Re the Daily Office Readings April 13, 2020

The Readings: Exodus 12:14-27; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8

The Exodus reading, equally concerned to narrate the one-off events and to institute their yearly remembrance. It succeeded, and continues to succeed. (Twenty centuries later in Connecticut our Jewish friends would sell us their leaven at this feast, which we’d sell back to them a week later.) What about these one-off events is so important that such care is invested in preserving its memory?

Paul, just warming up for the argument that starts in v.12 (“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead?”). We can come back to it later in the week.

“So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark. 16:8). Familiarity breeds, if not contempt, complacency. If the dead don’t stay dead, if G-d raises from the dead one legally executed by the governing authorities instituted by G-d (Rom 13:1), perhaps more terror and amazement are in order?

Since the first century readers have been puzzled by the ending to Mark’s Gospel. The various endings following v.8 are almost certainly not original; did Mark intend v.8 as the ending, or did his ending somehow get lost or not get written?

I like what Joel Marcus does in his Anchor Yale Bible commentary, reminding us that v.8 is something like that scene in Genesis when Sarah laughs at the divine promise of a son, and then denies the laugh “for she was afraid”) (Genesis 18:9-15). “Here, as in our periscope, there is a divine promise of life springing out of deadness, a promise that human incredulity, which is linked with fear, finds impossible to accept” (Marcus). And it’s something like the ending of Jonah (and the ending of the parable of the two lost sons) in which the divine question posed to Jonah (and the elder brother) hangs unanswered because we the readers must answer it (Jonah 4:1-11; Luke 15:11-32).

Marcus concludes: “Since Mark does not wrap up all the loose ends, we have no alternative but to return to the inception of the narrative, “the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ” (1:1), and read it again as our story… Mark’s Gospel is just the beginning of the good news, because Jesus’ story has become ours, and we take it up where Mark leaves off.”

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