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Re: [Synoptic-L] Mk 1,1

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  • 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 1 of 6 , Jul 2, 1999
      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 2 of 6 , Jul 2, 1999
        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 3 of 6 , Jul 3, 1999
          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 4 of 6 , Jul 3, 1999
            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 5 of 6 , Jul 3, 1999
              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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