Tuesday, 25 December 2018

The Uniqueness of Mark’s Gospel

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are collectively known as the Synoptic Gospels because of the high degree of similarities among them. The ongoing scholarly debate is whether the authors wrote independently, collaborated, or used common sources. The subtle and not-so-subtle differences argue for independence, representing separate and corroborating testimonies.1 

Absent from both Matthew and Luke are the following sections of Mark: 1:1; 2:27; 3:20-22a; 4:26-29; 7:2-4, 32-37; 8:22-26; 9:29, 48-49; 13:33-37; 14:51-52. Fifty-five verses of Mark are not found in Matthew, and there is the striking omission in Luke of the material in Mark 6:45–8:26 and 9:41–10:12. Literary-dependency theorists and Markan Priority advocates in particular are hard pressed to give a reasonable explanation of these phenomena.2 

Details in Mark that do not appear in the parallel accounts of Matthew and Luke include the following:

Mark 1:13b, Jesus in the wilderness “with the wild beasts.” 
Mark 1:20b, Zebedee’s “hired servants.”
Mark 1:35, Jesus’ praying “a long while before daylight.” 
Mark 2:26b, “Abiathar the high priest.”  
Mark 2:27, “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”
Mark 3:17b, the nickname Jesus gave to Zebedee’s sons.
Mark 3:20-22a, too busy to eat, Christ’s own people trying to seize him, Jerusalem scribes.
Mark 4:3a, “Listen!”
Mark 4:36b, “other little boats.”
Mark 4:38a, “in the stern, asleep on a pillow.”
Mark 5:13b, the number of pigs.
Mark 5:26, “suffered from many physicians … grew worse.”   
Mark 5:41b, what Jesus said to the girl in Aramaic.
Mark 6:3a, “the carpenter, the Son of Mary.” 
Mark 6:8b, 9a, “except a staff … but to wear sandals.” 
Mark 6:39b, “on the green grass.” 
Mark 6:40b, “in hundreds.”
Mark 6:48b, “and would have passed them by.”
Mark 7:30, she came home, found the demon gone and her daughter lying on the bed.
Mark 8:3, “to their own houses … have come from afar.”
Mark 8:35b, “and the gospel’s.”
Mark 9:3b, “like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.”
Mark 9:41b, “because you belong to Christ.”
Mark 10:11b-12, “against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries …”
Mark 10:30b, “with persecutions.” 
Mark 10:45b, “and to give his life a ransom for many.” 
Mark 10:46b, “Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus.”
Mark 11:10a, “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David.”
Mark 11:17b, “for all nations.”
Mark 12:29b, “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” 
Mark 12:32-34, the entire section. 
Mark 14:30b, 68-72, a rooster crowing “twice.”
Mark 14:36a, “Abba.” 
Mark 15:21b, “the father of Alexander and Rufus.” 
Mark 15:47a, “and Mary Magdalene and Mary [mother] of Joseph.”
Mark 16:18, “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly …”

Biblical studies are enhanced when attention is given to these unique features in view of authorship, readership, accompanying background and circumstances, inferred applicability and purpose, as well as the fruits of comparative analysis. 

--Kevin L. Moore

Endnotes:
     See K. L. Moore, “The Synoptic Problem and Markan Priority,” Part 1 <Link>, and Part 2 <Link>.
     I. H. Marshall, a Markan Priority advocate, admits that attempted explanations for the agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark “do not seem adequate and sometimes give the impression of being desperate attempts to iron out the difficulties at any cost,” while the MP hypothesis “must be judged insufficient to account for all the evidence” (Luke: Historian and Theologian 58, cf. 59-63).


Image credit: http://hoodmemorial.org/2018/02/05/matthew-and-mark/

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