I’ve been studying the Gospel of Mark on and off for my entire adult life.
I’m not going to pretend like I am all holy or that working on it has made me more holy. I’m not, and it hasn’t. I’m not going to pretend that my assessment of the disciples is that much different from Owen Meany‘s, although I do try not to swear when describing them. Many of you know that I’m working on the Mark volume for the BYU New Testament Commentary series. (True story: working on Mark 15:30 made me crazy because every time I read the words “save yourself,” I started humming R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” and thoroughly distracted myself. ) Most of the time, it’s the same kind of technical slog that I imagine I’d go through were I writing on any other topic. I spend a lot of time doing things like checking all of the occurrences of a certain verb and their contexts, or wading through article after article about a certain peripheral character’s motivation, or evaluating the evidence for which textual variant is most likely to have been the earliest reading. It’s mostly mundane.
But working on Mark 16, I was just overwhelmed by the reality of the resurrection, despite (or: because) Mark has no resurrection appearance. Every time I read that that young man says “look–he isn’t there. He’s been raised. See for yourself,” my heart bursts. I feel the power in those words because what they are describing is true. The holiness of this text touches the core of my being and every time I come across those words I am flattened by their power.