[Synoptic-L] Re: Mk 1,1
- Sakari wrote:
>1) What does the writer mean by ARXH? Does it simply meanThough the syntax is disputed (see the commentaries) the fact that KAQWS
>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?
followed by GEGRAPTAI and a scriptural citation almost without exception
articulates or validates that which precedes, suggests that Mark intended no
full stop after hUIOU QEOU (if original). In other words, the 'beginning' of
the gospel about which Mark speaks corresponds to that which is expressed in
the citation and connected narrative (vv.4-8) that follows. Despite the
fact that what follows is actually a conflation of Mal 3:1 and Is. 40:3,
Mark is clear that the EUAGGELION is to be located specifically within the
Isaianic tradition. The reason this Isaianic text in particular is described
as the ARCH of the gospel becomes explicable when we note that Is. 40:1-9 is
the passage in which Isaiah's 'messenger' (MBSR / EUAGGELIZOMENOS) of
salvation is commissioned to herald the arrival of God's salvific presence
and which introduces Deutero-Isaiah's highly specialised use of BSR /
EUAGGEL- (41:27; 52:7; 61:1). It may be asked why Mark does not, then,
explicitly quote Is. 40:9 where the important root appears twice. First, the
fact that he has already said, "the beginning of the gospel as it is
written in the prophet Isaiah (chapter forty)" makes an explicit citation of
v.9 unnecessary. Secondly, Is. 40:3 is more pertinent to Mark's point about
the 'preparatory' (hETOIMAZW v.3) 'gospel' work of John the Baptist.
Thirdly, Mark may have wanted to avoid explicitly linking EUAGGEL- with the
preaching of the Baptist because, for him (like other Jewish traditions of
the period), the term had specifically messianic connotations. The Baptist's
ministry concerns the ARCH of the gospel, whereas Jesus' concerns its
fulfillment (PLHROW v.14). Mark 1:1-3 alerts us, then, to the importance of
the Isaianic 'messenger' language for Mark. Thus, when just a few paragraphs
later Mark states that Jesus went into Galilee KHRUSSWN TO EUAGGELION TOU
QEOU it is likely that he intends for us to locate this gospel-activity too
within "the prophet Isaiah." The fact that this EUAGGELION concerns the
'fulfilment of the time' (PEPLHRWTAI hO KAIROS) implies that the
'preparatory' gospel work spoken of by Isaiah 40 and embodied in the
preaching of the Baptist comes to completion in the proclamation of Jesus.
Incidently, vv.14-15 have strong affinities with Is 52:7, making Mark's use
of the Isaianic 'gospel-messenger' tradition even more striking.
Just some thoughts.
Department of Ancient History