Friday, December 09, 2011

I hope you are all enjoying the season of Advent and are looking forward to Christmas.

It may seem as though I have forgotten to post on Predestination, but there is an explanation!

I had wanted to read Matthew Levering's recently published book on Predestination first.  I had ordered it from Amazon, but when it arrived it was slightly damaged.  I wouldn't normally have worried as the damage was only superficial, but the book itself costs so much that I thought this time I would return it and get a perfect copy.

The replacement has just arrived an hour or so ago.  I have to confess to being a big Amazon fan.  If you are going to order online, they make it as straightforward as possible to do so.  Anyway, this is going to be my Christmas reading so Predestination is postponed until the New Year!

In the Church's Liturgical Year, we are now in Year B and we will be reading through Mark's Gospel.  Last Sunday the reading was the first eight verses.  This is the first in a series I am preparing for my Church introducing it.

St Mark's Gospel

The Gospel reading last Sunday was the beginning of Mark's Gospel (Mark 1:1-8), and I thought I might use the opportunity to introduce the Gospel that most scholars believe is the first of our New Testament Gospels to be written.

What we often forget is that while the Gospels would have been read by some, they would have been heard by most. That is, for all sorts of reasons, not least the cost of copying written texts, the Gospel would have been read out aloud in church groups, perhaps in the context of worship. In trying to understand then the message that Mark was intending to convey about our Lord, we need to ask how would it have been heard.

Sadly, our concentration is not such that we could cope with sitting and listening to Mark being read out in one sitting, although it only takes about an hour and half to do so. Some may remember how the actor Alex McCowan, in January 1978, devised and directed his own solo performance of the complete text of the Saint Mark's Gospel receiving much critical acclaim.

Today, we miss the impact that hearing the Gospel read out loud would have had on the first listeners. There are many recordings of the Bible available: if you get the chance, try listening to one. It opens up a new dimension in Biblical understanding. 

And remember: What is true of St Mark's Gospel is true also of the rest of the New Testament.

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