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[Synoptic-L] Mk 1,1

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  • 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 1 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,

      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 2 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. ...

        >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

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