The Beginning of the Gospel, Mark 1:1

February 11, 2009

The following contrast doesn’t need much comment does it?!

Ἀρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ υἱοῦ θεοῦ.

The beginning of the proclamation of the good news about Jesus Christ—Son of God (Mark 1:1).

Inscr. Priene, 105, 40, a calendar inscription, 9 BC, Priene, Asia Minor:

It seemed good to the Greeks of Asia, in the opinion of the high priest Apollonius of Menophilus Azanitus: “Since Providence, which has ordered all things and is deeply interested in our life, has set in most perfect order by giving us Augustus [τὸν Σεβαστόν], whom she filled with virtue that he might benefit humankind, sending him as a savior [σωτῆρα], both for us and for our descendants, that he might end war and arrange all things, and since he, Caesar, by his appearance [ἐπιφανεῖς] (excelled even our anticipations), surpassing all previous benefactors, and not even leaving to posterity any hope of surpassing what he has done, and since the birthday of the god Augustus was the beginning of the good tidings for the world that came by reason of him [ἦρξεν δὲ τῶι κόσμωι τῶν δι’ αὐτὸν εὐανγελίων ἡ γενέθλιος ἡμέρα τοῦ θεοῦ],” which Asia resolved in Smyrna.

The inscription is cited here from Craig Evans, “Mark’s Incipit and the Priene Calendar Inscription: From Jewish Gospel to Greco-Roman Gospel,” Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism, 1 (2000): 68–69, who footnotes his sources as: M. E. Boring, K. Berger, and C. Colpe, Hellenistic Commentary to the New Testament (Nashville: Abingdon, 1995). The relevant part of the Priene Inscription is cited along with Mark 1:1 on p. 169. For the Greek text of the whole inscription, see W. Dittenberger (ed.), Orientis Graecae Inscriptiones Selectae (2 vols., Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1903-5; repr. Hildesheim: Olms, 1960) 2.48-60 [ = OGIS 458]. [My copy of the Hellenistic Commentary is in my study at the seminary, so I can access it directly this evening. Also there is my copy of Deissman, Light from the Ancient East, which has the text on pp. 366–67, and a photograph of the inscription, fig. 71 (facing 367) which is legible (if you have good eyes!).

3 responses to The Beginning of the Gospel, Mark 1:1

  1. Deissman reconstructs the text’s lacuna differently without ημερα.

  2. I’ll be checking these things tomorrow when I’m in my study in both boring and Deissmann. If there’s anything significant, I’ll post a note (or revise the post if it’s major). I should have posted the URL for Evan’s paper:

  3. The only difference in Deissmann’s transcription is that he omits the word ἡμέρα. The sense is no difference. One would need to study the inscription itself to determine whether spacing would allow, disallow, or require the additional word; I have not yet taken time to do that. With the photo in Deissmann, one could do that, but the text in lines 40-41 is going to be hard to read no matter. The translation in Boring (cited from Nock) is essentially the same as I’ve given above.