O wonderful wonder, delight, power and astonishment that we cannot speak about it [i.e. faith], think about it [i.e. faith], or compare it [i.e. faith] with anything.
1:1 Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 1:2 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, 1:3 when Jesus came down from above, he appeared and began teaching in the synagogue. 1:4 And all were puzzled at the gracious words coming out of His mouth. 1:5 And they said, ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son? 1:6 Let be! What have we to do with you, Jesus! Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God.’ 1:7 But Jesus rebuked him and said to them: ‘No doubt you will quote to me the proverb, “Physician, heal yourself!”’ 1:8 They got up, forced him out of the town, and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 1:9 But he passed through the crowd and went on his way. 1:10 As the sun was setting, <all those who had any relatives sick with various diseases brought them to him.> He placed his hands on them and healed them. 1:11 Demons also came out, crying out: ‘You are the Son of God!’ 1:12 But he rebuked them, and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.
What happened in this passage is clear: Mark who is not a slave of words, and more specifically, must have grasped the theology behind The Gospel has written his counter-narrative, his counter-Gospel to it. Beginning with the initial link of his Gospel with the Prophets and the Torah, enhanced by the counter-design of John the Baptist not as the one who takes offense at Jesus, but, on the contrary, prepares his paths, preaches the baptism of repentance and himself baptizes the ‘One more powerful’, so adds his own historic preface to the Gospel which does not expand on Jesus’ childhood or youth, but goes much further back into the beginnings and foundations of Judaism which he sees stretching to Jesus, before in Mark 1:9 he hits for the first time the narrative of The Gospel. And yet, this start of The Gospel is woven into Mark’s account of the Baptist precisely at the peak of this preface, where in Mark it is stated that John baptizes Jesus. It was a powerful build-up to this meeting with The Gospel. The temptations follow which, as with Jesus’ baptism, underline both, his embeddedness into Judaism while at the same time it elevates Jesus above humans and angels. In this way Mark corrects The Gospels angelic Christology in two directions, it removes its anti-Jewishness, not by debasing, but elevating Jesus’ status. The temptations are followed by Jesus proclamation of the Gospel of God in Galilee, starting with the calling of the disciples. But already with the first preaching appearance of Jesus, Mark hits The Gospel again, for the second time at an instance where something happens to Jesus. Then follows the core passage with most of the verbally identical verses. Before we carry on to compare the further passages, let us look at Luke. As already noticed before, Luke is much closer to the wording of The Gospel, not only where we come to the central part of this periscope, but right from the inception of this re-start in his Gospel. And yet, he is no slave of The Gospel either, despite the verbal agreements. Having added the lengthy birth and youth story to his Gospel, he follows the same pattern as Mark. In the headings of their pericopes or paragraphs, they reproduce The Gospel, and, hence, follow The Gospel in its narrative storyline. But like Mark is Luke instantaneously wandering off, and massively add new material. In Luke it is not only that he links the gospel to the Torah and the Prophets, but also to the existing Jewish authorities and creates a historical stage for what The Gospel had presented as a miraculous appearance. He reduces the gap not only between Judaism and Christianity, but also between eternity and time, transcendance and immanence. Now, from this pericope here, is Mark likely to be dependent on Luke or the latter on the former? The tendency of massive expansion over and against Mark’s rather modest broadening of The Gospel speaks for the second solution, specifically as Luke is dealing with Mark not differently as he works with The Gospel. Where, for example, he finds Mark which has expanded on The Gospel, he himself wanders off and adds more narrative material to Mark. Only rarely is he leaving out passages of Mark (explain!!! As with Mark 1:2), but instead, where Mark gives a short summarizing account, Luke develops this account into an imaginative, colourful and lively story with dialogues and concret people. To take a few examples. Where Mark stated that ‘John the baptizer began preaching a baptism of repenctance for the forgiveness of sins’, Luke gives the reader not a summary, but the drastic preaching of John (‘You offspring of vipers! …’). When Mark mentions that people came and ‘confessed their sins’, Luke lets tax collectors and soldiers engage in a dialogue with the Baptist. The ever broadening narrative can be seen in TG 1:3 // Mark 1:9ff. // Luke 3:21ff. The story as in typical storytelling becomes longer, more detailed and more lively the more often it is told. Luke even adds Jesus’ genealogy, triggered by Mark’s assertion that in Jesus’ baptism the voice from heaven declared: ‘You are my one dear Son; in you I take great delight’. This verse from Mark is literally re-taken by Luke, but because this elevation of Jesus into a divine relation with the heavens must have sounded in Luke’s ears like a half-Marcionite Christology. In response, he adds the earthing fact of Jesus age of ‘thirty years’, when his ministry began – hence, he was anything but a youthful angel or spirit – and his ancestors were indeed Joseph and his fathers. Already here, Luke is preparing his argument of Jesus’ family relation which is going to be used by him for the central passage of our pericope. Yes, he comes in his genealogical list to the same result like Mark from whom he started, namely that Jesus is the Son of the Divine, the Son of God – but such sonship does not remove him from this earth. Jesus is full of the Spirit, but as Luke repeats Mark, it is a Spirit that questions and tests Jesus. And again, while Mark gives the reader a short summary of Jesus ‘enduring temptations from Satan’, Luke knows to report the ensuing dialogue and the actions between these protagonists. The Gospel is the story’s idea, Mark is an independent proposal and summary writer, but Luke writes the stage script. For the first time in Mark 1:14 and Luke 4:14 the latter is deviating from the order of the narrative that he found before him. It is an extraordinary alteration, as we have seen above, which goes against the narrative’s consistency. Was our script-writer having a weak moment? Rather the contrary seems true, as he skips that passage where, for the very first time, Mark gives himself a full dialogue – with the disciples Simon and Andrew whom the Lord calles – which sounds very much like the stage script dialogues that Luke produced so far. And he must have felt that Mark’s summarizing announcement which comes immediately before this dialogue (Mark 1:14: ‘Jesus went into Galilee and proclaimed the gospel of God’), needed the stage script dialogizing first, before he could add Mark’s calling the disciples dialogue. This editorial decision follows from the previous ways how Luke dealt with both The Gospel and Mark. Hence, the calling was placed behind the synagogue scenario which Luke developed by further broadening Mark’s elaboration of The Gospel (TG 1:3 // Mark 1:21 // Luke 4:15ff. This procedure – the double retrospective dependence of Luke who reads The Gospel already through the eyes of Mark also let him make one alteration in the order of The Gospel – an alteration which, in my eyes, is the clearest literary evidence, so far, that our reconstruction of this development must come close to the historical reality. Luke only places exactly those two elements of The Gospel’s core synagogue scenario prior to the repetition of this scenario itself which are missing in Mark. So, because he follows Mark in the wording of what happens in the synagogue, and obviously trusts this author, he moves “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” and “No doubt you will quote to me the proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself!’” in front of the Capernaum synagogue scene and creates an additional one which he rightly places into Nazareth. With this Nazareth scene, he can forcefully endorse, what he had already elaborated on before: Jesus’ family environment, the links to his hometown, his embeddedness into the Jewish present and past. Luke thus starts to explain why Jesus’ had problems to be accepted as prophet, physician and messiah. In response to Marcion’s Gospel and its portrait of the misunderstood and threatened Jesus, but also in altering Mark’s version of it which downplaid the hiat between Jesus and the Jewish past, Luke accepts already here the principle assertion that Jesus was indeed not fully recognized, but the explanation he gives is the environment’s familiarity with Jesus, the ‘prophet … in his hometown’.
In the central passage of the pericope, the two synoptics repeat The Gospel, here (and only here!), where already The Gospel presents a lively dialogue, neither the outline, nor the stage script alters a word. And where Luke starts altering again (Luke 4:35b. 27), he does so by adopting the wording of Mark (1:25b. 36), where clearly Luke depends on Mark as the content of the ‘amazement’ does not fit his previous section on the sceptical view of the Jewish audience, unless he would want to make the point that only the Jews in Jesus’ hometown did not recognize who he is. The latter seems not entirely the case, as he reduces Mark’s word spreading ‘message’ about Jesus into a weaker spreading ‘news’. Trusting Mark on the narrative line, he follows him by adding the Simon’s mother-in-law story, although, unlike Mark, he had not prepared for it. Neither is Luke as precise as Mark here with the inner narrative’s logic, as shown above. The demons’ confession of Jesus being ‘the Son of God’, which Mark has indicated prior in the baptism of Jesus and Luke refined into ‘the Son of God’ at the end of his genealogy of Jesus, is now being given as the first confession in The Gospel which is also accepted by Luke – of course against the background of what he has written before. And even in Jesus asking the demons that they do not reveal what they know, the two Synoptics are in agreement with Marcion. Now, in geographical terms, Luke deviates from Mark. Whereas the latter sees Jesus no going ‘into all of Galilee preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons (of which he gives the example of a leper, who, as soon as was healed, did abandon Jesus’ wish to keep the healing to himself, but ‘went out’ and ‘began to publicly spread the story widely’), Luke mentions that Jesus ‘continued to preach in the synagogues of Judea’ and he adds the story of him calling disciples – the passage that we read earlier in Mark.