Mark 1.1-15 – A Scholarly Paraphrase

Mark 1.1-15 – A Scholarly Paraphrase July 28, 2012

I think there is nothing wrong with a paraphrase, as long as you tell people it’s a paraphrase, and you recognize that it has an additional and deliberate interpretive layer imposed upon the text in order to help people understand the gist of the text. All translations include interpretation, paraphrases do the interpretive part a lot more explicitly and with some artistic license. Below is my paraphrase of Mark 1.1-15, true to the gist of the text I hope, but also a fresh and stylish rendering of the text for modern readers.


The big news of the royal victory of Jesus Christ begins, would you believe, all the way back with what was written in the sacred writings of the prophet Isaiah:

“Get ready folks: I’m gonna send my envoy to you, up close and personal, he will set the stage for you, and he’s got a voice like someone preaching shock and awe in the wilderness: prepare for God’s arrival, clear the decks and grit the road, he’s coming!”

Jack the Immerser first came onto the scene out in the Judean boondocks, preaching a baptism of 180 degree life reversal, a change of heart that leads to God’s forgiveness for all the evil things we’ve done. People flocked to this guy from as far away as Judea and Jerusalem. Everyone publicly owned up to their wicked waysand they were all immersed by Jack in the Jordan river, making a new start for a new life.

Jack wore a prophet’s costume with a camel hair robe, tied at the waist with a leather belt. Oh, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

He spoke to the people with words like this, “Listen up, the star of God’s big rescue, to whom I’m a mere shoelace tier, is about to make his grand entrance. I’m washing you here in this river so that you can show your readiness by your remorse, but he is gonna plunge you into the holy breath of God, so you’ll be properly purified from your evil deeds.

It was round about this time that Jesus came from the rustic hamlet of Nazareth in the Galilee, and he was immersed by Jack in the Jordan river. When Jesus came up from the waters, he saw the sky ripped open, and God’s Spirit like a dove descending down upon him. There was a freaky and frightening voice from the sky, “This man is truly my chosen Son, I’m thrilled with him.”

And the next thing you know the Spirit of God propelled Jesus into a deserted place out in middle of nowhere. He was in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights. There the Satan tried to entice him away from his mission, and he was surrounded by wild beasts, but thankfully God’s heavenly messengers took care of him during this ordeal.

Then, after Jack was thrown into prison like a common criminal, Jesus came into the Galilee. He was announcing the news of God’s royal victory, telling people that, “The time is now folks, the shot clock has wound down to zero, there is gonna be change of regimes, God’s new empire is coming, in fact, it’s already begun. So turn away from the wickedness and worldliness that’s consuming your hearts, change your verdict about God, give up your sectarian agendas for Israel, and instead entrust yourself to the message of God’s victory that I’m bringing you.”

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  • Allen Browne

    Love it! That’s a keeper, Michael.
    Naturally each of us would make somewhat different emphasises in our paraphrases, but this one captures the imagery and background of Mark’s prologue so well.

  • Chris

    think again:
    “to whom” whadayamean?
    Jack? who is he? The guy that God sent said his folks had to call him Jono! And they did it! Jono, not Jack!

    • Bronwen

      The “short form” (although in this instance, it’s no shorter) of John is Jack. Jack is, properly speaking, not a name in its own right, but merely a nickname for John, in the same way that Bill means William, Tom / Thomas, Kate / Katherine, etc. In today’s world, we seem to have forgotten this & turned many of these short forms into names on their own

  • Robert_A

    This reminds me of the “Word on the Street” Bible paraphrase by Rob Lacey.

    Both are enjoyable.

  • Quin

    Jack the Immerser? Not Jack the Dipper?! 🙂

  • Austinjhoffman

    “Jack” become “John” at the baptism of Jesus? Intentional?

  • Duncan B

    Are you playing on Whispering Jack / John Farnham here? 🙂