Wednesday, November 06, 2013

It seemed good to me also (Mark 1)

Well, I disputed with myself for quite a while whether or not I should simply continue with the Gospels. On the one hand, it seems sort of logical, and on the other hand...well, there are a few reasons why not. My main reason had been repetitiveness. Years ago, a friend of mine who was not a Christian told me that she was going to read through the New Testament, straight from beginning to end. I actually advised her that this might not be the best idea, and that once you read Matthew, the act of jumping into Mark will have you saying, "Didn't I just read all this?" I think it's easier for a Christian who has some enthusiasm for the subject material, but for the casual reader, the first three books of the New Testament can get boring especially for this very reason.

In my case, as I would have to work my ways through the issues brought up by the SAB, it's probably bound to be boring to be covering the same issues all over again, and thus I would have a similar experience. There's going to be a lot or repetition, I think.

I'll admit that when it comes to Mark 1, there is the additional issue of what to do with the very first note the SAB presents, which is an unusual one. Generally, the SAB uses the King James version, and as such, sticks to it with admirable devotion. Here on the very second verse, however, the SAB points out an issue not with the KJV, but with the ancient documents on which the KJV may have been based. I'm not an expert in the ancient documents myself, but I am somewhat familiar with the expert being consulted here: Bart Ehrman. Ehrman is the sort of author that anyone who finds the SAB an enjoyable read would enjoy. Apparently once a devoted Christian (if I'm remembering his story correctly) he decided to embark on a course of study that would allow him to examine the original manuscripts upon which the New Testament is based. Rather than finding enlightenment as many do, he was shocked to find that these manuscripts were not telling the unified and clear story that he expected them to tell, and thereafter set forth on a career of publishing books that examined what he considered to be important errors, not in any particular translation, but in the manuscripts on which the translations are based.

Anyway, I've read at least one of his books, and while I found it interesting, I disagreed with the majority of his conclusions, although not all of them. I don't know if an author like Ehrman is proving anything quite so clearly as he supposes he is. Literary interpretation from any age can be a shaky subject, and I tend to think of Ehrman as being probably as convincing as I am, despite having some advanced degrees and far better knowledge of ancient languages. If you're at all of a curious or skeptical mind, he's probably worth reading, but I don't think I have anything to say regarding his footnote here.

So, to the repetitiveness: As I said in Matthew 3, I don't think that slight differences in wording really should bother people.

"What did Jesus do after his baptism?" I would say that as Mark says, he went to the wilderness for 40 days. The passage being used in the Gospel of John is not talking about the day after Jesus' baptism, but the day after John talked about Jesus' baptism; the time frame is far from clear there.

I answered at length in Matthew 4 concerning the timing of the calling of the disciples, mainly saying that I believe the story in John is a separate story than the calling here.

"Where was the home of Peter and Andrew?" This looks like a problem until you look at a map and see that Bethsaida is just the next town over from Capernaum, it looks like about two miles away by my map, making it easy to have left a synagogue in one town and go straight away to a home in the other.

"Are those who believe Jesus is the Christ of God?" You know, I may have to hand it to the SAB that this is a genuine contradiction; I don't know anything I could say here at all except that maybe John means human beings only? Who knows, so I'll leave it on an up for the SAB.

No comments: