Monday, March 17, 2008

Jesus: Man of Action

I've been practicing a technique I first saw at the Evangelical Outpost. Later, I heard John MacArthur recommend it, and I recommend it too. It's reading the same book of the Bible over and over for a month (or more, you want to read all of it twenty times or so). It really gives you a feel for the subtle points of the book, where a single reading only gives the main thrusts.

Recently I've been reading the Gospel of Mark, a lot.

On about the third reading, you notice the word "straightaway", a lot. After ten readings, you're looking for it, and can begin to predict when you'll see it -- and take notice when it's not present, but seems like it could be.

Now, I don't believe in the mysterious "Q" gospel. I forget where I first heard of it, either Borg or Ehrman. It's possibly worth more investigation.

One of the big differences you see between the Gospels is in the vocabulary and writing style (which is partly the personality of the author, partly purpose in writing -- including target audience).

Mark was not one of the original apostles. He was the assistant to Peter (and possibly the "rich young ruler"). The Gospel of Mark was the first of the four Gospels, and was directed towards new, Gentile believers.

The word "straightway" is used forty-two times in the King James -- nineteen are in Mark (versus eight in Matthew, and four in Luke). The word "immediately" is used fifty-five times -- seventeen in Mark (six in Matthew, thirteen in Luke).

Of course, that is the counts in English. The Greek words behind them are "eutheos" (directly) and "parachrema" (instantly). My concordance has eutheous eighty times (although I have found bugs in it...). Sixty-seven are translated immediately or straightway. Of those, fifty are used in the synoptics. Thirty-four of the fifty are used in Mark (Matthew thirteen, Luke three).

Of course, Mark is also shorter than Matthew or Luke. This increased word density gives the Gospel of Mark a rapid flow of events in Jesus' life, although Jesus is always sure of His purpose and goals.

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