this is the fourth in our series on the Book Of Mark.
Mark One, about the scraps of Mark on Papyrus One.
Mark Two, an intro to Mark, and what’s going on with it.
Mark Three, about “The Secret Gospel of Mark,” and now Mark Four, about J. B. Phillips.
Also He said to them, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand? 22 For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
That’s how the King James Version does Mark 4:21. Here’s how J. B. Philips does it:
Then he said to them,
“Is a lamp brought into the room to be put under a bucket or underneath the bed? Surely it’s place is on the lamp-stand! There is nothing hidden which is not meant to be made perfectly plain one day, and there are no secrets which are not meant one day to be common knowledge. If a man has ears he should use them!
Wanting to know more about the guy I was trusting to translate my Mark for me, I read J. B.’s book:
It’s good and short and clearly written, much like Mark. J. B.’s strongest point is that the Gospels seem true to him because, well, who could make this stuff up?
That kind of reminded me of the several times in the Quran where Allah says, hey, if you don’t believe this, let’s see you write a Quran.
Surprised to find, in the next Phillips I picked up, a description of my workplace.
I can’t say The Price Of Success was exactly a page-turner. JB Phillips had a hard childhood, but through diligence earned himself a place at Cambridge, became an Anglican churchman, and started translating The New Testament during World War II.
No surprise that he was pals, or at least sometime correspondents, with C. S. Lewis.
I often heard Lewis’s Screwtape Letters recommended for young Christians in my youth. When I finally got to the book (audiobook) I found it a really stiff and unattractive vision. How did Christianity, which, when you get back to the source, was unquestionably weird, get claimed by stiff collar types like C. S. Lewis?
I found Ring Of Truth to be a more compelling read.
In Price of Success, Phillips is very open and honest about his struggles with depression.
No doubt hearing this, from a respected Christian leader in 1984, was really helpful to people. The book was published two years after his death.
Am I allowed you quote you by the way, J. B.?
Mark Five: Strange Tales Of Jesus!
Latest posts in our series on the Book of Mark, one of the weirdest and most popular books of all time.
on Papyrus One
Or like this?
Here we see the Mar Saba monastery in Israel, twelve miles outside Jerusalem:
Cool structure. Would make a dope boutique hotel.
This is where Morton Smith supposedly found a
previously unknown letter of Clement of Alexandria transcribed into the endpapers of a 17th-century printed edition of the works of Ignatius of Antioch
The letter, which would’ve been from like the year 200, says (I paraphrase) “hey there’s a more spiritual, weirder version of the Gospel of Mark floating around, heads up.”
Was there a “Secret Gospel Of Mark”? Says Wiki:
Ron Cameron (1982) and Helmut Koester (1990) argued that Secret Mark preceded the canonical Mark, and that the canonical Mark is in fact an abbreviation of Secret Mark. This would explain the narrative discontinuity above. John Dominic Crossan (1985) has also been supportive of these views of Koester: “I consider that canonical Mark is a very deliberate revision of Secret Mark.”
An interesting question for sure. As Wiki says:
The process of canonization of the New Testament was complex and lengthy.
The version I’m using is this one:
I don’t think the late J. B. will mind my excerpting his helpful introduction:
When J. B. talks about “the manuscript of Mark,” I’m not sure what he means. Wiki tells me the oldest complete version is the Codex Vaticanus,
and the Codex Sinaiticus, which they found at St. Catherine’s Monastery:
which would also make a cool boutique hotel. The Codex got taken to Russia, and then:
In 1933, the Soviet Union sold the codex to the British Museum for £100,000 raised by public subscription (worth £6.5 million in 2017)
You can read it if you want online.
The oldest known written scrap of Mark appears to be Papyrus 45:
which came from who knows where. American-Anglo-Irish industrialist Chester Beatty, the “king of copper,” was mad for papyri apparently and bought tons of them from illegal dealers.
His first job in the mines earned him $2 per day as a ‘mucker’, clearing away rock and soil from mine tunnels. He was quickly promoted to supervisor of the Kektonga Silver Mine.
Papyrus 45 is now in Chester’s library/museum in Dublin:So, that’s how we get to Mark.
NEXT TIME in our series on Mark:
Translator J. B. Phillips, who started working on the New Testament in a bomb shelter during the London Blitz.