Sunday, May 31, 2015

Parables of Plunder

Below is a rough translation and some preliminary comments regarding Mark 3:20-35, the Revised Common Lectionary Reading for Sunday, June 7, 2015.

I see this pericope as another example of Mark’s bracketing technique. Vv.20-21 describe Jesus’ enormous popularity and the concern of his family about his sanity. Vv. 31-35 finish that story when his mother and brothers arrive and call for him and Jesus responds by re-apprising who his family is. In between the two parts of that story are vv.22-30, where Jesus responds to the Scribes’ accusations in parables.

20Καὶ ἔρχεται εἰς οἶκον: καὶ συνέρχεται πάλιν [ὁ] ὄχλος, ὥστε μὴ δύνασθαι αὐτοὺς μηδὲ ἄρτον φαγεῖν. 
And he comes into a house; and [the] crowd gathers again, so that they are not able to eat any bread.
ἔρχεται : PMI 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
συνέρχεται: PMI 3s, συνέρχομαι, 1) to come together  1a) to assemble  1b) of conjugal cohabitation  2) to go (depart) or come with one, to accompany one 
δύνασθαι: PMInf, δύναμαι, 1) to be able, have power whether by virtue of one's own ability and  resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable  circumstances, or by permission of law or custom
φαγεῖν: AAInf, ἐσθίω, 1) to eat  2) to eat (consume) a thing  2a) to take food, eat a meal  3) metaph. to devour, consume 
1. Some manuscripts have “They come into a house” as part of v.19. Others have “He comes into a house” as part of v.20.
2. Some translations leave out “bread.”
3. There is a double negative of “not able to eat” and “no bread” which would sound too awkward, so I made it “any bread.”
4. After the confrontation with the Pharisees over the healing of the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath, the Pharisees conspire with the Herodians on how to destroy Jesus, but with the crowd Jesus has become enormously popular (vv. 7-12). Jesus seems to have escaped the crowd for a time, to appoint the 12, but now they have reassembled. When Jesus’ family arrives, the crowded house explains why they had to call him from outside and send someone to fetch him.

21καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ παρ' αὐτοῦ ἐξῆλθον κρατῆσαι αὐτόν, ἔλεγον γὰρ ὅτι 
ἐξέστη. 
And having heard, his people came to take him, for they were saying that he was insane.
ἀκούσαντες : AAPart npm, ἀκούω, 1) to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf 
ἐξῆλθον : AAI 3p, 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
κρατῆσαι : AAInf, κρατέω, 1) to have power, be powerful  1a) to be chief, be master of, to rule  2) to get possession of  2a) to become master of, to obtain  2b) to take hold of  2c) to take hold of, take, seize
ἔλεγον: IAI 3p, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain  1b) to teach  1c) to exhort, advise, to command, direct 
ἐξέστη: AAI 3s, ἐξίστημι, 1) to throw out of position, displace  1a) to amaze, to astonish, throw into wonderment  1b) to be amazed, astounded  1c) to be out of one's mind, besides one's self, insane
1. οἱ παρ' αὐτοῦ literally reads, “the ones alongside him.” Some translators interpret this to be “family” (NIV, ESV, NRSV) and others “his friends” (KJV, YLT). I’m going with “his people,” but below (v.31) there is mention that his mother and brothers came, sending for him, so I think “family” would be a good call for a refined translation.
2. ἐξ/ίστημι literally means to “stand outside.” The verb ίστημι is repeated in the parables that Jesus says in vv. 24, 25, and 26.
3. It is not clear whether Jesus’ family are saying that he is insane or whether they come to fetch him because others are saying that he is insane or whether insanity and working through the chief of the demons are all the same charge, given by the scribes from Jerusalem.

22καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς οἱ ἀπὸ Ἱεροσολύμων καταβάντες ἔλεγον ὅτι Βεελζεβοὺλ ἔχει, καὶ ὅτι ἐν τῷ ἄρχοντι τῶν δαιμονίων ἐκβάλλει τὰ δαιμόνια. 
And the scribes having come down from Jerusalem were saying “He has Beelzebul,” and “In the ruler of the demons he casts out the demons.”
καταβάντες : AAPart npm, καταβαίνω, 1) to go down, come down, descend  1a) the place from which one has come down from  1b) to come down
ἔλεγον: IAI 3p, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain  1b) to teach  1c) to exhort, advise, to command, direct 
ἔχει: PAI 3s, ἔχω, 1) to have, i.e. to hold  1a) to have (hold) in the hand
ἐκβάλλει: PAI 3s,  ἐκβάλλω, 1) to cast out, drive out, to send out
1. I am interpreting the double ὅτι as indicating two quotations.
2. Young’s Literal Translation interprets this verse as part of the same sentence as v.21, making these claims part of what prompted Jesus’ friends (his interpretation of “those who were alongside him”) to come. I see it as the beginning of a second story within the first story.

23καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος αὐτοὺς ἐν παραβολαῖς ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς, Πῶς δύναται 
Σατανᾶς Σατανᾶν ἐκβάλλειν; 
And having called to them in parables he was saying to them, “How is Satan able to cast out Satan?
προσκαλεσάμενος: AMPart nsm, προσκαλέομαι, 1) to call to 
ἔλεγεν: IAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain  1b) to teach  1c) to exhort, advise, to command, direct 
δύναται : PMI 3s, δύναμαι, 1) to be able, have power whether by virtue of one's own ability and  resources
ἐκβάλλειν: PAInf, ἐκβάλλω, 1) to cast out, drive out, to send out
1. The parables begin here and extend until v.29.
2. I wonder if the participle of “calling” (προσκαλέομαι) is needed because this is a loud and chaotic event. It will return in v.31.
3. This time the “them” seems to be the scribes. The first “them” is the accusative object of the participle “having called to them,” and the second is
4. The verb δύναμαι (“to be able”) appears in 5 successive verses. Jesus’ answer to the scribes’ accusations are about ability.

24 καὶ ἐὰν βασιλεία ἐφ'ἑαυτὴν μερισθῇ, οὐ δύναται σταθῆναι  βασιλεία 
ἐκείνη: 
And if a kingdom were divided against itself, that kingdom is not able to stand;
μερισθῇ: APSubj 3s, μερίζω, 1) to divide 1a) to separate into parts, cut into pieces 
δύναται : PMI 3s, δύναμαι, 1) to be able, have power whether by virtue of one's own ability and  resources 
σταθῆναι: APInf, ἵστημι, 1) to cause or make to stand, to place, put, set  1a) to bid to stand by, [set up]  

25 καὶ ἐὰν οἰκία ἐφ' ἑαυτὴν μερισθῇ, οὐ δυνήσεται  οἰκία ἐκείνη σταθῆναι. 
And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.
μερισθῇ: APSubj 3s, μερίζω, 1) to divide  1a) to separate into parts, cut into pieces 
δυνήσεται: FMI3s, δύναμαι, 1) to be able, have power whether by virtue of one's own ability and  resources 
σταθῆναι: APInf, ἵστημι, 1) to cause or make to stand, to place, put, set  1a) to bid to stand by, [set up]  

26καὶ εἰ  Σατανᾶς ἀνέστη ἐφ' ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἐμερίσθη, οὐ δύναται στῆναι 
ἀλλὰ τέλος ἔχει. 
And if the Satan rose up against himself and was divided, he is not able to stand but has an end.
ἀνέστη : AAI 3s, ἀνίστημι, 1) to cause to rise up, raise up  1a) raise up from laying down  1b) to raise up from the dead
ἐμερίσθη: API 3s, μερίζω, 1) to divide  1a) to separate into parts, cut into pieces 
δύναται : PMI 3s, δύναμαι, 1) to be able, have power whether by virtue of one's own ability and  resources
στῆναι : AAInf, ἵστημι, 1) to cause or make to stand, to place, put, set  1a) to bid to stand by, [set up]  
ἔχει: PAI 3s, ἔχω, 1) to have, i.e. to hold  1a) to have (hold) in the hand,

27ἀλλ' οὐ δύναται οὐδεὶς εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν τοῦ ἰσχυροῦ εἰσελθὼν τὰ σκεύη αὐτοῦ 
διαρπάσαι ἐὰν μὴ πρῶτον τὸν ἰσχυρὸν δήσῃ, καὶ τότε τὴν οἰκίαν αὐτοῦ 
διαρπάσει.
But no one having entered the house of the strong one is able to plunder his goods unless first he might bind the strong one, and then he will plunder his house.
δύναται : PMI 3s, δύναμαι, 1) to be able, have power whether by virtue of one's own ability and  resources 
εἰσελθὼν: AAPart nsm, εἰσέρχομαι, 1) to go out or come in: to enter
διαρπάσαι: AAInf, διαρπάζω, 1) to plunder
δήσῃ: AASubj 3s, δέω, 1) to bind tie, fasten  1a) to bind, fasten with chains, to throw into chains
διαρπάσει: FAI 3s, διαρπάζω, 1) to plunder
1. If Jesus has “cast out Satan,” or has “plundered Satan’s house of goods,” then it is not because is in cahoots with Satan but because he has bound Satan to make him powerless to stop the plunder.

28 Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πάντα ἀφεθήσεται τοῖς υἱοῖς τῶν ἀνθρώπων, τὰ 
ἁμαρτήματα καὶ αἱ βλασφημίαι ὅσα ἐὰν βλασφημήσωσιν: 
Amen I say to you that all will be forgiven to the sons of men, the sins and the blasphemies which they might have blasphemed;
ἀφεθήσεται : FPI 3s, ἀφίημι, 1) to send away  1a) to bid going away or depart  1a1) of a husband divorcing his wife
βλασφημήσωσιν: AASubj 3p, βλασφημέω, 1) to speak reproachfully, rail at, revile, calumniate, blaspheme  2) to be evil spoken of, reviled, railed at 
1. Many translations add “the sins” to “all will be forgiven” in the first clause.
2. This is a rather astonishing comment in itself. All sins and blasphemies that the sons of men might have blasphemed will be forgiven.” It is not a subjunctive, “might be forgiven,” but the future indicative, “will be forgiven.”
3. Given the significance of Mark’s phrase “son of man” to describe Jesus, I find the phrase “sons of men” to be intriguing. I would normally be inclined to translate the phrase inclusively, but in this case I would want to keep the connection between those two phrases. (Using the quick word search of greattreasures.org, I do not see this phrase anywhere else in Mark.)

29 ὃς δ' ἂν βλασφημήσῃ εἰς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον οὐκ ἔχει ἄφεσιν εἰς τὸν 
αἰῶνα, ἀλλὰ ἔνοχός ἐστιν αἰωνίου ἁμαρτήματος 
But whoever would blaspheme against the holy spirit does not have forgiveness into the eons, but is liable to an age-long sin.”
βλασφημήσῃ: AASubj 3s, , βλασφημέω, 1) to speak reproachfully, rail at, revile, calumniate, blaspheme  2) to be evil spoken of, reviled, railed at 
ἔχει: PAI 3s, ἔχω, 1) to have, i.e. to hold  1a) to have (hold) in the hand,
ἐστιν : PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
1. The word ἁμαρτήματος (here) and the plural form ἁμαρτήματα (v.28) is a derivative of ἁμαρτία, the more common word for sin. It is interesting that the KJV and YLT both interpret the first use (v.28) as “sins” and the second as “damnation” (KJV) or “judgment” (YLT).
2. I cannot imagine how anyone can read this verse and decide that s/he is capable of naming what, exactly,"blaspheming the holy spirit" is. At most, it seems to be the act of ascribing God's work to the influence of and evil spirit, per the next verse. 

30 ὅτι ἔλεγον, Πνεῦμα ἀκάθαρτον ἔχει. 
Because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.”  
ἔλεγον: IAI 3p, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain  1b) to teach  1c) to exhort, advise, to command, direct 
ἔχει: PAI 3s, ἔχω, 1) to have, i.e. to hold  1a) to have (hold) in the hand
1. This verse seems to conclude what began in v.22, the accusation that Jesus “has Beelzebul.” There, the “they” is clearly “the scribes.”

31Καὶ ἔρχεται  μήτηρ αὐτοῦ καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔξω στήκοντες 
ἀπέστειλαν πρὸς αὐτὸν καλοῦντες αὐτόν. 
And his mother and his brothers are coming to him and staked outside sent to him calling him.
ἔρχεται: PMI 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 
στήκοντες: PAPart npm, στήκω, 1) to stand firm 2) to persevere, to persist  3) to keep one's standing
ἀπέστειλαν: AAI 3p, ἀποστέλλω, 1) to order (one) to go to a place appointed  2) to send away, dismiss  2a) to allow one to depart, that he may be in a state of  liberty 
καλοῦντες: PAPart npm, καλέω, to call  1a) to call aloud, utter in a loud voice
1. The verb στήκω has a kind of persistence to it. It could be translated “standing” but it is different from the verb ἵστημι that Jesus uses throughout the parables. I suspect that the family’s persistence has to do with the crowd and their determination to send for Jesus despite not being able to approach him.

32καὶ ἐκάθητο περὶ αὐτὸν ὄχλος, καὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ, Ἰδοὺ  μήτηρ σου καὶ οἱ 
ἀδελφοί σου [καὶ αἱ ἀδελφαι σου] ἔξω ζητοῦσίν σε. 
And a crowd was seated around him, and are saying to him, “Behold your mother and your brothers [and your sisters] are seeking you outside.
ἐκάθητο: IMI 3s, 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 
λέγουσιν : PAI 3p, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
ζητοῦσίν : PAI 3p, ζητέω, 1) to seek in order to find  1a) to seek a thing

33καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς αὐτοῖς λέγει, Τίς ἐστιν ἡ μήτηρ μου καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοί [μου]; 
And answering to them he says, “Who is my mother and [my] brothers?
ἀποκριθεὶς : APPart nsm, ἀποκρίνομαι, 1) to give an answer to a question proposed, to answer
λέγει: PAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
ἐστιν : PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present

34καὶ περιβλεψάμενος τοὺς περὶ αὐτὸν κύκλῳ καθημένους λέγει, Ἴδε  
μήτηρ μου καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοί μου. 
And having looked around those seated encircled around him, he says, “Behold my mother and my brothers.
περιβλεψάμενος: AMPart nsm, περιβλέπω, to look round about.
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 
λέγει: PAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak 
Ἴδε: imperative of εἶδον  (to see) used as an interjection,
1. I would imagine that this story poses a problem for some ways that the church has regarding Mary in the same way that many of Mark’s stories pose problems for some ways that the church has regarded the disciples. (And by “ways that the church has regarded” I am referring to perspectives that go as far back as some of the other gospels.)

35 ὃς [γὰρ] ἂν ποιήσῃ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, οὗτος ἀδελφός μου 
καὶ ἀδελφὴ καὶ μήτηρ ἐστίν.
[For] whoever might do the will of God, that is my brother and sister and mother.
ποιήσῃ: AASubj 3s, ποιέω, 1) to make  1a) with the names of things made, to produce, construct,  form, fashion, etc. 
ἐστιν : PAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
1. Look at Jesus getting all inclusive in his language on the conclusion!
2. Since Jesus has already declared the folks sitting encircled around him as his family, then doing the will of God is not some impossible dream, but seems to be (in this case) accepting Jesus’ works as prompted by the power of God and not Satan, and gathering around him instead of conspiring against him or coming to fetch him as a lunatic.



3 comments:

  1. Mark, this is so helpful, thank you. I too, was confused about who was saying that Jesus was insane. It seems as if it is the religious leaders, maybe piling onto the excitement that is already happening when people are elbow to elbow listening to something they have never heard quite that like before. A vision of a place or a state of being that they are not familiar with...would be disconcerting or even disturbing, and when it was delivered outside the synagogue, well, it might be seen as suspect, maybe? So, perhaps, his family is trying to "shut him up" so they won't be ostracized from their hometown. And it gives Jesus a chance to deconstruct the family as they knew it and then remake/reconstruct in the image of God? That is a trail I am following right now...

    I love your translations, they are really good and thoughtful. Thanks for sharing your gifts to inform us preachers who are as proficient.

    Erin Thomas
    Calvary Riverside

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *...who aren't as proficient!*

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Erin. I like where you're going with this. I remember years ago Jack Rogers said we tend to think of those who disagree with us as either 'ignorant' or 'evil,' because what we believe is so obviously right. It dawned on me when translating this text that Jesus was charged with these very things - he was either insane or diabolical. That's been gnawing at me all week.
      Thanks again for your note.
      MD

      Delete

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