Wordplay in Mark's Story: Studies in Mark, Pt. 86

Today, while working my way through Mark’s story, an interesting but simple thought came to mind: Mark’s narrative contains some great wordplay. In this short study / post, I want to share just a few examples of where I think Mark’s wordsmithing shows up (which definitely makes the story more fun to read).

One example is Mk. 1.1. Notice how in this verse, there is a lot of rhyming: του ευαγγελιου ιησου υιυο θεου. Another example stems from that phrase υιυο θεου. Of course, in English that translates to “Son of God”. The phrase appears a number of times throughout the rest of the narrative. Now, I think something interesting occurs when this relationship is underscored in 14.36 when Jesus prays saying αββα ο πατερ (abba ho pater), which, in English, is “Father, my Father” / “Father, the Father”. Of course, “abba” is Semitic and is often appears in context with the word “באר” (bar). “Bar” means “Son”. So, here, we see the relationship between the “Son” and the “Father”. Now, it is right after this (15.7) that Jesus is taken to trial and He as the “Bar Abba” or “Son of the Father” is tried in the place of “Barabbas” (βαραββας) which means “son of a father” or “son of a rabbi”. Nice wordplay!

Another fun example of this, I think, shows up in Mk. 4.24. In Greek, the wording looks like this: εν ω μετρω μετρειτε μετηθησεται υμιν και προστεθησεται υμιν. Notice the three similar words right in the middle of the sentence “metro metreite metethesetai”. While most English translations gloss this over rather heavily making it smoother to read, it should literally be rendered: “With the measure you measure it will be measured unto you.” What an interesting little quip.

Of course, there is much more wordplay that exists in Mark’s story but these are just some examples that I was thinking about today and thought I’d share. Do you know of any others or are there any others in Mk. that you like? Share them with us!

*This post has been added to the "Studies in Mark" page.


Can You Help? Click A Button!

As my frequent readers know, I've mentioned my friend Daren Wendell on here several times. Daren is an old college buddy and teammate who has started what is called "The Earth Expedition". Here's what "The Earth Expedition" is, in a nutshell: About 2 years ago, my friend, Daren, decided that he was going to sell everything he had and spend the next 7 years of his life walking the world to raise awareness of the blood and water crises in Africa. Last week, Daren completed the American leg of the expedition (YES! HE WALKED FROM ONE END OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE OTHER!!! IN LESS THAN 13 MONTHS MIND YOU).

Now, the European leg of the Expedition is about to begin and his partner will start that leg. Daren and his partner do not get paid for this. They live off of money that they saved up before the Expedition began and from the personal items that they sold (every cent they raise on the Expedition, over $20,000 so far, goes to help end the blood and water crises in Africa; they get none of it). All that said, here's what I'm asking you to do: With the click of your mouse, you can help them win $10,000 from MySpace.

Here's the organization that Daren & others, like Jars of Clay, have teamed up with:

Blood:Water Mission Introduction

Here's the deal, Daren sent me this message yesterday:

"We made it! PLEASE vote for us today and help us win the MySpace Impact Awards, which you can read more about by clicking the link.
(Click the banner/icon to vote)

"So, yes, thanks to all of you, we made it into the top 3 finalists of the Myspace Impact Awards! Now we need you more than ever! Simply click on the the link provided and cast your vote for The Earth Expedition to win the $10,000 award! Not only will we win the funds but this will also show the world what an impact The Earth Expedition is having. Voting only lasts from now until Wednesday at 11:59am and you can only vote once per day per MySpace account. So, please, repost this voting plea to all your MySpace (and Facebook and Blog) friends.

"This donation and media exposure will do so much to assist us with launching our message with the European Leg of The Earth Expedition and our clean water projects in Zambia this year! Please, help us win this thing. In advance: Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

In closing, I just want to congratulate Daren and the Team on completing the American leg of the expedition. As one who is about to be the proud parent of a son from Ethiopia and who knows firsthand of all of the struggles there with blood and water issues, I would just look to re-encourage you to vote. Please, help make this happen! Tell everyone you know the good news so we can make this dream a reality. Thank you!


New Website: www.MichaelHalcomb.com

I wanted to let everyone know that I have created a new gateway to Pisteuomen and some other projects that I am working on. I needed a place where these things could all be linked together and so, I created http://www.michaelhalcomb.com/. Of course, Pisteuomen will continue to be my blog indefinitely and I will maintain posting on a regular basis here (so, do not disable my RSS feed on your page readers).

As I said, http://www.michaelhalcomb.com/ is mainly going to be like an aggregate site where a number of my projects are listed. Right now, as you will see when you go there, the site is quite basic. Expect more to be done with that later. At this point in time, I am working on a site for biblical scholars which I hope to get done soon; more will be said about that in the near future. Anyway, if you have a moment, head over to http://www.michaelhalcomb.com/ and check things out. Click any of the links above or click the photo below:


PhD Declaration: Asbury Theological Seminary

So, one of the toughest life-decisions I've ever had to make, choosing where to accept PhD offers, is finally behind me. I've decided to accept the full-ride offered to me by Asbury Theological Seminary. I will begin my post-graduate studies there this fall (2009) in Biblical Studies with an emphasis in New Testament. I have not declared a sole advisor yet but that will come later.

As many of you know, I am an alumnus of ATS (I recived my MABS) there a couple of years ago. I'm happy to be going back as I love the culture and especially the focus on wedding academics and spirituality together. In the end, I turned down a few other schools after the wife and I evaluated our life circumstances (e.g. family, finances, church, time, community, , moving, vocations, future opportunities, etc.); again, this was a lot to wade through and it was not an "easy" decision by any means.

Anyway, if you are not familiar with ATS, check out the image and read the bit below:

Asbury Theological Seminary was established in 1923 as an evangelical seminary in the Wesleyan-Arminian tradition. It consists of four schools (Biblical Interpretation and Proclamation, Practical Theology, Theology and Formation, and the E. Stanley Jones School of World Mission and Evangelism) located on three campuses: Florida, Kentucky, and Virtual. ATS “was founded ‘to prepare and send forth a well-trained, sanctified, Spirit-filled, evangelistic ministry’ to spread scriptural holiness throughout the world.”


Religulous: A Movie To Be Taken Seriously...Or Not?

A couple of nights ago, the wife and I sat down to watch Bill Maher's latest film titled "Religulous". The movie was thought-provoking in a number of ways and was quite humorous at points. The style and presentation made the movie engaging and watchful. Yet, it was Maher's tact that made me take "Religulous" with a grain of salt.

What I mean is, Maher basically fed his anti-theist presuppositions or better yet, frustrations with Christianity (the movie does question Judaism and Islam at points as well!) by interviewing certain types of people in certain types of places. There were billions of places and millions of people he could have went to for better information but he didn't! For example, Maher found it necesarry to go looking for answers at truck stop chapels and amusement parks, word of faith churches and other such places. In other words, he went to places where he knew he wouldn't get sound answers and people would most likely look silly when sharing their thoughts.

It all made me think of Lee Strobel's attempts to disprove Christianity a number of years ago. However, Strobel didn't go to the least educated and the biblically illiterate, no, he went to people who had devoted their lives to studying, interpreting and acknowledging the scope and implications of Scripture. To be sure, Strobel didn't want to settle for the typical, run-of-the-mill answer, instead, he thought that if he could knock Christianity's top scholars off of their feet, he could then destroy the heart (and mind!) of Christianity.

Yet, Maher did not do this. Again, he only went to places where he could make a mockery of Christianity and some of its tenets. I wonder if he had taken an approach similar to Strobel's, if he would have come to a similar conclusion? As you may know, after interviewing Christianity's top scholars, Strobel no longer demeaned the faith, instead, he embraced it. Today, Strobel is a scholar in his own right and heavily promotes sound Christian thinking.

So, while Maher's film had some good critiques and good humor, in the end, I only find myself laughing at his shallow approach and I have to say, "Too bad for him; what a waste of a search and what a waste of a film!"

**UPDATE** I was asked on Facebook, shortly after I wrote thist post, who, in terms of scholars, Strobel interviewed. So, below I've added a list of persons he's interviewed in his books. He's interviewed countless more people on-air and on TV. Notice how this list makes Maher's interviews at truck stops and amusement parks just look totally foolish!!!

* Dr. Robert J. Stein
* Dr. Alexander Metherell
* Dr. William Lane Craig
* Dr. Gary Habermas
* Dr. Craig Blomberg
* Dr. Bruce Metzger
* Dr. Edwin Yamauchi
* Dr. John McRay
* Dr. Greg Boyd
* Dr. Ben Witherington, III
* Dr. Gary Collins
* Dr. Douglas A. Carson
* Dr. J. P. Moreland
* Dr. Jonathan Wells
* Dr. Stephen C. Meyer
* Dr. Robin Collins
* Dr. Jay W. Richards
* Dr. Michael J. Behe
* Louis Lapides, MDiv, ThM


The Gospel of Mark in Greek

This above image is a photo representation I created of the vocabulary of The Gospel of Mark. The larger the word, the more it is used (e.g. "kai" is used significantly more than any other word and that's why it's the largest) and the smaller the word, the less it is used. The text is based on NA27 / UBS4.

Also, here is a link to a .pdf version of Mark's Gospel that I created. This version is different from others in that it is the Greek text with no headings/subheadings or verse/chapter numbers: The Gospel of Mark In Greek.


The New Testament in Antiquity

Boy is this a nice volume!!! Seriously, the sleek look of every page, the nice cover and the sweet hardback binding make this a beautiful looking piece of work. All that's left now is to read and review it (for CTR), which I'm quite excited to do. Written by Gary Burge (Aberdeen), Lynn Cohick (U. of Penn.) and Gene Green (Aberdeen), this book appears as though it is will stand the test of time (content and durability-wise) as a great primer in background studies of the New Testament. As always, when I get into it, hopefully I'll have the chance to share some of my thoughts about it here on Pisteuomen.


Paul's Way of Knowing

I just got Ian W. Scott's volume Paul's Way of Knowing: Story, Experience and the Spirit in the mail today to review for WTJ. I haven't read any of it yet but for what it's worth, the cover is aesthetically pleasing and the book is a nice size (nearly 350 pages). S. Westerholm, R. Watts, D. L. Stamps and A. Reinhartz all give high recommendations of it. As most of you know, I'm a Markan fanatic. Before that, though, I was a Paul addict, so, I'm looking forward to getting into this work (the title actually reminds me of Witherington's Paul's Narrative Thought World which was an excellent book). Anyway, look for some thoughts on Paul in the near future here on Pisteuomen.


...So That Others May Live

I've mentioned my friend Daren Wendell on here a number of times before. If you've missed those previous posts or are a new reader of Pisteuomen, Daren and I went to college together and were also soccer teammates. About a year ago, Daren decided to start-up what he calls "The Earth Expedition". In a nutshell, Daren walks 20-30 miles a day to raise money and awareness for the blood & water crises in Africa. He has raised upwards of twenty thousand dollars so far and as The Expedition continues, I'm sure that will be a drop in the bucket compared to what he will eventually raise. Anyway, a documentary about Daren and his Expedition is underway and I'm excited to see it in its entirety. He has whet our tastebuds, though, with the short video below. Give this video a watch and check out some of the stunning, beautiful scenery. If the rest of the documentary is as inspiring as this 6 minutes, it will be a great movie indeed!


Was Mark 2nd Coming-Focused?

The question raised in the title of this post comes from a question I raised of Brendan Byrne's book "A Costly Freedom: A Theological Reading of Mark's Gospel". There, Byrne asserts that Mark's text is both apocalypitc and eschatalogically-oriented (ch. 1). Though Byrne's view of these two elements differ a little from the ways that they are typically used, I cannot say that I go as far as he does when applying them to Mark's story. Still, that is not the issue I want to raise here.

What is interesting to me is that for Byrne, who takes the view that Mk. ends at 16.8, there is precisely no encounter with the risen Jesus BECAUSE Mark (and his community) were eschatalogically-focused. In other words, if I'm understanding his initial chapters correctly, Byrne's arugment is that Mark purposefully excludes a resurrection scene BECAUSE he is more interested in the return of Jesus. Byrne suggests that to include an appearance of a resurrected Jesus would have taken away from the more important event (to Mark) of the 2nd Coming.

Not only does Byrne's view challenge some of my thinking but it is quite interesting. Initially, I would disagree with Byrne's views but perhaps there is more to be said about his ideas. I'm only a couple of chapters in but like I said, I don't find the idea convincing that a resurrection appearance would take away from the Parousia return. Just as well, I'm not sold on the argument that Mk. and his community (if we can even say there was "a" community) was apoc/eschatological-oriented (I suggest, in fact, that Mk. 13 argues the opposite). Futher, I do not subscribe to the notion that the story concludes at 16.8 and therefore, we are indeed, lacking an "appearance" story.

Of course, debates have raged about the ending of Mk. for quite a long time but Byrne's view is rather intriguing and seemingly unique in a number of ways; I'm excited to get further into his work because it is already brimming with invaluable insights (even if I do disagree with some of them). What would you say in response to (my explication of) Byrne's view?