Friday, May 12, 2017

A Different Look at the Gospel of Mark

The Gospel of Mark is the shortest Gospel. Mark, the author, belonged to a family who lived in Jerusalem where he became a Christian. He worked with both Paul and Peter. His gospel is unique because it emphasizes Jesus’ actions more than His teachings, moving quickly from one episode to another. Mark does not begin with a genealogy as Matthew did, because he is writing for the Gentiles who would not care about His lineage. He starts with John the Baptist preparing the way, then Jesus’ baptism and the calling of the first disciples. Then Mark gives us healings and parables and miracles.  We follow Our Lord’s journeys through Galilee, the surrounding areas, and then to Judea at a rapid pace. In fact, the swiftness is revealed in the actually telling of the events. An example of this unique swiftness presents itself early on in chapter 1, verses 10 – 14. This is from Young’s Literal Translation so you can see the fast pace exactly as it was written. I eliminated the verse numbers and put the "swift" words in red:
  And it came to pass in those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John at the Jordan; and immediately coming up from the water, he saw the heavens dividing, and the Spirit as a dove coming down upon him; and a voice came out of the heavens, `Thou art My Son -- the Beloved, in whom I did delight.' And immediately doth the Spirit put him forth to the wilderness, and he was there in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by the Adversary, and he was with the beasts, and the messengers were ministering to him.
Whew! Notice the punctuation? Just two sentences. Now let’s compare other nearly identical scenes recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke and see how Mark uses a particularly “swift” word:
1)                  The Healing of the Demon-possessed man – the demon (Legion) sent into a herd of pigs:
Matthew 8:28: 28 When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him.
Mark 5:6: 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him.
Luke 8: 27: 27 When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town.
2)                 The Five Thousand Fed
Matthew 14:13: 13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.
Mark 6:33: 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.
Luke 9:11: 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.
3)                 Healings at Gennesaret
Matthew 14: 34-36: 34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
Mark 6:54-56: 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
4)                 Before the Healing of a Boy with an Evil Spirit
Matthew 17:14: 14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him.
Mark 9:15: 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
Luke 9:37: 37 The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him.
5)                 The Rich Young Man
Matthew 19:16:  16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
Mark 10:17: 17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Luke 18:18: 18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
In all of these examples Mark shows the speed and swiftness unique to this book. Now here’s the amazing reason why: if you take all 66 books of the Bible and line them up with the 22 Hebrew letters Mark lines up (along with Psalms and 2nd John) with the 19th letter which is quph (pronounced koof). As explained in Crossing the Scriptures, God has given us the acrostic verses to determine specific keywords that start with each letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  A key quph word is qal which means swift.
Mark’s book is also unique in that he kept a few Hebrew words and simply transliterated them into Greek. Naturally, these are words that begin with quph.

You can learn more in about these interesting letter match-ups in Crossing the Scriptures.

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