An experiment: The original Gospel of Mark?—Chp. 4

As noted in the Introduction, two texts of the relevant chapter in the Gospel of Mark are presented here. The first is a short, hypothetical “core”—the first draft of an UrMark reconstructed according to the criteria below.

At the bottom of this post is the entire Chapter 4 in the RSV English translation. Both the short and the longer forms of the chapter are color coded. In order to separate out later Catholic accretions from the earlier Jewish Christian “core,” I have employed the following criteria:

The criteria used for color coding are discussed here. The resultant color coding is as follows:

[Contained in the Hebrew Gospel / UrMark]

Green: Possible/probable, or amended in UrMark.

STAGE 1: Gnostic. To c. 50 CE. “Jesus” is the saving gnosis.
                           Black: May contain historical elements going back to Yeshu ha-Notsri.
                           [Blue] Logia/parables of Yeshu.

STAGE 2a: Jewish Christian. [Brown] C. 50–c. 150 CE. “Jesus” is a divine spiritual entity sent from Yahweh indwelling any worthy human through the grace of God/obedience to God. But the first in whom the Jesus dwelled (the prophet Yeshu ha-Notsri by my reckoning) was known as “the first-begotten Son” of God, the “Christ” (Messiah; NTA I:177.2). This messiah was only a model for emulation, not the unattainable figure of later Christianity. Possessing the Jesus (which we can all do, and should do) enables repentance and the forgiveness of sins. The spirit Jesus is divine, but the humans in whom the Jesus dwells are not.

[Not in the Hebrew Gospel / UrMark]

STAGE 2b: Pauline/Marcionite. [Purple] C. 50–c. 150 CE. “Jesus” is a divine spiritual entity sent from the immaterial God (not the God of creation) indwelling any worthy human through the grace of God/obedience to God. The death on the cross of a prophet (“Jesus Christ”) in the distant past was a cosmic event of human redemption. Jesus is divine, but the human(s) in whom it dwells are not. Belief is required.

STAGE 3: Catholic Christianity. [Red] C. 150+. “Jesus of Nazareth” is the savior of the world. Gnosis, repentance, and forgiveness of sins have been superseded. “Jesus Christ” was both divine and human. Belief is required.      (Red underlined: Catholic and anti-Marcionite.)

The comprehensive UrMark, cumulatively updated after each installment, is found here.
The canonical (color coded) Gospel of Mark, also updated after each installment, is found here.


The Hebrew Gospel / UrMark: Chp. 4

[1] Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. [Note: Allegorical. “Sea” = the water of gnosis, in which Jesus resides. Mankind is on the “land” of ignorance.—R.S.]
[2] And he taught them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:
[3] “Listen! A sower went out to sow.
[4] And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.
[5] Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it had not much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil;
[6] and when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had no root it withered away.
[7] Other seed fell among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.
[8] And other seeds fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
[9] And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

[10] And when he was alone, those who were about him asked him concerning the parables.
[13] And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?
[14] The sower sows the word.
[15] And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown; when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which is sown in them.
[16] And these in like manner are the ones sown upon rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;
[17] and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.
[18] And others are the ones sown among thorns; they are those who hear the word,
[19] but the cares of the world, and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
[20] But those that were sown upon the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

[21] And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed, and not on a stand?
[22] For there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret, except to come to light.
[23] If any man has ears to hear, let him hear.”

[24] And he said to them, “Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you.
[25] For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

[26] And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground,
[27] and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how.
[28] The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
[29] But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

[30] And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?
[31] It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth;
[32] yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

[33] With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it;
[34] he did not speak to them without a parable.


The Gospel of Mark: Chp. 4
(Revised Standard Version)

[1] Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land.
[2] And he taught them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:
[3] “Listen! A sower went out to sow.
[4] And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.
[5] Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it had not much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil;
[6] and when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had no root it withered away.
[7] Other seed fell among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.
[8] And other seeds fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
[9] And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

[10] And when he was alone, those who were about him with the twelve asked him concerning the parables.
[11] And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables;
[12] so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven.”

[13] And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?
[14] The sower sows the word.
[15] And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown; when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which is sown in them.
[16] And these in like manner are the ones sown upon rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;
[17] and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.
[18] And others are the ones sown among thorns; they are those who hear the word,
[19] but the cares of the world, and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
[20] But those that were sown upon the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

[21] And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed, and not on a stand?
[22] For there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret, except to come to light.
[23] If any man has ears to hear, let him hear.”

[24] And he said to them, “Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you.
[25] For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

[26] And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground,
[27] and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how.
[28] The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
[29] But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

[30] And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?
[31] It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth;
[32] yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

[33] With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it;
[34] he did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

[35] On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”
[36] And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.
[37] And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.
[38] But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?”
[39] And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
[40] He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”
[41] And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”


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