Thursday, May 7, 2009

Witherington on Mark, and Future Posting

What with the reviving of Farismaticism after the month layoff, I figure I should tell you what's on the agenda.

I have a new plan: read each of the four Gospels in Greek throughout the year while reading through one major commentary on each as I go. This is something I've wanted to do for awhile, but have finally started. So since I'm starting at the beginning of fifth month of the year, and in the future I'll be wanting to have the full three months for each Gospel mostly because of how long it will take this quite slow reader to get through some commentaries (e.g. Bock's 1600 pages on Luke).

In the mean time, since I only have two months for Mark, which works since it is only 16 chapters, I need to read twelve verses per day to finish at the end of June. I was going to begin with the oldest commentary that I own for each book, which for Mark means Bob Gundry's magisterial 1000 page work. But then I started realizing that it was taking my hours to get through twenty pages and thought better of it. Instead, the adventure begins with my second oldest, the 450 page work by Ben Witherington. Much more reasonable.

So considering this course of events personally (which, let's be honest, will probably not last more than a couple weeks before I give up...), I imagine a fair amount of my posts will be on Mark's Gospel in the coming months.

For starters, how about this beautiful introduction to Mark's opening scenes:
The opening scenes of the Gospel of Mark remind one of minimalist theater collapsing a world of meaning into a few concentrated images, or of a chiaroscuro painting, with vivid profiles etched in a dark, obscure backdrop. Punctuated by divine voices offstage and human cries at center stage, the prologue narrates the story of an invasion, throwing existence-as-usual into sharp relief. Prophetic muses, long silent, suddenly sing again. A messenger is announced and in turn heralds the advent, at long last, of one strong enough to wrestle the world away from the death grip of the powers. This leaders appears on the horizon of history, and in a dramatic symbolic action declares himself an outlaw. This immediately provokes a challenge from the prince of the powers himself, who takes the leader deep into the wilderness, where he disappears....In this prologue Mark wields the scythe of apocalyptic symbolics, clearing narrative space from among the weeds so that the seeds of a radically new order- to borrow the author's own metaphor (4:7)- might be pressed into the weary soil of the world. This subversive story is what Mark entitles good news.

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