[Synoptic-L] Mk 1,1
- 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?
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.
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- At 10:14 AM 7/3/99 +0300, Sakari Häkkinen wrote:
>Dear friends,Yes, AH stands for the Augustinian hypothesis.
>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. ...
>does "AH viewpoint" mean the hypothesis that GMt was the
>first written Gospel?
>Your suggestion that ARCH is meant toThere are a lot of places in Mark where it shows dependence upon Matthew.
>correct the beginning of GMt does not convince me. Nothing
>in the text supports that.
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'tThere are many indications that AMk did not wish his gospel or EUAGGELION to
>AMk give at least some clearer hints if not explying his
>critics to GMt?
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 badYes, that's why it can be seen as an improvement over Matthew, from the AH
>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.
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