Christology, apologetics, and politics. None of the arguments is conclusive or all-encompassing.
p. 187 "We must admit that we have no certain knowledge of the written sources, if any, that mark used in putting his gospel together. His material may have come to him in small pieces of tradition, as the classic form critics thought, in both small pieces of tradition and longer oral summaries, or in a combination of these along with some written sources. In any case, if, as we have argued, the traditions about the Petrine origin of Mark are correct, then Peter himself is the immediate source of much of Mark's material."
The two biggest textual difficulties in Mark's gospel are the words "Son of God" in 1.1 and the various endings in chapter 16. 1:1 is not a serious difficulty, as even if Mark didn't identify Jesus as the Son of God in chapter 1 verse 1 he does present him that way throughout the rest of the text. The long ending to Mark, including verses 9-20 exists in the bulk of manuscripts and can be found as early as the first half of the second century. Yet the style seems to be different from that of the rest of the gospel. There are alternative endings. None of the possible endings flow naturally from chapter 16 verse 8. Carson and Moo suggest that Mark intended to end the gospel at verse 8 but the additional endings were created at a later date, probably not by Mark. Others have suggested that the long ending was composed earlier than the rest of the gospel, some have suggested it was composed later, either by Mark or by someone else.
MARK IN RECENT STUDY
Mark was largely ignored with commentators throughout history focusing on Matthew instead. In the twentieth century the form critics viewed Mark primarily as a source document for other gospels. In the second half of the twentieth century people gained more interest in Mark in terms of his theology, purposes, and the community for which he was writing. It is only recently that commentators have been looking at Mark as a gospel in his own right.
THE CONTRIBUTION OF MARK
p. 192 "Mark is the creator of the gospel in its literary form - an interweaving of biographical and kerygmatic themes that perfectly conveys the sense of meaning of that unique figure in human history, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God."