Mark 1:1-8

Marks gospel begins with recitation of Old Testament scripture, intended to introduce the role of John the Baptist, which of course is ultimately about introducing Jesus:

ΑΡΧΗ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ υἱοῦ θεοῦ. > Καθὼς γέγραπται ἐν τῷ Ἠσαίᾳ τῷ προφήτῃ > Ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου,
ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν σου·
φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ·
Ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν Κυρίου,
εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ, > ἐγένετο Ἰωάνης βαπτίζων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν. καὶ ἐξεπορεύετο πρὸς αὐτὸν πᾶσα ἡ Ἰουδαία χώρα καὶ οἱ Ἰεροσολυμεῖται πάντες, καὶ ἐβαπτίζοντο ὑπ᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ Ἰορδάνῃ ποταμῷ ἐξομολογούμενοι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν. καὶ ἦν ὁ Ἰωάνης ἐνδεδυμένος τρίχας καμήλου καὶ ζώνην δερματίνην περὶ τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔσθων ἀκρίδας καὶ μέλι ἄγριον. καὶ ἐκήρυσσεν λέγων· Ἔρχεται ὁ ἰσχυρότερός μου ὀπίσω [μου], οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς κύψας λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα τῶν ὑποδημάτων αὐτοῦ· ἐγὼ ἐβάπτισα ὑμᾶς ὕδατι, αὐτὸς δὲ βαπτίσει ὑμᾶς πνεύματι ἁγίῳ.

  • In verse 1 we see the gospel being described as of Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ “υἱοῦ θεοῦ”, some manuscripts omit “υἱοῦ θεοῦ”. The longer version is missing from the original Codex Sinaiticus, but was added by the first (early) corrector. I say first/early corrector, as I am much more inclined to accept ammendments of the first corrector, above the corrections that appear to be dated many centuries later. Especially as it is found in other early manuscripts such as Bezae.
  • Verse 2 introduces an Old Testament quote from Is 40.3 and Mal 3.1. Not all manuscripts clarify the prophet as being Isaiah. Was “Isaiah” added to clarify where the key part of this text is found, or was the name removed to clarify that the text isn't only from Isaiah. Both scenarios are plausible. The Byzantine tradition (Alexandrinus, Washingtonianus, and thus KJV) omit Isaiah, but the earlier manuscripts (Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and thus NIV, NASB) contain the name. 1/4 of Origen references to include “Isaiah”, but 3/4 omit the name. Overall the early church fathers appear to favour the shorter version.

Theological application

Mark's gospel suggests that the people geerally accept John the Baptist as a prophet. Mark asserts that John is the special prophet that the people are looking foward to arriving, the one that would introduce the expected messianic figure. The introduction of John is no mere side track from the main character Jesus—the author sees John the Baptist as key to the assertion that Jesus is the predcited messianic figure that the people of Israel had been expecting. Mark's gospel presents up front and directly the idea that Jesus is the saviour that the people are expecting to arrive. Are you ready to accept the assertion?