Here is a collection of recent, more devotional posts on Mark. I put them in order according to the passages they discuss.
In a conversation with Charles Sullivan, Dirk Jongkind provides links to manuscript images in the New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room.
Inepti Graeculi asks a question regarding Eusebius’ position on the ending.
Charles Sullivan asks about the origin of minuscule 1, which leads to …
Some info I found by following the link trail embedded in the hyperlinks of the THGNT apparatus module in Accordance and …
Rick Brannan provides the Virutal Manuscript Room ID for the relevant minuscule.
Fr. Thomas Sandberg questions why the textual note is included in light of the fact that the mansuscripts that include it are from the tenth to fourteenth centuries, and Jeremiah responds.
And by the way, we love this, Dirk.
Fernando Ortega’s The Crucifixion of Jesus is a beautiful mix of melodies and scripture reading, all reflecting on the passion narratives. As I listened this morning, the part where Peter confesses his loyalty stood out to me.
|ὁ δὲ Πέτρος ἔφη αὐτῷ· εἰ καὶ πάντες σκανδαλισθήσονται ἀλλ᾿ οὐκ ἐγώ.Καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἀμὴν λέγω σοι ὅτι σὺ σήμερον ταύτῃ τῇ νυκτὶ πρὶν ἢ δὶς ἀλέκτορα φωνῆσαι τρίς με ἀπαρνήσῃ. 31 ὁ δὲ ἐκπερισσῶς ἐλάλει· ἐὰν δέῃ με συναποθανεῖν σοι, οὐ μή σε ἀπαρνήσομαι. ὡσαύτως δὲ καὶ πάντες ἔλεγον.||Peter said to him, “Even if everyone falls away, I won’t!” Jesus said to him, “I’m telling you that today, on this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times. But he was emphatically saying, “Even if I have to suffer with you, I will never deny you!” Now, all of them were saying the same thing.|
We might ask, “How could Peter be so adamant and then by that very night do the opposite?” But doesn’t our experience make sense of this? How many times in the morning or midday have you thought “Not today,” only to lose the battle at night. Granted, the shift here isn’t really from morning to night but from evening to late night. Nevertheless, I think the point still stands.
It is striking to me how our mentality shifts as the hours pass, and it is striking to see something similar in the passion narratives, too.
One more comment on Mark: The Tyndale House Greek New Testament has a really interesting textual note at the end. These words appear between the end of 16:8 and the alternate longer ending, verses 9–20:
ΕΝ ΤΙΣΙ ΜΕΝ ΤΩΝ ΑΝΤΙΓΡΑΦΩΝ, ΕΩΣ ΩΔΕ ΠΛΗΡΟΥΤΑΙ Ο ΕΥΑΓΓΕΛΙΣΤΗΣ· ΕΩΣ ΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΕΥΣΕΒΙΟΣ Ο ΠΑΜΦΙΛΟΥ ΕΚΑΝΟΝΙΣΕΝ· ΕΝ ΠΟΛΛΟΙΣ ΔΕ ΚΑΙ ΤΑΥΤΑ ΦΕΡΕΤΑΙ
At the bottom of the page, the apparatus reads as follows:
“note as found in minuscule 1: ‘In some of the copies, the evangelist finishes here, up to which (point) also Eusebius of Pamphilus made canon sections. But in many the following is also contained.'”
This is so cool, and it is yet another plus for my favorite GNT — in addition to the beautifully readable typography, the uncluttered page layout, the concise, easy to understand apparatus, the affordable price tag, and the more ancient paragraph breaks.
Check it out for yourself:
When you read scripture, do any of the characters ever look directly into the camera? I was discussing this phenomenon with a friend once, and he told me the theater term for this is “breaking the fourth wall.”
Mark 14:41 is a perfect example. Here, Jesus and the disciples are in the garden. He has come for the third time and found them sleeping. Jesus is standing over three of his friends as they sleep, and no one else is in the scene.
This time, instead of encouraging them to watch and pray, Jesus says, “Sleep on, and rest. It’s fine.” I imagine him looking down at the disciples because though they are sleeping he is clearly speaking to them. In the next sentence, however, he starts to look up, directly into the camera.
The transition happens as he says, “The hour has come,” and by the next word he is staring directly into your eyes. “Look,” he says, “the son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” Who else would he be talking to but the reader?
Sure, he could still be looking at the sleeping disciples, but do you really say “look” to sleeping people? It is your attention, no one else’s in the scene, that ἰδού is intended to grab. (That is the word I’m translating “look,” traditionally rendered behold.) If that word is intended by the author to grab your attention, then why wouldn’t you imagine the character who is saying it to be looking at you, the reader?
In the next sentence, Jesus turns back to the disciples and says, “Get up. Let’s go. The one betraying me is here.” For one brief moment in the garden, however, Jesus breaks the fourth wall. With heavy eyes and a heavy heart, no doubt, he invites you the reader to look and watch.
If you were to look into Jesus’ eyes in Mark 12, I imagine you would describe them like John did in Revelation 1 — as a flame of fire. Has a more subversive, weighty little story ever been told than what you hear at the beginning of Mark 12? It’s certainly on the level of Nathan’s “you are the man.” This is the story of the vineyard entrusted to farmers, who in the end killed all the owner’s servants and even killed his son in hopes of gaining the inheritance for themselves.
Here in chapter twelve, it’s like the undercurrent of furor that was boiling in Mark 3 spills over. There, early in the book, Jesus was brimming with anger because his opponents were more interested in playing legal games than showing compassion to those suffering. Here, however, he doesn’t hold his tongue. As chapter eleven comes to a close and prefaces Jesus’ story, I imagine him stepping up to the mic like Apollo:
Down from the peaks of Olympos he hastened, enraged at heart, carrying on his shoulders his bow and lidded quiver, arrows rattling loud on his shoulders as in his rage he strode on his way: he came as nightfall comes. (Iliad translated by Peter Green, 2015, p. 26)
Jesus is calm and composed as he tells the story. That composure mixed with the ferocity of the words is why I think in this moment Jesus’ eyes looked just as deep and fiery and filled with life and power as what John saw.
As he draws the story to a close and explicitly says that the lord (ὁ κύριος) will destroy the abusive farmers, he makes his own literary reference.
Haven’t you read this scripture? The stone the builders rejected, this one became the cornerstone. This was from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
There’s the twinkle. The last clause. Can’t you see it? As he utters the syllables ἔστιν θαυμαστὴ ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, don’t you know his face lit up with a smile? One of those I got you smiles that is resigned to whatever hostile reaction it might ignite. Despite all the misunderstanding up to this point, they got it this time: “They knew he told the parable about them.” The arrows sliced through their targets.
He said it was marvelous. Maybe the mention of wonder and marvel, as Jesus leans into his coming suffering, is related to the wonder and fear his followers felt on the road as they headed to Jerusalem (Mark 10:32). Things are changing, it’s from the Lord, but it’s scary and confusing and amazing. Hardly anyone knows what to think except the one who walked ahead.
Sometimes it’s the dead passages that draw you in and pique your curiosity — passages where there is no seemingly significant action. I’ll try to describe what I mean with two examples that I couldn’t help but visualize and imagine how the scene might look and feel.
What in the world is happening in this verse? Jesus has just finished some particularly hard teaching, but reading this verse still felt like a jolt.
|Mark 10:32||Ἦσαν δὲ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ἀναβαίνοντες εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα, καὶ ἦν προάγων αὐτοὺς ὁ Ἰησοῦς, καὶ ἐθαμβοῦντο· οἱ δὲ ἀκολουθοῦντες ἐφοβοῦντο.||Now, they were on the road going up to Jerusalem. Jesus was walking ahead of them, and they were amazed. And those who were following were afraid.|
I don’t see a direct connection to what happens before this verse and the state of consternation and fear in those who watch Jesus walking along ahead of them. I guess they are watching him. I visualize the passage through the eyes of those following behind, looking at Jesus and feeling fear and wonder. I don’t see a particularly strong connection to what follows either.
To me, 10:32 seems like a somewhat random verse. In another sense, however, it captures what I sense as a strange mood of confusion and disorientation present in the middle of Mark. I mentioned this mood on Twitter and towards the end of the previous post.
What does he look like as he walks up ahead? Is he frustrated or sad? What are those around you whispering as they articulate their fear and amazement?
This seems like a classic calm before the bar fight movie scene. He enters the place where the confrontation will happen. He looks around, and you think it might happen. But he leaves, and we wait for tomorrow.
|Mark 11:11–12||Καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα εἰς τὸ ἱερόν, καὶ περιβλεψάμενος πάντα, ὀψίας ἤδη οὔσης τῆς ὥρας, ἐξῆλθεν εἰς Βηθανίαν μετὰ τῶν δώδεκα. Καὶ τῇ ἐπαύριον …||And he went into Jerusalem, into the temple, and having looked around at everything, because the hour was late, he went out into Bethany with the twelve. And on the next day …|
What did he do that evening? After he checked out the place, what was his demeanor like, and what were the conversation like with his friend around the fire? How early did he go to bed? Did he stare up at the sky that night? Was he rehearsing exactly what he would say and do in the temple the next day?
The next day he went into the temple and turned the place upside down. There is a really interesting point in that scene where he wouldn’t let anyone carry anything through the temple, but that is another story for another post. It’s not exactly a dead passage.