Monday, December 27, 2010

The Big Stone

Mark 16:3 And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?" 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back--it was very large.

3 καὶ ἔλεγον πρὸς ἑαυτάς· τίς ἀποκυλίσει ἡμῖν τὸν λίθον ἐκ τῆς θύρας τοῦ μνημείου; 4  καὶ ἀναβλέψασαι θεωροῦσιν ὅτι ἀποκεκύλισται ὁ λίθος· ἦν γὰρ μέγας σφόδρα.

I was thinking about writing on the longer ending of Mark, but I see that I already did that in my first pass through this book.  These two verses jumped out at me because they speak to something that is sometimes overlooked when we read the gospel accounts.  Gospel is a specific genre of literature because it is basically narrative, but is different than the book of 1 Samuel, for example.  The three synoptics combine to create what is sometimes called the "synoptic problem," in that details don't seem to quite match up.  There are ways to deal with that and still maintain inerrancy, but I don't want to get into that here.

My point is that the gospels are still heavy on the narrative.  Little details like this emphasize the reality of the accounts.  We don't really need to read this dialog between the women.  They could have just gone to the tomb and seen that the Lord had been raised.  Instead, Mark gives us this little insight into the reality of the situation.  These two women worried about how they were going to roll away the stone.  This was certainly a legitimate concern for them.

This is similar to how we read in John that John outran Peter.  This is not a necessary detail, but it shows us that the writer was chronicling real events.  If it was just an objective historical account of what happened we likely would not have these things.  But the little things give us a sense that we are reading eyewitness accounts of what happened or, as in the case of Luke, reading the compilation of eyewitness accounts.

In short, you can trust the gospels.  Just be careful about those passages that appear in [[ ]] in your Bibles.

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