"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Beginning of Good News
Mark 1:1-20 Commentary
by Raj Nadella
Mark’s gospel opens with an account of an unusual scene unfolding in the Judean wilderness near Dead Sea east of Jerusalem.
A somewhat oddly dressed prophet by the name of John who made wilderness his home was calling upon strangers from all over Judea to repent and be baptized.
Mark describes John’s lifestyle explicitly and offers some interesting details. John’s dietary habits—locusts and honey—likely point to his membership in one of the Qumran communities and his clothing has intertextual allusions to prophet Elijah in 2 Kings. His lifestyle was consistent with someone living in the wilderness and, more importantly within that historical context, was characterized by poverty, likely voluntary poverty.
In a culture where poverty was a source of profound embarrassment and shame, John appears to be embracing it as a marker of his identity and wearing it proudly on his sleeve. But John’s lifestyle—clothing and food habits—was not simply indicative of his location and identity but should be seen in the context of the nature of his mission.
Mark suggest that John was ...
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Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL Podcast 389: Beginning of Good News
December 29, 2019
Podcast on the Narrative Lectionary readings for Dec. 29, 2019, (Beginning of Good News) featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker. Recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn., for Working Preacher.