Sunday, March 1, 2015

Liberating the Temple

Below is a rough translation and some initial comments regarding John 2:13-22, the Revised Common Lectionary gospel reading for the third Sunday of Lent.  There are a number of interesting words that are repeated throughout this text that seem worth noting. Your feedback is welcomed.

13 Καὶ ἐγγὺς ἦν τὸ πάσχα τῶν Ἰουδαίων, καὶ ἀνέβη εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα ὁ Ἰησοῦς.
And the Pascha of the Judeans was near, and Jesus went up into Jerusalem.
ἦν: IAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
ἀνέβη: AAI 3s, ἀναβαίνω, 1) ascend  1a) to go up  up, spring up
1.    Richard Horsley (Hearing the Whole Story) argues that when Mark uses the word Ἰουδαίοὶ, we should translate it “Judeans,” and not “Jews.” Most translations have “Jews.” Horsley’s point is that Mark makes a strong distinction between Galilean and Judean ways of being faithful. I don’t know if John has that same kind of distinction in mind, but I am now in the habit of following Horsley’s suggestion. Frankly, I believe it reflects the inner struggle for the soul of Jewish piety better than the anti-Semitic assumptions that often shape Christian interpretations.
2.    I’m transliterating “Pascha,” in order to show the roots (via Hebrew, then Greek) of the adjective “paschal supper” or “paschal lamb.” It refers to the holy time of the Passover and literally means something like “sparing” or “immunity.”

14 καὶ εὗρεν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ τοὺς πωλοῦντας βόας καὶ πρόβατα καὶ περιστερὰς καὶ τοὺς κερματιστὰς καθημένους,
And in the temple he came upon those who were bartering cattle and sheep doves and the money changers who were sitting,
εὗρεν: AAI 3s, εὑρίσκω, 1) to come upon, hit upon, to meet with  1a) after searching, to find a thing sought  1b) without previous search, to find (by chance),
πωλοῦντας: PAPart, apm, πωλέω, 1) to barter, to sell  2) sellers 
καθημένους: PMPart, apm, κάθημαι, 1) to sit down, seat one’s self  2) to sit, be seated, of a place occupied  2a) to have a fixed abode, to dwell 
1.    Note the word “temple” (ἱερῷ) that John uses here. It is different from the word I translate as “sanctuary” (ναὸν) in vv. 19, 20, and 21. More about that below.
2.    The verb εὗρεν is curious, since it can mean to come upon something without looking for it as well as to come upon something that one is seeking. It leaves open the question of whether Jesus came to the temple with the purpose of challenging the commerce or if he came upon the commerce while attending the temple for other reasons.

15 καὶ ποιήσας φραγέλλιον ἐκ σχοινίων πάντας ἐξέβαλεν ἐκ τοῦ ἱεροῦ, τά τε πρόβατα καὶ τοὺς βόας, καὶ τῶν κολλυβιστῶν ἐξέχεεν τὸ κέρμα [τα κέρματα] καὶ τὰς τραπέζας ἀνέτρεψεν,
and making a whip out of cords he cast out all out of the temple, including the sheep and the cattle, and he poured out the money [the monies] of the money changers and overturned the tables.  
ποιήσας: AAPart nsm, ποιέω, 1) to make  1a) with the names of things made, to produce, construct,  form, fashion, etc.
ἐξέβαλεν: AAI 3s, ἐκβάλλω, 1) to cast out, drive out, to send out  1a) with notion of violence  1a1) to drive out (cast out)  1a2) to cast out  1a2a) of the world, i.e. be deprived of the power and  influence he exercises in the world 
ἐξέχεεν: AAI 3s, ἐκχέω, 1) to pour out, shed forth 2) metaph. to bestow or distribute largely 
ἀνέτρεψεν: AAI 3s, ἀνατρέπω, 1) to overthrow, overturn, destroy 2) to subvert
1.    Some Greek manuscripts have ‘money’ as singular, some as plural.
2.    The word “make” or “do” (ποιέω) is fairly common, and not always particularly noteworthy. But, notice how John uses it in this text, in vv. 15, 16, and 18. Jesus “makes” a whip because they had “made” God’s house into an emporium and they wonder what the sign is that warrants Jesus to “do” these things.

16 καὶ τοῖς τὰς περιστερὰς πωλοῦσιν εἶπεν, Ἄρατε ταῦτα ἐντεῦθεν, μὴ ποιεῖτε τὸν οἶκον τοῦ πατρός μου οἶκον ἐμπορίου.
And to those who were selling the doves he said, “Remove these things from here, you will not make my father’s house an emporium house."
πωλοῦσιν: PAPart dpm, πωλέω, 1) to barter, to sell  2) sellers
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain  1b) to teach  1c) to exhort, advise, to command, direct 
Ἄρατε: AAImpv 2p, αἴρω, 1) to raise up, elevate, lift up  …  3) to bear away what has been raised, carry off  3a) to move from its place  3b) to take off or away what is attached to anything  3c) to remove  3d) to carry off, carry away with one 
ποιεῖτε: PAImpv 2p, ποιέω, 1) to make  1a) with the names of things made, to produce, construct,  form, fashion, etc.
1. The word “say” (λέγω) is also very, very common and, therefore, not usually noteworthy. However, it appears repeatedly in this text (vv. 16, 19, 21, 22 with reference to Jesus). In the end, remembering and understanding rightly what Jesus says is the whole point of this text.
2. In addition to “temple” and “sanctuary,” vv. 16 and 17 refer to the temple as God’s “house.”

17  Ἐμνήσθησαν οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ὅτι γεγραμμένον ἐστίν, Ὁ ζῆλος τοῦ οἴκου σου καταφάγεταί με.
His disciples remembered that it is written, "The zeal of your house will consume me."
Ἐμνήσθησαν: API 3p, μιμνήσκω 1. mindful of (be) to think much of a thing, and so to remember, to recall to one's mind, to begin to remember, remind. (see μνάομαι). 2. remember to think much of a thing, and so to remember,
ἐστίν: PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
γεγραμμένον: PPPart, nsm, γράφω, 1) to write, with reference to the form of the letters  1a) to delineate (or form) letters on a tablet, parchment,  paper, or other material  2) to write, with reference to the contents of the writing
καταφάγεταί: FMI 3s, κατεσθίω, 1) to consume by eating, to eat up, devour  1a) of birds  1b) of a dragon  1c) of a man eating up the little book  2) metaph.  2a) to devour i.e. squander, waste: substance  2b) to devour i.e. forcibly appropriate: widows' property.
1.    The root of “consume” (καταφάγεταί,) is φάγε, a common word for “eating.” Jesus is eaten up by zeal for God’s house.
2.    This is the first reference in this text of “remember” (μιμνήσκω), when the disciples remembered Psalm 69:9. An interpretive question is whether the disciples were remembering the Psalm ‘in the moment’ of this story, or whether they remembered the Psalm later, after Jesus was resurrected. In v.22, when the disciples remember Jesus’ words, it is after Jesus is raised.
3.    For those who are accustomed to Matthew’s way of explaining Jesus’ actions with the commentary, “As it is written,” for John to attribute this connection between Jesus’ action and the Psalm is to give the disciples a much stronger position as interpreters of Jesus’ acts than, say, Mark’s gospel, where the disciples continually do not understand.
4.    The word for “is written” (γεγραμμένον), is a participle, which has as its root the same word (γράφω) that is in v. 22, which many translations have as “the Scriptures.” I have it as “the Writings,” so that the connection between this verse and that one will be easier to see. (Related to the English words “grammar” and “graphite.”)

18 ἀπεκρίθησαν οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι καὶ εἶπαν αὐτῷ, Τί σημεῖον δεικνύεις ἡμῖν, ὅτι ταῦτα ποιεῖς;
Therefore the Judeans responded and said to him, "What sign are you showing to us, that you do these things?"
ἀπεκρίθησαν: API 3p, ἀποκρίνομαι, 1) to give an answer to a question proposed, to answer  2) to begin to speak, but always where something has preceded  (either said or done) to which the remarks refer 
εἶπαν: AAI 3p, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain  1b) to teach  1c) to exhort, advise, to command, direct  
δεικνύεις: PAI 2s, δεικνύω prop. to show i. e. expose to the eyes:
ποιεῖς: PAI 2s, ποιέω, 1) to make  1a) with the names of things made, to produce, construct,  form, fashion, etc.
1. The word “show” (δεικνύω) is used often in John’s gospel and a persistent theme is that Jesus performs “signs” in order that one may “see and believe.” That is why the story of Thomas is so pivotal as a post-resurrection story, because now – after repeated emphasis on seeing and signs as a means of believing, Jesus says “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” Here are the uses of the word “show”:
Joh 2:18 ...him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing...
Joh 5:20 ...the Son, and showeth him all things...
Joh 5:20 ...himself doeth: and he will show him greater works...
Joh 10:32           ...Many good works have I showed you from my...
Joh 14:8 ...The said unto him, Lord, show us the Father...
Joh 14:9 ...sayest thou then, Show us the Father...
Joh 20:20           ...had so said, he showed unto them his..
2. The word “sign” (σημεῖον) likewise plays a pivotal role in John, and is sometimes translated “miracle.” Here is a list of the uses of “sign” in John.
Joh 2:11 This beginning of signs did Jesus in...
Joh 2:18 ...unto him, What sign showest thou unto...
Joh 2:23 ...they saw the signs which he did...
Joh 3:2    ...can do these signs that thou doest...
Joh 4:48 ...Except ye see signs and wonders, ye...
Joh 4:54 This is again the second sign that Jesus did...
Joh 6:2    ...they saw his signs which he did...
Joh 6:14 ...they had seen the sign that Jesus did...
Joh 6:26 ...because ye saw the signs, but because ye...
Joh 6:30 ...unto him, What sign showest thou then...
Joh 7:31 ...he do more signs than these which...
Joh 9:16 ...sinner do such signs? And there was...
Joh 10:41           ...John did no sign: but all things...
Joh 11:47           ...man doeth many signs.
Joh 12:18           ...had done this signs.
Joh 12:37           ...done so many signs before them, yet...
Joh 20:30           And many other signs truly did Jesus...

19 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Λύσατε τὸν ναὸν τοῦτον καὶ ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις ἐγερῶ αὐτόν.
Jesus responded and said to them, "Destroy this sanctuary and in three days I will raise it."
ἀπεκρίθη: API 3s, ἀποκρίνομαι, 1) to give an answer to a question proposed, to answer  2) to begin to speak, but always where something has preceded  (either said or done) to which the remarks refer 
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain  1b) to teach  1c) to exhort, advise, to command, 
Λύσατε: AAImpv 2p, λύω 1) to loose any person (or thing) tied or fastened … 3d) to do away with, to deprive of authority, whether by precept  or act  3e) to declare unlawful  3f) to loose what is compacted or built together, to break up,  demolish, destroy 
ἐγερῶ: FAI 1s, ἐγείρω, 1) to arouse, cause to rise  …of buildings, to raise up, construct, erect 
1. The word “destroy” (λύω) has many meanings, the most common of which is “to loose.” It is a liberative word in many ways and I am wondering if that might not be an interesting way to pursue it here. If Jesus is saying, “Liberate this sanctuary and I’ll elevate it in three days!” his words will have been wholly misunderstood by the Judeans (and millions of preachers ever since).
2. The word “sanctuary” (ναός) refers to the inner part of the temple, as opposed to the word “temple” (ἱερῷ) in v.14, which was the whole area, including the outer buildings and courtyard.
3. I know this is my issue, but for Jesus to use the active voice here, “I will raise,” seems a little different than the more usual passive voice, that “was raised.”  

20 εἶπαν οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι, Τεσσεράκοντα καὶ ἓξ ἔτεσιν οἰκοδομήθη ὁ ναὸς οὗτος, καὶ σὺ ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις ἐγερεῖς αὐτόν;
Therefore the Judeans said, "Forty and six years this sanctuary was built, and you in three days will raise it?" 
εἶπαν: AAI 3p, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain  1b) to teach  1c) to exhort, advise, to command, 
οἰκοδομήθη: API 3s, οἰκοδομέω, 1) to build a house, erect a building  1a) to build (up from the foundation)  1b) to restore by building, to rebuild, repair 
ἐγερεῖς: FAI 2s, ἐγείρω, 1) to arouse, cause to rise  …of buildings, to raise up, construct, erect 
1.    See Chris Haslam’s comment below regarding the timing of the building of the temple, as well as his suggestion that 46 years may refer to Jesus’ age.

21 ἐκεῖνος δὲ ἔλεγεν περὶ τοῦ ναοῦ τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ.
Yet he was saying this concerning the sanctuary of his body.
ἔλεγεν: IAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain  1b) to teach  1c) to exhort, advise, to command, 
1.    This is the pivotal verse in this text to me. It signifies that what Jesus was saying was, and was not, what he meant. It was not that Jesus meant, “I can build a temple in three days!” It was that he meant, “I will rise in three days.” The communicative problem of the story is that the Judeans were taking Jesus literally, as if the ‘meaning’ of his ‘words’ had a direct one-to-one correlation as ‘sign’ to ‘referent.’
2.    My suggestion is that John may be offering an insight into hermeneutics - a way of reading texts (the Writings), reading signs, or hearing Jesus’ words. They are only understood properly when they are understood – i.e. remembered – through Jesus’ resurrection.
3.    Another possibility is that if this conversation occurred along these lines in real time, perhaps Jesus was inviting the Judeans to ‘liberate’ (v.19, n.1) the actual sanctuary and to begin a radical reform of their way of faith. But, since that is not how the reality unfolded, John is adding an interpretive layer that the sanctuary of Jesus’ body was destroyed and raised in three days.

22 ὅτε οὖν ἠγέρθη ἐκ νεκρῶν, ἐμνήσθησαν οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ὅτι τοῦτο ἔλεγεν, καὶ ἐπίστευσαν τῇ γραφῇ καὶ τῷ λόγῳ ὃν εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς.
Therefore when he was raised out of the dead, his disciples remembered that he said this, and they believed in the Writing and in the word which Jesus said.
ἠγέρθη: API 3s, ἐγείρω, 1) to arouse, cause to rise  …of buildings, to raise up, construct, erect 
ἐμνήσθησαν: API 3p, μιμνήσκω 1. mindful of (be) to think much of a thing, and so to remember, to recall to one's mind, to begin to remember, remind. (see μνάομαι). 2. remember to think much of a thing, and so to remember, to call to one's mind, begin to remember, remind. (a) Middle, to begin to call to mind, recollect, remember.
ἔλεγεν: IAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain  1b) to teach  1c) to exhort, advise, to command, 
ἐπίστευσαν: AAI 3p, πιστεύω, 1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place  confidence in  1a) of the thing believed  1a1) to credit, have confidence
εἶπεν: AAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain  1b) to teach  1c) to exhort, advise, to command, 
1. This verse brings together the “raising” (or “resurrection”), “remembering” correctly, and therefore “believing” the “word” that Jesus “said.”  Notice how these are the themes of the first ending of John’s Gospel, just at the conclusion of the resurrection story (John 20:30-31): “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”

Parallel Stories:
The other gospels tell of Jesus’ actions in the temple just prior to Jesus’ death – unlike the early placement of it here in John. See Matthew 21:12-27, Mark 11:15-17, and Luke 19:45-48.

Nehemiah 13:4-9
Here is an intriguing event ‘liberating’ of the house of God by throwing out furniture and cleansing the space:
Now before this, the priest Eliashib, who was appointed over the chambers of the house of our God, and who was related to Tobiah, prepared for Tobiah a large room where they had previously put the grain-offering, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil, which were given by commandment to the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests. While this was taking place I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes of Babylon I went to the king. After some time I asked leave of the king and returned to Jerusalem. I then discovered the wrong that Eliashib had done on behalf of Tobiah, preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God. And I was very angry, and I threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the room. Then I gave orders and they cleansed the chambers, and I brought back the vessels of the house of God, with the grain-offering and the frankincense.

Psalm 69
9It is zeal for your house that has consumed me;
   the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.
10When I humbled my soul with fasting,
   they insulted me for doing so.
11When I made sackcloth my clothing,
   I became a byword to them.
12I am the subject of gossip for those who sit in the gate,
   and the drunkards make songs about me.

And this wonderful commentary from Chris Haslam:
Josephus tells us in his Antiquities that Herod began rebuilding the Temple in the eighteenth year of his reign, i.e. about 20 BC. The events in our reading take place 46 years later, i.e. about 26 AD. However, the word translated as “temple” is naos and Josephus tells us that:
      The naos was completed in a year and five months and
      The whole complex of temple buildings was only completed in about 63 AD.
The only way of reconciling this data seems to be to assume that:
      Josephus means the sanctuary proper by naos while in John it refers to a larger group of buildings, and
      Reconstruction was suspended in 26 AD – when this larger group of buildings was almost complete.

But there is another possibility. Perhaps the “forty-six years” is Jesus’ age at the time. Three years later, at the time of the Crucifixion, he would be 49. 49 is the 7 times 7, the perfect number. The Resurrection can then be seen as inaugurating the great Jubilee. This fits well with 8:57, “You are not yet fifty years old ...” – unlike Jesus being in his thirties when he was crucified. It also fits with the tradition preserved by Irenaeus; he says that, on the authority of the elders of Asia who had known John, Jesus lived until he was nearly fifty. But there is nothing in v.20 to support this interpretation.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Imperatives of Discipleship

Below is a rough translation and some preliminary comments regarding Mark 8:31-38, the Revised Common Lectionary gospel reading for Sunday, March 1.  I am re-visiting this text and revising my earlier posting while attending a superb conference entitled "Why Water Is Sacred" with Ched Myers, David Griffin, Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, and Larry Rasmussen. Needless to say, my heart is filled to overflowing. 

31Καὶ ἤρξατο διδάσκειν αὐτοὺς ὅτι δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου πολλὰ 
παθεῖν καὶ ἀποδοκιμασθῆναι ὑπὸ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων καὶ τῶν ἀρχιερέων καὶ 
τῶν γραμματέων καὶ ἀποκτανθῆναι καὶ μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμέρας ἀναστῆναι: 
Then he began to teach them, “It is necessary for the son of man to suffer greatly and to be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and to be killed, and after three days to rise.”
ἤρξατο : AMI 3s, ἄρχω, 1) to be chief, to lead, to rule
δεῖ: PAI 3s, δέω, 1) to bind tie, fasten  1a) to bind, fasten with chains, to throw into chains  1b) metaph.  ..1b2) to bind, put under obligation, of the law, duty
διδάσκειν: PAInf, διδάσκω, 1) to teach  1a) to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them,  deliver didactic discourses
παθεῖν: AAInf, πάσχω, 1) to be affected or have been affected, to feel, have a  sensible experience, to undergo  1a) in a good sense, to be well off, in good case  1b) in a bad sense, to suffer sadly, be in a bad plight  1b1) of a sick person 
ἀποδοκιμασθῆναι: APInf, ἀποδοκιμάζω, 1) to disapprove, reject, repudiate 
ἀποκτανθῆναι: APInf, ἀποκτείνω, 1) to kill in any way whatever  1a) to destroy, to allow to perish  
ἀναστῆναι: AAInf, ἀνίστημι, 1) to cause to rise up, raise up  1a) raise up from laying down  1b) to raise up from the dead  
1. The ὅτι can either be translated as “that” (see the NRSV) or signify the beginning of a quote. Because v.32 makes a reference to what Jesus says here, I’m interpreting it as a quotation.
2. The phrase “Son of Man” is in the accusative case, which means that it is the object of the verb δεῖ. There may be an idiomatic speech pattern here where nouns in the accusative case act as nominative cases when paired with δεῖ. I am translating it more literally, as a substantive verb (“It is necessary for”) with “son of man” as the object.
3. While I am using “It is necessary for,” the δεῖ could be something like “It is fated for” or “It is destined for.” The verb δέω means to be chained or fastened to something. This is a critical verb here and elsewhere in Mark’s gospel.
4. For what, then, is the Son of Man destined? The verb δεῖ is followed by four infinitives: to suffer, to be rejected, to be killed, and to rise. The first and last infinitives are active, the second and third are passive.

32 καὶ παρρησίᾳ τὸν λόγον ἐλάλει. καὶ προσλαβόμενος  Πέτρος αὐτὸν ἤρξατο ἐπιτιμᾶν αὐτῷ. 
And he says the word openly. And, taking him aside, Peter began to censure him.
ἐλάλει: IAI 3s, λαλέω, 1) to utter a voice or emit a sound  2) to speak  2a) to use the tongue or the faculty of speech  2b) to utter articulate sounds
προσλαβόμενος: AMP nsm,
ἐπιτιμᾶν,v   3sg, PAI 3s, ἐπιτιμάω, See v. 30  1) to show honor to, to honor  2) to raise the price of  3) to adjudge, award, in the sense of merited penalty  4) to tax with fault, rate, chide, rebuke, reprove, censure severely  4a) to admonish or charge sharply 
1.    The remark, that Jesus says this openly, is interesting. Throughout Mark’s gospel, Jesus silences remarks about him as the Messiah – a feature that is often called the “Messianic secret” in Mark. The words, “It is necessary for the son of man to suffer …” is no secret. Perhaps it is because Jesus names names (elders, chief priests, scribes) that Mark find Jesus’ candor in this disclosure so remarkable.
2.    Verse 32 seems to be an answer to v.30 (not in this week’s lection). Just after Peter confesses that Jesus is the Messiah, v.30 says, “And he censured them that they may tell no one about it.” Jesus is quite open, however, about his forthcoming suffering. When Peter begins “to censure” Jesus, Mark uses the same verb as in v.30, ἐπιτιμάω.
3.    It is curious that the verb ἐπιτιμάω can mean either ‘to show honor’ or ‘to rebuke.’ Context determines the translation and I think most translations have it right that vv. 30 and 32 are meant to be confrontational.

33 δὲ ἐπιστραφεὶς καὶ ἰδὼν τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ ἐπετίμησεν Πέτρῳ καὶ 
λέγει, Υπαγε ὀπίσω μου, Σατανᾶ, ὅτι οὐ φρονεῖς τὰ τοῦ θεοῦ ἀλλὰ τὰ τῶν 
ἀνθρώπων. 
But having turned and having seen his disciples, he censured Peter and says, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not reflecting on the things of God but on the things of humans.”
ἐπιστραφεὶς: APP nsm, ἐπιστρέφω, 1) transitively  1a) to turn to  1a1) to the worship of the true God  1b) to cause to return, to bring back 
ἰδὼν: AAP nsm, ὁράω, 1) to see with the eyes  2) to see with the mind, to perceive, know  3) to see, i.e. become acquainted with by experience, to experience
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  4) to tax with fault, rate, chide, rebuke, reprove, censure severely  4a) to admonish or charge sharply
λέγει: PAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
Υπαγε: PAImpv 2s, ὑπάγω, 1) to lead under, bring under  2) to withdraw one's self, to go away, depart 
φρονεῖς: PAI 2s, φρονέω, 1) to have understanding, be wise   2) to feel, to think   2a) to have an opinion of one's self, think of one's self, to be modest, not let one's opinion (though just) of himself exceed the bounds of modesty
1.    The phrase “having seen his disciples” indicates that Jesus is arguing with Peter with the disciples in view. Remembering that Peter has just made the profession that Jesus is the Christ, Peter is beginning to emerge as the leading voice among the disciples. But, that leadership comes with significant responsibility and a huge learning curve. In vv.29-30, Peter’s confession is immediately followed by Jesus censuring them not to tell anyone about him. In our pericope, Jesus and Peter are censuring one another back and forth. In the next pericope (the transfiguration story of 9:2-9, Peter again speaks out and is silenced by the voice out of the clouds. Peter has a lot to learn.
2.    Here’s that word ἐπιτιμάω (“censured” or “rebuked”) again! It is in vv. 30, 32, and 33.
3.    Note the use of “behind me” in this verse … and the next!
4.    In Matthew 4:10 (temptation story) Jesus uses the phrase, τότε λέγει αὐτῷ Ἰησοῦς, Υπαγε, Σατανᾶ (“Then Jesus says to him, Get, Satan!”) The phraseology is quite similar to how Mark describes Jesus’ response to Peter here.
5.    By using the name “Satan” with reference to Peter here, Jesus/Mark may be showing that “Satan” is not a proper name, but a reference to anyone who tempts Jesus not to do that for which he is destined.  

34Καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τὸν ὄχλον σὺν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, 
Εἴ τις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἀκολουθεῖν, ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀράτω τὸν 
σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκολουθείτω μοι. 
And having called to the crowd with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone wants to follow behind me, let that one deny oneself and take up one’s cross and follow me.
προσκαλεσάμενος: AMP nsm, προσκαλέομαι, 1) to call to 2) to call to one's self  3) to bid to come to one's self  
θέλει: PAI 3s, θέλω, 1) to will, have in mind, intend  1a) to be resolved or determined, to purpose  1b) to desire, to wish  1c) to love  1c1) to like to do a thing, be fond of doing  1d) to take delight in, have pleasure 
ἀκολουθεῖν: PAInf, ἀκολουθέω, 1) to follow one who precedes, join him as his attendant, accompany him  2) to join one as a disciple, become or be his disciple  2a) side with his party 
ἀπαρνησάσθω: AMImpv 3s, ἀπαρνέομαι, 1) to deny  1a) to affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone  1b) to forget one's self, lose sight of one's self and one's  own interests.
ἀράτω : AAImpv 3s, αἴρω, 1) to raise up, elevate, lift up  1a) to raise from the ground, take up: stones  1b) to raise upwards, elevate, lift up: the hand
ἀκολουθείτω: PAImpv 3s, ἀκολουθέω, 1) to follow one who precedes, join him as his attendant,  accompany him  2) to join one as a disciple, become or be his disciple  2a) side with his party 
1.    Notice the audience here: Having seen the disciples, he spoke to Peter and now having called to the crowd he speaks to them with his disciples.
2.    My translation is awkward, “One … oneself … one’s ..”, etc. I am trying to pick up on the fact that this is singular, yet I’m trying to keep it gender-neutral. Most translations use the plural, in order to keep it gender neutral.
3.    This is the first mention of the cross in Mark, therefore in the gospels.
4.    The words “follow” and “behind” are key here. When Jesus called his disciples, he said, “Come behind me and I’ll make you fishers of people.” Then, Mark says, “They followed him.” These are discipleship terms throughout Mark. Reading Mk. 14 and seeing how the disciples ‘fled’ and how Peter ‘followed at a distance’ we see how difficult this call was for the disciples.
5.    See how ‘behind’ is in vv.33 and 34: Disciples line up behind Jesus with Peter/Satan.
6.    The imperatives, “deny, take, follow” are in the 3rd person, which is odd in the NT. Imperatives are typically in the 2nd person voice. The first two imperatives, ‘deny’ and ‘take’ are aorist, but he third, ‘follow’ is present. I think that gives the command to ‘follow’ a more ongoing quality.
7.    Regarding the verb for ἀπαρνησάσθω: Could this be the opposite of φρονεῖς in v.33, where to “deny onself” is the alternative to “reflecting on human concerns”?

35ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν θέλῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ σῶσαι ἀπολέσει αὐτήν: ὃς δ' ἂν 
ἀπολέσει τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ καὶ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου σώσει αὐτήν. 
For whoever who wants to rescue one’s life will destroy it, and whoever destroys one’s life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will rescue it.
θέλῃ: PASubj 3s, θέλω, 1) to will, have in mind, intend  1a) to be resolved or determined, to purpose  1b) to desire, to wish  1c) to love  1c1) to like to do a thing, be fond of doing  1d) to take delight in, have pleasure
σῶσαι: AAInf, σῴζω, 1) to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction  1a) one (from injury or peril)  1a1) to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one  suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health
ἀπολέσει: FAI 3s, ἀπόλλυμι, 1) to destroy 1a) to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to ruin  …  2) to destroy  2a) to lose 
σώσει: FAI 3s, σῴζω, 1) to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction 1a) one (from injury or peril)  1a1) to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one  suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health
1.    The key terms here are the oppositional terms σῶσαι and ἀπολέσει, which the NRSV translates as “save” and “lose.” I am using “rescue” because the term “save” has often lost its original meaning and has become a “religious” word. For Mark’s community, it was a common word that was the opposite of the very difficult term ἀπολέσει. I am trying to retain the harshness and opposition of these words.
2.    Pertaining to the word There seems to be an operational understanding among Mark’s readers of what it means to ‘rescue’ or ‘destroy’ one’s psyche.
3.    Some of the oldest manuscripts omit the words “for my sake.”  

36τί γὰρ ὠφελεῖ ἄνθρωπον κερδῆσαι τὸν κόσμον ὅλον καὶ ζημιωθῆναι τὴν 
ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ; 
For what does it profit a person to acquire the whole world and forfeit one’s life?
ὠφελεῖ: PAI 3s, ὠφελέω, 1) to assist, to be useful or advantageous, to profit 
κερδῆσαι: AAInf, κερδαίνω, 1) to gain, acquire, to get gain 2) metaph. 2a) of gain arising from shunning or escaping from evil
ζημιωθῆναι: APInf, ζημιόω, 1) to affect with damage, do damage to 2) to sustain damage, to receive injury, suffer loss
1.    The words κερδαίνω and ζημιόω (“acquire” and “forfeit”) seem to be other ways of stating “rescue” and “destroy” in v.35.
2.    The term ψυχὴν can be translated “life” (in a different sense than biotic life) or “soul,” or it can be transliterated as “psyche, ” as in psych-ology. It is often translated “soul,” but, I am a little hesitant to use “soul” because it has become a “religious” word that signifies a part of the human person, as opposed to a common word that refers to one’s being more holistically.
3.    An example in this gospel of one who acquires yet loses his soul may be Judas, about whom Jesus says in 14:31, “It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” Forgetting images of judgment and punishment for a moment, that may be the saddest statement about a human life that could ever be expressed.

37τί γὰρ δοῖ ἄνθρωπος ἀντάλλαγμα τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ; 
For what can one give in return for one’s life?
δοῖ: AASubj 3s, δίδωμι to give, present (with implied notion of giving freely unforced; opposed to ἀποδίδωμι). Hence, in various connections, to yield, deliver, supply, commit, etc.
1.    I think the meaning of this verse retains the ‘comparative value’ sense from v.36. Perhaps “what would be a fair exchange for one’s life?”

38 ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν ἐπαισχυνθῇ με καὶ τοὺς ἐμοὺς λόγους ἐν τῇ γενεᾷταύτῃ τῇ 
μοιχαλίδι καὶ ἁμαρτωλῷ, καὶ  υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐπαισχυνθήσεται αὐτὸν 
ὅταν ἔλθῃ ἐν τῇ δόξῃ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ μετὰ τῶν ἀγγέλων τῶν ἁγίων.
For whoever might be ashamed [of] me and of my words in the adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed [of] that one when he comes in the glory of his father with the holy angels.”
ἐπαισχυνθῇ: APSubj 3s, ἐπαισχύνομαι, 1) to be ashamed 
ἐπαισχυνθήσεται: FPI 3s, ἐπαισχύνομαι, 1) to be ashamed 
ἔλθῃ: AASubj 3s, 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 
1.    Verses 35, 36, 37, and 38 all have the word γὰρ as their second word. γὰρ is a “post-positive” word, meaning that while it appears second in Greek order, we typically translated its “position” as first. And it is also typically translated as “For”.
2.    γὰρ signifies that vv.35-38 are making an argument or an explanation for what has already been said, namely they explain the words in v.34, “If anyone wants to follow behind me, let that one deny oneself and take up one’s cross and follow me.”



There is so much going on in this brief pericope and its centrality to Mark’s gospel makes it central to the story of Christ in general. This is Jesus’ first ‘disclosure’ of his forthcoming suffering and death. I shy away from the word ‘prediction’ – as some translations put in their subtitle – because this is not a matter of guesswork. It is a description of what the Son of Man must do. If Jesus had yielded to Satan-Peter’s temptation to try another path, then he would not have been the Son of Man. Moreover, the necessity that faces Jesus – of taking up one’s cross – is the necessity that faces anyone who would be his disciple.

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