Ἀρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ [υἱοῦ θεοῦ]. 1
The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ [the son of God]
The Second Gospel begins with an announcement regarding its intent and content. As a storyteller the author uses the nominative Ἀρχὴ to start the narrative. According to Daniel B. Wallace this is a nominative absolute. This is when the nominative is used “in introductory material”. It occurs in “titles, salutations, and other introductory phrases.” 2 This signifies that it is the “beginning” of this narrative.
It is about the εὐαγγελίου (gospel) which is in the genitive. Again, as we reference Wallace we should note that it is suggested that this is an example of a plenary genitive. Since the whole phrase τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ is a genitive phrase this indicates that the gospel is “about” Jesus Christ but like also from him. In other words, it is both “subjective and objective”. It is the gospel both from Christ as well as about Christ. 3
An εὐαγγελίου is a proclamation of “good news”. It should be noted that throughout the New Testament the “good news” appears to be a double-edged proclamation. It is inherently “good” since it is about the Son of God. It is “good” to those who hear and believe. But it is “bad” for those who reject it making it somewhat of an ironic word.
Jesus was a common Jewish name in the first century. It is synonymous with another English translation, directly from the Hebrew, “Joshua” (יְהוֹשֻׁעַ). It is shared with Joshua, the successor of Moses in the Pentateuch. Also, it is shared with the high priest, Joshua, mentioned in Haggai 1:1-2:4 and Zechariah 3:1-9.
“Christ” is the Greek translation of the Hebrew “Messiah” meaning “anointed one”. This carried Davidic connotations. The one anointed by God to sit on the throne of David determined the hopes of a reestablished, sovereign Israel (see Psalm 2).
The title “son of God” (υἱοῦ θεοῦ) is doubted to be part of the oldest manuscripts. Bruce Metzger comments,
The absence of υἱοῦ θεοῦ in א* Θ 28c al may be due to an oversight in copying, occasioned by the similarity of the endings of the nomina sacra. On the other hand, however, there was always a temptation (to which copyists often succumbed) to expand titles and quasi-titles of books. Since the combination of B D W al in support of υἱοῦ θεοῦ is extremely strong, it was not thought advisable to omit the words altogether, yet because of the antiquity of the shorter reading and the possibility of scribal expansion, it was decided to enclose the words within square brackets.
Therefore, this is a narrative written about the gospel which is both from and about Jesus, the Messiah. It may be that the author designated him as the ‘son of God’ here as well, but this was likely a later scribal addition.
1. Aland, Kurt ; Black, Matthew ; Martini, Carlo M. ; Metzger, Bruce M. ; Robinson, Maurice. ; Wikgren, Allen: The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (With Morphology). Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993; 2006, S. Mk 1:1
2. Daniel B. Wallace: Greek Grammer, Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Zondervan, 1996. 49-50.
3. Ibid, 117-119.
4. Metzger, Bruce Manning ; United Bible Societies: A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th Rev. Ed.). London; New York : United Bible Societies, 1994, S. 62
Brian, I love this introd. Good calll on εὐαγγελίου as plenary, both objection and subjection.
Metzger’s notes are tempered with scholarly balanced. Textual decisions always intrigue me.
I have decided to work through Mk do to my unfamiliarity with this gospel as well as a nice way to keep the Greek functioning!
Nice! You planning on moving through the whole book?
I’m in an exegesis class right now focused on Mark … I’ve been pretty much set on trying to do research on Paul but this class opened up a whole new possibility! Not sure if that’s a good thing…
Yes, I am going to try to work through the whole book, but it may take a while! Let me know if you come across any important insights!
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