The Spiritual Landscape of Mark

– Bonnie B. Thurston

Notes from — Mark has a remarkable number of references to the desert.  There are at least ten uses of eremos, the Gk word for desert, which is sometimes also translated into English as “wilderness.”  Where they appear is surprising.

The word eremos is found most frequently in the NT as an adj to describe abandonment or as a noun to refer to a locality without inhabitants, and empty, abandoned, or thinly populated place. This is close to the Lt. desertus: de meaning “from” plus serere meaning “to join.’ A desert is an “unjoined” place. From the root notion of leaving community comes the idea of an uncultivated region without inhabitants, a wilderness. Etymologically a desert is more a wild, uninhabited place than an arid, barren one. The word is not a description of a weather pattern. [Page 4]