Mark Chapter 5:35-44

Chapter 5 concludes with the end of the story of Jairus and his daughter.

35 Ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος ἔρχονται ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀρχισυναγώγου λέγοντες ὅτι Ἡ θυγάτηρ σου ἀπέθανεν: τί ἔτι σκύλλεις τὸν διδάσκαλον;

To him while he was speaking some came from the (home) of the leader of the synagogue, saying that, “Your daughter has died. Why do you trouble the teacher?”

35 Adhuc eo loquente, veniunt ab archisynagogo dicentes: “ Filia tua mortua est; quid ultra vexas magistrum? ”

36 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς παρακούσας τὸν λόγον λαλούμενον λέγει τῷ  ἀρχισυναγώγῳ, Μὴ φοβοῦ, μόνον πίστευε.

Jesus, overhearing, them speaking this word said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Here we go again. At the end of the last post, we saw Jesus tell the woman that her faith had healed her. Now, we’re sort of running into the same theme. I also commented about how unusual it was to have a subplot within another story; now, perhaps, we see the reason. The two stories are related by the need for faith. Surprisingly, to this point, this has not been a big theme for Mark. Why not? Per what we saw in Galatians, faith was the central tenet for Paul; why the downplaying of this so far in Mark? Hint: I will have something more to say about this in the summary of the chapter.

36 Iesus autem, verbo, quod dicebatur, audito, ait archisynagogo: “ Noli timere; tantummodo crede! ”.

37 καὶ οὐκ ἀφῆκεν οὐδένα μετ’ αὐτοῦ συνακολουθῆσαι εἰ μὴ τὸν Πέτρον καὶ  Ἰάκωβον καὶἸωάννην τὸν ἀδελφὸν Ἰακώβου.

And taking no one with him following along except Peter and James and John, the brother of James.

Again, only James, John, and Peter. It’s things like this that really make me question the whole 12 Apostles idea. Maybe there was a band of 12 much of the time, but it’s obvious that these three are really the only ones who matter to Jesus. It’s always these three, Sure, some of the others show up from time to time–Thomas, Judas Iscariot–but they are very much cameo roles. For most of the 12, it’s a one-and-done, walk-on/walk-off performance. It seems likely that an inner council, inner circle, would have a bigger role to play; the fact that they don’t seems to imply that they weren’t all that important to the mission. Yes, this is the argument from silence: assume the negative because there is no positive evidence. And yes, the argument from silence is dangerous for ancient history, given the dearth of sources; but this is a situation where the author can be assumed to have some knowledge. Given that, the fact that he doesn’t present this does carry positive weight as proof of the negative.

That made sense when I wrote it; hope it made sense when it was read..

37 Et non admisit quemquam sequi se nisi Petrum et Iacobum et Ioannem fratrem Iacobi.

38 καὶ ἔρχονται εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ ἀρχισυναγώγου, καὶ θεωρεῖ  θόρυβονκαὶ κλαίοντας καὶ ἀλαλάζοντας πολλά,

And coming to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he then (=kai) he beheld a tumult of much crying and wailing.

<< καὶ >> is a very flexible word. The vast majority of the time, it simply means “and”. However, it can fill a number of other roles; at times, “but” is a proper use, at other times “or” is appropriate. At the bottom, it’s a conjunction, so it can fill pretty much whatever role is needed. Here, “then” is the thing that makes most sense to show that the two clauses are meant to express a single idea.

38 Et veniunt ad domum archisynagogi; et videt tumultum et flentes et eiulantes multum,

39 καὶ εἰσελθὼν λέγει αὐτοῖς, Τί θορυβεῖσθε καὶ κλαίετε; τὸ παιδίον οὐκ ἀπέθανεν ἀλλὰ καθεύδει.

And coming in, he said to them, “Why do you make a tumult and cry? The child did not die, but she sleeps.”

In this case, a comment about the Latin: the last clause, << Puella none est mortua, sed dormit >> is something that I would expect from a first-year Latin student translating into Latin. It’s about as basic as possible, including themortua est“. Which, btw, can be translated as “has not died” as well as “is not dead”. The Greek is specifically the former.

Also btw: << τὸ παιδίον >> is the neuter form. As such, translating as “girl”, which is what the Latin does, is not technically accurate here. Latin, however, does not have a neuter form of “child”. Like most Romance languages, it would default to the masculine when “child, sex non-specified” is meant.

39 Et ingressus ait eis” “Quid turbamnini et ploratis? Puella non est mortua, sed dormit.”

40 καὶ κατεγέλων αὐτοῦ. αὐτὸς δὲ ἐκβαλὼν πάντας παραλαμβάνειτὸν πατέρα τοῦ παιδίου καὶ τὴν μητέρα καὶ τοὺς μετ’ αὐτοῦ, καὶ εἰσπορεύεται ὅπου ἦν τὸ παιδίον:

And they laughed at him. But he threw out everyone, receiving the father of the child and the mother, and those with him, and they went where the child was.

The “threw out” is the same word used back in 1.11 for the spirit throwing Jesus out into the desert. Works rather nicely here.

40 Et irridebant eum. Ipse vero, eiectis omnibus, assumit patrem puellae et matrem et, qui secum erant, et ingreditur, ubi erat puella;

41 καὶ κρατήσας τῆς χειρὸς τοῦ παιδίου λέγει αὐτῇ, Ταλιθα κουμ, ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Τὸ κοράσιον, σοὶ λέγω, ἔγειρε.

And taking the hand of the child, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which is interpreted (as) “Small child, I say to you, get up.”

Now to use the neuter form here, instead of using << κορη>>, the feminine form and a pretty standard word is rather odd. I can see “child” in the other situation, but not here. In fact, a lot of generic statues of young girls are called << κοραι >> which is the feminine plural, and simply means ‘girls’. Could Mark have not known this?

<< Talitha koum >>. This is extremely interesting. The phrase, apparently, is Aramaic, the language that Jesus and Judeans and Galileans spoke in the First Century CE. Mark quotes the original Aramaic, but then feels compelled to translate this for his readers. The inference is that they would not understand the original language, and so Mark had to put this into Greek for them. Here is a really good indication that Mark was not writing for Jews, or residents of Judea.

Mark will do this again, during the passion, when he quotes Jesus on the Cross: “My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?”

41 et tenens manum puellae ait illi: “ Talitha, qum! ” — quod est interpretatum: “ Puella, tibi dico: Surge! ”.

42 καὶ εὐθὺς ἀνέστη τὸ κοράσιον καὶ περιεπάτει, ἦν γὰρ ἐτῶν δώδεκα. καὶ ἐξέστησαν [εὐθὺς]ἐκστάσει μεγάλῃ.

And immediately the young child stood and walked about, she was about 12 years old (lit = of 12 years). And they exulted in a great happiness (lit = ecstasy).

Suddenly, he felt the need to toss out that the girl was 12.

42 Et confestim surrexit puella et ambulabat; erat enim annorum duodecim. Et obstupuerunt continuo stupore magno.

43καὶ διεστείλατο αὐτοῖς πολλὰ ἵνα μηδεὶς γνοῖ τοῦτο, καὶ εἶπεν δοθῆναι αὐτῇ φαγεῖν.

And he ordered them a great deal in order that no one know this, and he told them to give her something to eat.

43 Et praecepit illis vehementer, ut nemo id sciret, et dixit dari illi manducare.

“He told them to get her something to eat.” Another of those fascinating little details that, I suppose, is meant to create the sense of reality. This, along with telling us, belatedly, that she is twelve, certainly gives the feel of a “true” story. Does it mean it’s true? Not necessarily. In fact, these are the sorts of things that I believe makes the story seem made up: seriously, how would this come down through the tradition to reach Mark intact?

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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 17, 2013, in gospel commentary, gospels, mark's gospel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I agree that the detail about the age of the girl is probably just detail added to the story to add realism or validate the witness. I’ve always imagined the Iliad growing with detail as local audiences asked how their local progenitor fit into the story, or asked for the kind of detail that witnesses would know (“what color was his hair?”, someone shouts).

    There is a small possibility there is a hidden meaning, now lost, in the detail that adds important color to the story, where the coming-of-age that a 12-year-old girl might infer, particularly in conjunction with embedded stories that highlight a theme, hemorrhaging, and korai.

    • Yes. I really went back and forth on the age, and I’m still really not sure what I think. I wholeheartedly agree that there could be some hidden implication that is, well, hidden to us. In fact, the way it’s tacked on at the end, more or less as an ‘oh, by the way’ sort of inclines me to believe that Mark added this for a reason.

      However, that being said, I’m coming ’round to the idea that this was, indeed, added later, but probably not by Mark. Rather, this has the feel of a textual insertion by a later editor or copyist.

      Either way, the point remains: legends grow. Perhaps because I’ve been reading about the Arthur legend since I was in grade 6 or thereabouts, I’m conscious of how the legend grew in layers. Or, it’s because we have all of the rough drafts, as it were, that ended up as Malory and then Tennyson. For the Iliad, we only have the finished copy, and more’s the pity. For I’m sure that this, too, grew with time, and the version we got was the one that was the most popular. Beowulf is the same thing, and probably Gilgamesh. Not so with the Aeneid and Paradise Lost. That, in my pet theory, is why the Iliad and Beowulf feel like they’re alive, while the latter two, while majestic, have always felt a bit artificial. So, too, I think, the Jesus legend grew, but we’ll get to that when we commence with Matthew.

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