An internationally renowned scholar on the language of the New Testament and the theology of the Gospel of Mark will present a series of four talks on the Gospel of Mark on Wednesdays during Lent. Br. Elliott C. Maloney, O.S.B., professor of New Testament Studies and Biblical Languages at Saint Vincent Seminary, will offer the free presentations at 7:15 p.m. March 15, 22, 29 and April 5 in the daily chapel of St. Bruno’s Church in South Greensburg. Br. Elliott is a popular speaker in Western Pennsylvania, bringing a keen awareness of the concerns of today’s Christians and a deeply monastic sense of prayer to his lectures, but not without an irrepressible lilt of humor.
The series is entitled “The Christian Mission in the New Millennium: A Reflection on the Gospel or Mark.” The Gospel of Mark is the Gospel read on Sundays this year (Lectionary Cycle B). Participants may wish to bring a Bible with them — Br. Elliott notes that he will be reading from the New American Bible Revised New Testament, the translation used in Catholic churches. It appears in many editions, including the Catholic Study Bible.
A Benedictine monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey for 35 years, Br. Elliott has been concentrating on the theology of the Gospel of Mark since his doctoral dissertation in 1978. His series will focus on a different aspect of the Gospel each week,accenting the teachings of Jesus on:
– “Faith that can cause miracles”
– “The Kingdom of God”
– “A radical new way of living”
– “The cost of discipleship”
Br. Elliott is writing a book on the Gospel, the culmination of 30 years of study. He was drawn to the Gospel while working on the Greek language of the New Testament.
“I chose the Gospel that was the most primitive, or earliest, and thus closest to the language of Jesus, which was probably Aramaic. What I found was that some of the flavor of Jesus’ own Aramaic comes through in the Greek of Mark’s Gospel, but more than anything I found the Hebrew flavor of the Old Testament as it was translated into Greek, a style that the Evangelist Mark adopted as his own.
“For my doctoral dissertation I looked at every bit of the Gospel very carefully,” he said. “I began to see the genius of an inspired writer who is a master of plot. At the same time as he is explaining and clarifying who Jesus is he’s unfolding the story of Jesus’ beautiful life for others and moving inexorably to the tragedy of the cross. Along the way Mark’s Jesus instructs the disciples on how to deal with tremendous adversity with a great trust in God, who will eventually raise Jesus from the dead.
“The drama of the disciples’ failure in Mark is extremely poignant, much like our own failure and the apparent failure of many in Mark’s own community,” Br. Elliott said. “Literally everyone turns away from Jesus. Even at the very end the faithful women who had been with him at the cross were confounded by the greatness of the announcement of the resurrection.”
He notes that “Mark’s Gospel ends where it began – with the ever-new question of ‘who is Jesus?’ and ‘how does his great sacrifice empower us to do the same for all of God’s people in the world?'”
The series is being offered during Lent, Br. Elliott said, because “Lent is a time for reflection on our lives. What better way to do that than with the record of Jesus’ self-giving life?”
Br. Elliott grew up in Pittsburgh’s North Point Breeze section and spent his high school years in Buffalo, New York, where he attended the diocesan minor seminary. He went to Saint Vincent College and entered the monastery after his sophomore year there. His studies took him to Rome, where he earned the Licentiate in Sacred Theology in 1972 and to New York, where he earned the Ph.D. in New Testament Studies at Fordham University in 1978.
He is past Chair of the Religious Studies Department at Saint Vincent College. He was one of the revisers and translators of the New American Bible Revised New Testament, and is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Catholic Biblical Association. He is a regular writer for The Bible Today, and book reviewer for the Catholic Biblical Quarterly and Theological Studies. He has written the video scripts for two series in the Paulist Bible Study Program.
An upcoming research trip will take him to Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil, where he will read the Gospels with the people in preparation for his upcoming book on the eschatology of the Gospel of Mark. Br. Elliott, who speaks Spanish and Portuguese, among many other languages, has done research in Latin America for the past six years, during which time he said, “I have met many wonderful people and excellent religious leaders, who have taught me that the gospels are really about our everyday life.”