Monday, December 18, 2017

Reflection for the Week - December 18

The Prologue (1:1-13) of Mark is a fascinating piece of literary artistry with clout. Take verse 1.
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” This seemingly banal comment is a powerhouse. In what ways?

The narrator wants readers (the Prologue contains privileged insights for readers that the characters in the story do not have) to know that something new is now beginning to happen. Neither Matthew, nor Luke is self-referenced as gospel. Consequently, Mark’s narrative is embarking on a new literary adventure that is attempting to capture something of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, what is new?

Note that the “of” in the gospel of Jesus Christ, immediately raises a query. Should readers take this to be suggesting that Jesus is this gospel or the proclaimer of it? This appears to be purposeful ambiguity that encourages readers not to choose between the two. Jesus Christ is both proclaimer and content of the gospel. We shouldn’t always assume that ambiguity in biblical stories is negative, as it may in fact enhance meaning. Planned ambiguity of this sort, when it occurs, will help readers to envision truths as both – and. Jesus Christ is both proclaimer and content of the gospel, and that is something entirely and intriguingly new that gives rise to thought.