It is widely assumed that Mark's introduction consists of i. 1–13 and that these verses ‘introduce’ what Mark has to say. At the same time, there is little agreement about what it is that Mark wants to say. For example, Bultmann has contended that it was Mark's aim to combine the Hellenistic kerygma with the traditions about Jesus; at the same time, he agrees with Wrede that the ‘Messianic secret’ is designed to explain why faith arose only after Easter. More recently, Schille has held that Mark answers the question, How is one to grasp more precisely the nature of Jesus' work, since he not only suffered but appeared as Son of God? Eduard Schweizer, on the other hand, emphasizes Mark's interest in discipleship and the way of the cross as the meaning of the kerygma, and sees this as a polemic against a Gnosticism in which Jesus is in danger of becoming a mere symbol of the kerygma. T. A. Burkill claims that Mark is concerned with ‘the exposition of two central themes, namely, the secret fact of the messianic status of Jesus and the mysterious meaning of that fact’, the first controlling the first half, the second the latter half of the gospel. We need not present an exhaustive catalogue of suggested aims for Mark in order to make the point that unless Mark is haphazard, each of these alleged aims is probably reflected in the introduction—both in its scope and content. Yet almost never does the introduction figure in discussions of Mark' purpose. This same phenomenon doubtless lies behind the fact that there is relatively little discussion about what constitutes the introduction. It is the purpose of this article to analyse the introduction in the light of these two questions and their bearing on each other: the extent of the introduction and the intent of the author. This investigation is based squarely on what is obvious—that Mark assumed his contemporary readers (in contrast with modern scholars) did not have the whole of his work in mind when they began, and that therefore the opening paragraph was his opportunity to orient them to what he wanted to say and to how he wanted to say it.