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[Synoptic-L] Mk 1,1

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  • Sakari H�kkinen
    I have some questions concerning the first verse of Mk. 1) What does the writer mean by ARXH? Does it simply mean the beginning of the book? In that case he
    Message 1 of 6 , Jul 2, 1999
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      I have some questions concerning the first verse of Mk.
      1) What does the writer mean by ARXH? Does it simply mean
      the beginning of the book? In that case he would have called
      his book a Gospel (EUAGGELION) of Jesus Christ. Or is the
      book only a beginning of the gospel?
      2) What do you friends suggest - are the words "Son of God"
      original or an interpolation? They are missing from some of
      the oldest and best manuscripts. I know this is an old
      question (raised by Wrede?), but I would like to ask it
      anyhow. From a christological point of view it is quite
      understandable to consider them as a later interpolation, if
      Mk is the earliest gospel and reflects some earlier
      christological views. However, the expression Son of God is
      important to Mk in so many passages that many scholars do
      consider them original also in the first verse of the
      gospel. I would like to know also, what does that expression
      mean to AMk? Does he consider Jesus as a Son of God in
      hellenistic sense, i.e. as a divine being or just like many
      Jewish sources only as a "child of God" like many other
      great men the history of Israel?
      3) E. Schweitzer suggests in his commentary that verses 1-2
      should be read as one sentence (I am sorry, but I cannot
      give the reference, since I have access only to the Finnish
      translation of the commentary at home). Schweitzer's
      suggestion is something like: "The beginning of the Gospel
      of Jesus Christ (Son of God) like it is written in Isaiah,
      the prophet: ..." If Schweitzer is right, the first question
      above has quite a good explanation, does it? The beginning
      might in that case mean the baptism of Jesus by John, which
      was prophesied in Isaiah. What do you think?

      Yours,

      Sakari Hakkinen
      University of Helsinki
      Department of Biblical Studies
      sakari.hakkinen@...
      http://www.helsinki.fi/teol/hyel/henkilo/henkilo.html
    • Jeff Cate
      Sakari, Regarding the textual evidence for Mk 1:1, I am unaware of any ms evidence for the omission of the entire verse. In other words, the theory that Mk 1:1
      Message 2 of 6 , Jul 2, 1999
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        Sakari,

        Regarding the textual evidence for Mk 1:1, I am unaware of any ms
        evidence for the omission of the entire verse. In other words, the theory
        that Mk 1:1 is an interpolation is a purely literary, non-textual issue.

        There is good evidence that the earliest reading of Mk 1:1 lacked "son of
        God" at the end of the verse, although the ms evidence is far from being
        conclusive. Even though some have tried to argue that the omission of
        "son of God" was due to such similar lettering when it appears in the
        form of nomina sacra, it seems unlike that a scribe would have been so
        careless only 6 words into the GMk. Bart Ehrman, _Orthodox Corruption of
        Scripture_, p. 72-75 has a good discussion of this aspect. Ehrman argues
        that the inclusion of the phrase "son of God" was added by orthodox
        scribes to prevent adoptionistic understandings of Jesus' baptism since
        that is the opening episode in GMk, not a virgin birth scene. As Ehrman
        shows throughout his book, christology was the single greatest motivation
        for deliberate changes in the mss in the first several centuries. I too
        think the phrase "son of God" was a later addition deliberately added by
        well-intending scribes to bolster the christology of GMk.

        Jeff Cate, Ph.D.
        Associate Professor of Christian Studies
        California Baptist University
        Riverside, California 92504

        On Fri, 2 Jul 1999 20:11:07 +0300 "Sakari H�kkinen"
        <sakari.hakkinen@...> writes:
        >I have some questions concerning the first verse of Mk.
        >1) What does the writer mean by ARXH? Does it simply mean
        >the beginning of the book? In that case he would have called
        >his book a Gospel (EUAGGELION) of Jesus Christ. Or is the
        >book only a beginning of the gospel?
        >2) What do you friends suggest - are the words "Son of God"
        >original or an interpolation? They are missing from some of
        >the oldest and best manuscripts. I know this is an old
        >question (raised by Wrede?), but I would like to ask it
        >anyhow. From a christological point of view it is quite
        >understandable to consider them as a later interpolation, if
        >Mk is the earliest gospel and reflects some earlier
        >christological views. However, the expression Son of God is
        >important to Mk in so many passages that many scholars do
        >consider them original also in the first verse of the
        >gospel. I would like to know also, what does that expression
        >mean to AMk? Does he consider Jesus as a Son of God in
        >hellenistic sense, i.e. as a divine being or just like many
        >Jewish sources only as a "child of God" like many other
        >great men the history of Israel?
        >3) E. Schweitzer suggests in his commentary that verses 1-2
        >should be read as one sentence (I am sorry, but I cannot
        >give the reference, since I have access only to the Finnish
        >translation of the commentary at home). Schweitzer's
        >suggestion is something like: "The beginning of the Gospel
        >of Jesus Christ (Son of God) like it is written in Isaiah,
        >the prophet: ..." If Schweitzer is right, the first question
        >above has quite a good explanation, does it? The beginning
        >might in that case mean the baptism of Jesus by John, which
        >was prophesied in Isaiah. What do you think?
        >
        >Yours,
        >
        >Sakari Hakkinen
        >University of Helsinki
        >Department of Biblical Studies
        >sakari.hakkinen@...
        >http://www.helsinki.fi/teol/hyel/henkilo/henkilo.html
        >
        >
        >

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      • Jim Deardorff
        ... One can make sense out of it from the AH viewpoint. There, one sees that AMk was improving upon Matthew 1:1. AMk would obviously have known that the Gospel
        Message 3 of 6 , Jul 2, 1999
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          At 08:11 PM 7/2/99 +0300, Sakari Häkkinen wrote:
          >I have some questions concerning the first verse of Mk.
          >1) What does the writer mean by ARXH? Does it simply mean
          >the beginning of the book? In that case he would have called
          >his book a Gospel (EUAGGELION) of Jesus Christ. Or is the
          >book only a beginning of the gospel?

          One can make sense out of it from the AH viewpoint. There, one sees that AMk
          was improving upon Matthew 1:1. AMk would obviously have known that the
          Gospel of Matthew was not a book just about its first portion -- the
          genealogy. That was just the beginning of the book of Matthew. And since AMk
          would not be including the genealogy, he could improve upon Matthew by
          writing in his 1:1 that it was the first portion of a whole gospel, or the
          beginning of the gospel.

          In this manner, "beginning" appears as the first word. It can let the reader
          understand that AMk wasn't making the error that AMt had made. Otherwise, if
          Mark had appeared first, one would indeed not expect AMk to have started out
          with ARCH or any equivalent word in his opening words.

          >2) What do you friends suggest - are the words "Son of God"
          >original or an interpolation? They are missing from some of
          >the oldest and best manuscripts. I know this is an old
          >question (raised by Wrede?), but I would like to ask it
          >anyhow. ...

          My own opinion here is the usual: If "Son of God" had appeared in the first
          edition of Mark, no later reviser or transcriber would plausibly have
          removed it or omitted it.

          >3) E. Schweitzer suggests in his commentary that verses 1-2
          >should be read as one sentence. ... Schweitzer's
          >suggestion is something like: "The beginning of the Gospel
          >of Jesus Christ (Son of God) like it is written in Isaiah,
          >the prophet: ..."

          This seems incorrect because AMk started out, apparently unwittingly, with a
          quote from Malachi, not Isaiah. And, at least according to the
          interpretation given in Mt 11:10, this referred to John, not Jesus; it is
          Jesus who is referred to in Mk 1:1, while John only appears 3 verses later.
          And Schweitzer's view would be inconsistent with the explanation for 1)
          given above.

          Jim Deardorff
          Corvallis, Oregon
          E-mail: deardorj@...
          Home page: http://www.proaxis.com/~deardorj/index.htm
        • Sakari H�kkinen
          Dear friends, thank you for your answers. I noticed from the three first mails that the issue is far from solved. That is what I was looking for. Jeff, ... any
          Message 4 of 6 , Jul 3, 1999
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            Dear friends,
            thank you for your answers. I noticed from the three first
            mails that the issue is far from solved. That is what I was
            looking for.

            Jeff,
            > Regarding the textual evidence for Mk 1:1, I am unaware of
            any ms
            > evidence for the omission of the entire verse. In other
            words, the theory
            > that Mk 1:1 is an interpolation is a purely literary,
            non-textual issue.
            Sorry, I did not consider the entire verse as an
            interpolation, just the words "Son of God".
            Thank you for the reference to Ehrman. His suggestion is
            convincing. This is something I have thought. However, I
            have noticed that there are quite many scholars who do
            consider the words original. IMO textual evidence is
            supporting an interpolation, because it is far more
            difficult to explain the omission of such important words.

            John,
            Thank you for your "just some thoughts". I see that you have
            studied the issue deeply. Your statement is similar to
            Scweitzer's, right? Do you know who was the first scholar to
            have read the two sentences as one? The interpretation makes
            sense to me, but it is not widely accepted. Nestle-Aland,
            27th, does not follow this reading, but the more
            "traditional" one.

            Jim,
            does "AH viewpoint" mean the hypothesis that GMt was the
            first written Gospel? Your suggestion that ARCH is meant to
            correct the beginning of GMt does not convince me. Nothing
            in the text supports that. If that were the case, shouldn't
            AMk give at least some clearer hints if not explying his
            critics to GMt?

            To begin a book of this type (new type?) ARCH is not a bad
            first word at all. Genesis begins in LXX by the words EN
            ARCH (like the 4th Gospel). The style of AMk might be here
            more intentional than sometimes has been thought. The word
            ARCH leads the reader/listener to think of the work of God,
            something extraordinary.

            Yours,

            Sakari Hakkinen
            University of Helsinki
            Department of Biblical Studies
            sakari.hakkinen@...
            http://www.helsinki.fi/teol/hyel/henkilo/henkilo.html
          • Brian E. Wilson
            Sakari Hkkinen of the University of Helsinki wrote - ... Greetings, Sakari. What an interesting question! I expect to be at the SBL International Meeting in
            Message 5 of 6 , Jul 3, 1999
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              Sakari Hkkinen of the University of Helsinki wrote -
              >
              >I have some questions concerning the first verse of Mk 1.1.
              >What does the writer mean by ARXH? Does it simply mean
              >the beginning of the book? In that case he would have called
              >his book a Gospel (EUAGGELION) of Jesus Christ. Or is the
              >book only a beginning of the gospel?
              >
              Greetings, Sakari.

              What an interesting question! I expect to be at the SBL International
              Meeting in Helsinki before many days. My tentative thoughts on the
              fascinating point you raise here are as follows -

              The word ARXH can mean "origin" or "explanation of" or "principle of".
              W. Marxsen considers that ARXH should be understood as "origin" (or even
              "principle"), echoing the opening words of LXX Genesis 1.1 - EN ARXH...
              .

              I would suggest that Mk 1.1 is to be understood as "The ORIGIN of the
              good news of Jesus Christ". That is to say, the author of Mark knows
              that he is producing a book to be read by (and to) Christians - people
              who have already accepted the EUAGGELION. They already believe in Jesus
              as the Christ sent by God and crucified and risen for them in the
              purposes of God. They already belong to the people of the way who follow
              Jesus the Christ of God. But such believers would have wanted to know
              more about Jesus before he was crucified. What was he like? What did he
              do? Where did he go? Who was this Jesus who had been crucified? Why did
              the authorities want him put away? What did he teach about God? What did
              he say in his prayers? What were his attitudes to marriage? What did he
              expect of his disciples? And so on, and so on. So Mark could have meant
              in Mk 1.1, to answer the question of Christian believers - "Where did
              the good news of Jesus crucified and risen BEGIN?" "What is the ORIGIN
              of the EUAGGELLION of IHSOUS XRISTOS - the origin, that is, of the
              KHRYGMA which they had already heard and to which they had already
              responded in faith?" So, on this view, the contents of the book Mark
              wrote are the origin of the good news already proclaimed to his readers,
              and already accepted by them.

              On this understanding, of course, the word EUAGGELION in Mk 1.1 does not
              refer forwards to the book about to be written by Mark, but points
              backwards to the proclamation - KHRYGMA - of the good news of God at
              work through Jesus, - the proclamation which the readers had ALREADY
              accepted. I think it is quite likely that in the Gospel of Mark the word
              "EUAGGELION" nowhere refers to a written record, but always refers to
              oral proclamation. It was only later that the word "EUAGGELION" was
              given the secondary meaning of a written account of Jesus.

              On this view, also, Mark wrote his book not in order to set out the full
              EUAGGELION in writing, but to give a "historical" background to the
              EUAGGELION for his readers. C. F. D. Moule considered that the Synoptic
              Gospels were NOT intended to present the full Christology and the full
              Christian theology of their writers. He suggested that "it is more
              reasonable to assume that the Synoptic Gospels were intended to be
              ancilliary to, and only a part of, the full Christian kerygma." Maybe he
              was right. The synoptic gospels were perhaps produced as suitable
              packages of teaching material intended to give the historical BACKGROUND
              to the Christian KHRYGMA of Jesus crucified and risen in the purposes of
              God, and not to be an exposition of the full KHRYGMA itself.

              Best wishes,
              BRIAN WILSON

              E-MAIL: brian@... HOMEPAGE
              SNAILMAIL: Rev B. E. Wilson,
              10 York Close, Godmanchester, http://www.twonh.demon.co.uk
              Huntingdon, Cambs, PE18 8EB, UK
            • Jim Deardorff
              ... Yes, AH stands for the Augustinian hypothesis. ... There are a lot of places in Mark where it shows dependence upon Matthew. Some of these are improvements
              Message 6 of 6 , Jul 3, 1999
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                At 10:14 AM 7/3/99 +0300, Sakari Häkkinen wrote:
                >Dear friends,
                >thank you for your answers. I noticed from the three first
                >mails that the issue is far from solved. That is what I was
                >looking for. ...

                >Jim,
                >does "AH viewpoint" mean the hypothesis that GMt was the
                >first written Gospel?

                Yes, AH stands for the Augustinian hypothesis.

                >Your suggestion that ARCH is meant to
                >correct the beginning of GMt does not convince me. Nothing
                >in the text supports that.

                There are a lot of places in Mark where it shows dependence upon Matthew.
                Some of these are improvements over Matthew, some others are attempted
                improvements that weren't given careful consideration. Most of them show
                dependence in other ways.

                Mt 1:1 could obviously be improved, as AMt's book wasn't a genealogy. The
                genealogy was just the beginning of Matthew. So AMk can be seen as having
                improved upon Matthew here.

                >If that were the case, shouldn't
                >AMk give at least some clearer hints if not explying his
                >critics to GMt?

                There are many indications that AMk did not wish his gospel or EUAGGELION to
                appear to be dependent upon Matthew. So, AMk did not come out and say that
                his gospel depended upon Matthew. He made his gospel look quite different by
                being much shorter, writing it in Greek not Hebrew or Aramaic, adding many
                dualisms or redundancies, making it pro-gentile, etc. Thus one may keep
                one's eyes open for the clues or hints that this is what happened, and then
                one finds them.

                >To begin a book of this type (new type?) ARCH is not a bad
                >first word at all. Genesis begins in LXX by the words EN
                >ARCH (like the 4th Gospel). The style of AMk might be here
                >more intentional than sometimes has been thought.

                Yes, that's why it can be seen as an improvement over Matthew, from the AH
                viewpoint.

                Jim Deardorff
                Corvallis, Oregon
                E-mail: deardorj@...
                Home page: http://www.proaxis.com/~deardorj/index.htm
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