Monthly Archives: March 2013

Mark Chapter 7:24-37

This will conclude Chapter 7.

24 Ἐκεῖθεν δὲ ἀναστὰς ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὰ ὅρια Τύρου. καὶ εἰσελθὼν εἰς οἰκίαν οὐδένα ἤθελεν γνῶναι, καὶ οὐκ ἠδυνήθη λαθεῖν:

Then getting up he went to the territory of Tyre (Sidon is not in the Greek, but it is in the Latin). And they entering a house they did not wish anyone to know, and they were not able to escape notice.

Note that this is in the territory of Tyre. Sidon and Tyre were in the heart of Phoenicia; that is, they were not Hebrew/Jewish cities, but settled and populated largely by Gentiles; “Syro-Phoenician” (see below) is a common term for the population and the culture, which was an amalgam of 3,000 years of being an important commercial area.

24 Inde autem surgens abiit in fines Tyri et Sidonis. Et ingressus domum neminem voluit scire et non potuit latere.

25 ἀλλ’ εὐθὺς ἀκούσασα γυνὴ περὶ αὐτοῦ, ἧς εἶχεν τὸ θυγάτριον αὐτῆς πνεῦμα ἀκάθαρτον, ἐλθοῦσα προσέπεσεν πρὸς τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ:

But immediately a woman hearing about him, who had a daughter, her (the daughter) with an unclean spirit, coming (the woman) fell before his feet.

Two things: once again, Jesus’ reputation precedes him. Back in 1:45, we were told, he could not enter a town openly. Here, we are not told explicitly that he went into Tyre; in, fact, we are explicitly told that he only went into the territory of Tyre. Presumably this does not mean the city itself. But, regardless, people hear and they come, even when he tries to stay out of sight.

But doesn’t this make one ask: why does he want to stay hidden? Was not the point to spread the good news? Is he trying for some rest? If so, wouldn’t the wilderness be more effective? These are the sorts of details that, IMO, demonstrate pretty conclusively that we are not dealing with any sort of historical, or even journalistic account. This is hagiography, and the course of events is determined largely by what the narrator wishes to express.

25 Sed statim ut audivit de eo mulier, cuius habebat filia spiritum immundum, veniens procidit ad pedes eius.

26 ἡ δὲ γυνὴ ἦν Ἑλληνίς, Συροφοινίκισσα τῷ γένει: καὶ ἠρώτα αὐτὸν ἵνα τὸ δαιμόνιον ἐκβάλῃ ἐκ τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς.

The woman was Greek, Syro-Phoenician by birth. And she asked him in order that he might cast out the demon from her daughter.

Notice that we are told she was Greek, but also that she was Syro-Phoenician by birth. The latter was her ethnic background; she was Greek because she participated in the general Hellenistic practices of the times. The point is that “Greek” was a way of life, something not necessarily related to what your ethnic background was.

26 Erat autem mulier Graeca, Syrophoenissa genere. Et rogabat eum, ut daemonium eiceret de filia eius.

27 καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτῇ, Ἄφες πρῶτον χορτασθῆναι τὰ τέκνα, οὐ γάρ ἐστιν καλὸν λαβεῖν τὸν ἄρτον τῶν τέκνων καὶ τοῖς κυναρίοις βαλεῖν.

And he said to her, “First allow the children to be satisfied, for it is not good to take the bread from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

This makes no sense. At least, it doesn’t, if you don’t know the slightly longer story in Matthew 15:27. There Jesus tells the woman that he was only sent to the children of Israel; as a Gentile, the implication is that she was the dog, and that he could not take the bread from the children of Israel and toss it before the likes of her.  Not a very nice analogy.

27 Et dicebat illi: “ Sine prius saturari filios; non est enim bonum sumere panem filiorum et mittere catellis ”.

28 ἡ δὲ ἀπεκρίθη καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ, Κύριε, καὶ τὰ κυνάρια ὑποκάτω τῆς τραπέζης ἐσθίουσιν ἀπὸ τῶν ψιχίων τῶν παιδίων.

But she answered and said to him, “Lord, even the dogs under the table (transliterated: trapezoid) eat the crumbs of the children.”

28 At illa respondit et dicit ei: “ Domine, etiam catelli sub mensa comedunt de micis puerorum ”.

29 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ,  Διὰ τοῦτον τὸν λόγον ὕπαγε, ἐξελήλυθεν ἐκ τῆς θυγατρός σου τὸ δαιμόνιον.

And he said to her, “Because of this speech, go, the demon has gone from your daughter.”

This is one of the few times where ‘daimonion’ and ‘unclean spirit’ are equated this explicitly.

<< λόγον>> is a remarkably versatile word. It is, of course, the Logos, as in The Word, as in, “In the beginning was the Word…(Jn 1:1). But it can mean speech, as in ‘deliver a speech’; note that this is rendered in Latin as “sermon”. It can also mean something like ‘thought’ or ‘idea’, and that’s probably the nuance intended here.

One Sunday during a hot summer, we had a guest priest at our church because the rector was away. This–or, the version from Matthew–was the gospel text. I was very much excited that I would hear him speak on the text, because I found it…unsettling. Due to the heat, however, the priest chose not to deliver a sermon. But he did say, “Do you really think that Jesus was not going to do as the woman asked?” In Matthew’s version, he states that he is impressed by her faith. 

I found that a brilliant insight. On the surface, Jesus is being something very close to rude, if not exclusionary, or even bigoted. Underneath it, though, he had the intent of doing as asked. My question, though, is more…stylistic, I suppose. How are we to know why he’s talking about dogs? Can we assume it’s because she’s a Gentile? More, can we assume that the audience would pick up on this as a matter of course?

Maybe. But I sure didn’t. This makes me speculate: perhaps this is how the story came down to Mark; Matthew found it a bit hard to follow, so he added a couple of touches to make it more comprehensible.

29 Et ait illi: “ Propter hunc sermonem vade; exiit daemonium de filia tua ”.

30 καὶ ἀπελθοῦσα εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτῆς εὗρεν τὸ παιδίον βεβλημένον ἐπὶτὴν κλίνην καὶ τὸ δαιμόνιον ἐξεληλυθός.

30 Et cum abisset domum suam, invenit puellam iacentem supra lectum et daemonium exisse.

 31 Καὶ πάλιν ἐξελθὼν ἐκ τῶν ὁρίων Τύρου ἦλθεν διὰ Σιδῶνος εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας ἀνὰ μέσον τῶν ὁρίων Δεκαπόλεως.

And again leaving the territory of Tyre he came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the middle of the territory of the Decapolis.

Travelogue note: Sidon is actually a fair distance to the north of Tyre, which is already north and west of the Sea of Galilee. Going through Sidon to get to the Decapolis means taking a long detour, probably a few day’s journey. To what end? What happened?

And the Decapolis was a group of ten towns (deca-polis) on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. These were also “Greek” towns, at least by culture.

31 Et iterum exiens de finibus Tyri venit per Sidonem ad mare Galilaeae inter medios fines Decapoleos.

32 καὶ φέρουσιν αὐτῷ κωφὸν καὶ μογιλάλον, καὶ παρακαλοῦσιν αὐτὸν ἵνα ἐπιθῇ αὐτῷ τὴν χεῖρα.

And they brought to him a deaf man and unable to speak, and they beseeched him in order that he (Jesus) might lay (his) hands on him (the man).

Just to reinforce: these may well be Gentiles, pagans, rather than Jews; however, unless we’re told, we can’t know for sure. 

32 Et adducunt ei surdum et mutum et deprecantur eum, ut imponat illi manum.

33 καὶ ἀπολαβόμενος αὐτὸν ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄχλου κατ’ ἰδίαν ἔβαλεν τοὺς δακτύλους αὐτοῦ εἰς τὰ ὦτα αὐτοῦ καὶ πτύσας ἥψατο τῆς γλώσσης αὐτοῦ,

And taking him away from the crowd, in private he threw (note!) his fingers into the ears (of the man) and spitting he touched the tongue.

The Greek: the base/root meaning of << ἔβαλεν >> is ‘to throw’, so I have given it the literal translation here. However, this makes little sense here, and it is generally translated as “thrust”. I guess the thinking is that a spear can be thrown, or it can be thrust as it was very often in The Illiad.  In this case, I would generally agree that the consensus translation of ‘thrust’ (or ‘stuck’) is acceptable, since throwing fingers really doesn’t quite work.

Second point: << πτύσας >>   The transliteration would be “ptusas”.  Say this word aloud. then realize it means ‘to spit’ (here, ‘spitting’). I find it to be a real case of onomatopoeia, because if  ‘ptusas’ doesn’t sound like someone spitting, I don’t know what would.

Finally: ‘onomatopoeia’ is itself pretty much Greek. It means, ‘making (its) name’. That is, a word that makes the name of the word. This is a pretty good definition of the word.

Non-Greek: This is, I believe, the only instance of Jesus taking someone out, away from the crowd before performing the healing. Why the need for this? Secondly, its also the first time that Jesus performs any sort of ritual actions: sticking his fingers in the affected ears, spitting and touching the tongue. In other situations, this was not necessary at all. The bleeding woman only had to touch his garment. Why?

My first, but not necessarily the most correct, sense is that this has something to do with the man, and the crowd, being pagan. Robin Lane Fox, in Pagans and Christians, discusses the pagan wonder-workers of the first few centuries CE, that they were not at all uncommon, as even the Christian Apologist writers concede. Is this an instance where Jesus was playing to the expectation of the crowd? That the pagans would have expected some sort of display, so he gave it to them?

I really have no idea if this is anywhere near ‘correct’. First of all because it assumes that the event took place in anything like the form described, which is by no means a given. Or, it could be Mark who wanted to show how Jesus could work with pagans, too. It’s just this is the sort of anomalous situation that requires some explanation. Why is it here? What does it mean?

33 Et apprehendens eum de turba seorsum misit digitos suos in auriculas eius et exspuens tetigit linguam eius

34 καὶ ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν ἐστέναξεν, καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ, Εφφαθα, ὅ ἐστιν, Διανοίχθητι.

And looking towards the sky, he sighed, and he said, “Ephphatha”, which is “Open”.

Once again, Mark needs to translate. But: the looking towards the sky; do we take that as significant? Is he looking up for help? Or power? Or out of veneration?

A word about << τὸν οὐρανὸν >>. This is the word that, eventually, becomes ‘heaven’. As in Pearly Gates, harps, & the works. However, at its root, the word really only means ‘sky’. Here’s the other thing: sometimes, it’s the singular; other times it’s plural, as in ‘the heavens’. The point is that it does not mean ‘heaven’ as we have come to use the word. But modern English does maintain the sense of the plural, as in ‘the heavens’, which is  more or less synonymous with ‘the sky’. So the point is, Jesus was not necessarily looking to “heaven”, but more like to “the sky.” This is a situation similar to “Holy Spirit”, in which a word has become so fraught with implications that it’s hard to step back and see it for what it is. It’s like trying to hear a very old song, very familiar song, one that you’ve heard ten thousand times, with fresh ears.

34 et suspiciens in caelum ingemuit et ait illi: “ Effetha ”, quod est: “ Adaperire ”.

35 καὶ[εὐθέως] ἠνοίγησαν αὐτοῦ αἱ ἀκοαί, καὶ ἐλύθη ὁ δεσμὸς τῆς γλώσσης αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐλάλει ὀρθῶς.

And immediately his ears opened, and the binding of his tongue was loosened, and he spoke correctly.

“And the binding of his tongue was loosened” is a very literal translation. I include this as commentary, rather than as notes on the Greek because it gives, IMO, an insight into the way people perceived the world back in the First Century CE. This indicates, IMO, that the problem was external, that there was some…thing that was interfering with the man’s tongue, effectively tying it down. This ties in well with the whole worldview that saw the world as full of external agents, spirits or demons or whatever. Not that his muteness was caused by a spirit necessarily, but that the cause was, to some degree and in some way, external to the person. This is the sort of worldview that has to be overcome in order to invent modern medicine.

35 Et statim apertae sunt aures eius, et solutum est vinculum linguae eius, et loquebatur recte.

36 καὶ διεστείλατο αὐτοῖς ἵνα μηδενὶ λέγωσιν: ὅσον δὲ αὐτοῖς διεστέλλετο, αὐτοὶ μᾶλλον περισσότερον ἐκήρυσσον.

And he commanded them in order that he not tell anyone; but, however much he commanded, so much more did they proclaim it.

Interesting point: back in V-33, we are told that Jesus took the man away from the crowd and spoke with him in private. Now, we have a plural subject proclaiming the news. Where did these others come from? Were they there all along? Was this the man’s retinue, the group of friends or relatives who brought him to Jesus? The Greek, <<κατ’ ἰδίαν>> could easily include them. It’s just that we have no idea they’re there until now.

36 Et praecepit illis, ne cui dicerent; quanto autem eis praecipiebat, tanto magis plus praedicabant.

37 καὶ ὑπερπερισσῶς ἐξεπλήσσοντο λέγοντες, Καλῶς πάντα πεποίηκεν: καὶ τοὺς κωφοὺς ποιεῖ ἀκούειν καὶ [τοὺς] ἀλάλους λαλεῖν.

And they were even more astonished, saying, “How well he has done all (this), and he makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.

Now the deaf hearing and the mute speaking is an echo of Isaiah. That it’s the crowd saying this sure seems like something a Jewish crowd would say; generally speaking, Gentiles were not all that familiar with Isaiah, or the Hebrew scriptures in general. This is the sort of internal inconsistency that makes it difficult to really weigh out who the audience is here. There were Jews living around the Decapolis, so it’s hardly out of the question that those citing Isaiah were Jewish. It’s just not what we would expect. 

37 Et eo amplius admirabantur dicentes: “ Bene omnia fecit, et surdos facit audire et mutos loqui! ”.

Mark Chapter 7:14-23

Chapter 7 continues.

14 Καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος πάλιν τὸν ὄχλον ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς, Ἀκούσατέ μου πάντες καὶ σύνετε.

And calling the crowd together again he said to them, “Everyone listen to me all understand.”

14 Et advocata iterum turba, dicebat illis: “ Audite me, omnes, et intellegite:

15 οὐδέν ἐστιν ἔξωθεντοῦ ἀνθρώπου εἰσπορευόμενον εἰς αὐτὸν ὃ δύναται κοινῶσαι αὐτόν: ἀλλὰ τὰ ἐκ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐκπορευόμενά ἐστιν τὰ κοινοῦντα τὸν ἄνθρωπον.

(There is) nothing from outside a man having come in to him which is able to commonize (defile/corrupt) him; but the things coming out of a man is the thing commonizing (defiling/corrupting) him.

This is a shot at the Jewish dietary laws. Jesus here is saying, obliquely, that food does not make a person unclean, as opposed to standard Jewish custom. IOW, he is taking Paul’s line and telling his audience that it is not necessary to follow what would come to be called kosher.

The other implication of this is that some sort of actions are expected; this isn’t quite ‘do good works’, but we are told, again obliquely, that the acts or our speech that ‘come out of’ us is how we are shown to be corrupted, or bad, or whatever. No, it’s again important to note that the consequences of bad acts are not spelled out, but then the consequences to the individual for bad acts is a bit hazy in both Jewish and pagan thought of the time. Yes, there was a sense that God or the gods would reward or punish, but it was painfully obvious to anyone who thought about it that the bad often prosper while the good suffer. As a result, both Jewish and pagan thought from maybe the Third Century BCE had begun to move towards a sense of some kind of reward/punishment in the afterlife. But, if that is the context and perhaps the point understood, what happens to the person acting badly is far from clear here.

15 Nihil est extra hominem introiens in eum, quod possit eum coinquinare; sed quae de homine procedunt, illa sunt, quae coinquinant hominem! ”.

16/17  ὅτε εἰσῆλθεν εἰς οἶκον ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄχλου, ἐπηρώτων αὐτὸν οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ τὴν παραβολήν.

{Tr note: there is no V-16 in most editions of the Bible.]

When having gone home from the crowd, the disciples asked him about the parable.

Personally, wouldn’t have thought this qualified as a parable, but who am I to say? And, just to note, ‘parable’ is pretty much the same word as ‘parabola’.

(16) 17 Et cum introisset in domum a turba, interrogabant eum discipuli eius parabolam.

18 καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀσύνετοί ἐστε; οὐ νοεῖτε ὅτι πᾶντὸ ἔξωθεν εἰσπορευόμενον εἰς τὸν ἄνθρωπον οὐ δύναται αὐτὸν κοινῶσαι,

And he said to them, “Are you really this dense (lit = lacking in understanding)? Do you not know that external things going into a man do  not commonize (defile) him, 

This is why I say it’s not much of a parable: rather than explain, as he did about the sower, he simply repeats himself. And I love the ‘Dullards!’ bit. However, we need to sympathize with the dullards here; they must be confused. All their lives, they’ve been scolded into following the dietary restrictions, and, suddenly Jesus says that this is ridiculous, and anyone who doesn’t get this is a dullard.

18 Et ait illis: “ Sic et vos imprudentes estis? Non intellegitis quia omne extrinsecus introiens in hominem non potest eum coinquinare,

19 ὅτι οὐκ εἰσπορεύεται αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν καρδίαν ἀλλ’ εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν, καὶ εἰς τὸν ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκπορεύεται; καθαρίζων πάντα τὰ βρώματα.

that does not go into his heart, but his stomach, and it comes out as excrement? Cleansing all the meats.

This last phrase, for it’s really not a sentence, is a really obvious interpolation. This has all the earmarks of a marginal gloss that eventually got incorporated into the main text after being recopied a few times.

19 quia non introit in cor eius sed in ventrem et in secessum exit? ”, purgans omnes escas.

20 ἔλεγεν δὲ ὅτι Τὸ ἐκ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐκπορευόμενον ἐκεῖνοκοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον:

But he said that, “That coming out of a man defiles the man.”

He was talking about excrement a few lines back, but that’s not what he means here. We are getting into a moral code, or just a code of behavior. Aside from having faith, this is the first real positive example of what we must do. But note that Jesus does not specify what happens if you do follow the moral code. He does not talk about being saved in this context.

20 Dicebat autem: “ Quod de homine exit, illud coinquinat hominem;

21 ἔσωθεν γὰρ ἐκ τῆς καρδίας τῶν ἀνθρώπων οἱ διαλογισμοὶ οἱ κακοὶ ἐκπορεύονται,πορνεῖαι, κλοπαί, φόνοι,

“For coming from within, out of the heart of a man are the evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, 

21 ab intus enim de corde hominum cogitationes malae procedunt, fornicationes, furta, homicidia,

 22 μοιχεῖαι, πλεονεξίαι, πονηρίαι, δόλος, ἀσέλγεια, ὀφθαλμὸς πονηρός,βλασφημία, ὑπερηφανία, ἀφροσύνη:

“adultery, greed, wickedness, guile, lasciviousness, eyes (presumably either evil eye or coveting: eying someone else’s goods), lechery, blasphemy, pride, folly;

We got much the same rundown of the Seven (thirteen, actually) Deadly Sins in Gal 5:19. The lists aren’t exactly the same, but I wouldn’t expect them to be. No doubt each person had his own particular issues or things he wanted to emphasize. However, the fact that both Paul and Mark have such a list is, IMO, very significant. This indicates that this may well have been something the historical Jesus was truly concerned about.

Perhaps especially telling is the fact that fornication makes the top of the list here, where it was only #2 on Paul’s list. However, it’s interesting to note that this is the only occurrence of the word in Mark; it shows up twice in Matthew, not at all in Luke (but thrice in Acts) and once in John. By comparison, it shows up a whole bunch of times in Paul’s various letters.

Here’s a bit of self-confession: one of the reasons I started actually reading the Bible was to sort out where the whole emphasis on sexual purity came from. I had the vague sense that it was St Paul, rather than Jesus, who made such an issue out of it. And it seems that this is, to some degree, borne out. I’m not suggesting that Jesus was a libertine, but he doesn’t seem to be as focused on it as Paul was, and certainly not to the degree the later Church was. Where the word does show up is in a list of major evil acts.

Part of the reason that the subsequent Church became focused on sins of the flesh is due to the background noise of dualistic thought that was permeating the Eastern Mediterranean. The Gnostics were dualists, and most dualists posit the distinction of flesh = bad and spirit = good. We mentioned this a number of times in discussing Galatians. Dualistic thought produced the Gospel of Thomas, so it was one strain among some of the communities of Jesus followers. It may have gone back to Jesus, but, IMO, it seems more likely that it was introduced more by Paul.

Of course, this is a highly contentious statement, but I’ll just leave it as my opinion. Feel free to disagree. Feel free to tell me why you disagree.

22 adulteria, avaritiae, nequitiae, dolus, impudicitia, oculus malus, blasphemia, superbia, stultitia:

23 πάντα ταῦτα τὰ πονηρὰ ἔσωθεν ἐκπορεύεται καὶ κοινοῖ τὸ νἄνθρωπον.

All these sorts of evil things (from) within come out and defile a man.

23 omnia haec mala ab intus procedunt et coinquinant hominem ”.

The conclusion here is that we are on notice that a certain level of conduct is expected. People do bad things. Dietary laws don’t matter; behaving badly does. But, what the consequences of this bad behaviour are, we still have not been told.

Mark Chapter 7:1-13

Updated 

1 Καὶ συνάγονται πρὸς αὐτὸν οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καί τινες τῶν γραμματέων ἐλθόντες ἀπὸ Ἱεροσολύμων

And some (lit = the) Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered together to him, having come from Jerusalem.

It seems the point of this is to tell us that important people in the Capital had taken notice of Jesus, and were curious enough to make the trek out into the hinterlands of Galilee. So this sort of fits in with what Mark tells us about the vast crowds that followed Jesus everywhere.

1 Et conveniunt ad eum pharisaei et quidam de scribis venientes ab Hierosolymis;

2 καὶ ἰδόντες τινὰς τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ ὅτι κοιναῖς χερσίν, τοῦτ’ ἔστιν ἀνίπτοις, ἐσθίουσιν τοὺς ἄρτους

And seeing some of his disciples that with common hands, which is to say ‘unwashed’, they (the disciples) ate bread.

The Greek: << κοιναῖς >> is ‘common’, as in ‘common cold’, or ‘common language’.  It’s also the word used to describe Greek as it became the universal ( = ‘common’) language of the Eastern Mediterranean: κοινη = koine Greek. (final e has e long a sound). Here, though, the idea of ‘common’ is more along the British ‘common’, as in ‘low-born’, or not sophisticated enough to wash their hands before eating like any civilised Jew would do.

2 et cum vidissent quosdam ex discipulis eius communibus manibus, id est non lotis, manducare panes

3 οἱ γὰρ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ πάντες οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι ἐὰν μὴ πυγμῇ νίψωνται τὰς χεῖρας οὐκ ἐσθίουσιν, κρατοῦντες τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων,

For the Pharisees and all Jews, unless they diligently wash their hands, do not eat, holding the traditions of their forebears/elders.

This is telling: Mark feels the need to explain Jewish practice; this is excellent evidence to show that he was not writing for Jews, but for Gentiles.

3 — pharisaei enim et omnes Iudaei, nisi pugillo lavent manus, non manducant, tenentes traditionem seniorum;

4 καὶ ἀπ’ ἀγορᾶς ἐὰν μὴ βαπτίσωνται οὐκ ἐσθίουσιν, καὶ ἄλλα πολλά ἐστιν ἃ παρέλαβον κρατεῖν, βαπτισμοὺς ποτηρίων καὶ ξεστῶν καὶ χαλκίων[καὶ κλινῶν]

And (coming) from the market, unless they baptize (= bathe) they do not eat, and there are many other things which receiving they maintain, baptism ( = washing) of cups and pots and bronze (utensils, or cookware) [ and tables ].

The Greek: this is interesting: ‘baptism’ is sort of, more or less, the standard word for ‘wash’ or ‘bathe’, here even including the notion of washing off tables. I was not aware of this.

This is a big deal.

It would seem that the base or root meaning of ‘baptize’, per Liddell and Scott, is ‘to dip’ or ‘to plunge’. In the passive, it can mean ‘to drown’. The common (here meaning ‘ordinary’, or ‘one most encountered’) came to be something like ‘to be soaked’. Here, the meaning seems to be closer to just plain ‘wash’, as in, ‘washing the dishes’. But given ‘soaked, we can see where The Baptizer came from, but we need to step back from that implication for a moment.

We are so accustomed to thinking of ‘baptism’ as a special thing, set aside from ‘washing’, that it’s good to realize that the word did not necessarily have this implication. In fact, we hear ‘baptism’ and we think ‘ritual’; it’s an automatic association. We imported the word whole into English, simply changing the letters to the Latin alphabet. We did not translate it; we transliterated it. Given our associations, we have to remember that, for the person in the ancient world, hearing ‘baptise’ would have been the same as ‘wash’. Think: “John the Washer”, or “John the Dunker”. Has something of a different implication, doesn’t it?

It’s on a par with ‘sacred breath’.

In fact, I simply assumed (bad idea!) that ‘baptizo’ had a special meaning in Greek as well. Wrong!

Once again, we are given a very sharp lesson in how what ‘everyone knows’ has accumulated and stratified over the past 2,000 years. Which is the motivation and the point of this  entire exercise.

4 et a foro nisi baptizentur, non comedunt; et alia multa sunt, quae acceperunt servanda: baptismata calicum et urceorum et aeramentorum et lectorum —

5 καὶ ἐπερωτῶσιν αὐτὸν οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς, Διὰ τί οὐ περιπατοῦσιν οἱ μαθηταί σου κατὰ τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων, ἀλλὰ κοιναῖς χερσὶν ἐσθίουσιν τὸν ἄρτον;

And the Pharisees and the Scribes asked him, “Because of what do your disciples walking around, against the traditions of the elders/forebears, but with common hands eat the bread?” (= Why do your disciples not wash their hands after going out? Instead of following our customs, why do they eat with unwashed hands?)

5 et interrogant eum pharisaei et scribae: “ Quare discipuli tui non ambulant iuxta traditionem seniorum, sed communibus manibus manducant panem? ”.

6 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Καλῶς ἐπροφήτευσενἨσαΐας περὶ ὑμῶν τῶν ὑποκριτῶν, ὡς γέγραπται [ὅτι] Οὗτος ὁ λαὸς τοῖς χείλεσίνμε τιμᾷ, ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ:

He said to them, “Well (lit = ‘beautifully) did Isaiah prophecy about your hypocrisy, as it is  written [that]:

             This people honors me with the lips, / but their heart is far from me

This last bit of the stanza is interesting. The verb << ἀπέχει >> literally means ‘to hold’, but with the prefix, it is more specifically ‘to hold away (from)’. In English, it would be something like ‘the heart is held’, but the verb here in Greek is active. “Heart” is the subject of the sentence, so more literally in Greek it’s something like “The heart holds away from me”. That does get the sense across, IMO, but it’s rather an oblique usage. In contrast, “the lips” is in the dative (of instrument) in the first part, with “this people” doing the honoring. Nothing that really alters the meaning, but it’s kind of interesting to see how the subject changes in the middle of the sentence, and that it’s the heart that’s doing the ‘holding away (from)’.

For simplicity, I just copied what my crib translations pretty much all say. Again, this has become a convention, even though it’s not exactly true to the original. But it doesn’t really change the meaning significantly.

6 At ille dixit eis: “ Bene prophetavit Isaias de vobis hypocritis, sicut scriptum est:

                 “Populus hic labiis me honorat, / cor autem eorum longe est a me;

7 μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με, διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων.

               In vain they worship me / teaching the teachings (and) commandments of men

7 in vanum autem me colunt / docentes doctrinas praecepta hominum”.

8 ἀφέντες τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ θεοῦ κρατεῖτε τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν ἀνθρώπων.

               Giving up the commandments of God / you hold the traditions of men

Just kind of interesting to note how the person of the subject changed; in V-6 & 7, it’s third person; in V-8, it’s second.

8 Relinquentes mandatum Dei tenetis traditionem hominum ”.

9 Καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς, Καλῶς ἀθετεῖτε τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα τὴν παράδοσιν ὑμῶν στήσητε.

And he said to them, “Well do you reject the command of God, so that you may maintain (lit = stand) your own traditions.” 

Here we have pretty well the first instance where Jesus is doing a Paul and challenging the Jews on their conception and/or practice and/or interpretation of the Law, and what it may mean to be an observant Jew. The word we would expect in Paul would be ‘justification’, but it is not to be found.

Jesus does not necessarily contradict Paul; we had several stories in Chapters 5 and 6 in which faith was rather the sine qua non of being saved. But we discussed how ‘saved’ in the Greek use of the word, meant ‘save a life’; there is no truly real, really concrete evidence to indicate that ‘saving’ had anything to do  with eternal life. So faith is important for Jesus, but he does not really, specifically say how or why, beyond a preservation of the body. At least, he has not said anything yet.

So the point here, IMO, is that Jesus is contrasting his view of Judaism with that of the Pharisees and Scribes. This does not seem to be connected to the idea of faith. Rather, Jesus contends that they follow the precepts and traditions of men, not of God. This means that what they do is not legitimate, or is liable to being superseded by the ‘true’ method, which is actually to follow God’s law. This is not how Paul makes the distinction; his solution is to invalidate the Law–at least, in a sense. Jesus is doing the same thing, but with a different emphasis, or from a different approach. In both cases, we start from the point that the God of the Jews is the One True Living God; the purpose, for both Paul and Jesus, is to prove that the way Judaism was practiced, or the way it was preached, was not the ‘correct’ way. For Paul, this meant to replace the strictures and prohibitions of the Law with Faith in The Christ; For Jesus here, this meant to show that the Pharisees and Scribes did not follow the Law of God, but the traditions of men.

Which of these positions is the more radical? The idea of faith over ritual, IMO. Much ancient religion was concerned with ritual process and procedure. That we are, to some degree, stepping back from Paul’s more extreme position indicates, IMO, that Paul’s position may have been too radical.

Is this why we have two–at least slightly–different approaches? This, I think, is the more useful question. Remember: Paul came first. That needs to be stressed, frequently, because it is too often forgotten in the ‘primacy of the gospels’ attitude. Why didn’t the notion of Faith over the Law catch on? Because it really didn’t, until Martin Luther made this the centerpiece of his new interpretation of the NT. Instead, we got the tenet that the Pharisees misrepresented Judaism, thereby failing to recognize the Messiah when he was in their midst.

9 Et dicebat illis: “ Bene irritum facitis praeceptum Dei, ut traditionem vestram servetis.

10 Μωϋσῆς γὰρ εἶπεν, Τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου καὶ τὴν μητέρα σου, καί, Ὁ κακολογῶν πατέρα ἢ μητέρα θανάτῳ τελευτάτω:

“For Moses said, “Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘the one cursing his father or mother, let him end in death’.”

10 Moyses enim dixit: “Honora patrem tuum et matrem tuam” et: “Qui maledixerit patri aut matri, morte moriatur”;

11 ὑμεῖς δὲ λέγετε, Ἐὰν εἴπῃ ἄνθρωπος τῷ πατρὶ ἢ τῇ μητρί, Κορβᾶν, ὅ ἐστιν, Δῶρον, ὃ ἐὰν ἐξ ἐμοῦ ὠφεληθῇς,

“For you say, ‘if a man might say to his father or to his mother, “Korban”, which is “(it is a) gift”, which is what you may profit from me. “

11 vos autem dicitis: “Si dixerit homo patri aut matri: Corban, quod est donum, quodcumque ex me tibi profuerit”,

12 οὐκέτι ἀφίετε αὐτὸν οὐδὲν ποιῆσαι τῷ πατρὶ ἢ τῇ μητρί,

“No longer do you let him do anything (lit = nothing) for his father and his mother.”

The Greek is kind of odd, and the thought is kind of odd, too. Basically, it seems to say that anyone who gives something as a gift to his parents, but doesn’t give it is not allowed to do anything else for his parents. But who the ‘you’ is that’s not allowing this double-dealer to do anything for his parents after that, is not entirely clear. My thought is that this simply doesn’t really make sense; I say this because the KJV, the NASB, the ESV, and the NIV all give fairly diverse translations for the two verses.

So, once again, it seems, we get a consensus translation. So far, we’ve been relatively free of these here in Mark.

And I’m not entirely sure, but it seems that ‘Korban’ is a Hebrew word. So, again, Mark feels the need to translate the word for a non-Jewish audience. At this point, we have to ask why he’s providing the original Hebrew (or Aramaic, which he has used elsewhere) at all. One supposes that it’s way of lending legitimacy to his story.

*Update*

I came across the term “corban” in Eusebius. It is indeed a Hebrew word, and it refers to an offering that was made to the temple. Here is the explanation from Wikipedia.

…Jesus rebuked some of the Pharisees for their inappropriate position on Korban. Mark Chapter 7, also parallel Matthew Chapter 15. In these passages, Jesus condemned the Pharisees for “…making void the word of God by your tradition…” by violating the Fifth Commandment to <honor your father and mother>, when they rather followed their “traditions”. In the Gospel narrative, the Pharisees were keeping people obligated to their vow once something was set aside as Korban, prohibiting them to use it even in order to attend to the need of the parents. Many modern translations render Matthew 15:6 as if putting aside as Korban exempts people from their filial duty to the parents. Thus, it relieves people of any further responsibility to support their parents, whether it was actually turned over to the Temple treasury, being not important. This line of eisegesis interpretation is easily spotted in many Bible commentaries on this Gospel text….

 Sometimes one doesn’t know enough to realize just how clueless one is! But seriously, this is why history is best written by someone with some background into the time period.

12 ultra non permittitis ei facere quidquam patri aut matri

13 ἀκυροῦντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ παραδόσει ὑμῶν ἧ παρεδώκατε: καὶ παρόμοια τοιαῦτα πολλὰ ποιεῖτε.

Having annulled the word of God by your tradition, which you have transmitted (= handed down) , and you have done many, many such other things. 

The Greek: << παρόμοια τοιαῦτα πολλὰ >> both mean ‘many’. So Jesus is really, really emphasizing that the Pharisees have gone wrong many, many times.

So again, Jewish practice has been relegated to the status of ‘rules of men’ and mere ‘tradition’ (stop thinking about Tevye…) It is no longer the right way to be justified by the One True Living God (OTLG.)

What is interesting is that, so far, Mark has not given us much instruction on what it to replace it. At least, not yet.

note: I do not mean to be facetious, let alone sacrilegious by abbreviating OTLG. We are not theologians here. Rather, we’re engaged in the history of theology, which is a very different thing. As such, OTLG became a formulation, a way of thinking about the various divine, or at least supernatural beings that Jews and Gentiles and (eventually) Christians fully believed were real. The concept of the OTLG drastically separated Jews and subsequent Christians from the huge mass of pagans, who constituted upwards of 98% of the population of the Roman world at the time. Serious Greeks, by Plato’s day, had evolved into a de facto monotheism, but it was still highly qualified.

13 rescindentes verbum Dei per traditionem vestram, quam tradidistis; et similia huiusmodi multa facitis ”.

Mark Chapter 6 Summary

So what do we have?

There is a lot in this chapter, but I’m not sure it can be summarized thematically, or that there is a unifying theme. However, such “literary” (using the term loosely) considerations are not necessarily my strong suit. Here’s what we have by topic:

Jesus in his home town; his family & siblings (named); cannot perform miracles because ‘a prophet is without honor in his own land’

The sending of the 12; the paradigm “apostolic poverty” is set

The inset story of the death of John the Baptist

The return of the 12 (very, very brief)

Feeding the 5,000

Walking on the water

Healing in Gennesaret

Is there any kind of unifying theme in there? Has there been theme in any of the chapters we’ve read?  I believe the answers are “no” and “no”. Does that mean this is all random? Again, “no”.

We start off with Jesus’ rejection in his home town; we see several examples of Jesus revealing who he really is; we end with the adulation of him in Genessaret, which had to be rather off the beaten path of the heart of Jewish culture and observance. IOW, Gennesaret is the refutation of the rejection in the home town.

Moreover, not only was Jesus rejected in his home town, but even those closest to him, his disciples, don’t quite get it, and Mark states this explicitly. They were terrified of Jesus walking on the water because they had not understood the meaning of the loaves and fishes. IOW, they did not see the full implications of  what Jesus had done. In one commentary on Mark that I read, the author states that, “they thought that they had just seen another wonder” performed. As if, wonder-working were a common thing.

But, according to Pagans & Christians (R L Fox), it was a fairly common thing in those days, among Jews and pagans alike. So the disciples could not see beyond ‘mere wonder-working’ to the fact that Jesus was feeding the Israelites in the desert with manna from heaven. The demon cast out in Chapter 1 knew who Jesus was–the holy one of God–but, still, the disciples and those in his home town, sadly, did not. Mark’s audience can perhaps enjoy a bit of a guilty pleasure, of schadenfreude at the disciples’ expense: those dullards didn’t get it, but you (the audience) do.

To put this into a bit of context: circulating through the Mediterranean World at the time were “mystery religions”. The worship of the Egyptian goddess Isis was one of the more popular, but the Athenians had a home-grown version in the Eleusinian Mysteries. There was no great ‘mystery’ to these ‘mysteries’; the term meant only that there was a part of the ritual that was only witnessed by those initiated to the rites. And the secret of the mystery was not revealed to outsiders. The Eleusinian Mysteries were so successful at maintaining the secrecy that we have no idea what the mystery was.

Christianity is often described as “another mystery religion”, and this description is not inaccurate. The sharing of the Eucharistic meal was the mystery in which only those initiated took part.

Given this general context, and because we in the audience are in on the secret of the loaves and fishes, because there is a secret, we have stepped into that penumbra of beliefs that led to Gnosticism. Recall that many would date the Gospel of Thomas to something around the same time as Mark; that it had clear Gnostic overtones demonstrates how a lot of different currents of Jesus belief were flowing through the world at the time. They coexisted, they sometimes reinforced and sometimes repelled each other. Eventually they separated irrevocably, if not permanently.

I’m not going to revisit John the Baptist, but a final word (for the moment) about the 12. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul recounts those to whom Jesus appeared after the Resurrection. First to Peter, the 12, to James (brother of Jesus), then to all the Apostles. I won’t get into this fully, since 1 Corinthians will be our next text, but this clearly states that there were more than 12 Apostles. In fact, the 12 are not even called apostles at all. In the discussion, I wondered why Mark even bothered to mention this. My guess is that this was a fairly well-known part of the Jesus story; as a result, Mark may have felt somewhat compelled to include it.

Mark Chapter 6:45-55

And this brings us to the conclusion to Chapter 6. It was rather a long one, but nothing compared to the length of  some of the chapters in Matthew!

45 Καὶ εὐθὺς ἠνάγκασεν τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ ἐμβῆναι εἰς τὸ πλοῖον καὶ προάγειν εἰς τὸ πέραν πρὸς Βηθσαϊδάν, ἕως αὐτὸς ἀπολύει τὸν ὄχλον.

And immediately, he ordered his disciples to embark on the boat, and to proceed to the shore near Bethsaida, while he himself dismissed the crowd.

First, note that it’s “immediately”. Something of a sense of urgency. Seems a bit overdone. Second, Jesus sent his disciples on ahead of him. Why would he do that? Seriously. Why? Perhaps I smell another literary device?

45 Et statim coegit discipulos suos ascendere navem, ut praecederent trans fretum ad Bethsaidam, dum ipse dimitteret populum.

46 καὶ ἀποταξάμενος αὐτοῖς ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸ ὄρος προσεύξασθαι.

And having abandoning (= leaving) them, he went to the mountain to pray.

Note on the Greek: In addition to the standard active and passive voices, Greek has something that’s sort of half-way in between, called, logically enough the Middle Voice. Perhaps the best sense of this is to relate it to the reflexive verbs that both French and Spanish (and other Romance languages?) have. Here, the “to pray” is the middle-voice infinitive, indicating not that Jesus prayed, or that he was prayed, but that his prayer reflected back on himself in some way. Perhaps, “he went to pray to soothe his soul”, or something such.

46 Et cum dimisisset eos, abiit in montem orare.

47 καὶ ὀψίας γενομένης ἦν τὸ πλοῖον ἐν μέσῳ τῆς θαλάσσης, καὶ αὐτὸς μόνος ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς.

And it having become evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and he was alone upon the land.

47 Et cum sero factum esset, erat navis in medio mari, et ipse solus in terra.

48 καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτοὺς βασανιζομένους ἐν τῷ ἐλαύνειν, ἦν γὰρ ὁ ἄνεμος ἐναντίος αὐτοῖς, περὶ τετάρτην φυλακὴν τῆς νυκτὸς ἔρχεται πρὸς αὐτοὺς περιπατῶν ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης: καὶ ἤθελεν παρελθεῖν αὐτούς.

And he saw them being tortured in the propulsion (having difficulty with the rowing), for there was a wind against them, and around the third watch of the night he went to them walking upon the water; for he wished to approach them.

Here’s a situation in which it’s best not to examine this too closely, because there is no way I can make sense of all this. First, he sees them struggling with the oars, after it’s become evening. How far away was he?  Granted, he was on the mountain, so his range of sight would presumably be extended to some degree. But then, it had become evening, so how much light was there? Second, we are suddenly in the third watch of the night. Just as the day was divided into 12 hours, the night was divided into 4 watches; so each was about 3 hours long at the Equinox. (Note: the hours and watches expanded and contracted as the days got longer and shorter). So we’re coming into the fourth watch, which would take us to dawn. IOW, it’s the middle of the night. And now Jesus, walking, is able to overtake the boat.

Now, of course, if he were a divine being, none of this would be outside Jesus’ capability. Ergo, the implication to be drawn is that Jesus was a divine being.

Finally, note how the praying worked to keep him on shore,while everyone else was in the boat. Hence, I referred to the praying by himself as a literary/plot device.

48 Et videns eos laborantes in remigando, erat enim ventus contrarius eis, circa quartam vigiliam noctis venit ad eos ambulans super mare et volebat praeterire eos.

49 οἱ δὲ ἰδόντες αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης περιπατοῦντα ἔδοξαν ὅτι φάντασμά ἐστιν, καὶ ἀνέκραξαν:

They, seeing him walking on the sea, believed that he was a phantasm, and they cried out:

This is interesting: a phantasm, which is a directly transliteration of the Greek: the same sounds, but written in the English vs the Greek alphabet. Here, and in the corresponding version of Matthew, are the only instances of this in the NT. What does it mean here?

This is a good question. It’s not exactly a common word among classical writers,either. Spirit; apparition; phantasm = phantom…The idea is a non-corporeal figure. I mention this because our idea of ghosts is a fairly recent invention. I ran into some discussion about how the ghosts of  Banquo or Hamlet’s father would have been understood by the contemporary audience. The author was arguing that they would have been seen as demons by the Elizabethans, rather than as the spirits of the departed as we understand the term. Think of the incident of Saul and the Witch of Endor: was it Samuel? Or a demon in the form of Samuel? 

49 At illi, ut viderunt eum ambulantem super mare, putaverunt phantasma esse et exclamaverunt;

50 πάντες γὰρ αὐτὸν εἶδον καὶ ἐταράχθησαν. ὁ δὲ εὐθὺς ἐλάλησεν μετ’ αὐτῶν, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Θαρσεῖτε, ἐγώ εἰμι: μὴ φοβεῖσθε.

For they all saw him and they were disturbed. But he immediately spoke with them, and he said to them, “Take heart! It is I. Do not be afraid.”

Jesus calms the disciples; it is indeed he, and not something else. There are numerous points in mark where the disciples are unbelievably thick about figuring out what is going on, and this is one of the lesser ones. Here, in the middle of the night, fighting a storm, seeing something walking on the water, we can perhaps forgive them for being a bit obtuse.

50 omnes enim eum viderunt et conturbati sunt. Statim autem locutus est cum eis et dicit illis: “ Confidite, ego sum; nolite timere! ”.

51 καὶ ἀνέβη πρὸς αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ πλοῖον, καὶ ἐκόπασεν ὁ ἄνεμος. καὶ λίαν [ἐκ περισσοῦ] ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἐξίσταντο,

And he came up towards them in the boat, and the wind ceased and they were very much  [beyond measure ] astonished amongst themselves.

The KJV is the only one of my crib translations that includes the [ἐκ περισσοῦ]. This would seem to indicate that this is in older versions, but more recent scholarship has decided does not belong.

51 Et ascendit ad illos in navem, et cessavit ventus. Et valde nimis intra se stupebant;

52 οὐ γὰρ συνῆκαν ἐπὶ τοῖς ἄρτοις, ἀλλ’ ἦν αὐτῶν ἡ καρδία πεπωρωμένη.

For they had not understood about the bread, but the heart (singular) of them (plural; = their collective heart) had been hardened.

The whole hardened heart thing has always perplexed me. “Their collective heart had been hardened”. It’s in the passive in Greek, too, which means that someone or something was the agent, the one actually performing the action. Who? In Exodus, we are told that Pharaoh’s heart had been hardened as well, meaning that God was making Pharaoh do something, and then God would subsequently punish Pharaoh for what God had compelled him to do. That always struck me as rather unjust. I make you do something, then blame you for doing it.

So, here, how is it that the disciples are responsible for not understanding if some outside agent (God/Jesus, presumably) is responsible for the lack of understanding? Here, the disciples are, to some extent, held up to reproach for their lack of understanding. The dullards!

And the God/Jesus thing is interesting, too. Is Jesus responsible? If Jesus = God, as John says, then the answer is “yes”. But do we have the sense here that God and Jesus are the same entity? I would say we don’t. If so, how is it that Jesus is divine, and can feed in the wilderness, walk on water, and calm the storm? The first and third are clearly the province of divinity. But if he is not responsible for the hardened heart because Jesus <=> God, then how is Jesus divine? Was he adopted in some sense at the baptism? How does that work? How does he become divine, since he presumably becomes divine.

Saying this, I realize there is no necessary correlation between Jesus not being responsible, which means he is not the same as God (certainly not in the later sense of the Trinity), and so he became divine in some way. However, that is the most compact explanation. Otherwise, we’re off into whether Jesus was like an angel or some such tangent of speculation.

52 non enim intellexerant de panibus, sed erat cor illorum obcaecatum.

53 Καὶ διαπεράσαντες ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ἦλθονεἰς Γεννησαρὲτ καὶ προσωρμίσθησαν.

And having passed over (the sea) it was in/to the land of Gennesaret and they drew up on shore.

Not entirely sure what, or how much, to make of this, but here goes. From Caphernaum, Bethsaida and Gennesaret are in opposite directions, and each is some distance from Caphernaum. In V-45, we were told that they were heading to the shore around Bethsaida. We do not know, exactly, from where they started, so it’s certainly possible that they went towards  Bethsaida and then went past, went past Caphernaum, and continued on to Gennesaret. The latter is on the east side of the lake, along with the land of the Gerasene demonaic, while Bethsaida is on the west shore. Jesus spent more time on this western shore; it’s the area of the Decapolis, of Tiberias, of Sidon & Tyre. Caphernaum is, more or less, at the northernmost point of the sea.

Yes, you can make it work out, but it’s not entirely obvious how it works. 

53 Et cum transfretassent in terram, pervenerunt Gennesaret et applicuerunt.

54 καὶ ἐξελθόντων αὐτῶν ἐκ τοῦ πλοίου εὐθὺς ἐπιγνόντες αὐτὸν

And they (=Jesus & co.) coming out of the boat immediately those recognizing him

This is kind of interesting: he’s recognised even over here. Word of him did travel.

54 Cumque egressi essent de navi, continuo cognoverunt eum

55 περιέδραμον ὅλην τὴν χώραν ἐκείνην καὶ ἤρξαντο ἐπὶ τοῖς κραβάττοις τοὺς κακῶς ἔχοντας περιφέρειν ὅπου ἤκουον ὅτι ἐστίν.

ran from all over that country and they began upon litters/mats (= stretchers) to bring those having evils (= diseases/illness) when they heard where he was.

55 et percurrentes universam regionem illam coeperunt in grabatis eos, qui se male habebant, circumferre, ubi audiebant eum esse.

56 καὶ ὅπου ἂν εἰσεπορεύετο εἰς κώμας ἢ εἰς πόλεις ἢ εἰς ἀγροὺς ἐν ταῖς ἀγοραῖς ἐτίθεσαν τοὺς ἀσθενοῦντας, καὶ παρεκάλουν αὐτὸν ἵνα κἂν τοῦ κρασπέδου τοῦ ἱματίου αὐτοῦ ἅψωνται: καὶ ὅσοι ἂν ἥψαντο αὐτοῦ ἐσῴζοντο.

And when he entered into villages or cities or the fields, in the marketplaces they placed those being sick (lit = ‘weak’, or ‘weakened’) and they called on (begged; beseeched) him in order that the hem of his cloak to touch; and whoever touched this (part) of him, they were saved.

56 Et quocumque introibat in vicos aut in civitates vel in villas, in plateis ponebant infirmos; et deprecabantur eum, ut vel fimbriam vestimenti eius tangerent; et, quotquot tangebant eum, salvi fiebant.

<< ἐσῴζοντο >> means ‘saved’. We discussed this word before, back in the story of the bleeding woman. The root or base meaning is to save, especially as in to save someone’s life. Here, where we are dealing with those made weak by disease, saving someone’s life in a literal, non-metaphorical sense is completely appropriate. Now, talking about ‘being saved’ in a Christian context, the world has an entirely other set of implications; however, in the situations where Mark has used this so far, we can take this to refer to our physical, temporal life. We have not quite loosened ourselves from the world.

More, checking back, I notice that we did not encounter the word in either of Paul’s letters. He did use it, in the more metaphorical sense, in 1 Corinthians. This means that, by the time Mark and the other evangelists wrote, the word had taken on the metaphorical, if not metaphysical dimensions that we understand when Christians speak of ‘being saved’. 

So the question becomes: why does Mark use the word in so mundane a fashion? Sure, we can read lots of stuff into ‘being saved’, but the point is that these implications do not exist in the words as we are reading them. Sure, you can argue this, but in any commonsense, face-value reading–which means not reading 2,000 years of Christian exegesis into the word whenever it occurs–it is apparent and even obvious that Mark does not mean ‘eternal life’ here. Perhaps it is present in the story of the bleeding woman; it is at least potentially appropriate in that story, and the story of Jairus, since both hinge upon the faith of the recipients of Jesus’ ministrations. In this story, OTOH, the latitude for interpretation isn’t nearly so wide.

Mark Chapter 6:30-44

This takes us to the story of the feeding of the 5,000.

30 Καὶ συνάγονται οἱ ἀπόστολοι πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν, καὶ ἀπήγγειλαν αὐτῷ πάντα ὅσα ἐποίησαν καὶ ὅσα ἐδίδαξαν.

And the apostles gathered with Jesus, and they related to him all those things which they did and such things as they taught.

As mentioned, the 12 were sent out before the story of the Baptist, and they come back now, providing no sense of elapsed time. What this reminds me of is the band playing for an audience during a commercial break on live TV. Jesus is backstage, or whatever, and someone comes out and tells us about John. The thing is, the sending and the return is handled in pretty much two sentences. They went out; they came back and reported.

This is so brief as to enter the realm of  “why bother?” We are given no real information about how long they were gone, what they did or taught, or even who they were. 

That “the apostles” were those “those sent out” is a tautology; it’s the Greek vs. the literal English translation. So our tendency to see “apostles” as the inner circle is almost a contradiction of terms. They can’t be the inner circle because they’ve been sent out.

30 Et convenientes apostoli ad Iesum renuntiaverunt illi omnia, quae egerant et docuerant.

31 καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Δεῦτε ὑμεῖς αὐτοὶ κατ’ἰδίαν εἰς ἔρημον τόπον καὶ ἀναπαύσασθε ὀλίγον. ἦσαν γὰρ οἱ ἐρχόμενοι καὶ οἱ ὑπάγοντες πολλοί, καὶ οὐδὲ φαγεῖν εὐκαίρουν.

And he said to them, “You follow by yourselves to a desert place and rest a little (literally: a little). For there were many coming and going, and there was no opportunity to eat.

Of some literary interest is the idea of not having time to eat. This was also used back in 3:20. There is no real significance to this, but it’s just to note that Mark uses this as a literary convention, as an indication of how hectic things were around Jesus.

31 Et ait illis: “ Venite vos ipsi seorsum in desertum locum et requiescite pusillum ”. Erant enim, qui veniebant et redibant, multi, et nec manducandi spatium habebant.

32 καὶ ἀπῆλθον ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ εἰς ἔρημον τόπον κατ’ ἰδίαν.

And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.

On one level, this almost doesn’t make sense: why does Jesus want to escape the crowd? Isn’t that the purpose of his mission? We are told it’s to give the apostles (unnamed and unnumbered) a bit of respite, which is plausible, but I suspect this has more of a literary role.

32 Et abierunt in navi in desertum locum seorsum.

33 καὶ εἶδον αὐτοὺς ὑπάγοντας καὶ ἐπέγνωσαν πολλοί, καὶ πεζῇ ἀπὸ πασῶν τῶν πόλεων συνέδραμον ἐκεῖ καὶ προῆλθοναὐτούς. And (people?) saw them going, and many recognized them, and by foot from all the towns ran with them there and came to them.

33 Et viderunt eos abeuntes et cognoverunt multi; et pedestre de omnibus civitatibus concurrerunt illuc et praevenerunt eos.

34 καὶ ἐξελθὼν εἶδεν πολὺν ὄχλον, καὶ ἐσπλαγχνίσθη ἐπ’ αὐτοὺς ὅτι ἦσαν ὡς πρόβατα μὴ ἔχοντα ποιμένα, καὶ ἤρξατο διδάσκειν αὐτοὺς πολλά.

And now the crowd follows him to a “desert place”; this is, I believe, a deliberate echo of how the crowds went out to John the Baptist from all over Judea. My suspicion, or my sense of the text, is that Mark used this literary ploy of escaping to the deserted spot as a means of consciously evoking the Baptist, thereby showing how Jesus was his spiritual heir and successor. This, especially given that the story of John’s execution concluded a few verses ago.

And coming out, they saw a large crowd, he took pity on them that they were as sheep not having a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.

This is the first use of the shepherd metaphor. It does not come to full fruition as the parable of the Good Shepherd until we get to Luke. So there’s a good example of how a given theme developed. I will discuss this  more when I get to Luke [apt to be a while! : D ], but the story of Jesus was not at all static, nor was it coherent or consistent. It became static sometime in the third or early fourth century when the canon of the NT was set, but a glance at the Gospel of Thomas will give you a really good indication of the range of perspectives on Jesus.

34 Et exiens vidit multam turbam et misertus est super eos, quia erant sicut oves non habentes pastorem, et coepit docere illos multa.

35 Καὶ ἤδη ὥρας πολλῆς γενομένης προσελθόντες αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἔλεγον ὅτι Ἔρημός ἐστιν ὁ τόπος, καὶ ἤδη ὥρα πολλή:

And when it having become many hours (when it was late in the day), his disciples coming to him said that, “This is a desert(ed) place, and already there are many hours.” (= it’s late )

As you can perhaps tell from my translation, << ἤδη ὥρας πολλῆς >> literally means “when it was many hours.” This peculiar way of saying “it’s late” is a function of the way time was measured in the Roman world. You will note in other instances, we are told that “when it became evening…” which, IIRC, is more closely attuned to the Greek, or perhaps the Near Eastern sensibility. The Romans, however, had a different method. The Roman day started at 6:00 am. That was the first hour, Then, each subsequent hour was the second, third, fourth, etc. They had, essentially, a 24-hour day, so that it got late as the hours piled up and there were “many hours”, say, twelve of them, which would be 6:00 pm.

Also, note that this is the third time we are told that this is a desert/deserted place. Which = ‘wilderness’. In one one of my secondary sources, Christian Beginnings and the Dead Sea Scrolls, there is a rather lengthy discusus on the role of the wilderness in Hebrew/Judaic thought. John came from the wilderness; Jesus claimed John’s mantle by going into the wilderness, here we are in the wilderness…all of this hearkens back to the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. Really, it goes back to Cain and Abel–the myth, not the actual duo. The Semites were, largely, nomadic herders; the Canaanites they despised and supposedly displaced were settled farmers. So, throughout the OT and the NT, there is the tension between the much more ascetic sensibility of the nomad as compared to the fleshpot cities of the farmers, with their orgies masquerading as fertility cults. So in Hebrew/Judaic myth, wilderness = good; cities = bad. A gross oversimplification, but this is a blog post and not an academic paper!

35 Et cum iam hora multa facta esset, accesserunt discipuli eius dicentes: “ Desertus est locus hic, et hora iam est multa;

36 ἀπόλυσον αὐτούς, ἵνα ἀπελθόντες εἰς τοὺς κύκλῳ ἀγροὺς καὶ κώμας ἀγοράσωσιν ἑαυτοῖς τί φάγωσιν.

Send them away, so that going away to the surrounding country ( lit = fields ) and villages they can buy themselves something they may eat.”

36 dimitte illos, ut euntes in villas et vicos in circuitu emant sibi, quod manducent ”.

37 ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Δότε αὐτοῖς ὑμεῖς φαγεῖν. καὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ, Ἀπελθόντες ἀγοράσωμεν δηναρίων διακοσίων ἄρτους καὶ δώσομεν αὐτοῖς φαγεῖν;

But he answering said to them, “You give them (something) to eat.” And they said to him, “Going out (how) will we buy two hundred denarii of bread and (how) will we give to them (this) to eat?”

As you can probably see, the Greek is just way more elegant than what I  can put into English w/0 doing serious harm to the original syntax. Recall, on of the the points of this exercise is to be something of a crib sheet for anyone wishing to work through NT Greek.

I’m sorry, but this is very obviously a literary ploy. We have the disciples–and note that they are now called ‘disciples’ again. There is no mention of ‘apostles’ any more–telling Jesus, then Jesus telling the disciples. It all seems like a dramatic (in the sense of stage-directions in a drama) set up for the climax.

37 Respondens autem ait illis: “ Date illis vos manducare ”. Et dicunt ei: “ Euntes emamus denariis ducentis panes et dabimus eis manducare? ”.

38 ὁ δὲ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Πόσους ἄρτους ἔχετε; ὑπάγετε ἴδετε. καὶ γνόντες λέγουσιν, Πέντε, καὶ δύο ἰχθύας.

And he said to them, “How many loaves of bread do you have? Go (and) see”. And, discovering, they said, “Five (loaves) and two fish.”

38 Et dicit eis: “ Quot panes habetis? Ite, videte ”. Et cum cognovissent, dicunt: “ Quinque et duos pisces ”.

39 καὶ ἐπέταξεν αὐτοῖς ἀνακλῖναι πάντας συμπόσια συμπόσια ἐπὶ τῷ χλωρῷ χόρτῳ.

And he told them to all recline group by group on the green grass.

“The green grass”…nice touch of detail.

39 Et praecepit illis, ut accumbere facerent omnes secundum contubernia super viride fenum.

40 καὶ ἀνέπεσαν πρασιαὶ πρασιαὶ κατὰ ἑκατὸν καὶ κατὰ πεντήκοντα.

And they sat down rank by rank, in ranks of one hundred and of  fifty.

Comments at the end.

40 Et discubuerunt secundum areas per centenos et per quinquagenos.

41 καὶ λαβὼν τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εὐλόγησεν καὶ κατέκλασεν τοὺς ἄρτους καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς [αὐτοῦ] ἵνα παρατιθῶσιν αὐτοῖς, καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας ἐμέρισεν πᾶσιν.

And receiving the five loaves and two fish, raising them to the sky he blessed (them) and he broke the loaves and he gave (them) to (his) disciples so that they might set (the food) before them (the people), and he divided the two fish among all.

41 Et acceptis quinque panibus et duobus piscibus, intuens in caelum benedixit et fregit panes et dabat discipulis suis, ut ponerent ante eos; et duos pisces divisit omnibus.

42 καὶ ἔφαγον πάντες καὶ ἐχορτάσθησαν:

And all ate and were satisfied.

42 Et manducaverunt omnes et saturati sunt;

43 καὶ ἦραν κλάσματα δώδεκα κοφίνων πληρώματα καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν ἰχθύων.

And there were twelve baskets of fragments full and (also) of the fish.

Not only was there enough, there was food left over.

43 et sustulerunt fragmenta duodecim cophinos plenos, et de piscibus.

44καὶ ἦσαν οἱ φαγόντες [τοὺς ἄρτους] πεντακισχίλιοι ἄνδρες.

And there were five thousand male bread-eaters.

44 Et erant, qui manducaverunt panes, quinque milia virorum.

OK. The people were fed in the wilderness by the actions of Jesus. The symbolism and the references are very clear. This is a re-enactment of the feeding of the Israelites by manna in the desert. The point of all of this is that Jesus is perfectly capable of caring for the entire group, numbering 5,000 men and additional women and children. This has only happened once before in Israel/Judah’s history: during the Exodus from Egypt. The implications of this story could not be more clear.

Compare this with the story at the beginning of the chapter, when Jesus was unable to work any miracles because of the lack of faith of those in his home town. This is most likely meant to be a compare and contrast situation, where here there is, seemingly, no limit on what Jesus can do. The people of his home town did not believe in him, but the expression of his power or his authority here are unmistakable. And note that there is no mention of faith, as was the prerequisite for the bleeding woman and Jairus. Or, is the reference and analogy to the sheep and shepherd sufficient to indicate the absolute faith they put in Jesus: like the faith the sheep have for the shepherd? This is, it seems. at best, implicit; however, IMO, we cannot discount that it may have been understood like this by Mark’s audience. 

But note how skillfully it was done: Jesus takes pity on them as sheep without a shepherd. Then he steps in and acts as shepherd. The subtlety of the storytelling is wonderful. We understand that Jesus is the shepherd without ever being told explicitly. Not until Luke would this have be made explicit.

Mark Chapter 6:17-29

Chapter 6 continues with the story of the (spoiler alert!) death of the Baptist. It has more text than the previous post, but I suspect this will not require too much comment.

17 Αὐτὸς γὰρ ὁ Ἡρῴδης ἀποστείλας ἐκράτησεν τὸν Ἰωάννην καὶ ἔδησεν αὐτὸν ἐν φυλακῇ διὰ Ἡρῳδιάδατὴν γυναῖκα Φιλίππου τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ, ὅτι αὐτὴν ἐγάμησεν:

For this Herod sent for and arrested (lit = took into his power, or ‘overpowered’) John and he locked him under guard on account of Herodias, the woman (= wife) of Philip his (Herod’s) brother, because he  (Herod) married her.

17 Ipse enim Herodes misit ac tenuit Ioannem et vinxit eum in carcere propter Herodiadem uxorem Philippi fratris sui, quia duxerat eam.

18 ἔλεγεν γὰρ ὁ Ἰωάννης τῷ Ἡρῴδῃ ὅτι Οὐκ ἔξεστίν σοι ἔχειν τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου.

For John said to Herod that, “It is not allowed to you to have the wife of your brother.”

This is exactly the point that Henry VIII made when he wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon. She had been married to his brother, who then died. Henry was eager to marry her himself, but then started looking for a way to get out of the marriage when she failed to produce a male heir.

18 Dicebat enim Ioannes Herodi: “ Non licet tibi habere uxorem fratris tui ”.

19 ἡ δὲ Ἡρῳδιὰς ἐνεῖχεν αὐτῷ καὶ ἤθελεν αὐτὸν ἀποκτεῖναι, καὶ οὐκ ἠδύνατο:

So Herodias had a quarrel with him (John) and (she) wished to kill him, but was not able.

Presumably, she has a quarrel about what John was saying about the marriage.

19 Herodias autem insidiabatur illi et volebat occidere eum nec poterat:

20 ὁ γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ἐφοβεῖτο τὸν Ἰωάννην, εἰδὼς αὐτὸν ἄνδρα δίκαιον καὶ ἅγιον, καὶ συνετήρει αὐτόν, καὶ ἀκούσας αὐτοῦ πολλὰ ἠπόρει, καὶ ἡδέως αὐτοῦ ἤκουεν.

For Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous man and holy, and he imprisoned him, and hearing him (John) he (Herod) was much puzzled, but he (Herod) listened with pleasure.  

Herod is conflicted. He is disturbed by what John says, but, as a Jew, he recognizes the propriety and the righteousness of it, so he listens willingly.

20 Herodes enim metuebat Ioannem, sciens eum virum iustum et sanctum, et custodiebat eum, et, audito eo, multum haesitabat et libenter eum audiebat.

21 Καὶ γενομένης ἡμέρας εὐκαίρου ὅτε Ἡρῴδης τοῖς γενεσίοις αὐτοῦ δεῖπνον ἐποίησεν τοῖς μεγιστᾶσιν αὐτοῦ καὶ τοῖς χιλιάρχοις καὶ τοῖς πρώτοις τῆς Γαλιλαίας,

And it became an opportune day that Herod was on his birthday he gave a banquet for the big standers (notables/nobles) and for the army commanders and the leading (citizens) of Galilee.

21 Et cum dies opportunus accidisset, quo Herodes natali suo cenam fecit principibus suis et tribunis et primis Galilaeae,

22 καὶ εἰσελθούσης τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτοῦ Ἡρῳδιάδος καὶ ὀρχησαμένης, ἤρεσεν τῷ Ἡρῴδῃ καὶ τοῖς συνανακειμένοις. εἶπεν ὁ βασιλεὺς τῷ κορασίῳ, Αἴτησόν με ὃ ἐὰν θέλῃς, καὶ δώσω σοι:

And the daughter of Herodias herself  coming and dancing, she pleased Herod and those reclining with him, the king said to the girl, “Ask me for what you wish, and I will give (it) to you.”

22 cumque introisset filia ipsius Herodiadis et saltasset, placuit Herodi simulque recumbentibus. Rex ait puellae: “ Pete a me, quod vis, et dabo tibi ”.

23 καὶ ὤμοσεν αὐτῇ [πολλά], Ο τι ἐάν με αἰτήσῃς δώσω σοι ἕως ἡμίσους τῆς βασιλείας μου.

And he swore much to her, “What you may ask me for I will give you until half of my kingdom.”

“Swearing” here means making oaths that he will do as he says. “I swear I’ll give you half my kingdom…”

23 Et iuravit illi multum: “ Quidquid petieris a me, dabo tibi, usque ad dimidium regni mei ”.

24 καὶ ἐξελθοῦσα εἶπεν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς, Τί αἰτήσωμαι; ἡ δὲ εἶπεν, Τὴν κεφαλὴν Ἰωάννου τοῦ βαπτίζοντος.

And going out she said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She (Herodias) said to her, “The head of John the Baptist.”

24 Quae cum exisset, dixit matri suae: “ Quid petam? ”. At illa dixit: “ Caput Ioannis Baptistae ”. 

25 καὶ εἰσελθοῦσα εὐθὺς μετὰ σπουδῆς πρὸς τὸν βασιλέα ᾐτή σατο λέγουσα, Θέλω ἵνα ἐξαυτῆς δῷς μοι ἐπὶ πίνακι τὴν κεφαλὴν Ἰωάννου τοῦ βαπτιστοῦ.

And immediately with haste  coming in to the king, she asked, saying, “I want so that you may give to me upon a plate the head of John the Baptist.”

25 Cumque introisset statim cum festinatione ad regem, petivit dicens: “ Volo ut protinus des mihi in disco caput Ioannis Baptistae ”.

26 καὶ περίλυπος γενόμενος ὁ βασιλεὺς διὰ τοὺς ὅρκους καὶ τοὺς ἀνακειμένους οὐκ ἠθέλησεν ἀθετῆσαι αὐτήν:

And the king was stricken because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to refuse her.

26 Et contristatus rex, propter iusiurandum et propter recumbentes noluit eam decipere;

27 καὶ εὐθὺς ἀποστείλας ὁ βασιλεὺς σπεκουλάτορα ἐπέταξεν ἐνέγκαι τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ. καὶ ἀπελθὼν ἀπεκεφάλισεν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ

And immediately the king having sent for the executioner ordered him to bring his (John’s) head.  And going out (he) beheaded him in the prison.  

27 et statim misso spiculatore rex praecepit afferri caput eius. Et abiens decollavit eum in carcere

28 καὶ ἤνεγκεν τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ πίνακι καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῷ κορασίῳ, καὶ τὸ κοράσιον ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς.

And he brought his head upon a plate and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother.

28 et attulit caput eius in disco; et dedit illud puellae, et puella dedit illud matri suae.

29 καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἦλθον καὶ ἦραν τὸ πτῶμα αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔθηκαν αὐτὸ ἐν μνημείῳ.

And hearing, his (John’s) disciples came and took up the corpse and took it to a tomb.

29 Quo audito, discipuli eius venerunt et tulerunt corpus eius et posuerunt illud in monumento.

OK. This is another of Mark’s long, set-piece stories. These are definitely a feature of this gospel. I don’t recall noticing that the Matthew or Luke do this in the way, or to the extent that Mark does; however, I am more–much more–familiar with Mark than I am with the other two. It would be interesting to know the provenance of these stories; did Mark compose them, or just set them down? I’m not sure what the consensus is on this is.

Interestingly enough, the historian Josephus, a Jew who lived  in the First Century and wrote a history of the Revolt of 67-70 corroborates much of this story. He doesn’t provide all of the details about Herodias’ daughter dancing, and her asking for John’s head, but he does corroborate that Herod both feared and respected John, and that he ordered John’s execution. Josephus also corroborates that John did, in fact, baptize people, but says that the act was to provide final purification of the body, the soul having previously been purified prior to that by way of righteous living. 

One thing: I have found it all too common that any corroboration of any part of anything in the Bible leads to the conclusion that the whole story, even the whole book, has been corroborated. For example, reference to the house of David proves that there was a David, and he was some sort of notable, but it does not imply the whole story of the kingship, the Twelve Tribes, Solomon, the two kingdoms, etc. So with John: he was a baptizer, who was executed by Herod because the latter suspected the former might cause political unrest. But this does not demonstrate any relationship between John and Jesus, or say anything about Jesus at all. So, we take what we get, and don’t try to make it into more than it is.

As to whether this Josephus mentioned Jesus, the answer, IMO, is ‘probably not.’ There is a very small section on Jesus, but much, if not all of it really feels like an interpolation. In fact, it feels like several layers of interpolation, so I personally don’t have a whole lot of confidence that it records anything like what Josephus wrote, if he wrote anything at all about Jesus.

Mark Chapter 6:7-16

We’re coming up on a long story about John the Baptist, with a short preface about the sending out of the twelve. This is much too long for a single post, but it was difficult to break; as a result, the second part will be a bit longer than the first.

7 καὶ προσκαλεῖται τοὺς δώδεκα, καὶ ἤρξατο αὐτοὺς ἀποστέλλειν δύο δύο, καὶ ἐδίδου αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τῶν πνευμάτων τῶν ἀκαθάρτων:

And he called to him the twelve, and he began to send them out two-by-two, and he gave to them the authority over (lit = ‘of’) unclean spirits.

First the Greek.  <<  ἀποστέλλειν >> which is the verb “to send out” is transliterated as “apostellein”. The origin of “apostle” is pretty clear. We are used to thinking in terms of a gradation difference between an “apostle” and a “disciple”, the former being of a higher level than the latter. However, the original distinction is functional: apostles were sent out to expel demons. Disciples followed Jesus around and learned. Now, you are not going to send out people who are not competent for the job, so there is some legitimacy to the whole gradation idea. But we do not know who the apostles were; we are not told.

Why are we specifically told that he gave to them the authority to cast out demons? There is altogether too much made of demons (= unclean spirits) in this tale. I can assure you that Graeco-Roman authors did not go on and on about unclean (or any kind, really) of spirits. Now, maybe that’s because I’ve read primarily historical works, of men (always men) with pretensions. But even Josephus, who was Jewish and lived a decent chunk of his live in Judea/Palestine does not really mention demons.

I’ve spoken rather facetiously, on more than one occasion, about the epidemic of unclean spirits that had First Century Judea in its grip, but, really, what else are we to conclude? Why is it not mentioned that they were given power (rather than authority) over diseases? To make the blind see, and the lame walk, and to cleanse lepers? Jesus has performed feats such as those a couple of times already. But even Jesus is primarily about expelling demons. We had the first time in the synagogue, the Legion story, and three or four mentions in passing about expelling demons.

Why?

In the QHJ literature, I came across discussions about whether Jesus’ authority over demons was meant to indicate the eschaton, the coming End Times. It has been argued that the emphasis on demons is evidence that Jesus was, primarily, about the End Times; that was the purpose of his mission, and that is why so much is made of demons. I’m beginning to think there might be something to this.

In the last section I posed the rhetorical question about whether Jesus should be seen primarily as a preacher of End Times, to which Jesus-as-wisdom-teacher was added, or vice-versa. I tend to suspect so. The wisdom teacher aspect got more of the emphasis once two generations had passed, and most of Jesus’ immediate associates were dead, and the Temple and Jerusalem had been destroyed, and the End Times still had not come. This was, I suspect, embarrassing to a degree. So we started to get the other stories, Jesus’ pithy aphorisms, etc. But buried rocks of the End Times story remained: the emphasis on demons being one of the most prominent.

Another question is why the Twelve are given “authority” rather than “power”, << ἐξουσία >> as opposed to <<δύναμις>>.  The latter is the word used in 5.30, when the “power” went out of him to heal the bleeding woman. Of course, on some level, this is a distinction without a difference: the upshot is that they can expel demons; but on another level, it is legitimate to ask why a different word is used. My impression, based on numerous years in the corporate America is that you can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate innate power. That is, a charismatic leader can give authority to a subordinate to make decisions, but the leader cannot delegate her/his charismatic power, because that is innate to the leader.

If this is correct, what does this say about Jesus and his innate capability? Does this give any insight into his divinity? I tend to suspect it does. If Jesus is divine, he should be able to give power, and not simply grant authority. But, maybe that’s reading too much into this.

Then there is the whole notion of the Twelve. The QHJ literature, and stuff written about Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls talk about the 12 as representative of all Israel: the Twelve Tribes. But symbol of Twelve more basic: it is the Zodiac. For those unfamiliar with astronomy, the Zodiac are the twelve constellations that serve as the backdrop or background for the rising sun. In April, the sun is in front of Aries when it rises; in October, Libra is behind the sun. Astronomical observation went way back in Near Eastern history, to allow the powers that be to predict the annual floods of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The Hebrews spent time in Babylon, which was a center for astronomical science. “Twelve” was a number shared by many, many cultures.

And it’s interesting how Mark sets this up: he has Jesus sends out the twelve; then we go to John the Baptist, then the twelve return at the end of that story. Were Peter and James and John sent out? If so, what did Jesus do in the meantime? If not, the same question.

7 Et convocat Duodecim et coepit eos mittere binos et dabat illis potestatem in spiritus immundos;

8 καὶ παρήγγειλεν αὐτοῖς ἵνα μηδὲν αἴρωσιν εἰς ὁδὸν εἰ μὴ ῥάβδον μόνον, μὴ ἄρτον, μὴ πήραν, μὴ εἰς τὴν ζώνην χαλκόν,

And he instructed them in order that they take nothing on the road except for a stick only; they (were not to take) bread, nor bag, nor money in their belt.

8 et praecepit eis, ne quid tollerent in via nisi virgam tantum: non panem, non peram neque in zona aes,

9 ἀλλὰ ὑπο δεδεμένους σανδάλια καὶ μὴ ἐνδύσησθε δύο χιτῶνας.

But having bound on sandals and they were not allowed two tunics.

For both 8 & 9: here is the foundation for what became known as ‘apostolic poverty’. They were to take nothing. The idea is that God would provide. Or is it? 

9 sed ut calcearentur sandaliis et ne induerentur duabus tunicis.

10 καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς, Οπου ἐὰν εἰσέλθητε εἰς οἰκίαν, ἐκεῖ μένετε ἕως ἂν ἐξέλθητε ἐκεῖθεν.

And he said to them, ‘Where you may come into a house, there remain until you leave that place”.

Translator’s note: “place could probably be more idiomatically translated as “town”.  However, the root meaning of the word is generic.

10 Et dicebat eis: “ Quocumque introieritis in domum, illic manete, donec exeatis inde.

11 καὶ ὃς ἂν τόπος μὴ δέξηται ὑμᾶς μηδὲ ἀκούσωσιν ὑμῶν, ἐκπορευόμενοι ἐκεῖθεν ἐκτινάξατε τὸν χοῦντὸν ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν ὑμῶν εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς.

“And whichever place (= “town” again) does not receive you, nor listen to you, going out of there shake the dust from off your feet as witness to them.”

I found the Latin word for “dust” to be amusing.  << pulverem >>, as in “stuff having been pulverized.” Ah, the simple pleasures one gets by being a Classics nerd.

11 Et quicumque locus non receperit vos nec audierint vos, exeuntes inde excutite pulverem de pedibus vestris in testimonium illis ”.

12 Καὶ ἐξελθόντες ἐκήρυξαν ἵνα μετανοῶσιν,

“And leaving, preach in order that they may repent,”

Not sure if this is a comment on the Greek or on the text. But it comes down to how this affected the development of doctrine in the Western Church, so I’ll use this format.  << μετανοῶσιν >> here is an intransitive verb. “Repent”, or “be penitent” would catch the sense. It’s what the Baptist urged back at the beginning of Chapter 1. However, the Latin is rendered as << paenitentiam agerent >>, which is a transitive verb, most literally meaning “do penance”. “Penance” is a direct object.  The difference is perhaps best summed by the choice between “change your attitude” as contrasted with  “pay a fine.”

The first describes an internal process; the second an outward act that does not necessarily require a change of heart. From my studies of the Reformation, the realization that the original does not say “do penance” was a very big deal. I have the sense that the “mistranslation” of the Greek into “do penance” occurred somewhere else as well, in a more pivotal location. Perhaps I’ll run across this as we progress.

One of the most egregious sins of the Roman Church in the eyes of the reformers–the Protestants–was the insistence on “doing penance”, especially as it came to be practised in the sale and purchase of indulgences. This is an outward act that requires no internal change on the part of the sinner. This seemed bad enough when everyone was working from the Latin, but once it was realized that the underlying Greek had a very different sense, the reformers really went ballistic. They were thus convinced that the Church of Rome had become like the Pharisees as portrayed in the Gospels: adhering to the letter, but not the spirit, of Jesus’ message.

12 Et exeuntes praedicaverunt, ut paenitentiam agerent;

13 καὶ δαιμόνια πολλὰ ἐξέβαλλον, καὶ ἤλειφον ἐλαίῳ πολλοὺς ἀρρώστους καὶ ἐθεράπευον.

And they cast out many demons, and they anointed with oil many being sick and they healed (them).

“Many demons”. Once again, the demon epidemic. I’m becoming increasingly convinced that these demon references do indeed have some “further” meaning beyond the obvious that people had demons. I think that Jesus’ power over demons is indicative of eschatology. People are possessed; Jesus could expel the demons, and, moreover, could grant this authority to others. The time was turning.

Also, the anointing is a new twist. Jesus has not anointed anyone in order to heal them. He simply heals them. So what is the significance of this? Is it significant? Given that Mark tells us this explicitly, one assumes it is significant, but how or why is a much more difficult question, and I’m not sure I can answer it. I can speculate, but that’s about all. At this point, though, I believe that it’s important to recognize the need to ask.

13 et daemonia multa eiciebant et ungebant oleo multos aegrotos et sanabant.

14 Καὶ ἤκουσεν ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἡρῴδης, φανερὸν γὰρ ἐγένετο τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔλεγον ὅτι Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτίζων ἐγήγερται ἐκ νεκρῶν, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ἐνεργοῦσιν αἱ δυνάμεις ἐν αὐτῷ.

And King Herod heard, for his (Jesus’) name became apparent (=known) to him (Herod), and he said that “John the Baptizing has been raised from the dead and because of this his (John’s) powers are operating in him (Jesus, who = the risen John).

If I’m reading this right, the implication here is that John was also able to a)expel demons; b) heal the sick; or c) do both.  This is a logical inference, since the activities Herod heard about led him to conclude, or believe, or worry that John had been raised since John’s powers  (and it’s powers) are once again operating. Now, that John had such powers is news to us; there has been no hint of this previously; we were told only that John preached repentance and baptized.

The second point here is the voice of the verb “to be raised”. As with Paul in Galatians when he said that Jesus was raised from the dead by God, we are told that John was raised, by actor unnamed, but presumably God. Now, the question is whether this is something Herod (or anyone of the time) would have actually thought of as a possibility, or if this is something the evangelist put into the mouth of Herod in light of Jesus having been raised from the dead. Or, the third possibility is that someone would think in terms of someone coming back from the dead, but only metaphorically. Given that  in the next verse, and again in Mk 8.28,  people saying that Jesus is Elijah returned, perhaps it’s best not to read too much into this, that the meaning is more metaphorical than literal.

14 Et audivit Herodes rex; manifestum enim factum est nomen eius. Et dicebant: “ Ioannes Baptista resurrexit a mortuis, et propterea inoperantur virtutes in illo ”.

15 ἄλλοι δὲ ἔλεγον ὅτι Ἠλίας ἐστίν: ἄλλοι δὲ ἔλεγον ὅτι προφήτης ὡς εἷς τῶν προφητῶν.

But others said that he was Elijah; but others said that he is a prophet, as one of the prophets (presumably, a ‘prophet of old’, as it were).

There’s a point in here somewhere, but not entirely sure what it is exactly.

15 Alii autem dicebant: “ Elias est ”. Alii vero dicebant: “ Propheta est, quasi unus ex prophetis ”.

16 ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ Ἡρῴδης ἔλεγεν, Ὃν ἐγὼ ἀπεκεφάλισα Ἰωάννην, οὗτος ἠγέρθη.

Hearing this, Herod said, “I am (lit = I am being) the one having beheaded (literally) John, he has been raised.”

The interesting point here, IMO, is that the Greek once again says “has been raised”, while the Latin puts it into active voice, so that it says “John has resurrected”, as in, “he has done this himself”. Maybe that is just some quirk of Latin, but I would like to see the argument for this. So, once again, some slippage between the Greek text, and the text that the Western Church would use for the next thousand years.

16 Quo audito, Herodes aiebat: “ Quem ego decollavi Ioannem, hic resurrexit! ”.

Overall, there was a lot of stuff packed into a fairly short section.

Mark Chapter 6:1-6

Chapter 6 begins with a fairly short piece about how one cannot go home again. Had this section been included in Chapter 5, then Chapter 5 would be my all-time favorite gospel chapter.

1 Καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἐκεῖθεν, καὶ ἔρχεται εἰς τὴν πατρίδα αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἀκολουθοῦσιν αὐτῷοἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ.

And he went away from where he was and came to his home town, and his disciples followed him there.

I suppose that this puts a pretty good stake through the heart of my hypothesis that Jesus actually grew up in Caphernaum. This is an excellent example of why it’s a good idea to assemble all relevant facts before spouting off with a half-baked idea. The real clincher is that Mary and the rest of his family–brothers and sisters-without-names– still live there.

That being said, consider this: Mark does not specify that Jesus homeland is Nazareth. He does not name the town. And recall how, back at the end of Chapter 3, Mary and Jesus’ siblings came to retrieve Jesus when he was saying some outrageous stuff? At the time, I noted that Nazareth is a pretty good hike from Caphernaum; that it would take most of a day for news of Jesus’ activities to reach Mary in Nazareth, and then for the whole crew to (presumably) walk to Caphernaum. So, the point is, Jesus may not have lived in Caphernaum as I’ve suggested, but this in no way demonstrates that he grew up in Nazareth. Both Nazareth and Bethlehem could easily have been worked into the story so that certain OT prophecies could be shown to point to Jesus. I suspect that is what happened.

1 Et egressus est inde et venit in patriam suam, et sequuntur il lum discipuli sui.

2 καὶ γενομένου σαββάτου ἤρξατο διδάσκειν ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ: καὶ πολλοὶ ἀκούοντες ἐξεπλήσσοντο λέγοντες, Πόθεν τούτῳ ταῦτα, καὶ τίς ἡ σοφία ἡ δοθεῖσα τούτῳ καὶ αἱ δυνάμεις τοιαῦται διὰ τῶν χειρῶν αὐτοῦ γινόμεναι;

And it having become the Sabbath, he began to teach in the synagogue; and many hearing were astonished, saying, “From where did these things come to him, and what is this wisdom having been given to him, and (whence) did such powerful  works happen through his hand?”

On the one hand: They are astonished, just as the folks in Caphernaum had been (Mk 1.27, using the same word for “astonish”); OTOH, they don’t believe him capable of such teaching, or such works of power; on the third hand, they are backhandedly acknowledging–to us as well as themselves–that he had performed wonders.

2 Et facto sabbato, coepit in synagoga docere; et multi audientes admirabantur dicentes: “ Unde huic haec, et quae est sapientia, quae data est illi, et virtutes tales, quae per manus eius efficiuntur?

3 οὐχ οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τέκτων, ὁ υἱὸς τῆς Μαρίας καὶ ἀδελφὸς Ἰακώβου καὶ Ἰωσῆτος καὶ Ἰούδα καὶ  Σίμωνος; καὶ οὐκ εἰσὶν αἱ ἀδελφαὶ αὐτοῦ ὧδε πρὸς ἡμᾶς; καὶ ἐσκανδαλίζοντο ἐν αὐτῷ.

Is he not the the craftsman, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Josetis and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters not with us?”  And they were scandalized by him.

First, << τέκτων >> can mean carpenter, any worker in wood, and craftsman in general.  This refers to Jesus.  Then he is referred to as the “son of Mary”, which is highly unusual. Generally, a person, but especially a man, was known as the son of someone. This tendency transcends Semitic practice; at a basic level, it was a way to distinguish two men named William. One was “John’s son” and the other was “William’s son.” These patronymics eventually became surnames in the English world: Johnson, which got abbreviated as Jones; Williamson, which got shorted to Williams (or Stevens, or Davidson which became Davison and then Davis…The Mc/Mac and O’ prefixes served the same function in the Celtic world of the British Isles, as did the Fitz prefix which was a Norman import into Ireland.)

We do not have female equivalents. There is no “Maryson”, but there is “Josephson” in the English-speaking world.

The fact that Jesus here is identified as “son of Mary” has led some to conclude, or at least speculate, that he was illegitimate.  H.D. Kitto, in a wonderful (but dated) little book called “The Greeks” put it like this in the Greek world. You traced your father back as far as you could, at which point you posited descent from a divine father. “He was the son of a god” is just a more polite way of saying, “who his father was, god only knows.”

Of course, against this, one could argue that, perhaps, Joseph had been dead a long time, so that he was largely forgotton, and it became easier to refer to Jesus as the son of Mary because everyone knew who Mary was since she was alive and kicking. However: to make this argument viable, one would have to demonstrate that using a matronymic (to coin a phrase?) was a not uncommon practice. Proof would consist of other textual examples. Perhaps this has been done; perhaps it hasn’t.

Personally, I’m not inclined to consider this as necessarily indicating illegitimacy. It could be that Joseph was not Jesus’ father, despite being Mary’s husband. Think of the story in Matthew, in which Joseph found out she was already with child, even though he had not had marital relations with her. We will talk more about that when the time comes, but this sounds like a case of “who Jesus’ father was, god only knows”. One could argue that the designation of Jesus’ brothers here indicates full-brothers, but I’m not sure that such distinctions were made back in the day. That a brother was the product of a common parent, but not necessarily of two common parents. This would depend to a degree on when Hebrews gave up the practice of polygamy.

But then, why does Mark not mention Joseph? Was he not important to the story? And then, why did Matthew bring him in? Did Matthew have access to a more local source, that recalled Joseph’s name? Or did Matthew just create a lineage for Jesus, and invent the whole story of how Mary was pregnant before Joseph could possibly have been the faather?

What this does, is get us to the idea of the Virgin Birth. As we saw, Mark provides no birth narrative. There is no suggestion, anywhere in Mark, of the virgin birth. And yet, Matthew is very specific about this. Why the discrepancy? As I noted, Mark tells us that the Good News begins with the baptism by John. The implication is that whatever came before is not part of the Good News (= eu-angelion = evangelist = gospel). This would necessarily include any birth narrative, including the virgin birth. This leads us to the conclusion that Mark may not have considered Jesus to be of divine birth, but that he was adopted by God at the baptism. That the baptism amounted to the anointing of Jesus as the Messiah. As mentioned, there was a school of thought, later deemed heretical, that believed exactly that. They were, logically, called Adoptionists. In addition, there are additional ways in Mark in which he indicates that Jesus was not God’s son in the sense that he was “conceived by the Holy Spirit”.

 Note here that Jesus has siblings. And they are named, which adds a level of credibility to the story. And, despite the virgin birth, Matthew repeats the names of the siblings (Mt 13:54-58). But it is more appropriate to leave discussion of Matthew for when we get to Matthew. There are significant theological–and other–questions to be addressed there.

 3 Nonne iste est faber, filius Mariae et frater Iacobi et Iosetis et Iudae et Simonis? Et nonne sorores eius hic nobiscum sunt? ”. Et scandalizabantur in illo.

4 καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι Οὐκ ἔστιν προφήτης ἄτιμος εἰ μὴ ἐν τῇ πατρίδι αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τοῖς συγγενεῦσιν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳαὐτοῦ.

And Jesus said to them that, “Is not a prophet without honor in his home land, and among his kinsmen, and in his own home.”

Sort of like saying ‘no man is a hero to his valet’. (I Googled this; the attribution is not entirely clear, but it seems to be traced to a certain Madame Cornuel. I had thought it was Wellington or Marlborough, or some other British general.)

4 Et dicebat eis Iesus: “ Non est propheta sine honore nisi in patria sua et in cognatione sua et in domo sua”.

5 καὶ οὐκ ἐδύνατο ἐκεῖ ποιῆσαι οὐδεμίαν δύναμιν, εἰ μὴ ὀλίγοις ἀρρώστοις ἐπιθεὶς τὰς χεῖρας ἐθεράπευσεν:

And he was not able to perform any wonder/miracle, except he healed a few diseased persons by laying hands upon them.

Whoa. Take a step back and think about that one. If 6:1-6 had been part of Chapter 5, all of my favorite bits of Mark–and possibly the NT–would have been contained in a single chapter. This is, perhaps, the pièce de résistance.

“He was not able”. What this says to me is that the power–which ‘went out of him’ to cure the bleeding woman in the last chapter–was not simply at his command. The implication of this, of course, is that Jesus, in some meaningful way,  is not fully God. There is nothing in the OT about God needing any sort of anything to, oh, let’s say, create the entire universe ex nihilo.

This is the sort of thing that bolsters the Adoptionist argument: Jesus was a man chosen by God to become the messiah. And, oddly enough, the term “messiah” (the Christ) does not occur in Mark until Chapter 8. Yes, it’s in 1.1, but those sorts of introductory sentences are easily tacked on at some later date. There is another instance at 1.34 that is not in all textual traditions; in fact, the KJV does not include the term “the Christ”.  After this, it occurs five more times, once each in chapters 8, 9, 12, 13, and 14. We will look at each instance in context when we get there, but this paucity of use sure seems to indicate that Jesus as the Christ was not a central concept in this gospel. In contrast, it occurs four times in the first chapter alone of Matthew.

Although, interestingly, after another occurrence in Chapter 2 of Matthew, the term disappears until Chapter 11. A similar pattern occurs in Luke; however, I don’t think Luke can be considered a source distinct from Matthew. What this “hollow center of the narrative” seems to indicate, IMO, is that there were two pieces of Jesus legend that sort of got pasted together. There was the earlier piece, of Jesus’ earlier ministry in which he was primarily portrayed as a wisdom teacher, and then another, in which he was the Messiah. The first part would have much of his teaching, including things like the Sermon on the Mount, while the second is the eschatology leading to his death and eventual resurrection. That is, from the beginning, there was a divided opinion about who, exactly, Jesus was.

Now here is where it’s very important to recall that Paul was written earlier than any of the gospels. Given the situation described above, my inclination as historian would be to see the earlier, more simple narrative as the base level: Jesus as wisdom teacher. Then, onto this, we got Jesus the Christ grafted on. But, Paul stresses the latter aspect and pretty much ignores the former. Now, given that Paul wrote a generation after Jesus, it would seem that the later part would have come first, and the earlier ministry would not have been recalled–or invented–until later.

This hits at the heart of the Quest for the Historical Jesus (QHJ): who did Jesus think he was? Did he see himself as a wisdom teacher? Or as a preacher of eschatology? Given Paul, the latter seems more likely. At first glance, it seems to makes sense that the simpler narrative of wisdom teacher would be the base, and the eschatology would be the graft. BUT: really, I would infer and argue that Jesus was a preacher of End Times; and that the End Times were upon us. Paul seems to expect the Second Coming momentarily. Then, when this didn’t happen, Jesus as the wisdom teacher was recalled, given emphasis, or invented.

This is something that has pretty much just occurred to me; I reserve the right to revise the hypothesis as more evidence comes forth. But, that’s how learning according to the scientific method is supposed to work. Evidence >>> hypothesis; new evidence >>> revised (or strengthened) hypothesis. Given that it’s history, we can never be sure we’ve ‘proven’ a position.

The Greek: << δύναμις >> is rendered in Latin as << virtus >>. The root meaning of the Greek word is “power”, in the sense of  “ability”. The first three letters << δύν- >> form the root of the basic word for “to be able”.  You can see this in << ἐδύνατο >>, “he was not able”. The Latin is obviously the root of our term “virtue”, but the stem << vir- >>, which is the Latin for “man”, specifically as in our concept of a “manly man” rather than the more generic idea of just some fellow. What these two concept have in common is the concept of ‘power’, as in ‘capability’. The root of our word for “miracle” is the Latin << miraculum >>, for which the German-based “wonder” is a good translation.

The point is that the concept as expressed in Greek and even in Latin, is very different from the concept of either “miracle” or “wonder”, which are essentially synonyms as far as the Latin and German roots are concerned. That << virtus >>later became “miraculum” >> “miracle” is a bit of a wonder. I’d be hard-pressed to explain this off the top of my head.

5 Et non poterat ibi virtutem ullam facere, nisi paucos infirmos impositis manibus curavit;

6 καὶ ἐθαύμαζεν διὰ τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν. Καὶ περιῆγεν τὰς κώμας κύκλῳ διδάσκων.

And he was amazed, on account of their faithlessness. And he walked around the surrounding towns teaching.

Here we pretty much get back on track with the message of the bleeding woman and the daughter of Jairus. In both those cases, that they believed was critical; it was, in fact, necessary. And here it appears to be necessary again. IOW, wonders/miracles/power cannot be effected unless the recipient/beneficiary of the event believe.

And, as we noted before, this is fully consistent with what Paul told us in Galatians: faith is what matters.
6 et mirabatur propter incredulitatem eorum. Et circumibat castella in circuitu docens.