Mark's paper character, Jesus, has very little to say about the nature of God. He does, however, have a great deal to say about God's reign,1 not all of it consistent or clear. In the early first century in the lifetime of Jesus, God's reign is imminent (1:14). When it emerges, it will come with power (9:1). God's reign is a mystery, a secret, which Jesus claims has been given to his disciples (4:11), but is accessible to all others only in his oblique or obscure stories (παραβολē, 4:11, 26, 30), which he tells to keep people from understanding the mystery of God's reign (4:12). God's reign can be entered into only by deliberate and aggressive action (9:47), but the wealthy will find it difficult to enter (10:23-25). God's reign is characterized by children and all who want to enter, must accept it like a child (10:14-15). Three things will bring one close to God's reign (12:34): accepting that God is one, loving God with your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and loving your neighbor like you love yourself (12:28-33). Near the end of his life, Jesus swears off wine till he can drink it anew within God's reign (14:25). Hence God's reign had not been realized at the end of the gospel narrative.
Jesus mentions a few attributes of God. God has power and hence can do all things (12:24; 10:27). Although God is the creator of all (13:19; 10:6-8), yet God has a house (2:26), an odd contrast in perspective. According to Jesus, in two strange sayings God numbers the patriarchs of the Israelite people, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, among his devotees (12:26). In the second odd saying Jesus claims that the living rather than the dead are the devotees of God (12:27). I think of these as "accidental" qualities, rather than "inherent" qualities. They do not describe the nature of God.
There are certain things in life that fall specifically under God's purview (12:17), although they are unnamed in the saying. At a minimum, God expects that his commandments will be obeyed (7:8-9, 13; 3:35; 10:9). God expects faith (11:22) and loyalty (8:33).
There are only two Jesus sayings in Mark that describe God's inherent nature. Jesus, quoting the Hebrew Bible in the words of the Shema (Deut 6:4) says: "The Lord our God, the Lord is one" (12:30). Jesus does not clarify the statement further. The second saying describing God's nature is "God alone is Good" (10:18). This inherent quality of God is mentioned several times in Hebrew Bible (Pss 25:8, 100:5, 135:3, 136:1, Nah 1:7; Jer 33:11).
These scattered observations about God by Mark's paper character, Jesus, are neither comprehensive nor philosophically cogent. There are other comments about God in Mark, expressed by demons (1:24), unclean spirits (3:11), a demonized man (5:7), the scribes (2:7), the Pharisees (12:14), a Roman centurion (15:39), Joseph of Arimathea (15:43), and by the author of the gospel (1:14; 2:12), who momentarily lays aside the author's cloak of invisibility to comment in his own voice, but these statements do not help clarify God's character further.
To sum up: Mark doesn't clarify God's inherent nature to any great extent for his readers. One might also say the same is true for the Bible as a whole. For example, in Hebrew Bible God is described as both Righteous (Neh 9:8; Pss 7:9, 11:7, 116:5, 119:137, 129:4) and Good (for the passages see above). These two words are not necessarily compatible with one another, however, as Romans 5:7 makes clear:
Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man—though perhaps for a good man one will even dare to die. (RSV)
Paul's statement clearly favors the inherent qualities of the good man, although one might even make a case that for all the attributions of righteousness and goodness ascribed to him, God nevertheless has a mean streak.2 From my perspective, however, God could do with a little less Righteousness and more Goodness.
To judge from the history of religions, apparently the inherent nature of God is like beauty; it lies in the mind of the beholder and it is something we are taught rather than experience. In short, people invent the character of their Gods. If that be so, why shouldn't I think that God should be characterized more by Goodness than Righteousness?
Missouri State University
1The word translated as "reign" (baseila) does not describe a political space or a geographical region; it describes an area of influence in human life.
2Hedrick, "A Conundrum: Two Incompatible Propositions." Wry Thoughts about Religion, Monday, April 27, 2021: http://blog.charleshedrick.com/search?q=mean+streak