Mark Chapter 4:13-20

Chapter 3, and the parable of the sower, continues.

13 Καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Οὐκ οἴδατε τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην, καὶ πῶς πάσας τὰς παραβολὰς γνώσεσθε;

And he said to them, “Do you not understand (lit = “know”) this parable?  So how will you understand all the parables?”

13 Et ait illis: “ Nescitis parabolam hanc, et quomodo omnes parabolas cognoscetis?

14 ὁ σπείρων τὸν λόγον σπείρει.

“The sower sows the word. 

14 Qui seminat, verbum seminat.

15 οὗτοι δέ εἰσιν οἱ παρὰ τὴν ὁδὸν ὅπου σπείρεται ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὅταν ἀκούσωσιν εὐθὺς ἔρχεται ὁ Σατανᾶς καὶ αἴρει τὸν λόγον τὸν ἐσπαρμένον εἰς αὐτούς.

“They who are those beside the road where the word is sown, and then they hear it, Satan comes immediately and snatches the word that is germinating among/within them. 

15 Hi autem sunt, qui circa viam, ubi seminatur verbum: et cum audierint, confestim venit Satanas et aufert verbum, quod seminatum est in eos.

16 καὶ οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ  ἐπὶ τὰ πετρώδη σπειρόμενοι, οἳ ὅταν ἀκούσωσιν τὸν λόγον εὐθὺς μετὰ χαρᾶς λαμβάνουσιν αὐτόν,

“And they who are those being sown upon the rocks, when they hear the word they immediately receive it with gladness.

16 Et hi sunt, qui super petrosa seminantur: qui cum audierint verbum, statim cum gaudio accipiunt illud

17 καὶ οὐκ ἔχουσιν ῥίζαν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἀλλὰ πρόσκαιροί εἰσιν: εἶτα γενομένης θλίψεως ἢ διωγμοῦ διὰ τὸν λόγον εὐθὺς σκανδαλίζονται.

“And they do not have roots among themselves but are for-the-moment. When there are difficulties or persecutions they scandalize (i.e. denounce) the word

17 et non habent radicem in se, sed temporales sunt; deinde orta tribulatione vel persecutione propter verbum, confestim scandalizantur.

18 καὶ ἄλλοι εἰσὶν οἱ εἰς τὰς ἀκάνθας σπειρόμενοι: οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ τὸν λόγον ἀκούσαντες,

“And others are those who (are) among the thorns; these are those who hearing the word,

18 Et alii sunt, qui in spinis seminantur: hi sunt, qui verbum audierunt,

19 καὶ αἱ μέριμναι τοῦ αἰῶνος καὶ ἡ ἀπάτη τοῦ πλούτου καὶ αἱ περὶ τὰ λοιπὰ ἐπιθυμίαι εἰσπορευόμεναι συμπνίγουσιν τὸν λόγον, καὶ ἄκαρπος γίνεται.

“But the cares of the age, and the deceitfulness of wealth and the desiring the rest entering choke the work, and it becomes unfruitful.

“Deceitfulness of wealth”…my proletarian sensibilities like to hear things like this. It’s a reminder of the social justice message of Christianity, which is really a continuation of the social justice message of Judaism. Unfortunately, this part of the message gets under-emphasized from time to time. 

19 et aerumnae saeculi et deceptio divitiarum et circa reliqua concupiscentiae introeuntes suffocant verbum, et sine fructu efficitur.

20 καὶ ἐκεῖνοί εἰσινοἱ  ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν τὴν καλὴν σπαρέντες, οἵτινες ἀκούουσιν τὸν λόγον καὶ παραδέχονται καὶ καρποφοροῦσιν ἓν τριάκοντα καὶ ἓν ἑξήκοντα καὶ ἓν ἑκατόν.

And those sown upon good ground are germinated. They hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, in thirty (fold) and in sixty (fold) and in a hundred.

20 Et hi sunt, qui super terram bonam seminati sunt: qui audiunt verbum et suscipiunt et fructificant unum triginta et unum sexaginta et unum centum”.

There’s not a lot to say about this that hasn’t been said. The thing to note, I believe, is just how clever this extended metaphor is. It’s both simple and direct, and at the same time it’s complex and subtle; IOW, it’s a work of real poetry, or perception, or insight. Or all three. This is sort of like a song that you’ve heard so many times that you’ve stopped listening, but then, one day, you hear it again with fresh ears and you realize just how good it was. So it is with this very familiar narrative. We need to recognize that the level of keen understanding of how to reach an audience is probably the sort of thing that set Jesus apart from the rest of the wonder-workers, or wise men, or other religious figures that were out and about in the Eastern Mediterranean at this time. As such, I tend to suspect that this is an “original Jesus”, as it were. There was something especially memorable about him, since it’s him we remember, and not someone else. This is, possibly, what set him apart from even John the Baptist. “Repent” is a great message; but putting it in terms like this is pretty much genius.

So take a moment to appreciate the poetry.

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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 February 1, 2013, in gospel commentary, gospels, mark's gospel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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