Mark 1:1

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The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (ASV)

Contents

Pro - Transmission Error = "The son of god" is not original

Summary of Error

"The son of god" is majority reading in Bibles

A review of popular English Bibles at:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark%201:1&version=KJ21;ASV;NASB;NIV;YLT

shows that most include "the son of god" (without any qualification)

Detailed Argument

Criteria to Evaluate Evidence

The issue of likely original Text is a Textual Criticism issue. Criteria will be divided into Qualitative and Quantitative categories and ranked in order of importance as follows:

Qualitative:

1 - Credibility of source

2 - Common sense

3 - Direction (of change)

4 - Applicability (general vs. specific)

5 – Age

6 - Confirmation – width

7 - External force

8 – Consistency

Quantitative:

1 - Confirmation – quantity

2 – Variation

3 – Directness

Categories of Evidence

External

Patristic
Greek

Tatian c. 170

Considering Tatian as witness here:

"Tatian the Assyrian[1][2][3][4] (c. 120–180 AD) was an Assyrian early Christian writer and theologian of the 2nd century. Tatian's most influential work is the Diatessaron, a Biblical paraphrase, or "harmony", of the four gospels that became the standard text of the four gospels in the Syriac-speaking churches until the 5th-century, when it gave way to the four separate gospels in the Peshitta version.[5]"

his related witness is the Diatessaron

"The Diatessaron (c 160–175) is the most prominent Gospel harmony created by Tatian, an early Christian apologist and ascetic.[1] Tatian combined the four gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—into a single narrative. Tatian's harmony follows the gospels closely in terms of text but puts the text in a new, different sequence. The four gospels differ from one another; like other harmonies, the Diatessaron resolves contradictions. It also omits both the contradictory genealogies in Matthew and Luke. In order to fit all the canonical material in, Tatian created his own narrative sequence, which is different from both the synoptic sequence and John's sequence. Tatian omitted duplicated text, especially among the synoptics. The harmony does not include Jesus' encounter with the adulteress (John 7:53–8:11), a passage that is generally considered to be a late addition to the Gospel of John,[2] with the Diatessaron itself often used as an early textual witness to support this. No significant text was added.[3] Only 56 verses in the canonical Gospels do not have a counterpart in the Diatessaron, mostly the genealogies and the Pericope Adulterae. The final work is about 72% the length of the four gospels put together (McFall, 1994). In the early Church, the gospels at first circulated independently, with Matthew the most popular.[4] The Diatessaron is notable evidence for the authority already enjoyed by the four gospels by the mid-2nd century.[5] Twenty years after Tatian's harmony, Irenaeus expressly proclaimed the authoritative character of the four gospels. The Diatessaron became a standard text of the gospels in some Syriac-speaking churches down to the 5th century, when it gave way to the four separate Gospels,[5] in the Peshitta version.[6]"

THE TEXT OF THE DIATESSARON

and regarding the offending verse here:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."

It is nowhere to be found in the Diatessaron. We have the following reasons to think this is evidence that Mark 1:1 either outright did not exist at this time or was recognized by Tatian as likely not original:

1) Tatian used almost all of "Mark".
2) There is no clear reason for Tatian to exorcise 1:1.
3) It would be natural for Tatian to start his Gospel with it as his theology is that Jesus started as son of God.
4) The Diatessaron likewise does not have the start of "Matthew" or "Luke" again suggesting that either they outright did not exist at this time or were recognized by Tatian as likely not original. If "Matthew" and "Luke" had beginnings added (which their primary source "Mark" did not have) than that is evidence that "Mark" did too.
5) Elliott argues (well) that all of 1:1-3 is unoriginal J.K. Elliott "Mark 1:1-3–A later addition to the Gospel?" NTS 46 (2000) 584-8

Now, getting all the way back to the specific question of this Thread, if there is evidence that Mark 1:1 is not original, is that evidence that the "son of god" in 1:1 is an addition?

As Kenneth Mars said in the classic Young Frankenstein "of gorse" in an absolute sense. In a relative sense though if all of 1:1 is an addition is that evidence that "son of God" is a even later addition to the prior addition of 1:1?

I think so as general evidence of editing in the neighborhood is evidence of specific editing there and specifically general addition evidence is specifically evidence of specific addition editing.

Thus I will add Tatian as evidence against Long and note the coordination with the other evidence as there is no quality evidence that Long even existed in Tatian's time.

Irenaeus c. 190

Irenaeus 3.11.8

"The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is written in Esaias the prophet,"

Compare to the Text:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet,"

The only difference being either "the son of God" or "Jesus Christ, the Son of God". Irenaeus explicitly says "son of God" twice in his related discussion and a major theme is the generation of Jesus. It seems reMarkable to me that he would invoke the offending phrase in his discussion but not in his quote.

Irenaeus' context here is a general one. He is claiming support from the individual Gospels for his conclusion that there should be exactly four Gospels. Strangely, his mystical, indirect argument is exactly the type he accuses his opponents of.

Origen c. 240

Origen Commentary on John Book I.14

"The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

followed by:

"The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way. The voice of one crying m the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight."

Compare to the Text:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ye ready the way of the Lord, Make his paths straight;"

The only difference is "the son of God" and this is for 3 verses.

Origen's context is that the Christian Bible is a continuation of the Jewish Bible.

Origen Commentary on John Book 6.14

"The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send My messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight."

Compare to the Text:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ye ready the way of the Lord, Make his paths straight;"

The only difference is "the son of God" and this is for 3 verses.

Origen's context is that he is trying to harmonize the Gospels.

Origen Contra Celsus BOOK II. CHAP. IV

"The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is written in the prophet Isaiah, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee"

Compare to the Text:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way."

The only difference is "the son of God" for 2 verses.

Origen's context is that the Christian Bible states that it is connected to the Jewish Bible.

Serapion c. 350

Per Wasserman Serapion quotes Mark 1:1-2 twice without "the son of God" and has the same context as Origen, the Christian Bible is a continuation of the Jewish Bible.

Basil c. 363

Against Eunomius (Book II) 15 (Page 150)

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as is written in Isaiah the prophet: a voice of one crying out [Mk 1.1]"

Compare to the Text:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way. The voice of one crying in the wilderness"

Wasserman points out that the omission of the second half of verse 2 is support for the omission of "the son of God" in verse 1. But again, the cumulative absence of Patristic quotation of "son of God" here suggests the more likely explanation that it did not exist/was not accepted as original at this time. Also note here that Basil's context is the timing of "the son of God" so it would be reMarkable for him to exorcise it from his related quote.

Cyril Jerusalem c. 370

ST. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM: CATECHETICAL LECTURES LECTURE III. ON BAPTISM

"The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, &c.: John came baptising in the wilderness"

Compare to the Text:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way. The voice of one crying in the wilderness"

Cyril gives part of the missing text early on (1):

"For the voice is heard of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord"

He adds (2):

"Make straight the way of the Lord"

So the only part of the start of "Mark" he is missing besides "son of God" is the prophetic prediction.

Part of his argument (11):

"If the Son of God was baptized"

Why not quote that if it's in the text. He's making a treatise out of a few verses.

And, as the Brits says, the cruncher (14):

"Jesus Christ was the Son of God, yet He preached not the Gospel before His Baptism. If the Master Himself followed the right time in due order, ought we, His servants, to venture out of order? From that time Jesus began to preach[5], when the Holy Spirit had descended upon Him in a bodily shape, like a dove[6]; not that Jesus might see Him first, for He knew Him even before He came in a bodily shape, but that John, who was baptizing Him, might behold Him. For I, saith he, knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, He said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending and abiding on Him,that is He[7]. If thou too hast unfeigned piety, the Holy Ghost cometh down on thee also, and a Father's voice sounds over thee from on high--not, "This is My Son," but, "This has now been made My son;" for the "is" belongs to Him alone, because In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God[8]. To Him belongs the "is," since He is always the Son of God: but to thee "has now been made:" since thou hast not the sonship by nature, but receivest it by adoption. He eternally "is;" but thou receivest the grace by advancement."

Cyril's point/apology here is that the Synoptics appear to show Jesus as becoming son of God at baptism. Cyril's spin is that it is only from the standpoint of the witness that Jesus became son of God at the baptism. Jesus was "son of God" before the baptism (ala "John") and he (Jesus) knew/knows/will know it. Being able to quote "Mark" as saying "son of God" before the baptism is exactly what he would have wanted and done had it been there, same as his fellow Patristics.

Epiphanius c. 378

Panarion Section 51 (Page 26)

"The beginning of the Gospel, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, A voice of one crying in the wilderness."

Compare to the Text:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way. The voice of one crying in the wilderness"

So Epiphanius has exorcised "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way" and "Jesus Christ, the Son of God." Epiphanius says the northodox are using "Mark" to support their position (page 31):

""Look" they said here is a second Gospel too with an account of Christ, and nowhere does it say that his generation is heavenly. Instead they said, "the spirit descended upon him in the Jordan and a voice, "this is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.""

If the text had said "son of God" at 1:1 than Epiphanius likely would have used it since he would consider it evidence from "Mark" that Jesus was the son of God before the baptism. He discusses the related text of the Gospels in detail looking for any support so the context indicates it was not there. Professor Ehrman briefly mentions the issue in TOCoS but doesn't going into the timing. Consider that at the time Epiphanius writes about the issue the only known extant Greek support is Vaticanus (coordination).

Epiphanius has provided us with the motive to add "son of God" and contemporary to him is when the extant Greek evidence for it starts.

Asterius c. 385

Per Wasserman:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as is written in the prophets:

Compare to the Text:

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet"

Here Wasserman confesses that this is simply a quote of the Short. While he is in a confessional mood, Wasserman further confesses that Asterius is commenting on the heading of Psalm 9 and specifically the "son" in it and making/creating a connection to Mark 1:2 with Jesus supposedly the end of the Law in the Jewish bible and the start of a new era as witnessed by "Mark". Therefore, the context of Asterius indicates it was not there to use.

Severian c. 390

Per Wasserman:

Cites a compiler of the relevant manuscripts that says 12 are Short and 2 are Long. Based on quantity, Severian is than Short and this is than direct evidence of change from Short to Long.

Hesychius c. 430

Per Wasserman:

"cites the short reading twice in a question with accompanying answer in his Collectio Difficultatum et Solutionum"

Unknown c. 500

Per Wasserman:

"The long reading is further attested in two works spuriously ascribed to Athanasius of Alexandria: In nativitatem Christi (fifth century?)53 and Synopsis scripturae sacrae (c. sixth century).54"

Per Croy (commenting on Athanasius):

"The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God"

The standard Patristic quote of Long is:

"The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God"

Omission of the definite article "the".

Per Head, A Text-Critical Study of Mark 1.1 "The Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ" "Greek patristic support for the long ending is not found until Severian (d. 408)"




1b - Patristic - Latin

Irenaeus c. 190


Victorinus c. 290

Commentary on the Apocalypse 4.4

"The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet; The voice of one crying in the wilderness"

Compare to the Text:

"The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way. The voice of one crying in the wilderness"

The difference being the omission of the phrase "Behold I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way".


Ambrosiaster c. 375

Per Wasserman Ambrosiaster is Long.


Faustus c. 383

Per Wasserman Faustus is Long. Faustus is only preserved in Augustine. The related context is whether Jesus was born the son of God. Faustus, a Manichaean, believed Jesus was not born the son of God, while Augustine, orthodox, believed he was. So it is Augustine, the orthodox, whose writing survived, who would want "son of God" before the Baptism.


Ambrose c. 385

Per Wasserman Ambrose is Long.


Chromatius c. 400

Per Wasserman Ambrose is Long.


2 - Manuscript

3 - Authority

Internal

Weighting of Criteria 

1 - Credibility of source

Regarding the three great Textual Critics of the Early Church, Origen, Eusebius and Jerome, Origen is clearly support for the omission of "the son of God", Eusebius has no known related quotes and Jerome quotes it both ways. Regarding authority, Nestle-Aland, the leading critical apparatus, is Con here but with doubts. Ehrman though, the leading individual textual critic, is Pro. Overall, a small edge to Pro.

2 - Common sense

The common sense question here is which is more likely, that "the son of God" was added or deleted? As "the son of God" is one of the most important assertions of the Christian Bible, it is more likely to have been added than deleted. This is supported by the observation that outside of the issue at hand, "the son of God" has been much more likely to have been added than subtracted in the rest of the Christian Bible. A large edge to Pro.

3 - Direction (of change)

Every category of evidence shows movement from Short to Long. Greek Patristic is mixed while Latin is clearly Long. Short Manuscripts are generally earlier and possibly the best extant Manuscript, Sinaiticus, shows direct evidence of change. The original is Short and is subsequently changed to Long. Authority either being outright in favor of Short or having mixed feelings, is a relatively new position. Large advantage to Pro.

4 - Applicability (general vs. specific)

No known Patristic or Manuscript provides evidence in the specific context of Textual Criticism so Applicability is not applicable.

5 - Age

In the Patristic Origen is the first clear witness and supports Short. In the Manuscript, Sinaiticus and Oxyrhynchus are earliest and also support short. Small edge to Short.

6 - Confirmation – width

Both candidates are in the major text types and most Versions. Long has much more Manuscript support and therefore multiple confirmation in widths compared to Short. Small edge to Long.

Con

Neutral

Mark 1:1

Strong's Transliteration Greek English Morphology
746 [e] Archē Ἀρχὴ [The]beginning N-NFS
3588 tou τοῦ of the Art-GNS
2098 [e] euangeliou εὐαγγελίου gospel N-GNS
2424 [e] Iēsou Ἰησοῦof Jesus N-GMS
5547 [e] Christou Χριστοῦ Christ, N-GMS
5207 [e] Huiou Υἱοῦ Son N-GMS
2316 [e] Theou Θεοῦ of God N-GMS

Many unorthodox items here, even by Markan standards, but starting at the beginning... Note that "Mark" (author) begins his Gospel with the word "begin". Usage of the Greek definite article does not have rules as strict as the English definite article but I have faith that starting with an anarthrous noun here would be considered unorthodox. So is this style or slop? It seems like quite a coincidence to me to that the word that begins the Gospel is "begin". [sarcasm]And of course GMark does not also have an unorthodox ending[/sarcasm].

I find it interesting that there is something of a parallel in Hosea:

Hosea 1:2

Str Translit Hebrew English Morph
8462 [e] tə-ḥil-laṯ תְּחִלַּ֥ת The beginning Noun
1696 [e] dib-ber- דִּבֶּר־ of the word Verb
3068 [e] Yah-weh יְהוָ֖ה of the LORD Noun
1954 [e] bə-hō-wō-šê-a‘; בְּהוֹשֵׁ֑עַ by Hosea Noun

Note that the offending Hebrew word "תְּחִלַּ֥ת" (beginning) also lacks the definite article. Hebrew definite article usage is more like the English than the Greek. I also note with great interest (but less evidence) that Hosea here has a primary context that is reMarkably similar to a primary theme of GMark. A figurative relationship between God and Israel with a non-traditional father. So too does GMark show a figurative relationship between God and Jesus with a non-traditional father.

Regarding this thematic development in Christianity, it looks to me like it would go something like this:

Paul

1. No mention of Jesus' traditional father.
2. Says Jesus was born of a woman
3. Emphasizes that Jesus was the son of God

Conclusion at the time = Jesus' traditional father was either unknown or unimportant.

"Mark"

1. No mention of Jesus' traditional father.
2. Says Jesus had a mother.
3. Emphasizes that Jesus was the son of God

Conclusion at the time = Jesus' traditional father was either unknown or unimportant.

Original GMatthew (no virgin birth)

1. Explicit mention of Jesus' traditional father.
2. Says Jesus had a mother.
3. Emphasizes that Jesus was the son of God

Conclusion at the time = While GMark is confirmation of Paul, GMatthew is contradiction. Implication that Jesus did not have a traditional father is undone by Explicits that he did.

Edited GMatthew (virgin birth)

1. Explanation of why Jesus' lacked traditional father.
2. Says Jesus had a mother.
3. Emphasizes that Jesus was the son of God

Conclusion at the time = Reconciliation with Paul/GMark. Agreement that Jesus did not have a traditional father but negation of possible reason that Jesus was a Marmzer.

External links

Articles

A Text-Critical Study of Mark 1.1 "The Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ" by Peter M. Head = The best promotion of Short with emphasis on the Patristic

The ‘Son of God’ was in the Beginning (Mark 1:1) by Tommy Wasserman = The best defense of Long

Where the Gospel Text Begins: A Non-Theological Interpretation of Mark 1:1 by N. Clayton Croy = The biggest inventory of textual variation

J.K. Elliott "Mark 1:1-3–A later addition to the Gospel?" NTS 46 (2000) 584-8 = Inventory of evidence that Mark 1-3 is inconsistent with the rest of "Mark"

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