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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brianroy answers reader's questions: Is Mark's Gospel Reliable?

Recently, someone read a Commentary on the Gospel of Mark and got upset about it. So he asked regarding Mark 2:26’s quote of how the soon to be King David “went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?” and the verse from 1 Samuel 21:1 reading “Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why [art] thou alone, and no man with thee?”

The one posing the question then noted that 1 Samuel shows that it was Ahimelech not Abiathar, and then asked if the Gospel of Mark was reliable. He also asked this question by pointing to Mark 8:12, which I will address below my answer to Mark 2:26.

So was and is the Gospel of Mark reliable?
The answer was and is: Yes.
The Gospel of Mark is reliable; and secondly, the reader who cited a commentary by somebody else (which is moot here), did not return to the earliest or approved Greek texts for context.

Mark vindicates Jesus on Abiathar
πως εισηλθεν εις τον οικον του θεου επι Αβιαθαρ αρχιερεως και τους αρτους της προθεσεως εφαγεν, ους ουκ εξεστιν φαγειν ει μη τους ιερεις, και εδωκεν και τοις συν αυτω ουσιν;

Jesus states "epi Abiathar archiereos"

"upon" or "about (the time of) / in (the time of) Abiathar the First Priest".

Abiathar's father, Ahimelech was in the office as high priest at the time, until the massacre of the Priests at Nob by Doeg the Edomite in 1 Samuel 22:18-19.

18And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod.

19And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.

In verse 20, Abiathar joins himself to David and becomes First Priest to David.

20And one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David.

But there are plausible explanations. A plausible explanation is defined as acceptable, deserving of applause or approval having the likelihood of just reason and being true. It is what it is. This is the most likely interpretation that exists as read from the Greek in the context of the Greek, to which; there is NO confusion...only proper context that needs to be understood.

πως εισηλθεν εις τον οικον του θεου επι Αβιαθαρ αρχιερεως και τους αρτους της προθεσεως εφαγεν, ους ουκ εξεστιν φαγειν ει μη τους ιερεις, και εδωκεν και τοις συν αυτω ουσιν; Mark 2:26

Jesus states "epi Abiathar archiereos" "upon" or "about (the time of) / in (the time of) Abiathar the First Priest".

1) Archiereos in the Greek as applied in the Gospels did not always mean the lone High Priest, but in context it could include the 7 elders of the Sanhedrin. Just look at the next three uses in Mark at 8:31, 10:33, 11:18. That means Abiathar was one of the 7 elders and a Kohen who gave David the Matzos, who in turn took that bread outside to the Courts of the Gentiles and gave the bread unto his men. A Kohen who in 1 Samuel 22:18's context of a First Priest was the 86th sanctified priest who wore the linen Ephod, but escaped the massacre at Nob. 86 being the Gematriac of Elohim: G-D.
2) Epi with the Genitive, applies to "the time of" (Acts 11:28, Hebrews 1:2). If the expression "in the time of King David" had been used, when he was anointed but not yet King, would that be so inaccurate when you realize the Greek "epi" means "upon", hence "upon the time of" or "near to the time of"? How long after the eating of the Matzos were the priests killed? And if David appointed Abiathar his First Priest to minister to he and his men, and that distinction when David became King was to be a co-high priest with Zadok (whom Saul appointed) until David died, what then? Hence, the time difference between 1 Samuel 21 and 1 Samuel 22 is testified as a very short duration, perhaps well less than 3 months, bringing the event into the same "season" or the same seasonal cycle and year.

In the Greek, just by looking at the literalist expression of epi, and the Gospel usage of archiereus (the conditioners upon the name and context of Abiathar in its use); these should clearly dismiss the questioner’s doubt or "alleged" contentions regarding Mark 2:26.


Now, in regard to a concern over Mark 8:12 by the questioner, let’s look at it and its immediate following verse.

12And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.
13And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side.

When the reader cited Mark 8:12: Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation, he did not seek out what is the history of the recording of Mark and how does this saying compare with the other Gospels on the same quotation. This background knowledge also assuages / removes doubt.

The Gospel of Mark was written by a satellite interpreter and believer called Mark, who for perhaps 2 years in ROME (perhaps many years more elsewhere if part of Peter's traveling entourage) translated Peter’s speeches in Aramaic into Greek or Latin or perhaps one of the Egyptian dialects for the hearers at the places Peter preached his sermons.

When Peter was arrested at the end of May 57 A.D., Mark was approached by those at the Church of Rome to perhaps record what Peter had preached. Only then, Mark so recorded for those in Rome in 57 A.D. the specifics of what he heard Peter preach. But he wrote no less than what he knew he remembered for sure. Peter at this time was now being imprisoned for the desecration and suicide of a living Roman deity / exposed magician, and the wrath of Rome would have been indicative of assuring certain martyrdom unless Peter renounced his faith and swore to faith in the gods of Roman, as Roman law mandated. Since Peter was certain to never renounce Christ, Peter’s fate was sealed.

In the meantime, Mark neither added, nor intentionally took away from what he set down...and so the statement of Mark 8:12 stands as accurately recorded. It is just as accurate as the Old Testament's lacunae in First Samuel chapters 11 mentioned in Josephus' Antiquities Book 6 as found in Qumran Cave 4's / 4QSam's manuscript extant.
“[Na]hash, king of the sons of Ammon, sorely oppressed the sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben, and he gouged out [all] their right eyes and struck [quaking fear] in Israel. There was not left one among the sons of Israel [on the other side of the Jordan, whose] right eye was n[ot put out] by Naha[sh, the king] of the sons of Ammon; except those 7,000 men [fleeing fom] the sons of [A]mmon and (who) entered [J]abesh-Gilead. About a month later.… “{the Dead Sea Scroll text continues, now faithfully following with our received texts from 1 Samuel 21:1 ff.}.

Just because there is a minor absence in the text now, an absence that was previously accurately and soundly recorded, we can state concretely that neither 1 Samuel nor Mark is "unreliable". In fact, quite the opposite…they are sound and trustworthy Scriptures.

Mark (who wrote post Luke 11:29
29And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.

of 50 A.D.

and post Matthew 12:39,
39But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

And post Matthew 16:4,
4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

of 55 A.D.)

wrote his satellite interpreter recollections when Peter was imprisoned for 30 days, and Peter was made aware of it before being executed on June 29, 57 A.D.
Mark then left a Greek copy in Rome, delivered copies to John in Ephesus and likely the Church in Jerusalem (where fragments of Mark's Gospel were counted as among the Dead Sea Scrolls in Qumran Cave 7 in Zierstil script), and then founded the Churches of Alexandria, dying in or about in AD 62 as a martyr).

Zierstil Greek script is that writing which dates from ca. 100 B.C. – ca. 60 A.D., though some have erroneously capped this style at 50 A.D.

I have covered all this in the Redating of the New Testament to 47-57 A.D. for those who are interested in the actual history of when the New Testament works were written, with verifiable dating conclusions more accurate than anything currently offered in the text books until they use my dating of the NT as their timelines.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your interesting speculations. Would you mind please helping us with background facts? I'd like to know, in formulating your theory

    1 What is the oldest extant copy of the G of MK?
    2 Which verse in Mk do you rely on to tell you the book was written by Mk?
    3 What is the first attestation of Mk (who first mentions his gospel)?
    4 What is the first writing that quotes Mk?

    Bino Bolumai

    / In Bino Veritas /