The word Gospel and it's usage

The English noun gospel comes is the translation of the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον (euaggelos). It's normally translated as "good news" or as a verb to preach the good news. Interesting enough the word isn't common in Greek Literature. One of the best known usages is in Aristophanes. It is generally used for bringing news of victories of other events.

The word really got it's current usage as both a noun and a verb from the letters of Paul. A good example is how Paul refers to "the gospel of god" of which he is the apostle in Thess. 2:2 & Cor 11:7. The evidence suggests it was the Pauline communities that the present usage of the word took hold and spread to the broader Christian communities. It's this later anachronistic Christian vocabulary that BOM writers dubiously use.
If you look at the Gospels of the New Testament the use is scattered. The noun "gospel" is missing from both the Gospel of John as well as the Johannine Epistles. It is used often as a verb.

The Gospel of Luke does not use the word "gospel" as a noun. However, both Luke and Acts use the word as a verb meaning "to announce" or "preach".

The Gospel of Matthew uses it not in the modern or Pauline definition. It's strictly Jesus' message about the coming of the kingdom, like the message of John the Baptist, not regarding belief in Jesus see Matt 4:23 & 9:25.

The Gospel of Mark is interesting there are uses of "gospel" like Mark 1:1 that are clear additions of a later scribe. But Mark 1:1 does see to be a pointer to Mark 1:14-15 showing a transition from John the Baptists preaching of repentance to Jesus' own call of repentance and message of the kingdom. Also unique in the Markan Gospel are the passages that are source matterial for Matthew but Matthew specifically omits the usage of the word Gospel. Like Mk 1:15/Mt4:17, Mk8:35/Mt16:25.

By contrast, authors in The Book of Mormon use a spiritual vocabulary such as the use of the word "gospel" as a noun that post dates the life of Jesus and is more reflective of 2nd century Christian communities. Good examples of this are:

Ether 4:18
Therefore, repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and believe in my gospel, and be baptized in my name; for he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned; and signs shall follow them that believe in my name.

Mormon 9:22-24
For behold, thus said Jesus Christ, the Son of God, unto his disciples who should tarry, yea, and also to all his disciples, in the hearing of the multitude: Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned; And these signs shall follow them that believe--in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover...

Here is a great example of many of the repeated problems with the Book of Mormon. Ether predates Paul and the early Christian writers by some 2000 years but chooses this post-Jesus Christian vocabulary usage. Oh and for the record both these passages are just quotations from Mark 16:15-18. Which first is a problem just to crib from the New Testament but that happens a lot and isn't problematic for a lot of TBM. However this is even more unique. Mark 16:9-20 is referred to as the long ending of Mark. It's a late addition. It's not part of the original text. The ending is absent from the two oldest Greek manuscripts, from the Old Latin codex Bobiensis , the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript, about one hundred Armenian manuscripts, and the two oldest Georgian manuscripts. It was unknown to Clement of Alexandria and Origen. Eusebius and Jerome specifically state the ending was unknown to them and was absent from the oldest Greek copies known to them

It's a bit condemning that the BOM not only quotes Mark from the KJV New Testament, but in doing so chooses a non-authentic section added by a scribe in the 2nd century


James Snapp, Jr. said…
Hi Jacob,

I certainly agree with you that the BOM's extensive borrowing of NT-material is quite a problem for Mormon apologists. But Mk. 16:9-20, though absent from the witnesses you listed, has strong second-century support in patristic writings -- including Irenaeus (184), Tatian (172), Justin Martyr (160), and the Epistula Apostolorum (150).

Here are a few important details about some of the manuscripts you mentioned:

(1) the oldest copy of Mark, P45, does not have *any* text from Mark 16, due to extensive damage to this papyrus manuscript.

(2) In Codex Vaticanus, the oldest MS that contains Mk. 16, the text of Mark ends at 16:8, but a large blank space follows. This includes an entire blank column, which is a unique feature in the NT-portion of this MS.

(3) In Codex Sinaiticus, the other early Greek MS that does not contain Mk. 16:9-20 does not have its original pages from Mk. 14:54-Lk. 1:56.

(4) The Armenian MSS and Georgian MSS (translated from the Armenian) boil down to essentially one earlier witness; the Armenian version was made in 411-450.

(5) The statement that Mk. 16:9-20 was "unknown to Clement of Alexandria and Origen" is only a deduction based on these authors' non-use of material from these 12 verses. The same thing can be said of other 12-verse sections of Mark.

(6) Eusebius and Jerome did not say that the ending was unknown to them. Eusebius, c. 325, said that it was absent from almost all copies, at least from the accurate ones. Jerome, c. 417, summarized Eusebius' earlier comment in "Ad Hedibiam," but this was something he produced by dictation, and he elsewhere stated that he customarily replies to questions by simply citing earlier works, without bothering to separate his own statements from those of his sources. Jerome included Mark 16:9-20 in the Vulgate (383) and used Mk. 16:14 elsewhere with no indication that it was little-known. Neither of these writers state that Mk. 16:9-20 was "absent from the oldest Greek copies known to them."

So despite the somewhat one-sided footnotes in some Bibles, and the somewhat misleading comments in some commentaries (which often merely echo of Bruce Metzger's comments), the case against the BOM is not augmented by its use of Mk. 16:9-20 more than it is by the BOM's use of other NT passages.

But other verses and terms in the BOM, reflecting translational errors or textual accretions, can be effectively used to show the derivative nature of the BOM.

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.
Minister, Curtisville Christian Church
Tipton, Indiana

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