I have been working on a series on Matthew’s Gospel in slow motion. As this year the Sunday Gospel reading focus is on St Mark’s Gospel, I thought I’d now start some of my personal study and Lectio Divina with that Gospel.
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Ἀρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ
Ἀρχὴ – beginning or governing principal. John the baptizer marks the end of the Old Covenant and the beginning of the New brought by Jesus. This can be understood as part of the title of this scroll; or “the beginning… as it is written…”
Ἀρχὴ – beginning – echoes the first words of creation in Genesis (ἐν ἀρχῇ LXX). One can compare it to creation myths such as Enuma Elish.
I also remind you that Mark’s Gospel has no proper ending. The last word in our earliest manuscripts, which end with Mark 16:8 is γὰρ (gar) meaning “for”: “So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, they were afraid – for”. This is the beginning of the Good News of Jesus, God’s Anointed, God’s Son!
εὐαγγελίου – good news – gospel. If we are looking for a title for this scroll, this book, “Good News” would be it. “Good News” is used by St Paul (over 60 times) to refer to the message. Justin Martyr (c 150 AD) uses the term for this genre of literature. εὐαγγελίου was the word used for a positive proclamation. Your authority and honour for making such a proclamation would be based on who your father was. Mark bypasses Joseph and goes straight to υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ (Son of God).
Χριστοῦ – Messiah; meaning “anointed one”. Foreshadowing Peter’s proclamation: “You are the Messiah” (Mark 8:29) Σὺ εἶ ὁ Χριστός.
υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ – Son of God. Used in the Hebrew Bible for angels or divine beings (see Genesis 6:2 and Job 37:7), the Israelites (Hosea 11:1), the king (Psalm 2:7). It is used of the Messiah (1 Enoch 105:2; 2 Esdras 7:28-29; 13:32, 27, 52). The surrounding culture used the term for heroes and leaders. Mark leads from here to the centurion by the cross: “Truly this man was God’s Son” (Mark 15:39).