A Grammatical Note on the Structure of Mark's Prologue

Is the prologue of Mark 1:1–13 or 1:1–15? In France’s commentary on Mark he notes that the prologue is most likely 1:1–13 based on thematic reasons. He says:

From v. 14 on the Spirit and the wilderness are no longer mentioned, and the scene has shifted from the Judaean wilderness to the inhabited towns and villages of Galilee. John the Baptist, a central figure in the prologue, has now been removed from the stage. The heavenly visions and supernatural actors of vv. 10–13 are replaced by everyday scenes people by ordinary Galileans. Verses 14–15 introduce the preaching ministry of Jesus which is to be the focus of the first act of the drama. The story has begun.”[1]

I think there is also a grammatical explanation that v. 14 begins the first act of the drama.” Until now Mark has used the connective καὶ to join each step of the story. Along with his use of εὐθὺς this helps the reader feel the quickness” of the story. When the reader reaches v. 14, Mark changes from the connective καὶ to δὲ[2] (Μετὰ δὲ τὸ παραδοθῆναι τὸν Ἰωάννην ἦλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ). Runge notes, The use of δέ represents the writer’s choice to explicitly signal that what follows is a new, distinct development in the story or argument, based on how the writer conceived of it.[3] Therefore, along with Mark’s unmarked use of καὶ he uses the marked δὲ to bring attention to the reader that the next part of the story is about to begin.

  1. France, R. T. The Gospel of Mark. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002, 59.  ↩︎

  2. The only other use of δὲ before this is in v. 8 with the words coming from John, ἐγὼ ἐβάπτισα ὑμᾶς ὕδατι, αὐτὸς δὲ βαπτίσει ὑμᾶς °ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ”. In this case it is used to express a contrast between his baptism and Jesus’.  ↩︎

  3. Steven E. Runge, Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis, 31 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010).  ↩︎

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