Mark Chapter 14:66-72

This will conclude a very long Chapter 14. Unlike the two previous sections, this one is fairly short, covering only Peter’s denial. I don’t think I’ll have much to say, but then I always think that. I had assumed (!) that the Passion story would not have a large amount of content that would require content. Guess I was wrong.

66 Καὶ ὄντος τοῦ Πέτρου κάτω ἐν τῇ αὐλῇ ἔρχεται μία τῶν παιδισκῶν τοῦ ἀρχιερέως,

And Peter being in the courtyard, one (female) of the servant-girls of the high priest came.

I believe ‘servant-girls’ is the right term since the word used is based on << παις >>, which is literally ‘child’. Think of Richard Nixon, with his “house boy” Manolo. ]

66 Et cum esset Petrus in atrio deorsum, venit una ex ancillis summi sacerdotis

67 καὶ ἰδοῦσα τὸν Πέτρον θερμαινόμενον ἐμβλέψασα αὐτῷ λέγει, Καὶ σὺ μετὰ τοῦ Ναζαρηνοῦ ἦσθα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ.

And seeing Peter warming (himself understood; a middle-form verb), she looked at him saying, “And you were with the one of Nazareth, Jesus.”

Believe it or not, this is only the second time that Nazareth is mentioned in Mark’s gospel. The first came way back in Chapter 1, when Jesus seems to have moved to Caphernaum. At the time I speculated that he wasn’t really from Nazareth; that the whole Nazareth identity was something added later, perhaps after Matthew found the quote about “He will be called a Nazarene.” And, honestly, this doesn’t do too much to convince me otherwise. It would have been very easy to insert <<  τοῦ Ναζαρηνοῦ >> into the text here, just as it would have been very easy to insert “the Christ” into Mark 1:1. I do admit, however, that the placement of << τοῦ Ναζαρηνοῦ  >> is a little odd if it’s an interpolation.  But, since a lot of these things started as marginal notes, it would depend on the line breaks in the text. Recall that back in Chapter 3, when Jesus (unnamed) mother and siblings came to ‘rescue’ Jesus, we are not told where they lived. Nor was the name of the hometown mentioned in Chapter 6, when Jesus’ siblings and mother were named. As a result, I believe there is at least a case for Jesus not really being a “Nazarene”. I could be proven wrong.

67 et, cum vidisset Petrum calefacientem se, aspiciens illum ait: “ Et tu cum hoc Nazareno, Iesu, eras! ”.   

68 ὁ δὲ ἠρνήσατο λέγων, Οὔτε οἶδα οὔτε ἐπίσταμαι σὺ τί λέγεις. καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἔξω εἰς τὸ προαύλιον [:καὶ ἀλέκτωρ ἐφώνησεν].

But Peter denied, saying, “I do not know nor do I understand what you are saying.” And he went out to the ante-courtyard [ and the cock crowed].

The part in [ ] at the end about the cock crowing is not in all manuscript traditions. Remember the prediction: deny three times before the cock crows twice.

68 At ille negavit dicens: “ Neque scio neque novi quid tu dicas! ”. Et exiit foras ante atrium, et gallus cantavit.

69 καὶ ἡ παιδίσκη ἰδοῦσα αὐτὸν ἤρξατο πάλιν λέγειν τοῖς παρεστῶσιν ὅτι Οὗτος ἐξ αὐτῶν ἐστιν.

And the serving girl seeing him began again to say to those standing around that “He is of them.”

69 Et ancilla, cum vidisset illum, rursus coepit dicere circumstantibus: “ Hic ex illis est! ”

70 ὁ δὲ πάλιν ἠρνεῖτο. καὶ μετὰ μικρὸν πάλιν οἱ παρεστῶτες ἔλεγον τῷ Πέτρῳ, Ἀληθῶς ἐξ αὐτῶν εἶ, καὶ γὰρ Γαλιλαῖος εἶ.

But he again denied. And after a short time again the bystanders said to Peter, “Truly, of them you are. For Galilean you are.”

[ Sorry about the Yoda-like syntax, but it’s word-for-word. ]

70 At ille iterum negabat. Et post pusillum rursus, qui astabant, dicebant Petro: “ Vere ex illis es, nam et Galilaeus es ”.

71 ὁ δὲ ἤρξατο ἀναθεματίζειν καὶ ὀμνύναι ὅτι Οὐκ οἶδα τὸν ἄνθρωπον τοῦτον ὃν λέγετε.

And he began to curse and swear that, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.”

71 Ille autem coepit anathematizare et iurare: “ Nescio hominem istum, quem dicitis! ”.

72 καὶ εὐθὺς ἐκ δευτέρου ἀλέκτωρ ἐφώνησεν. καὶ ἀνεμνήσθη ὁ Πέτρος τὸ ῥῆμα ὡς εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁἸησοῦς ὅτι Πρὶν ἀλέκτορα φωνῆσαι δὶς τρίς με ἀπαρνήσῃ: καὶ ἐπιβαλὼν ἔκλαιεν.

And again a second time the cock sounded. And Peter remembered the words as Jesus spoke to him that, “Before the cock crows twice, three time you will deny me.” And going out he wept.

In this instance I think it’s pretty easy to tell that the bracketed part in verse 67 was added, possibly because someone noticed that the cock had not sounded before being mentioned here in verse 72. Now, ‘the second time’ would, strictly speaking, have covered the prediction, but it seems to have made someone nervous enough to insert the words into verse 67.

72 Et statim iterum gallus cantavit; et recordatus est Petrus verbi, sicut dixerat ei Iesus: “ Priusquam gallus cantet bis, ter me negabis ”. Et coepit flere.

Now, what is the point of this story?  My first sense is that Mark realizes he has to hedge his bets here a bit. For the entire first half of the gospel we are told how popular Jesus was. In fact, we are told this (implicitly if not explicitly) 18 times in the first 7 chapters, four more in chapters 8-10, and four more in chapters 11-15. And yet, in Chapter 15, Jesus seems bereft of his support. More, by the time that Mark was writing, the main impetus to growth of Jesus’ followers was among pagans, and not Jews. So I think that this story is supposed to help explain why this happened. Yes, Jesus had been popular, but at the end, he was deserted by his followers. Even Peter denies him.

The other possibility is that this story was created in response to the persecutions of proto-Christians by such as Saul of Tarsus, or any that may have been practiced at a local level by Romans, including Nero’s demonization of Christians in blaming them for the great fire in Rome. For any who might have wavered in difficult times, a story that even Peter wavered could have provided solace and forgiveness. There are other possible interpretations, but seems to me that those are the most likely. As always, feel free to disagree.


About James, brother of Jesus

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

Posted on August 30, 2013, in gospel commentary, gospels, mark's gospel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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