Between the Lines: Lent 1: February 26, 2012

Text: Mark 1:9-15

And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.

Deutsch: Wilde Felsentaube English: Feral Rock...

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The Greek word eis in Mark is usually translated as in or into. Thus Mark suggests the Spirit enters into the body/being of Jesus. In Matthew and Luke the verb is hupo rather than eis. Their word is generally translated as upon. For a Jew it makes no sense that the Spirit of God would enter into a human being. On the other hand, it is common in Hebrew scripture to refer to the Spirit of the Lord coming upon – descending onto – the prophets. Most biblical scholars assume that Matthew and Luke have Mark. So an interesting question arises about whether the two later gospel writers have changed Mark’s earlier text from “into” to “upon.” A possibility. If this be the case then one needs to ask why. What purpose would it serve to alter the text in this way? An alternative is that it was always upon in all three gospels and that Mark is later changed from to into from upon.  One reason for doing so might be to make clear that Jesus is not a prophet but rather someone unique into God has chosen to enter. This, of course, is of course consistent with emerging church theology – though this happening at the baptism was one of the earliest “heresies” in the struggle to define the human and divine nature of Jesus. Be your own theologian and decide for yourself. Why is such a task valuable? It will help you come to terms with a definition of Jesus for yourself in the same way that was happening from the beginning.

– Bill Dols


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