Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mark 1:1, The Witnesses and the Evidence

Μάρκον 1·1 Ἀρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ [υἱοῦ θεοῦ]. 
The beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ [the son of God].  Mark 1:1
So why the brackets?  This means that it is possible that the bracketed praise [the son of God] is not original. 
Learning the greek of the New Testament involves much more than just the actual language.  One also has to understand that there are thousands of New Testament greek manuscripts out there and none of them agree 100%.  So how do we know what was original?  We must use Textual Criticism.  There are several ways that scholars use Textual Criticism in order to obtain the “original” passages.  1. Witnesses (early and late manuscripts), 2. Internal Evidence, 3. External Evidence.
  1. Witnesses: This passage appears in some of the earliest witnesses, but not all.  In Textual Criticism, the earlier the witness, the better (most of the time).
  2. Internal Evidence: Is the praise something that Mark the author would use or believed?  Yes!  He uses it a few more times in his Gospel.  So, this was not a foreign idea to Mark.
  3. External Evidence: Is this opening passage in Mark quoted in other sources?  Yes!  Several Church Fathers quote the passage with [the son of God].
In the end, there was enough evidence to include the praise, although it was bracketed.  This was due mostly because it just didn’t appear in all of the earliest witnesses.  I personally believe that the title is true even if it was not included in this line originally.

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