Aren't you a little 'tall' for a stormtrooper?

Mark's opening bloopers and why they are a good thing.

Posted on October 23, 2019

Once you've seen it, you can't unsee it.

It's Episode IV: A New Hope. The gang have just smuggled themselves onto the death star, the droids are locked up in the control centre near docking bay 327, and the rest are trying to disable the tractor field and rescue the princess.

And then it happens... The storm troopers barge into the room where the droids have been hiding. There must be 3 or maybe 4 of them. And as they march in, very serious looking, with their blasters ready to fire... One of them whacks his head on the doorway!
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For some reason the mistake made it into the final cut and there we have probably the most famous star wars blooper of all time! Like all classic bloopers you never notice it until it's pointed out and then from then on you will never be able to NOT notice it.

Bloopers are great! They are easy fodder for star wars nerds. Need to get a conversation going with a socially awkward star wars nerd? Ask them about the bloopers. Even saying the word blooper over and over again is a fun thing to do! Blooper blooper blooper!

Anyway.

Bible Bloopers

It might be disconcerting for some but the truth of the matter is... there are bloopers in Mark's gospel too. There's one right in the opening section. When the author boldly quotes from the Old Testament and says:

"As it is written in Isaiah the Prophet..." (Mark 1:2)

But then he quotes from the book of Malachi before finally finishing with Isaiah.

Oops!

Malachi doesn't get a mention at all. Mark simply writes as if Isaiah wrote the whole thing. Some ancient manuscripts have the wording differently so that it says "as it says in the prophets" which is what the KJV went with. But the oldest and most reliable manuscripts just say Isaiah.

For some reason Mark does not reference Malachi. Some say it's because he was using the name Isaiah as a catch-all term for the whole scroll of prophets, since Isaiah is the first prophet in the Hebrew Bible. I guess similar to why we call the book of Genesis 'Genesis' just because it's the first word of the book.

Or perhaps because he was in a hurry and trying to keep things brief he only felt the need to mention the most prominent prophet. But that wouldn't make sense as to why he then puts the Malachi quote first.

And I don't really think there's any chance the author didn't know that it was a quote from a different prophet. He knew his bible. So there must be a reason for the omission, but we just don't know what it is. Isn't that frustrating?!

I am so glad that this blooper is in the first few verses of Mark's gospel. I love the way it changes how you read the text. Once you've seen it, you can't unsee it.

Why it's a good thing

The big benefit is this: it has the effect of distracting you from the story. 

It bursts the bubble. 

Breaks the fourth wall. 

Crosses the Proscenium Arch. 

It forces you to acknowledge the mechanism of the story. In Star Wars, as soon as you see that Stormtrooper hitting his noggin on the doorway, your brain is forced to acknowledge that this man is just an actor and that 'blast door' is just a stage prop. You might have been lost in the story before, but now you are confronted with the truth of the fact that it is just a film.

A similar thing happens in Mark's gospel. The author is not telling fiction, and he's not using actors and stage props. But he is an author, and he has used his own words and gathered sources, and found quotes and made editorial decisions. And he is crafting this gospel in such a way as to make a certain point. A blooper reveals to you the mechanism behind the story.

The other benefit to a blooper is that it also forces you to recognise the distance between you and the text. That there are things you don't know and can't find out from a plain reading. In other words, it is an exercise in humility. Just because you have Mark's gospel does not mean you are omniscient. There is still a limit to what you can know about the historical person of Jesus and the full implications of why he lived, died and rose again. What you know is what the gospel writer was able to make clear to you, or what you have deduced from his words. These are the things God wanted you to know. There are other things you won't ever know.

As Christians, we also believe that God's Spirit works through this text. He changes lives with this text. But he still only works with what is there. He works with the fact that the author did not cite the prophet Malachi. He works both as we read the story, and also as we look at the mechanism of the story.

Bloopers are great!