Gospel of Mark Week: 2- More about the manuscript and some context

Gospel of Mark Week: 2- More about the manuscript and some context March 22, 2012

A couple of additional items to add to our previous look at the author of Mark and the manuscript.

A fragment of 1st century manuscript of the Gospel of Mark has been discovered. We might think this is not that big a deal, but this bit of the interview about it shows the difference it makes … we discover we can trust the text we have now. Ok, I did already, but it is interesting to see this verification. (Thanks to Jane for this link.)

HH: Now in terms of what you know about it, does it correspond with the translations that have come down to us? In other words, will it confirm that the translations have integrity through the centuries?

DW: I think that yes, all of these fragments will do that. And here’s how they do it. It’s not a straight answer you can give to this, but I think it’s a very important answer to note. And that is that some of our earlier manuscripts are written by unprofessional scribes. And sometimes, those unprofessional scribes are sloppy in their spelling, or something like that. Others are written by professionally trained scribes, and they’re concerned with making pretty letters, and they often leave out words or add words by accident. But none of those places, in the last 135 years when we’ve been discovering New Testament papyri, there’s not a single place where any manuscript discovery of the last 135 years has introduced new wording to a passage that was not found in any other manuscripts before, that now scholars say this is authentic.

I like the point made here that Mark is not afraid to tell the plain, unvarnished truth. Which means I can trust him even more.

Mark offers a bold portrayal of Jesus. He is not afraid to report features that may have stunned, or even scandalized, his audience. He recounts that even Jesus’ family thought he was mentally deranged (3:21). Only Mark records Jesus’ question to the rich man: “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone” (10:18). Where Matthew says that Jesus did not do any miracles in his hometown because of the people’s unbelief, Mark says he could not do any miracles there (6:5). He shows Jesus as ignorant of what his disciples were discussing (9:16, 33) or the end of time (13:32). He depicts a profoundly human Jesus who trembled at his approaching death (14:33) and felt abandoned by God (15:34). Yet for Mark these human touches do not in any way diminish Jesus’ sovereign majesty as the Father’s beloved Son. It is Mark who records the most direct affirmation by Jesus of his divine sonship found in any of the Gospels (see on 14:61-62).

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