Forrest points out that “gospel” was in the ancient world a technical term with a different sense than we use it today:
Specifically, a gospel was the announcement that a new Roman Emperor, a new “savior”, had agreed to govern the world in exchange for whatever wasn’t actually nailed down.
“Gospel” then is being used ironically. It is also being used to proclaim a different kind of gospel with a different kind of good news and thus a different kind of world empire. And a part of what we face, if we can see it, is that Mark confronts us with the fact that this game of world empire hasn’t changed all that much in 2000 years — even when played by folks who own the name “Christian” who say their prayers at night, when the wolfsbane blooms and the moon is full and bright.
What this points out is that even Mark, the apparently simplest and most straight forward of the gospels is not simply chronology: it is history with an edge. It has an agenda. One of the advantages of reading, say Revelation, is that the agenda is pretty much naked at the party. Mark is more like that country bumpkin lawyer who seems to be stumbling in his homespun ways meanwhile leading the witness and the courtroom into a cul de sac.
One such agenda item seems to be the status of John the Baptist. Mark sets him up as the last of the old style prophets, a fulfillment of HaShem’s promise through Isaiah, one who called the Roman subject state of Judea to cleansing and righteousness. Mark then places on John’s lips:
There is someone coming after me who is stronger than I – indeed I am not good enough to kneel down and undo his shoes. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
It seems likely therefore, that one of the target audiences of this gospel is the followers of John the Baptist who have not yet joined The Cause: who have not yet become disciples of the disciples of Jesus.
As the old maps used to say: here there be dragons