Mark Chapter 1:35-42

The end of chapter 1.

35 Καὶ πρωῒ ἔννυχα λίανἀναστὰς ἐξῆλθεν καὶ ἀπῆλθεν εἰς ἔρημον τόπον κἀκεῖ προσηύχετο.

And in the morning, it still being night, getting up he went to a deserted place and there he prayed.

This is sort of a very roundabout way of saying ‘very early in the morning, while it was still dark’, which is how it’s most often translated. However, that is not what it says.

35 Et diluculo valde mane surgens egressus est et abiit in desertum locum ibique orabat.

36 καὶ κατεδίωξεν αὐτὸν Σίμων καὶ οἱ μετ’ αὐτοῦ,

And Simon and those with him searched for him.

36 Et persecutus est eum Simon et qui cum illo erant;

37 καὶ εὗρον αὐτὸν καὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ ὅτι Πάντες ζητοῦσίν σε.

And they found him, and they said to him that “All are looking for you.”

37 et cum invenissent eum, dixerunt ei: “ Omnes quaerunt te! ”.

38 καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Ἄγωμεν ἀλλαχοῦ εἰς τὰς ἐχομένας κωμοπόλεις, ἵνα καὶ ἐκεῖ κηρύξω: εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ ἐξῆλθον.

And he said to them, “Let us go elsewhere, to the villages at hand (neighboring towns), so that I can also preach there. For it is for this that I came.”

38 Et ait illis: “ Eamus alibi in proximos vicos, ut et ibi praedicem: ad hoc enim veni ”.

39 καὶ ἦλθεν κηρύσσων εἰς τὰς συναγωγὰς αὐτῶν εἰς ὅλην τὴν Γαλιλαίαν καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια ἐκβάλλων.

And he came preaching into the synagogues of them (of those towns), to the whole of Galilee, and he expelled the demons.

Quick note: the word used for ‘casting out’ the demons << ἐκβάλλω >> is the same word used in 1:12 for the spirit “casting” Jesus into the desert. There is a sense of physical throwing in the root of  << βάλλω >>.  So it’s a very interesting image to have the spirit do this to Jesus.

39 Et venit praedicans in synagogis eorum per omnem Galilaeam et daemonia eiciens.

40 Καὶ ἔρχεται πρὸς αὐτὸν λεπρὸς παρακαλῶν αὐτὸν [καὶ γονυπετῶν] καὶ λέγων αὐτῷ ὅτι Ἐὰν θέλῃς δύνασαί με καθαρίσαι.

And a leper came to him, beseeching him and kneeling saying to him that, “If you wish, you are able to make me clean.”

40 Et venit ad eum leprosus deprecans eum et genu flectens et dicens ei: “ Si vis, potes me mundare ”.

41 καὶ σπλαγχνισθεὶς ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ ἥψατο καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ, Θέλω, καθαρίσθητι:

And feeling pity, he stretched out his hand to him and said to him, “I wish it. Be cleansed.”  

For whatever reason, the NIV translates this as “He was indignant…”  Seriously?  I suspect there was a glitch in the translation, or the posting, or something.

41 Et misertus extendens manum suam tetigit eum et ait illi: “ Volo, mundare! ”;

42 καὶ εὐθὺς ἀπῆλθεν ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ ἡ λέπρα, καὶ ἐκαθαρίσθη.

And immediately the leprosy came out of him, and he was cleansed.

42 et statim discessit ab eo lepra, et mundatus est.

43 καὶ ἐμβριμησάμενος αὐτῷ εὐθὺς ἐξέβαλεναὐτόν,

And  he (charged) him and he immediately cast him away.

Here’s an interesting situation.According to Liddell & Scott, the base meaning of  <<ἐμβριμησάμενος >> is something like ‘to snort’, as in a horse. L&S also indicates that it can mean “to be deeply moved”, or to be . This usage only occurs in John. As definition II, it can also mean ‘to admonish’, or ‘to rebuke’.  This usage only occurs in the Bible, once in the OT and twice in the NT.  Somehow, some way, this word morphed into something else. Interestingly the Latin word, << infremuit >>, means ‘to groan’.  This seems to be another instance where  a word somehow ended up as something entirely different.  How did this happen?  Who decided that this would mean “to rebuke”?  When was the decision made?  It had been made by the time the KJV was translated, which put it early enough to end up in L&S..

43 Et infremuit in eum statimque eiecit illum

44 καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ, Ορα μηδενὶ μηδὲν εἴπῃς, ἀλλὰ ὕπαγε σεαυτὸν δεῖξον τῷ ἱερεῖ καὶ προσένεγκε περὶ τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ σου ἃ προσέταξεν Μωϋσῆς, εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς.

And he (Jesus) said to him (the former leper), “See to it that you say nothing to no one.  Instead, go, show yourself to the priests and make the sacrifice regarding cleansing which was set up by Moses, in order to be a witness to them.

A couple of points about the Greek. First, the double negative (nothing to no one) is common in a lot of other language that aren’t English.  Second, because Greek, like Latin & Spanish, doesn’t require a pronoun if it is the subject of the sentence, you get a construction like this one.  [ the unspoken subject, understood to be ‘he’ = Jesus] said to him (the former leper)...Plus the ‘to him’  << αὐτῷ >> is in the dative case. This precludes this ‘him’ being the subject of the sentence, and shows this ‘him’ to be the indirect object.

44 et dicit ei: “Vide, nemini quidquam dixeris; sed vade, ostende te sacerdoti et offer pro emundatione tua, quae praecepit Moyses, in testimonium illis ”.

45 ὁ δὲ ἐξελθὼν ἤρξατο κηρύσσειν πολλὰ καὶ διαφημίζειν τὸν λόγον, ὥστε μηκέτι αὐτὸν δύνασθαι φανερῶς εἰς πόλιν εἰσελθεῖν, ἀλλ’ ἔξω ἐπ’ ἐρήμοις τόποις ἦν: καὶ ἤρχοντο πρὸς αὐτὸν πάντοθεν.

He then leaving, he began to preaching much, to spread the word, so that he was no longer able openly come into a town, but  he was outside in desert (lonely) places. And people began to do to him from all over.

45 At ille egressus coepit praedicare multum et diffamare sermonem, ita ut ian non posset manifesto in civitatem introire, sed foris in desertis locis erat; et conveniebant ad eum unidique.

I had some real issues with how to handle the comment on this section. There were no really obvious places as there have been in other sections. In some sense, this is a rerun of the previous section, in which Jesus cast out the unclean spirit and healed many others. 

What is important here, I suppose is the part after Jesus sneaks off to pray. He has come to go to the surrounding towns, he says, and to preach. This implies a mission. Who gave him the commission? And when? We have not actually been told. Perhaps, modern dolt that I am, I’m missing that this is all from the spirit that cast him into the desert. Maybe someone in ancient times would have just known this and accepted it without question.


But the point to note is that there is a very big cloud of ambiguity here.  We do not know, really, who Jesus is. We are told that he is the ‘holy one of God’, but what does this title mean? Maybe it’s something I should know, or would know if I were more familiar with the scholarship of First Century Judaism. Maybe it is a synonym for “Messiah”.  But note: aside from the very first line, Mark has not used the term “The Christ” at all. This has just struck me as a tad suspicious.  Paul used the term all the time. Why isn’t Mark? 

To some degree, this goes to, or back to the question of the relationship between Paul and Mark. Was there one? What sort of traditions did Mark inherit that Paul didn’t? We cannot assume that Mark was familiar with Paul, or that the assembly Mark was addressing had the same core beliefs as Paul did. Paul effectively demonstrates that the belief of Jesus as The Christ dates back to the first generation after Jesus. Mark’s reluctance to use the term may–or may not–indicate that this wasn’t as clear for Mark as it had been for Paul.

Because let’s remember that the way Mark tells the story led to the Adoptionist heresy, which held that Jesus was not born divine, and that it was only at his baptism that he became the son of God. Plus, there’s the whole ‘son of man’ thing, and whatever that supposedly means. Bottom line is that the divinity of Jesus is much more ambiguous in Mark than it was in Paul.

Or perhaps not. As Akenson pointed out, Paul was not terribly interested in Jesus; his focus was on The Christ, and, for Paul, Jesus only became the Christ after the Resurrection.  For Matthew and Luke, Jesus was divine at least from birth, and even before that in Luke’s story. Is Mark the transition? The first, or maybe interim, step in moving The Christ back from the Resurrection to the historical Jesus, the step which was completed in Luke and then really stressed in John: In the beginning was the Logos…                 



About James, brother of Jesus

I have a BA from the University of Toronto in Greek and Roman History. For this, I had to learn classical Greek and Latin. In seminar-style classes, we discussed both the meaning of the text and the language. U of T has a great Classics Dept. One of the professors I took a Senior Seminar with is now at Harvard. I started reading the New Testament as a way to brush up on my Greek, and the process grew into this. I plan to comment on as much of the NT as possible, starting with some of Paul's letters. After that, I'll start in on the Gospels, starting with Mark.

Posted on December 22, 2012, in Chapter 1, gospel commentary, gospels, mark's gospel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I think Jesus’ mission here makes much more sense in the context of Daniel-style apocalyptic tradition, rather than in Messianic tradition. The Messianic tradition is looking for the new David to overthrow the Romans, while Daniel-style tradition is looking for the new age of good overthrowing the age of evil. Jesus’ mission is to prepare others for the new age by repenting sins, and his power of authority probably had the tone of a civil defense authority explaining how to survive the hurricane that was bearing down on those who weren’t properly prepared. The unclean spirits are trying to warn those who benefited in the old age that Jesus’ was going to ruin things if they didn’t stop him. Jesus finds the healing a distraction from his real goal, to preach this message of preparation.

  2. Regarding apocalypse: based on this section–and it’s only a section–of the chapter, apocalyptic preaching seems to be a justifiable inference. However, the idea is then pretty much dropped. There are a few scattered references to the return of the (a) son of man, and then there is the apocalypse of Chapter 13. Aside from that, nothing. So if you go by weighted samples, end-times preaching is a very minor aspect of Jesus’ ministry.

    Now, that’s not to say it wasn’t more important when Jesus was alive, and that it became de-emphasized as time passed. There is a very strong sense among the QHJ scholars that, at his ‘root’, or fundamentally an apocalyptic preacher as you suggest.

    Just want to say, though, that the point about the unclean spirits is a good one, and will warrant further discussion. It has been suggested that they were meant to demonstrate that the new kingdom had dawned. At this moment, I’m reserving judgement, other than to say it’s a good point.

    As it turns out, this will be a topic I discuss in the of Chapter 13, and it will be one of the fundamental questions to ask about Mark as a whole. Of course, there may not be a single answer, and this ambiguity is summed up in your distinction between apocalyptic and messianic traditions.

    There is a reason that millions of people the world over follow Jesus and not John. While the latter seemed to incorporate some of the aspects we associate with what became Christianity, in the final analysis John, and Essenes–whether singly or together–were wholly part of the Jewish tradition. Jesus, IMO, represents a new combination of ideas, or ideas imported from pagan thought, or ideas that had penetrated Jewish thought over the three centuries of Graeco-Roman rule that preceded Jesus. So the fact that, up until Jesus, the strands of messianism and apocalyptic thought had been separate, there is no reason that Jesus could not have married the two strands together. Hence, we continue to talk about him, and John is more or less a footnote who would have been forgotten–like so many others–had not he entered the mainline historical stream by appearing in the gospels.

    In short, these interwoven strands are, IMO, the main feature of what became Christianity, and not a defect.

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