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the pericopic, episodic brilliance of Mark 1


jkgayle
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I'm making up the English word pericopic, an adjective to describe how Mark's Greek punctuates the pericopes that make up what we mark as Chapter 1. And how he strings together his opener to his narrative, linking one event with the next as a series of episodes is just brilliant.

 

Two examples.

 

1. One is the establishment first of John the Baptist in the desert doing water mikvahs, or ceremonial river cleansings, and calling for deeper and for different mindsets (un-brain-washings, if we will). In the wasteland, in the water, Mark tells us, he's preaching a baptism of repentance:  κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας.

 

And along comes Jesus who starts not in the desert on his own but goes there to get this baptism. When John leaves because he's thrown into prison, Jesus gets thrown back into the desert (but more on that in a moment). Jesus out of the desert, that wasteland, finds John is also out of the desert but in prison. And so Jesus also preaches. He follows John not in baptising in water but in preaching nonetheless. What he also preaches is this un-brainwashing, this mindset change, this mentality altering:  μετανοεῖτε καὶ. Mark has already had John announce that this is what Jesus would do, but we readers just couldn't see it coming this way. What Mark's John the Baptist announced is that Jesus would indeed "baptise" or do the ceremonial washing. But the medium would not be water. It would be Spirit, deep stuff, like Breathing, invisible stuff, like Wind blowing where it wills.

2. A second example is Mark's getting us his readers to focus on these unseen things. The linking phrase in focus is ἐκβάλλει/ἐξέβαλεν/ἐκβάλλων. The first time we encounter it it's the encounter of Jesus with the Spirit. Otherwise would he have gone out into the desert on his own? Then not much later after he's come out of the desert it's the encounter of the many demons with Jesus that we readers encounter. Otherwise would the many demons have gone out of the people on their own?

 

(An aside is that we encounter demons of this sort in the old Greek plays of the likes of Euripides, for instance The Bacchae, and its ending which translator Anne Carson renders, "Many are the forms of the daimonic / and many the surprises wrought by the gods." Another aside is that many cultures less rational than the Western civilizations still consider the unseen, such as the wind, a force in the lives of people every day. The way Westerners say "catch a cold" is seen as "hit by the wind" in Vietnam and as "the wind entering" as in Indonesia, for example.)

Mark uses this sort of spiritual force to characterize the baptising and the preaching of Jesus. He has to establish it first with John the Baptist. He has to show it second with afflicted folk and their demons. This is just brilliant writing.

 

 

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Yeah I checked too - it's in my Websters 3rd but not in the Webster's edition in Acc. It's also in the Macquarie. But I don't know when NGram is finding a use in the 1880s. I thought it was more recent. They also note it as a variant of spelling of pericopal. 40's - 60's was a good time for the word though. If I read the charts correctly pericopal might be the more popular now though in the 40s-60s it was the reverse.

 

Thx

D

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Yes, "pericopal" sounds better to me if it doesn't rhyme as well with episodic. Is episodical used? :)  Thank you for that good research, Daniel!

(And did I really say/write "it's use is on the upswing"? And why won't this Accordance Forum software allow us to continue editing once we log out for a while and come back in?)

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I would have said episodal. Ok not so. episodic according to m-w.com - ooops - or more rarely apparently episodical as you say. Well, actually wikitionary lists episodal. Now see what you've made me do - I have to go to print :)

 

Ah ok, now I feel better - Webster's third lists all three. Yay ! Though Macquarie doesn't list episodal. Man ! OED doesn't have episodal but has episodial ! I somehow doubt pericopial exists though.

 

So yes go for it - pericopal and episodal.

 

Thx

D

Edited by דָנִיאֶל
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