If, in 68 AD, after writing his Gospel, Mark had brought it to a bookseller in Rome and asked him to put it in the catalog, he would have found it difficult to choose among which works to place it.
Among the biographies of famous men? No. Although all focused on the character, Jesus, it is devoid of elements that normally appear in a biography. There is a lack of information about his birth, his family, the cultural environment in which he grew up. His way of thinking, his psychology, his personality are not explored. He comes up as an adult, taking for granted that everyone knows that he is a Jew who lived at the time of the emperor Tiberius.
The Gospel of Mark is not comparable to the myths. Jesus was a healer, but his story is not lost, as that of Aesculapius, in time, and his death and resurrection is not a re-release of that of Osiris, Adonis and Tammuz. Jesus was a real man, a carpenter by profession, sentenced to death for sedition by the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate and executed on a cross. Some of his disciples claimed later that he was still alive (Acts 25:19).
Not even the shelf where the books that narrate the deeds of the heroes like Alexander the Great and Hannibal are collected is the right place for the Gospel of Mark. Jesus did not lead the glorious military campaigns that have made Caesar and Octavian famous.
Could he be counted among the masters of wisdom? Great sages were expected to address the death in a heroic way as Socrates or with the fortitude of spirit of Seneca who, just at the time when Mark was writing his book, took his own life. But Jesus—Porphyry the skeptic declared—“took no strong and bold speech, but allowed himself to be insulted as a street rogue.” The wondrous works attributed to him could not attract the interest of savvy readers as those educated in the schools of the empire’s capital.
The Gospel of Mark is not categorized in any of the known literary genres and this should be kept in mind to avoid the mistake of considering it a “Life of Jesus.”