Paying attention to “sounds”

I am reading through the Gospel of Mark in the Greek  in preparation for writing my dissertation. I have noticed something new in my appreciation of the text and the implied author’s narrative voice. The “sounds” of the text.

Too often I read the Biblical text with an eye for grammatical constructions and sentence structure, etc. Meanwhile, I have missed the forest for the trees (pardon the cliches…). In my reading of Mark, I’ve thought about for the first time about the sounds of the words. The sounds of words when spoken with the narrative intent of the word and author. For example, in the story about the demon-possessed man in Mark 1:21-28, the words used illustrate my point. Reading these words in typical fashion can miss the emotional impact of the narrative.

Mark writes that the man with the unclean spirit cried out (anakraxen). Actually crying out what the demon says is an interesting exercise. It makes one aware of the tension and drama in this passage. It usually isn’t a pleasant experience when someone screams at you with a loud voice. Then Jesus rebukes the spirit with a command of his voice. The spirit makes the man convulse and then cries out again with a loud (megale) voice. This isn’t’ a quiet, submissive demon.

Imagine how that might have sounded if you were there. The scene in this text is ripe with drama and tension. A screaming demon and Jesus able to rebuke him with authority. I think the people in the synagogue would’ve have been afraid of the screaming man and wondering what to do. But their fear turns to amazement and awe.

Performing this text in a way that expresses the words Mark choses in his text would be impactful. If a preacher were to cry out, shout or scream I’m sure people would take notice. Perhaps, even hear the spoken Word anew for the first time.


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