Monthly Archives: January 2014

Why did Mark Omit Jesus’ Birth?

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As soon as I started reading Mark this week, I realized that, in contrast to Matthew,  there was no account of Jesus’ birth. If the virgin birth was so important, why did the author of Mark not include it? The Gospel of Mark is widely believed to have been the first gospel written. Was the virgin birth of Jesus a later addition to the story to fulfill the prophesies?

Since Mark is widely received as the first gospel written, the lack of a Jesus’ birth story is odd. Personally, if a virgin birth happened, that would be the first thing I would mention. The virgin birth is prophesied in the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Could the virgin birth have been a later addition to the story of Jesus to make his life more prophesy fulfilling?

Some believe that the Gospel of Mark does have a story of Jesus’ birth. They believe that the baptism is Jesus’ birth. Jesus was either adopted by God at baptism (adoptionism), or that the” Son of God” entered Jesus at baptism and from that moment there were two beings in one (separationism). 

One source says that Mark does not include the birth of Jesus because the author had other things more important to highlight. The Gospel of Mark is focused on the public life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He is portrayed as a servant.  Servants during this day did not have birth records or a family line that could be traced back to the beginning of time. According to one website, the author of Mark wrote this to the Romans of his day. The emphasize was on the paradoxical message of the hidden service of Jesus as Lord. Together with the secrecy motives in this Gospel, the omission of any details of the birth of Jesus helps the reader to understand that it is not important where a servant is born of from which family he comes – it is his service that defines him. The Gospel of Matthew portrays Jesus as a king. So, this would explain the genealogy that begins that book.

There were a lot of opinions on these topics. I chose a more faith-based question than I normally would without realizing it. Ultimately, there isn’t one specific answer to these questions, but I learned a lot.

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Why did the Wise Men bring Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh?

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While reading about Jesus’ birth, I read that the wise men had brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Now, this was nothing new to me. I had read and heard this story many times. But what are gold, frankincense, and myrrh? Why are they important?

Gold Frank Myrrh

GOLD:

Gold is a precious metal (obviously!).  Many of Yahweh’s temples were adorned with gold. Gold is mentioned throughout the Bible. It was and still is considered to be extremely valuable in most cultures. It was used to symbolize royalty and honor. Gold was the usual offering presented to kings by their subjects, or those wanting to pay respect.

 

Frankincense:

Frankincense is the dried sap of trees in the Boswellia genus, particularly Boswellia sacra. These trees grow in Oman, Yemen and the Horn of Africa, including Somalia and Ethiopia.  The frankincense is usually burned.The Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Israelites used frankincense as part of their religious ceremoniesFrankincense is a symbol of holiness and righteousness.  In pagan cultures, frankincense is burned as an offering to numerous gods. Frankincense is used in burials to cover to cover up the smell of the corpse rotting.

 

Myrrh: 

Like frankincense, myrrh is dried sap from a tree. It is used to embalm the bodies of the dead. However, unlike, Frankincense which is sweet, Myrrh has a bitter taste to it. Some scholars say that the gift of myrrh foreshadows Jesus’ death. Frankincense and myrrh were used in conjunction with each other.

 

All three gifts were gifts that would normally given to a king or god to show worship and divinity. The wise men may or may not have believed that Jesus was the Son of Yahweh; however, they gave gifts of royalty to the small child.