Greek Study Mark 1:1-8
v1 αρξη (η) "the beginning" - first, beginning, best understood as "this is the starting-point of
ευαγγελιου (ον) gen. "the gospel." For Mark the beginning is not with the person of Jesus, but with the message of Jesus, explains why biographical details are lacking. The genitive coveys the meaning that this a communication carried by a messenger relaying important news; although not exactly good news because according to Mark the gospel is only good news to those who are being saved. There is another side to "the news" and it is not good for those who stand outside of its scope.
Ιησου Χπιστου gen. "about Jesus Christ" so the content of this message is about Jesus
ιυοσ θεου (ος) gen. "[the Son] of God" all these genetives are adjectival. This phrase is not found in a number of manuscripts, but is most likely original. While in Mark it does not imply a filial relationship with the Father, it does imply divinity.
v2 γεγραπται perf. pas. "it is written" – the formula introduction to scripture, the perfect tense is used to express a past action with ongoing consequence.
ιδου look, pay attention, behold", here invited to see something already in plain sight.
Here is the closest you will come to a nativity story in Mark, ha clear reference to Jesus divine origin. Mark seems to be assuming some knowledge on the part of his readers, the idiom here is “take a look at what is right in front of you”. Since Mark has not yet revealed content, parables, preaching or healings, it is the person of Jesus Himself, and the pubic pedigree he brings that is being considered. It is not hard to assume a storied background.
αποστελλω pres. "I will send" - a futuristic present, so better "I am sending".
τον αγγελον (ος) "[my] messenger/angel. προσωπου σου "ahead of you" - before your face a Semiticism.
κετασκευασει (κατασκευαζω) fut. "will prepare" την οδον (ος) "the road" – an imagery reflects the royal road-building of the great powers, e.g. the Assyrians of Isaiah’s time and the Romans of Mark’s..
v3 These quotes comes from Isaiah 40 the LXX. Presumably Mark wants us to read "Jesus" for the "Lord". The LXX fits Mark's intention better than the MT text in establishing "the desert" as the place where "a voice" sounds rather than the place of God's preparation. What does this mean? It means that Mark did not think either Jesus or John were Essenes.
βοωντος (βοαω) part. gen. "of one calling" - serves as a substantive, "the one shouting".
τη ερημω (ος) dat. "the desert" – any desolate and abandoned place, a reference back to the exile OR to the Exodus or BOTH..
ετοιμιασατε (ετοιμαζω) aor. imp. "prepare" – a command.
κυριου (ος) gen. "[the road/way] for the Lord" - the genitive "Lord" is adjectival, so prepare the way which the Lord will travel.
ευθειας (ευθυς) adj. "immediately but also straight” when used with οδος the "immediate road" becomes "straight road", ie. the quickest way to go OR to clear away obstacles.
τας τριβους (ος) "paths" – byway, so not only the main, but the secondary routes.
v4 εγενετο (γινομαι) aor. "and so [John] came/appeared" - happened, a new episode about a new person.
βαπτιζων (βαπτιζω) pres. act. part. "baptizing/[John] the Baptist" (lit. immersing). So “the one baptizing", as opposed to “the one proclaiming”.
εν τη ερημω "in the wilderness" – here referring to a known part of the country.
κηρυσσων (κηρυσσω) pres. part. "preaching" - as with "baptizing", adverbial - expressing the manner of John's appearing on the scene.
μετανοιας (α) gen. "[a baptism] of repentance" – the content of John’s preaching. Likely it is idiomatic, i.e. John's baptism is a baptism limited to, characterized by, related to repentance.
αφεσιν (ις εως) "the remittance/release[of sins]" - clearly, the purpose of the preaching is not baptism, but "repentance”. The consequence of repentance, is forgiveness. SO perhaps it is this activity that clears the ‘way’ for the coming Messiah?
v5 πασα "the whole [Judean countryside]" – which locates ερεμοσ on a map. Mark is exaggerating of course, but none-the-less, this illustrates John's popularity (confirmed by Josephus.)
εξεπορευετο (εκπορευομαι) imperf. "went out" - imperfect, durative, expresses a continuous flow of people to witness John's ministry.
εξομολογουμενοι (εξομολογεω) pres. part. mid. "confessing" - attendant circumstance participle identifying action accompanying the verb "were being baptized". Note the verb order, they are baptized and THEN they confess!
εβαπτιζοντο (βαπτιζω) imperf. pas. "they were baptized" - immersed. The passive indicates they were allowing themselves to be immersed. In Jewish proselyte baptism the initiate baptizes themselves, here John is performing the rite.
v6 η∴ν ... ενδεδυμενος (ενδυω) perf. mid. part. "wore clothing" a periphrastic pluperfect which emphasizes a durative action so, this was John's accustomed dress. Mark's description of John's clothing and food both assumes a collective memory and points to Old Testament precedents. John is a man an ascetic who dresses like Elijah in καμηλου (ος) "camel's [hair]" - such a garment would be very “prickly”?
ζωνην (η) "belt/waistband. John's loose cloak was held together around his waste by wide leather waistband that would have compartments for holding John's stuff.
εσθιων (εσθιω) pres. part. "he ate" - a periphrastic imperfect, so “his diet consisted of” ακριδας (ις εως) "locusts" - still a food source of the poor.
v7 λεγων (λεγω) pres. part. "saying [and this was his message]". Matthew says the Baptist proclaimed the gospel in the terms of "the kingdom of God is at hand"(3:2). Mark says forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel message proclaimed by the Baptist. Mark does not record the Baptist's ethical teaching, but rather focuses on his call for repentance as a way of preparing for the one οπισω + gen. "after [me]".
ercetai (ercomai) pres. "will come" ο ισχυροτερος comp. adj. "one more powerful" – but in what sense?
ικανος adj. "[I am not] worthy" (but then neither are Garth or Wayne). The one who follows is the worthy one. A Hebrew slave would not be expected to undertake the menial task of untying the master's sandal, but John, God's messenger, is not worthy to undertake even this menial task when it comes to the messiah. Possibly "I am not qualified."
κυψας (κυπτω) aor. part. "to stoop down" - along with the infinitive "to untie" serves to complete the sense of the verbal phrase "I am not worthy", so "I am not worthy to even stoop down to untie"... And THAT is self effacement at its finest! SO there is no controversye between Jesus and John in Mark.
v8 εγω ...... ουτος "I ....... he ....." – a comparison, perhaps foreshadowing the importance (and the differences) of baptism in both the Jewish and Christian communities.
ebaptisa (baptizw) aor. "I immerse" - an interesting use of the aorist (a punctiliar aspect), rather than the present (a durative aspect) it may be reflect the Geek equivalent of the Semitic perfect so; "I have baptized you υδατι (ωρ ατος) dat. "with water" it may be instrumental, of means, i.e. “by means of water."
δε "but" - adversative.
εν + dat. "with [the Holy Spirit]" Mark may just be comparing the ministry sphere within which John and Jesus operate but given the context and content of the reaching, it seems more is at play here. Jesus' ministry may be summed up as involving the powerful operation of God's Spirit. In Mark there is no giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples, Jesus receives the Spirit and manifests the Spirit in signs and proclamation, Jesus uses the Spirit but does not give the Spirit. So perhaps for Mark, baptizing with the Holy Spirit is not a giving of the Spirit, but a baptizing with spiritual power Jesus possesses; a power active in forgiveness which John offers and which Jesus displays. Luke adds και πυρι "and in fire" - pointing to future suffering.