An experiment: The original Gospel of Mark?—Chp. 1

[Note: This post substantially updates a prior version.]

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.

As noted in the Introduction, in this series of posts I attempt a reconstruction of the earliest Gospel of Mark—a text that I identify with the “Hebrew Gospel” (a view, incidentally, not found anywhere else). Each post will deal with a separate chapter, and two versions are offered: (1) a short, hypothetical “core”—the first draft of a Hebrew Gospel/UrMark reconstructed according to several criteria (see next paragraph); and (2) the entire chapter in the English translation (RSV). Both the short and the received versions will be color coded.

As noted in prior posts, the best way that I have found to extract the Hebrew Gospel/UrMark from the present Gospel of Mark is
     (1) to remove all Pauline/Marcionite elements; and
     (2) to remove all “Stage 3” late Catholicizing elements.
If we are able to accomplish these excisions, then we will be left with a Jewish Christian document (“Stage 2a” in my typology) that has not yet been Paulinized (the cosmic redemptive act was Jesus’ death on the cross) or Catholicized (“Jesus” = Jesus the Nazarene/of Nazareth).

A few passages from the Church Fathers witness to several Jewish Christian gospels. These passages are late (fourth-fifth centuries) and not entirely compatible one with another. It is not possible to confidently attribute them to an early “UrMark” that I am attempting to reconstruct in these posts—they could belong to other (possibly late) Jewish Christian gospels.

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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 Hebrew Gospel / UrMark: Chp. 1

[Hebrew Gospel / UrMark is “Stage 2a” christology (Jewish Christian, c. 100 CE). Jesus is the indwelling divine spirit available to all.
“Jesus [the] Christ” is the human prophet who first received the spirit Jesus—the model for the rest of us.]

[1] The beginning of the gospel of Jesus [the] Christ. [Note: “Jesus” has supplanted the man “John.”—R.S.]
[2] As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way;
[3] the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

[9] In those days Jesus was baptized in the Jordan. [Note: “Jordan” and “water” are symbols of gnosis.—R.S.]
[10] And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove;
[11] and a voice came from heaven [saying], “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

[12] The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.
[13] And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.

[14] Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
[15] and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent.”

[21] And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the sabbath he taught.
[22] And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.
[24] [He was] Jesus the Nazarene, the Holy One of God.
[27] And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching!”

[28] And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

[35] And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place.
[37] And they found him and said to him, “Every one is searching for you.”
[38] And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also.”
[39] And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching.


The Gospel of Mark: Chp. 1
(Revised Standard Version)

Chapter 1

[1] The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
[2] As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way;
[3] the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight—”

[4] John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
[5] And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
[6] Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey.
[7] And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.
[8] I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

[9] In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of RS Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 
[10] And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove;
[11] and a voice came from heaven, “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.”

[12] The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.
[13] And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.

[14] Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
[15] and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent,
and believe in the gospel.”

[16] And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.
[17] And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.”
[18] And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
[19] And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets.
[20] And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him.

[21] And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.
[22] And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.

[23] And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit;
[24] and he cried out, “What have you to do with us,
Jesus [the Nazarene; Gk. Iésou Nazaréne]? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”
[25] But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!”
[26] And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.

[27] And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.
[28] And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

[29] And immediately he left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
[30] Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her.
[31] And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them.

[32] That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons.
[33] And the whole city was gathered together about the door.
[34] And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

[35] And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.

[36] And Simon and those who were with him pursued him,
[37] and they found him and said to him, “Every one is searching for you.”
[38] And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also;
for that is why I came out.”
[39] And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

[40] And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.”
[41] Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I will; be clean.”
[42] And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.

[43] And he sternly charged him, and sent him away at once,
[44] and said to him, “See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.”
[45] But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

 → Chapter 2


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