Sorting by


The Beginning of Mark’s Gospel/Biography

OK, I won’t do this for all the Gospels, but I thought rather than trying to type up at length how the beginning of Mark’s Gospel portrays Jesus (on the assumption that since it’s an ancient biography, it will lay out the character of the subject at the very outset), I should simply reproduce what I already say about this in print elsewhere, in my Introduction to the New Testament. Here is the first part of that discussion. The second part I’ll give in my next post. **************************************************************** One of the first things that strikes the informed reader of Mark's Gospel is how thoroughly its traditions are rooted in a Jewish world view. The book begins, as do many other ancient biographies, by naming its subject: "The Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ" (1:1). But readers living in the Greco-Roman world would not recognize "Christ" as a name; for most of them, it was not even a meaningful title. It came from the verb "to anoint," and typically referred to someone who has just [...]

2020-04-03T17:20:11-04:00February 17th, 2014|Canonical Gospels|

Jesus’ Anger in Mark 1:41

So far in this thread I have argued that Mark 1:41 originally said that Jesus got angry when the leper asked him to heal him; and I have shown that elsewhere in Mark’s Gospel Jesus gets angry in context involving healing. And so: if Jesus got angry when the leper asked for healing in Mark 1:41 – what exactly was he angry about? Over the years numerous interpretations have been proposed, and some of these explanations are highly creative. Some interpreters have argued that Jesus became angry because he knew that the man would disobey orders, spreading the news of his healing and making it difficult for Jesus to enter into the towns of Galilee because of the crowds. The problem with this view is that it seems unlikely that Jesus would be angry about what the man would do later -- before he actually did it! Other have suggested that he was angry because the man was intruding on his preaching ministry, keeping him from his primary task. Unfortunately, nothing in the text says [...]

Mark and the Resurrection

QUESTION: I heard a scholar (I think it was JD Crossan) saying that the absence of a resurrected Jesus in Mark's original gospel reflects the confusion and anxiety that forlorn Jews would have felt after the destruction of the Temple? Do you think this is the case? If so, how does it fit in with the belief (widespread among scholars, I believe)  that the accounts of a visibly resurrected Jesus were in circulation long before 70 AD and probably came from Peter, Paul , and Mary M? RESPONSE: I don’t recall ever hearing this view before – so I’m not sure where you may have read it.   I would have to read a fuller exposition of the view to make better sense of it, but off hand, I don’t think it’s plausible, for several reasons. First, a lot hinges on what is meant by “the absence of the resurrected Jesus” in Mark.   People often get Mark’s account wrong by saying that there is no resurrection in Mark.  That’s absolutely not true.  In Mark, Jesus is [...]

2020-04-03T18:28:48-04:00June 4th, 2013|Canonical Gospels, Early Judaism, Reader’s Questions|

More on Mark and Peter

In answering the question about why it appears that Mark did not serve as the scribe/secretary for Peter, writing down Peter’s (Aramaic) recollections of his time with Jesus and putting them in narrative form in Greek, I already discussed the slender record of that being the origin of Mark’s Gospel, based on the discussion in Papias. Now in this post I want to discuss the direct evidence that suggests that this is not how Mark’s Gospel came into being. Here I will make three points. First – this will not seem overly convincing to some readers, but then again it’s not really my main point – there is in fact nothing in Mark’s Gospel to make anyone think that it is Peter’s version, any more, than, say the Gospel of Matthew or the Gospel of John. There is no first-person narrative, no recollection about what “Jesus said to me” and so on. Peter is one of the main figures – yes indeed. But the Gospel is not told from his perspective.   FOR THE REST [...]

2021-01-20T01:01:21-05:00June 3rd, 2013|Canonical Gospels, Reader’s Questions|

Jesus’ Death in Mark and Luke

It is one thing to be able to establish the emphases of both Mark and Luke in their accounts of Jesus going to his death.  (See my previous post).  It is harder, and more speculative, to establish why they chose to portray Jesus in these ways.   But there are some good, plausible views of the matter.  I’ll start with Mark. In Mark Jesus appears to be in shock, is silent the entire time, seems not to understand why this is happening to him, up to the end, when he cries out asking God why he has forsaken him.  And then he dies, never having received an answer.  What is most striking is that even though Mark’s Jesus may not know why, when it comes to the time, he has to suffer like this, the reader does (and so, of course, does Mark).  The moment that Jesus dies, two things happen: the curtain in the temple is ripped in half and the centurion confesses that he is the son of God.   The curtain was the barrier [...]

2020-04-03T19:24:02-04:00September 10th, 2012|Canonical Gospels|

Jesus Going to His Death in Luke

In previous posts I have given some of the reasons for thinking that Luke did not write the account of Jesus “sweating blood” in his prayer before his arrest. A lot more could obviously be said, but anyone who wants more can just look up the discussion in my book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. For the purposes of the blog, two BIG questions remain: why does Luke change Mark’s portrayal of Jesus going to his death so that now he is so clearly calm and collected? And why did later scribes change Luke’s portrayal by adding the two verses in question? I’ll answer the first question in this post and the next, the second in a third post in a couple of days. The first thing to stress is that Luke’s emphasis can be found not only in this passage but in others as well, as a redactional comparison with Mark shows (i.e., seeing what Luke has edited – or “redacted” -- in Mark’s version, by what he has added, omitted, and changed) FOR [...]

2020-04-03T19:24:09-04:00September 9th, 2012|Canonical Gospels, Reader’s Questions|

More on The Bloody Sweat

I mentioned that I first got interested in the textual problem of Luke 22:43-44 (“the bloody sweat”) when I was taking a graduate seminar at Princeton Theological Seminary, my first year in the doctoral program.  The seminar was devoted (the entire semester) to the Greek exegesis of Luke.   My fellow student, Mark Plunkett, presented a seminar paper in which he dealt with the passage.  He was not at all interested in the textual question of whether vv. 43-44 were original.  He was assuming that there were not, but it had nothing to do with his presentation.  In his presentation he argued that there was a clear structure to the passage of Jesus’ prayer before being arrested (in Luke’s source this takes place in the Garden of Gethsemane, but Luke doesn’t say so) and he made a convincing argument (to my mind).  And then I realized that the structural argument was relevant to the textual problem of whether the verses were original or not.   While we moved on to other things in the seminar that afternoon, [...]

First-Century Copy of Mark? – Part 1

On February 1, I had a public debate in Chapel Hill with Daniel Wallace, a conservative evangelical Christian New Testament scholar who teaches at that bastion of conservative dispensationalist theology, Dallas Theological Seminary. He is also the author of several books, including Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament and Reinventing Jesus. I have known Dan for over thirty years, since we were both graduate students interested in similar areas of research: my field (at the time I too was an evangelical) was textual criticism, the study of the ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament and of what they can tell us about the “original” writings of the New Testament; his field was the grammar of the Greek New Testament. The term “textual criticism” is a technical term. It does not refer to any study of “texts.” It is specifically the study of how to establish what an author wrote if we do not have his or her actual writings, but only later copies of them. In the case of the New Testament we [...]

2020-06-03T15:41:12-04:00April 6th, 2012|Bart's Debates, New Testament Manuscripts|
Go to Top