Sunday, May 15, 2005

Mark 1:1

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."

After many centuries of neglect, owing to his reputation as an abbreviator of Matthew and Luke, Mark has become recognized as a kind of literary genius in recent decades. For a variety of reasons that I hope are Providential, I would like to begin a sustained reflection on this wonderful gospel, so full of life and so full of hope.

First of all, we should realize that Mark is not a history, but, in his own words, a 'gospel'. At the times of Mark's writing, there exist no written gospels. Saint Paul writes of preaching the gospel, as a simple proclamation of the 'Good News' of what God had accomplished through Jesus Christ. But Paul, nor any other Christian apparently, had ever set out to write down a coherent narrative of Jesus' life.

In part, this had not happened because what was important about Jesus happened at His death and especially in His Resurrection and Glorification at God's right hand. As the disciples had the opportunity to reflect more on the significance of Jesus, they began to recall His words and deeds. Probably there were semi-narratives, especially dealing with His final days, but eventually there were stories about the rest His life as well.

For today, I wish to point out only the fact that Saint Mark begins unambiguously by stating that Jesus is the Son of God (in some manuscripts, the title "Son of God" is omitted, but this is simply a gloss on the certainly authentic title "Christ." In the Psalms especially, the Anointed (Messiah, Christos) is the Son of God. Because Mark is concerned to provoke a crisis in his reader, a crisis that will lead the reader to choose for or against Christ, he will often craft his stories in a deliberately ambiguous way. The reader can see the reasonableness in deciding either for or against identifying Jesus as the Son of God because he is faced with the same dilemma as those who knew Jesus in the flesh. Because of this, some commentators have tried to claim a minimalist Jesus who was not the Son of God but only was claimed to be that by the Church. That this is a mistaken interpretation should be constantly born in mind as we read together through the Gospel of Mark. For Mark, there can be no doubt His main character is God's chosen, anointed one whose mission is the final defeat of death.

No comments:


This blog is published with ecclesiastical approval.

If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
Locations of visitors to this page