Feb 17, 2010

Markan puzzles


I have a few more homework questions about the Gospel of Mark. I can't go into as much detail since I need to answer them all by tomorrow, so here's a more straight-forward homework-style question-answer format.


How could Jesus have been asleep during the treacherous storm in Mk 4:35-41? What is going on here?

My textbook doesn't mention anything about Jesus sleeping. Instead he points out that the storm, like the demons are "bound" by the authority of Jesus. In the context of the other parables, this story shows that faith in Jesus is the understanding that Jesus is demanding from his followers in the previous parables.
In other research, I came across the answer I think is most accurate. Looking at Psalms, Jesus is aspiring to the ideal of 'sleep' as found in Psalm 4:9 - faith in the LORD alone makes Him secure. While looking at the Psalms I also discovered the disciples' reaction is nearly a perfect reproduction of Psalm 44.
How could they "cross the lake" to the Gerasenes in 5:1 if they already went "over to the other side" (4:35) from Galilee (3:7)?

I didn't know that this is apparently a scholarly academic controversy. Religious critics apparently discount Mark authorship of the Gospel on the grounds of geographical errors. I like the common sense response of this blogger, as well as the traditional responses to which he refers. My NAB renders 35 as "On that day as evening drew on, he said to them, "Let us cross to the other side." and renders 5:1 as "They came to the other side of the sea." I don't really see any conflict at all. And additional note in my NAB references Mt. 8:28 in which "Gadarenes" is used from the Codex Vaticanus (Catholic Bible y'know! ;) In any case, my answer would be that Mark mentioned only the "region" and could have made a small geographical generalization.
Why, when Jesus was saying, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!" was the spirit still there entreating, "don't torture me"?

What does it mean in 6:52, "they had not understood about the loaves"?

My NAB footnote says "The revelatory character of this sign and that of walking on the sea completely escaped the disciples." The loaves (here and in other Gospels) in the Jewish mind allude to the sign of God's provision of bread (manna) in Ex 16. And Mark 6:50 literally says "I am." which is the revelatory formula in the OT for God. Mark is showing that the disciples are missing these revelatory signs of Jesus's messiahship. This is a theme all thru Mark - the disciples (with whom the reader strongly identifies) continuously fail to properly see the nature of Jesus's messiahship.

6 comments:

Saint said...

Regarding the sleeping... you're right, it shows Jesus having faith that they'll get through the storm, that God will provide, so he's choosing not to worry about it. He's sleeping. In other verses, he's constantly telling people not to worry about things, "has worrying ever added a day to anyone's life?" He's showing one of the keys to the Kingdom. Let go. Relax. If you have true faith God will provide, then it doesn't really matter if He provides or not, since what you're getting is peace of mind. You no longer are overly concerned, since what is happening is merely matter of fact. And in a since God is providing quite clearly: when you focus on Him, then you cease to worry about the needless things of this world and you start to take care of things that need to be taken care of.

Jeff said...

I think one of the most significant moments in the Mark 4 passage is the fact that once the storm had subsided, the disciples were (apparently) even more afraid of Jesus than they had been of the storm.

The last verse: "They were terrified and asked each other, 'Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!'" indicates that it was Jesus and his power that really struck fear into their hearts.

Perhaps this was another of Mark's indications of the disciples' cluelessness. At this point, it would seem that they were not yet aware of his divinity. In fact, is it possible that they may have thought he was a demon?

Jeff said...

Again, in the chapter 6 reference to them not understanding the loaves, it would seem to be about their collective cluelessness. Don't you think?

luke said...

The cluelessness of the disciples is certainly a theme for Mark. Jeff's (and my) opinions seem really close to the author of our textbook. He notes that one of Mark's favorite literary techniques is to show the relationships Jesus has - with the One whom Jesus calls "Abba", with the scribes, with the crowds, and especially with disciples. He says, "... it is this relationship that yields the most persuasive indications of Mark's religious purpose in writing. It is with the disciples that Mark's readers would most naturally identify, and through their characterization Mark could most directly instruct his readers."

He goes on to talk about the apocalyptic passages in Mark and how they combine with the cluelessness of the "insiders" ...

"Mark puts a twist on this apocalyptic theme. The insiders are informed that they really do not know when all this is to happen, but that they are to 'take heed and watch.' ... Apocalyptic aims at insiders and is understood by them, but here Mark works it into a literary irony. He warns his readers: 'If you think you understand, if you think of yourself as an insider, beware, you may not be. If those insiders (the disciples) could find themselves on the outside, so could you. ...

if you think you understand the mystery of the kingdom and even control it, watch out; it remains alive and fearful beyond your comprehension. If you think discipleship consists in power because of the presence of God, beware; you are called to follow the one who suffered and died. Your discipleship is defined by his messiahship, that is, in terms of obedience and service.' ...

... the anticipated categories of insider and outsider are redefined in terms of response to the mystery of the kingdom that Jesus represents."

早餐 said...
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Michelle said...

The new background is fun! :)