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Mark 1:2-8

Context
1:2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, 1 

Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,

who will prepare your way, 2 

1:3 the voice of one shouting in the wilderness,

Prepare the way for the Lord,

make 3  his paths straight.’” 4 

1:4 In the wilderness 5  John the baptizer 6  began preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 7  1:5 People 8  from the whole Judean countryside and all of Jerusalem 9  were going out to him, and he was baptizing them 10  in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins. 1:6 John wore a garment made of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 11  1:7 He proclaimed, 12  “One more powerful than I am is coming after me; I am not worthy 13  to bend down and untie the strap 14  of his sandals. 1:8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

1 tc Instead of “in Isaiah the prophet” the majority of mss read “in the prophets” (A W Ë13 Ï Irlat). Except for Irenaeus (2nd century), the earliest evidence for this is thus from the 5th (or possibly late 4th) century (W A). The difficulty of Irenaeus is that he wrote in Greek but has been preserved largely in Latin. His Greek remains have “in Isaiah the prophet.” Only the later Latin translation has “in the prophets.” The KJV reading is thus in harmony with the majority of late mss. On the other hand, the witnesses for “in Isaiah the prophet” (either with the article before Isaiah or not) are early and geographically widespread: א B D L Δ Θ Ë1 33 565 700 892 1241 2427 al syp co Ir. This evidence runs deep into the 2nd century, is widespread, and is found in the most important Alexandrian, Western, and Caesarean witnesses. The “Isaiah” reading has a better external pedigree in every way. It has the support of the earliest and best witnesses from all the texttypes that matter. Moreover it is the harder reading, since the quotation in the first part of the verse appears to be from Exod 23:20 and Mal 3:1, with the quotation from Isa 40:3 coming in the next verse. The reading of the later mss seems motivated by a desire to resolve this difficulty.

2 sn The opening lines of the quotation are from Exod 23:20; Mal 3:1. Here is the forerunner who points the way to the arrival of God’s salvation. His job is to prepare and guide the people, as the cloud did for Israel in the desert.

3 sn This call to “make his paths straight” in this context is probably an allusion to preparation through repentance.

4 sn A quotation from Isa 40:3.

5 tn Or “desert.”

6 tn While Matthew and Luke consistently use the noun βαπτίστης (baptisths, “[the] Baptist”) to refer to John, as a kind of a title, Mark prefers the substantival participle ὁ βαπτίζων (Jo baptizwn, “the one who baptizes, the baptizer”) to describe him (only twice does he use the noun [Mark 6:25; 8:28]).

7 sn A baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins was a call for preparation for the arrival of the Lord’s salvation. To participate in this baptism was a recognition of the need for God’s forgiveness with a sense that one needed to live differently as a response to it.

8 tn Grk “And the whole Judean countryside.” Mark uses the Greek conjunction καί (kai) at numerous places in his Gospel to begin sentences and paragraphs. This practice is due to Semitic influence and reflects in many cases the use of the Hebrew ו (vav) which is used in OT narrative, much as it is here, to carry the narrative along. Because in contemporary English style it is not acceptable to begin every sentence with “and,” καί was often left untranslated or rendered as “now,” “so,” “then,” or “but” depending on the context. When left untranslated it has not been noted. When given an alternative translation, this is usually indicated by a note.

9 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

10 tn Grk “they were being baptized by him.” The passive construction has been rendered as active in the translation for the sake of English style.

11 sn John’s lifestyle was in stark contrast to many of the religious leaders of Jerusalem who lived in relative ease and luxury. While his clothing and diet were indicative of someone who lived in the desert, they also depicted him in his role as God’s prophet (cf. Zech 13:4); his appearance is similar to the Prophet Elijah (2 Kgs 1:8). Locusts and wild honey were a common diet in desert regions and locusts (dried insects) are listed in Lev 11:22 among the “clean” foods.

12 tn Grk “proclaimed, saying.” The participle λέγων (legwn) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.

13 tn Grk “of whom I am not worthy.”

sn The humility of John is evident in the statement I am not worthy. This was considered one of the least worthy tasks of a slave, and John did not consider himself worthy to do even that for the one to come, despite the fact he himself was a prophet.

14 tn The term refers to the leather strap or thong used to bind a sandal. This is often viewed as a collective singular and translated as a plural, “the straps of his sandals,” but it may be more emphatic to retain the singular here.



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