Monday, January 26, 2015

Separating a Man from His Cage

Below is a rough translation and some initial comments regarding Mark 1:21-28, the Revised Common Lectionary reading for Sunday, February 1. My rough translation is in bold, my comments are in blue. There are occasional red letter texts, which are for the structural note that I have at the bottom. Feel free to ignore them.

21 Καὶ εἰσπορεύονται εἰς Καφαρναούμ. καὶ εὐθὺς τοῖς σάββασιν εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὴν συναγωγὴν ἐδίδασκεν.
And they are entering into Capernaum. And immediately on the Sabbath having come into the synagogue he was teaching. 
εἰσπορεύονται: PMI 3p, εἰσπορεύομαι, 1) to go into, enter  1a) of persons  1b) of things  1b1) to be carried into or put into  
εἰσελθὼν: AAPart nms, εἰσέρχομαι, 1) to go out or come in: to enter  1a) of men or animals, as into a house or a city  \
ἐδίδασκεν: IAI 3s, διδάσκω, 1) to teach  1a) to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them
1. I am using ‘entering’ for εἰσπορεύονται because it is in the middle voice.
2. The subject is “they,” indicating that Jesus is accompanied by the four followers whom he has called.
3. There is some question about the meaning of Mark’s frequent use of “immediately.” In this case, it cannot mean that this encounter happened ‘immediately’ after the previous pericope, when Jesus calls the fishers, because they would not have been mending nets on the Sabbath. Likewise, ‘on the Sabbath’ seems to indicate a new time context for the story, so ‘immediately’ seems unnecessary as a referent to time.
4. The place context for this encounter is the synagogue, pointing to the irony of an unclean spirit in a holy place.

22 καὶ ἐξεπλήσσοντο ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ, ἦν γὰρ διδάσκων αὐτοὺς ὡς ἐξουσίαν ἔχων καὶ οὐχ ὡς οἱ γραμματεῖς.
And they were astounded at his teaching, for he was teaching them as having authority and not as the Scribes.   
ἐξεπλήσσοντο: IPI 3p, ἐκπλήσσω amazed, to be exceedingly struck in mind (from ἐκ intensive, and πλήσσω to strike).
ἦν: IAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
διδάσκων: PAPart nms, διδάσκω, 1) to teach  1a) to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them,
ἔχων: PAPart nms, ἔχω, 1) to have, i.e. to hold  1a) to have (hold) in the hand, in the sense of wearing, to have  (hold) possession of the mind (refers to alarm, agitating  emotions, etc.)
1.  Are the ‘they’ of v.22 and the ‘they’ of v.21 (both implied by the plural form of the verb) the same? I typically see this a referring to those who are gathered for teaching at the synagogue on the Sabbath, but could it mean the four new followers? I suspect it is a larger crowd, who come back into play in v.27.
2. The two options here are ‘teaching as having authority’ or ‘teaching as the scribes.’ I don’t take this to be a harsh criticism of the scribes, as if their teaching were boring, wrong, or weak. In fact, my suspicion is that “teaching as the scribes” is exactly what people expect in the synagogue – their teaching is a close adherence to the scripture, their authority is subordinated to the authority of Moses or the prophets, etc. The scribes’ teaching would be biblical teaching. For Jesus to be ‘teaching as having authority,’ might be something like the Matthean phrase, “You have heard it was said (in the scriptures) …, but I say to you ….”
3. If Jesus is teaching as if he, and not Moses, has authority, it is not unusual that the listeners would be ‘astounded,’ the root of which is ‘to strike.’ At this point, the astonishment may be an impressed, bewildered, or scandalized sort. 

23 καὶ εὐθὺς ἦν ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ αὐτῶν ἄνθρωπος ἐν πνεύματι ἀκαθάρτῳ, καὶ ἀνέκραξεν
And immediately there was in their synagogue a man in an unclean spirit, and it squawked out. 
ἦν: IAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
ἀνέκραξεν: AAI 3s, ἀνακράζω, 1) to raise a cry from the depth of the throat, to cry out
1. “A man in an unclean spirit,” what a powerful description. My spouse recently alerted me to an article, “The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It’s Not What You Think” (Johann Hari,, which separated persons with addiction from their addictions. The entire article is worth reading, but this comment is especially poignant with reference to this man: “It's not you. It's your cage.” I find the gospels to be very perceptive in their language about persons with demons, acknowledging that the demonization is part of the person’s reality, but not the person himself.
2. For that reason, I am translating the implied subject of “cried out” as “it” and not as “he.” I attribute the voice to the unclean spirit, in which the man is caged, as opposed to the man himself. (I will continue using ‘it,’ even when the gender of future references are male).
3. I have read that the verb ἀνακράζω is something like an onomatopoeia, to capture the loud croaking of a bird. Hence, “squawked,” which does the same.
4. We should notice that there is an unclean spirit in the sanctuary. I wonder if this is a criticism, as some commenters suggest, because the sanctuary is supposed to be holy and this one is defiled; or, if it is an apt description of human worship: The place where we encounter the holiness of God is always also a place where we encounter human uncleanliness.
5. This verse is awkwardly separated from the next verse, even though together they complies one single sentence. I will suggest below that whoever added verse separations to this text is trying to reflect Mark’s chiastic structure.

24 λέγων, Τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί, Ἰησοῦ Ναζαρηνέ; ἦλθες ἀπολέσαι ἡμᾶς; οἶδά σε τίς εἶ, ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ.
Saying, “What to us and to you, Jesus Nazarean?  Have you come to destroy us?   I have seen who you are, the holy of the God.
λέγων: PAPart nsm, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
ἦλθες: AAI 2s, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come  1a) of persons  1a1) to come from one place to another, and used both of  persons arriving and of those returning
ἀπολέσαι: AAInf, ἀπόλλυμι, 1) to destroy  1a) to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to ruin
οἶδά: PerfAI 1s, εἴδω, ἴδω, an obsol. form of the present tense, the place of which is supplied by ὁράω. The tenses coming from εἴδω and retained by usage form two families, of which one signifies to see, the other to know.
1. The question – “What to you and us?” – is a curious one, but not without some precedent. II Kings 3:13a in the LXX reads, καὶ εἶπεν Ελισαιε πρὸς βασιλέα Ισραηλ Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί; And Elisha said to a King of Israel, “What to you and to me?” According to John Donohue and Daniel Harrington (The Gospel of Mark, Sacra Pagina Series, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press. 2002), this is a question of whether the speaker and listener share a common community.
2. “I have seen you who you are”: The unclean spirit's words could be “I have known you who you are,” since the word ἴδω, which means ‘see,’ can signify ‘knowing’ just like the English phrase, “Oh, I see.” Either way, it is in the perfect tense, even though most translations make it present tense.
3. There is a change of voice in the words of the unclean spirit. From “us and you … destroy us  to “I have seen.” Again, I see this as a way or recognizing the complexity of someone “in” an unclean spirit, where the man and the unclean spirit are one in some ways, and are not one in others.
4. I do not know what the title “Jesus Nazarene” implies. It puts me in mind of Nathanael’s question, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” in John 1 – not as an intertextual reference but to suggest that Nazareth might have carried a notably questionable reputation among some of the communities to whom the gospels were addressed.
5. “The holy one of God” could be translated “the saint of God” if one wants to stir things up a bit.

25 καὶ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων, Φιμώθητι καὶ ἔξελθε ἐξ αὐτοῦ.
And Jesus censured it saying, “Be silent and come out out of him.” 
ἐπετίμησεν: AAI 3s, ἐπιτιμάω, 1) to show honor to, to honor 2) to raise the price of  3) to adjudge, award, in the sense of merited penalty
λέγων: PAPart nsm, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
Φιμώθητι: APImpv 2s, φιμόω, 1) to close the mouth with a muzzle, to muzzle   2) metaph.   2a) to stop the mouth, make speechless, reduce to silence
ἔξελθε: AAImpv 2s, ἐξέρχομαι, 1) to go or come forth of  1a) with mention of the place out of which one goes, or the  point from which he departs 
1. The verb ἐπιτιμάω, which I have translated as “censured,” is very curious because its primary meaning is “to honor” but a tertiary meaning is “to penalize.” The context here simply does not allow “honored.” However, I will be wondering this week about how a word can mean both “to honor” or “to censure.” For example, must Jesus recognize the unclean spirit as a genuine force and take it seriously before commanding it to be silent and to exit?
2. At the narrator, Mark is using the singular to refer to the unclean spirit. Jesus is not talking to “them” as the unclean spirit and the man, but is separating them.
3. The command to “be silent” is one of those moments in Mark’s gospel that is categorized as part of the “messianic secret.” Since Bible readers suppose that it is a good thing to tell the good news to everyone everywhere, Mark’s frequent commands to silence seem to show a very deliberate approach on Jesus’ part. What we don’t know is “Why?” Some of the answers I have heard are:
a. Jesus is trying to control the extent of the message. Mark makes several references to Jesus’ popularity and at times it seems to be getting out of control and interfering with his purposes of training the 12, going to Jerusalem, etc.
b. Jesus is trying to control the timing of the message. Based on Mark 9:9, where Jesus orders Peter, James, and John to tell no one about the transfiguration “until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead,” some argue that the issue of the messianic secret is timing.
c.  Mark is trying to explain answer the question, “If this Jesus is so great, why have we not heard about him before?” Some of the folks in the Jesus Seminar seem to be moving in this direction, that the ‘messianic secret’ motif is basically an apologetic move on the narrator’s part.
d. My sentiments lie with a 4th possibility: Jesus is trying to control the shape of the message. In numerous places in Mark’s gospel – particularly Jesus’ rough exchange with Simon Peter in 8:31-38 and the entry into Jerusalem in 11:1-11, Jesus will not separate any notion of his messiahship, kingship, or lordship apart from his destiny to be rejected, suffer, die, and be raised on the 3rd day – all of which are things that happen to him, which he endures as the messiah.

e. Having said that, I have lately begun to favor a 5th possibility, which I have not read among scholars, so one ought to take it with two grains of salt. My sense is that the gospel of Mark is doing two things: 1) Heralding the good news about Jesus; and 2) Propagating the movement of the Reign of God. Obviously the two cannot be fully separated and each is interactively dependent on the other. But, my feeling is that Mark is not promoting a Jesus cult; where Jesus alone is the location of God and Jesus alone is the message itself. Jesus himself says, “If any will be my disciple, let them take up their cross ….” The way to follow Jesus is to participate, to be part of the movement that Jesus is announcing. The reign of God is realized in Jesus; and Jesus points beyond himself for his disciples to be a part of it. I see the occasional “tell no one” events less as a “secret” than a redirection, away from simply being amazed at and broadcasting how greatly Jesus is the embodiment of the reign of God toward participating in it oneself.

26 καὶ σπαράξαν αὐτὸν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἀκάθαρτον καὶ φωνῆσαν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ ἐξῆλθεν ἐξ αὐτοῦ.
And having convulsed him and having cried out a great cry the unclean spirit went out of him. 
σπαράξαν: AAPart nns, σπαράσσω, 1) to convulse, tear 
φωνῆσαν: AAPart nns, φωνέω, 1) to sound, emit a sound, to speak   1a) of a cock: to crow   1b) of men: to cry, cry out, cry aloud, speak with a loud voice
ἐξῆλθεν: AAI 3s, ἐξέρχομαι, 1) to go or come forth of  1a) with mention of the place out of which one goes, or the  point from which he departs
1. “a great cry”: the noun φωνῇ is often translated “voice,” but I am trying to keep the etymological connection with the verb φωνέω that is paired with it.
2. In this verse, the identity of the unclean spirit and the man caged in that spirit is utterly broken and become thoroughly separated.
3. The verb “went out” is repeated in v.28 below. See the comment there.

27 καὶ ἐθαμβήθησαν ἅπαντες, ὥστε συζητεῖν πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς λέγοντας, Τί ἐστιν τοῦτο; διδαχὴ καινὴ κατ' ἐξουσίαν: καὶ τοῖς πνεύμασι τοῖς ἀκαθάρτοις ἐπιτάσσει, καὶ ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ.
And all were amazed, so that to ask to each other saying, “What is this?  This teaching with authority?  Even to the unclean spirits he commands, and they listen to him.” 
ἐθαμβήθησαν: API 3p, θαμβέω, 1) to be astonished
συζητεῖν: PAInf, συζητέω, 1) to seek or examine together 2) in the NT to discuss, dispute, question
λέγοντας: PAPart apm, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
ἐστιν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
ἐπιτάσσει: PAI 3s, ἐπιτάσσω, 1) to enjoin upon, order, command, charge 
ὑπακούουσιν: PAI 3p, ὑπακούω, 1) to listen, to harken  1a) of one who on the knock at the door comes to listen who it is
1. The verb θαμβέω (amazed) here is different from the verb ἐκπλήσσω (astounded)  in v.22. Both are in regard to Jesus “teaching with authority.”

28 καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἡ ἀκοὴ αὐτοῦ εὐθὺς πανταχοῦ εἰς ὅλην τὴν περίχωρον τῆς Γαλιλαίας.
And the report of him went out immediately all places in the whole region of Galilee. 
ἐξῆλθεν: AAI 3s, ἐξέρχομαι, 1) to go or come forth of  1a) with mention of the place out of which one goes, or the  point from which he departs
1. The verb ἐξέρχομαι (“went out”) appears again, as in v.26. The unclean spirit goes out; the report (or ‘the hearing’) about Jesus goes out. I’m not sure what to make of this observation.  

This text has a chiastic structure (from the Greek ‘chi’, which is shaped X). Chiasms appear fairly often in the NT, but this is one of the most obvious ones that I’ve ever seen. What I don’t know yet, is how identifying the chiasm helps to interpret the meaning of the text. If you have any insight into that, please let me know.

21. And he was coming into Capernaum.  And immediately on the Sabbath having come into the synagogue he was teaching. 
22. And they were amazed about the teaching of him, for he was teaching them as having authority and not as the Scribes.  
23. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man in an unclean spirit, and it squawked out 
24. saying, “What to us and to you, Jesus Nazarean?  Have you come to destroy us?  I have seen who you are, the holy of the God.
25. And Jesus censured him saying, “Be silent and come out of him.” 
26. And convulsing him the unclean spirit and crying out a great voice went out of him.  
27. And were amazed all, so that to ask to each other saying, “Who is this?  This teaching with authority?  And to the unclean spirits he commands, and they listen to him. 
28. And the report of him went out immediately all places into the whole region of Galilee. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Dangerous Succession

Below is a rough translation and some preliminary remarks regarding Mark 1:14-20, the Revised Common Lectionary gospel reading for Sunday, January 24, 2015.

I’ve typically seen this passage as a bit of false advertising, where Jesus would say “Follow me” and save “Take up your cross” for later. Now, I believe I was rash in seeing it that way, particularly given how the pericope unfolds in vv.14-15. Nothing gets the exegetical juices flowing like discovering the text anew.

Per usual, your comments are welcomed.

14 Μετὰ δὲ τὸ παραδοθῆναι τὸν Ἰωάννην ἦλθεν  Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν 
κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ 
Yet after the handing over John Jesus came into Galilee preaching the good news of God.
παραδοθῆναι: APInf, παραδίδωμι, 1) to give into the hands (of another)  2) to give over into (one's) power or use
ἦλθεν: AAI 3s, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come 
κηρύσσων: PAPart, nms, κηρύσσω, 1) to be a herald, to officiate as a herald  1a) to proclaim after the manner of a herald 
1. After John’s handing over, Jesus comes preaching. John’s message, in part, is described in v.4 as κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς  ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν, “a baptism of repentance to forgiveness of sins,” This is essentially the same response that Jesus will command in v.15. (The other part of John’s message is his pointing to one who will follow after him who is greater than he, in vv. 7-8).
2. To me, that suggests a number of things:
a. The timing is significant in that Jesus is picking up what began in John but only after John’s arrest.
b. Jesus embraces his ministry from the start as a dangerous ministry, since he is repeating the message of one who was just notoriously arrested.
3. Mark will pick up the story of John’s arrest and execution in c.6. 
4. The word I have translated as “handing over” (παραδίδωμι) takes on shades of meaning, depending on its use. Mark uses it in 3:19 to describe Judas Iscariot as the one who would “betray” Jesus. It is used in cc.8, 9, and 10, when Jesus discloses that he will be “handed over” and killed. It is used in c.13, the “little apocalypse,” to describe the disciples’ fate of being “handed over” to councils. It is used in c.14 during the last supper when Jesus speaks of being “betrayed” by one of the disciples. And it is used in c.15 when Mark tells of the arrest and crucifixion, as Jesus is “delivered” to Pilate. In our pericope, that which would happened to Jesus after him happened to John first. 

15 καὶ λέγων ὅτι Πεπλήρωται ὁ καιρὸς καὶ ἤγγικεν  βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ: 
μετανοεῖτε καὶ πιστεύετε ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ. 
And saying, “The time has been fulfilled and the reign of God has come near. Repent and believe/trust in the good news.”
λέγων: PAPart nms, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain 
Πεπλήρωται: PerfPI 3s, πληρόω, 1) to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full 1a) to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally
ἤγγικεν: PerfAI 3s, ἐγγίζω, 1) to bring near, to join one thing to another  2) to draw or come near to, to approach
μετανοεῖτε: PAImpv 2p, μετανοέω, 1) to change one's mind, i.e. to repent 
πιστεύετε: PAImpv 2p, πιστεύω, 1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place  confidence in. 
1. This participle, ‘saying,’ corresponds with ‘preaching’ from v.14 – Jesus came preaching “the good news of God” and saying “The time has been fulfilled ….” It seems like the phrase, “The time is fulfilled and the reign of God is at hand” is what Mark means by “the good news of God” in v.14. Then, “Repent and trust in the good news” seems to be how one responds to “the good news of God.”
2. This good news has both a temporal and a spatial reference: The ‘time’ has been fulfilled; the reign of God has come ‘near.’ Both are in the perfect tense.
3. The words “repent” and “trust” are in the imperative voice, following the proclamation in the indicative voice. Robert Gundy (1993, p.70, per Michael Turton) says the phrase for “believe in” (πιστεύω ἐν) occurs nowhere else in Mark, once in John, and then nowhere else in all of Greek literature or Greek papyri. (Many translations make Mark 9:42 “believe in me” but there is no “in me” in the Greek text.)

16 Καὶ παράγων παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας εἶδεν Σίμωνα καὶ 
Ἀνδρέαν τὸν ἀδελφὸν Σίμωνος ἀμφιβάλλοντας ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ: ἦσαν γὰρ 
And passing alongside the sea of Galilee he saw Simon and Andrew Simon’s brother netcasting in the sea; for they were fishers.
παράγων: PAPart nms: παράγω, 1) pass by  1a) to lead past, lead by
εἶδεν: AAI 3s, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes
ἦσαν: IAI 3pl, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present 
ἀμφιβάλλοντας: PAPart apm, (amphib);cast
1. The participle “walking” (παράγων) is also in the same declension as ‘preaching’ and ‘saying’, making the verb/participial construction, “Jesus came – preaching … saying … and passing along ….” It suggests that passing along the sea to find disciples is one piece with preaching and saying.

17 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς  Ἰησοῦς, Δεῦτε ὀπίσω μου, καὶ ποιήσω ὑμᾶς γενέσθαι 
ἁλιεῖς ἀνθρώπων. 
And Jesus said to them, “Follow behind me, and I will make you to be fishers of people.” 
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
ποιήσω: FAI 1s, ποιέω, 1) to make  1a) with the names of things made, to produce, construct,  form, fashion, etc.
γενέσθαι: AMInf, γίνομαι, 1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being
1. I know that the phrase “Follow behind me” sounds like a command, but it is made up of Δεῦτε (follow/come, an adverb) … ὀπίσω (after, an adverb) and … μου (me, a pronoun). It may have the feel of something like, “Whaddya say guys …”
2. Is one’s call shaped by a current occupation or something akin to where one already has skills? Would a tax collector be called to become a “fisher of people?” or a “collector of people?” Is calling based on occupations or do occupations simply provide ready and meaningful language for expressing callings?

18 καὶ εὐθὺς ἀφέντες τὰ δίκτυα ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ. 
And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 
ἀφέντες: AAPart npm, ἀφίημι, 1) to send away  1a) to bid going away or depart  1a1) of a husband divorcing his wife 
ἠκολούθησαν: AAI 3p, ἀκολουθέω, 1) to follow one who precedes, join him as his attendant,  accompany him 
1. What is it about this invitation that elicits such an immediate (favorite word in Mark) and unquestioned response? As I mentioned last week, Robert Scharlemann’s book, The Reason of Following (admittedly a difficult but rewarding read,) argues that ‘following’ (he calls is acolouthetic reason, based on the Greek word ἀκολουθέω) is a different kind of reason – different from knowing or doing or feeling, the three traditional philosophical categories of reason. It is related most closely to feeling, but is different, eliciting an immediate response to a call. (I have a slightly fuller explanation of what I recall from the book in last week’s comments.)
2. Scharlemann or no Scharlemann, this is a profound statement in its abruptness. “They followed.” Why, we may ask? Mark does not say. And, significantly, the disciples do not ask “Why?” They follow.

19  Καὶ προβὰς ὀλίγον εἶδεν Ἰάκωβον τὸν τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου καὶ Ἰωάννην τὸν 
ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ, καὶ αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ καταρτίζοντας τὰ δίκτυα, 
And having gone forward, he saw James the [son] of Zebedee and John his brother, and they [were] in the boat mending the nets. 
προβὰς: AAPart nsm, προβαίνω, 1) to go forwards, go on 
εἶδεν: AAI 3s, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes
καταρτίζοντας:  PAPart apm, καταρτίζω, 1) to render, i.e. to fit, sound, complete  1a) to mend (what has been broken or rent), to repair
1. Some translations supply the word “son” because it seems implied. Likewise, some translations supply the verb “were” (“they were in the boat”) because it seems implied. I am supplying them in brackets to show that they are supplied. I think I like this verse better without them, but it flows more easily with them.

20 καὶ εὐθὺς ἐκάλεσεν αὐτούς. καὶ ἀφέντες τὸν πατέρα αὐτῶν Ζεβεδαῖον ἐν 
τῷ πλοίῳ μετὰ τῶν μισθωτῶν ἀπῆλθον ὀπίσω αὐτοῦ.
And immediately he called them.  And having left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired hands, they went away after him. 
ἐκάλεσεν: AAI 3s, καλέω, 1) to call  1a) to call aloud, utter in a loud voice  1b) to invite
ἀφέντες: AAPart npm, ἀφίημι, 1) to send away  1a) to bid going away or depart  1a1) of a husband divorcing his wife 
ἀπῆλθον: AAI 3p, ἀπέρχομαι, 1) to go away, depart  1a) to go away in order to follow any one, go after him,
1. The verb at the root of the participle “having left” (ἀφίημι) is a very flexible word. It can mean leave, divorce, forgive, send away, dismiss, set free, etc. Context determines the best guess.
2. It is curious that Mark does not use “follow” (ἀκολουθέω) here as he did in v.18, but ἀπέρχομαι, “to go away.”

3. In Mark 10: 28-31 Peter says to Jesus, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus assures him, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” 

In the end, this story seems to be Jesus, stepping into the role that John the Baptizer has filled, taking the risk of being aligned with one who was just handed over and proclaiming the same message. Only now we see that this role involves preaching, saying, and walking along the shore to call disciples. Using the indicative voice, Jesus preaches that "The Reign of God is at hand." Using the imperative voice, Jesus calls to "repent and believe." Using the descriptive voice, Jesus invites fishers of fish to follow after him and become fishers of people. And they do. 

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