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TANATA is devoted to discussing the paradoxes and the mysteries of life, among which is the paradox of the coexistence of good and evil. “God is love,” John tells us. Evil exists, we would suggest, not because God is detached or unconcerned, but because free will exists which is required for true, unforced love to exist. Still, it is painfully hard to reconcile this paradox. We believe that all evil one day will be judged and destroyed, until then we must pray.

DANIEL 7:13-14

13 “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.

14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.

REVELATION 1:7

7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

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Thursday
Jul092009

« The "Mark" of the Beast »

THE GOSPEL OF MARK CONTAINS EXACTLY 666 VERSES.

To suggest that the Gospel of Mark has been tampered with by unauthorized tamperers is to suggest that before we obtained the earliest Greek manuscript copies of Mark’s Gospel dated to around AD 350 someone made changes to the author’s originally intended writings. Of course, this cannot be proved. But there has to be, in our view, an explanation for the fact that the total number of verses in the Gospel of Mark minus the very questionable twelve verses found at Mark 16:9-20 which conclude the Gospel in some manuscripts … adds up to the number 666. Is this coincidental or was it intentional on the part of the author or some unscrupulous editor that this total should be what it is? We may never know. But it does bear noting that this curiosity exists, and, that this total number of verses has been reached with the addition of arguably superfluous verses (Mark 9:44, 46, 48; 14:51-52) and the rather glaring apparent omission of verses at Mark 10:46, where Jesus and his disciples are described practically as arriving at Jericho … just as they are leaving it, and vice versa.

If an unscrupulous editor or scribe did see to it that Mark’s Gospel should contain exactly 666 verses, it is worth noting this as we consider the absence of material in Mark which is found in Matthew and Luke, providing Matthew and Luke used Mark’s Gospel as a source, for which scholars have well made the case, in our opinion. The absence of these verses in Mark which are found in these other two works have caused some to assume that there must be or must have been a “Q” (for quelle) document or an additional source which Matthew and Luke consulted besides Mark. Is it possible that some unscrupulous editor removed from the Gospel of Mark those verses which appear in Matthew and Luke after Matthew and Luke consulted Mark’s Gospel so that the total number of verses in Mark would come out to 666 verses? That might have been the case, though we have no way at present of knowing or proving this.

And here is the kicker which helps to prove our hypothesis that John Mark is the John who wrote the book of Revelation and the Gospel of John, as well as the Gospel of Mark, though there are great differences in the writing styles of all three (our writings over the years have been similarly different in style): the association of the name “Mark” with the number 666 as it is found in Revelation 13:18 is an interesting one to make in light of the association of the number 666 with the phrase “the mark of the beast,” found at Revelation 13:17, 14:9 and 15:2.

There has long been conjecture about what John Mark’s unusual surname means, and what that conjecture has been is also significant: Mark or Marcus, a Greek-derived name (John Mark’s father Artistopolis was a Greek), either means “stump-fingered” or “disfigured,” neither of which are very complimentary or likely for a scribe, or, the word Mark means “hammer.” Some have suggested that John Mark assumed this name to refer to himself as a disfigured person, a disfigurement that would have been self inflicted so that John Mark, a Levite, might avoid assuming any priestly duties. (Curious, and unfair, if John Mark was, in fact, a priest — and he may have been, judging from the white linen he wore.) But what person who had disfigured himself for this purpose would call attention to this act by using this name, providing he willingly assumed the surname Mark? Paul refers to John Mark as as “Mark” in 2 Timothy 4:11, something that Paul would not do unkindly if he held John Mark in esteem, as he had apparently eaten crow and begun to do. Why did Paul eat crow in his dealings with John Mark, if he had not been wrong to begin with? Some people just can’t get a break!

The other meaning of the word Mark or Marcus was more likely intended — “hammer,” a very bold and forceful name, which we suspect John Mark adopted after witnessing the crucifixion of the man who considered John Mark his most trusted and admired friend.

Lastly, in the debate over which John wrote the Gospel of John and Revelation, it bears referencing a verse in the book of Acts which ought to lay to rest any idea that John the son of Zebedee or Peter, for that matter, could have written the works ascribed to them, wrongly, in our view: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained me, they marveled” — “they” being the Sanhedrin, including the high priests Annas and Caiaphas, in addition to other rulers, elders and scribes. There are two fascinating points to be made here: 1) Annas, who had contact with “the other disciple,” whom Annas knew as shown in John 18:15-16, was apparently seeing John the son of Zebedee for the first time, excluding perhaps this John as “the other disciple.” What uneducated man, such as Zebedee’s John was, would have dared to stand before Annas and argue legally on Jesus’ behalf? And 2) if John is traveling with Peter at this point, how is it that John could have escaped being martyred (we’re not told) as his brother James was, if John did not accompany Peter to John Mark’s house after Peter’s miraculous release from Herod’s prison?

Also, note verse 6 in the same chapter 4 in Acts: We see a reference to another John and a man named Alexander. Could this be John Mark … and the Alexander, the brother of Rufus, whom John Mark references in Mark 15:21 when John Mark describes the selection of fellow Cyrenean Simon to assist Jesus with his cross? Significantly, this is an incident which John Mark follows all the way to the summit of Golgotha, making him the only man named John that we know of who witnesses Jesus’ crucifixion. If John Mark is the Beloved Disciple, as he may well be, is John 19:25-27 accurate? If John Mark is the unnamed “other disciple” … is it possible that the woman with John Mark at Golgotha is “the other Mary,” John Mark’s actual mother who may be obscured in these verses in John? It makes more sense that Jesus should have been speaking here to an actual mother and son, particularly if John the son of Zebedee was the nephew of Jesus’ mother and therefore Jesus’ cousin.

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