Friday, February 3, 2012

Compassion and/or Anger !/?

Mark 1:40-45

This week's lectionary gospel text is intriguing because it could be translated as a compassionate story or as an angry story.  Or both. Below is my raw translation, along with some words studies and a few comments by others. I'm posting this a bit early because I'm leaving for El Salvador for a few days. Happy reading! 

40Καὶ ἔρχεται πρὸς αὐτὸν λεπρὸς παρακαλῶν αὐτὸν [καὶ γονυπετῶν] καὶ 
λέγων αὐτῷ ὅτι Ἐὰν θέλῃς δύνασαί με καθαρίσαι. 
And coming to him (a) leper, imploring him and bowing and saying to him “If you will you are able me to cleanse.”
Ched Myers: "You could declare me clean if only you would dare."
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
παρακαλῶν : PAPart nms, παρακαλέω, 1) to call to one's side, call for, summon  2) to address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done in  the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc.
γονυπετῶν: PAPart nsm, γονυπετέω, 1) to fall on the knees, the act of imploring aid, and of  expressing reverence and honour
λέγων : PAPart nsm, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
θέλῃς: PASubj 2s, θέλω, 1) to will, have in mind, intend  1a) to be resolved or determined, to purpose
δύνασαί : PMI 2s, 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 
καθαρίσαι: AAInf, καθαρίζω, 1) to make clean, cleanse  1a) from physical stains and dirt  1a1) utensils, food  1a2) a leper, to cleanse by curing  1a3) to remove by cleansing

41καὶ σπλαγχνισθεὶς ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ ἥψατο καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ, 
Θέλω, καθαρίσθητι: 
And having compassion/infuriated, stretching out the hand of him he touched and says to him, “I will; be cleansed.” 
σπλαγχνισθεὶς : APPar nms, σπλαγχνίζομαι, 1) to be moved as to one's bowels, hence to be moved with compassion,  have compassion (for the bowels were thought to be the seat of  love and pity) SEE BELOW UNDER ‘WORD STUDY’
ἐκτείνας : AAPart nms, ἐκτείνω, 1) to stretch out, stretch forth  1a) over, towards, against one
ἥψατο : AMI 3s, ἅπτω, 1) to fasten to, adhere to  1a) to fasten fire to a thing, kindle, set of fire
λέγει : PAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
Θέλω:PAI 1s, θέλω, 1) to will, have in mind, intend  1a) to be resolved or determined, to purpose
καθαρίσθητι:APImpv 2s, καθαρίζω, 1) to make clean, cleanse  1a) from physical stains and dirt  1a1) utensils, food  1a2) a leper, to cleanse by curing  1a3) to remove by cleansing

42καὶ εὐθὺς ἀπῆλθεν ἀπ' αὐτοῦ  λέπρα, καὶ ἐκαθαρίσθη. 
And immediately left from him the leprosy and was cleansed.
ἀπῆλθεν : AAI 3s, ἀπέρχομαι,v  \{ap-erkh'-om-ahee}
1) to go away, depart  1a) to go away in order to follow any one, go after him, to  follow his party, follow him as a leader
ἐκαθαρίσθη: API 3s, καθαρίζω, 1) to make clean, cleanse  1a) from physical stains and dirt  1a1) utensils, food  1a2) a leper, to cleanse by curing  1a3) to remove by cleansing

43καὶ ἐμβριμησάμενος αὐτῷεὐθὺς ἐξέβαλεν αὐτόν, 
And speaking harshly to him, immediately cast him out. 
ἐμβριμησάμενος : AMP nsm, ἐμβριμάομαι, 1) to charge with earnest admonition, sternly to charge,  threatened to enjoin   SEE BELOW UNDER ‘WORD STUDY’
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  1a2b) a thing: excrement from the belly into the sink 

44καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ, Ορα μηδενὶ (dat) μηδὲν (acc) εἴπῃς, ἀλλὰ ὕπαγε σεαυτὸν δεῖξον τῷ ἱερεῖ καὶ προσένεγκε περὶ τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ σου  προσέταξεν 
Μωϋσῆς, εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς.
And is saying to him, “Take care to no one nothing saying but go yourself show to the priest and bring concerning the cleansing of you that which placed Moses into a witness to/against them.. 
Myers: The Greek translated here as "for a proof to the people" is actually a technical term for bearing witness in a hostile situation.
λέγει : PAI 3s,
Ορα : PAImpv 2s, 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  4) to see, to look to  4a) to take heed, beware
εἴπῃς: AASubj 2s,
ὕπαγε : PAImpv 2s, ὑπάγω, 1) to lead under, bring under  2) to withdraw one's self, to go away, depart
δεῖξον : AAImpv 2s,
προσένεγκε : AAImpv 2s, προσφέρω, 1) to bring to, lead to  1a) one to a person who can heal him or is ready to show him some  kindness, one to a person who is to judge him 
προσέταξεν : AAI 3s, προστάσσω, 1) to assign or ascribe to, join to  2) to enjoin, order, prescribe, command  2a) to appoint, to define

 45 δὲ ἐξελθὼν ἤρξατο κηρύσσειν πολλὰ καὶ διαφημίζειν τὸν λόγον, ὥστε 
μηκέτι αὐτὸν δύνασθαι φανερῶς εἰς πόλιν εἰσελθεῖν, ἀλλ' ἔξω ἐπ' ἐρήμοις 
τόποις ἦν: καὶ ἤρχοντο πρὸς αὐτὸν πάντοθεν. 
But he going out began to preach many and to spread abroad the word so that nowhere him to be able appear in a city to come in but outside upon deserted places he was and (they) came to him from all places. 
ἐξελθὼν : AAPart nms, 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  1a1) of those who leave a place of their own accord  1a2) of those who are expelled or cast out 
ἤρξατο : AMI 3s, ἄρχω, 1) to be chief, to lead, to rule   b. ἄρχ. denotes something as begun by some one, others following
κηρύσσειν : PAInf, κηρύσσω, 1) to be a herald, to officiate as a herald  1a) to proclaim after the manner of a herald  
διαφημίζειν : PAInf, διαφημίζω, 1) to spread abroad, blaze abroad  2) to spread abroad his fame or renown
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
εἰσελθεῖν: AAinf, εἰσέρχομαι, 1) to go out or come in: to enter  1a) of men or animals, as into a house or a city  1b) of Satan taking possession of the body of a person 
ἦν: IAI 3s, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
ἤρχοντο : IMI 3p, ἔρχομαι to come or go, used of persons or of things. It denotes the act of coming or going, as, I am coming, etc., in distinction from ἥκω, which denotes the result, as, I am come and am here

41. σπλαγχνισθεὶς 
From Michael Turton, Although most textual witnesses say the text reads "moved with pity," some manuscripts have "infuriated." As the more difficult reading, this is to be preferred. Bart Ehrman (2000) asks: "If the text of Mark available to Matthew and Luke had used the term σπλαγχνισθεὶς, feeling compassion, why would each of them have omitted it? On only two other occasions in Mark's Gospel is Jesus explicitly described as compassionate: Mark 6:34, at the feeding of the 5000, and Mark 8:2, the feeding of the 4000. Luke completely recasts the first story and does not include the second. Matthew, however, has both stories and retains Mark's description of Jesus being compassionate on both occasions (14:14 [and 9:30]; 15:32). On three additional occasions in Matthew, and yet one other occasion in Luke, Jesus is explicitly described as compassionate, using this term (σπλαγχνισθεὶς). It's hard to imagine, then, why they both, independently of one another, would have omitted the term from the present account if they had found it in Mark."
A further problem is that the sentence may also be punctuated so that it is the leper, not Jesus, who is enraged (Lake cited in Willker 2004, p36-7). 

43. ἐμβριμησάμενος 
Ched Myers (Binding the Strong Man) opts for the angry reading. After his comment about the leper daring Jesus to heal him, he writes:
Jesus does indeed dare, but Mark tells us he is angry. Then, after the declaration of wholeness has been delivered, Jesus, "snorting with indignation" (ἐμβριμησάμενος), dispatches the man back to the priests (the probable meaning of ἐξέβαλεν). How are we to make sense of these strong emotions?
They only make sense if the man had already been to the priests, who for some reason had rejected his petition. Deciding to make an issue out of it, Jesus sternly gives the leper these orders: See that you say nothing to anyone! Rather, go back and show yourself to the priest and make the offering prescribed by Moses for your cleansing as a witness against them [1:44]
The cleansed leper's task is not to publicize a miracle but to help confront an ideological system: the change in object (from "priest" to "them") suggests a protest against the entire purity apparatus, which the priests control. He is to make the offering for the purpose of "witnessing against them" (eis marturion autois). This is a technical phrase in the Gospel for testimony before hostile audiences (6:11; 13:9). [p. 153]
Other typical translations of ἐμβριμησάμενος
Mt. 9:30- Two blind men eyes were opened, Jesus sternly warned them to tell nobody- but they did.
Mk. 14:5- People at dinner ‘scolded’ the woman with the expensive ointment.
Jn.11:33- When Jesus saw Mary and the Jews with her weeping, he was ‘greatly disturbed’ in his spirit.
Jn. 11:38- Again, Jesus was ‘greatly disturbed’ in his spirit

43, ἐξέβαλεν 
Uses of  in ἐξέβαλεν in Mark
Mar 1:12   ...immediately the Spirit driveth him into the...
Mar 1:34   ...divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and...
Mar 1:39   ...all Galilee, and cast out devils.
Mar 1:43   ...him, and forthwith sent him away;
Mar 3:15   ...heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:
Mar 3:22   ...of the devils casteth he out devils.
Mar 3:23   ...How can Satan cast out Satan?
Mar 5:40 scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the...
Mar 6:13      And they cast out many devils, and...
Mar 7:26   ...besought him that he would cast forth the devil out...
Mar 9:18   ...thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could...
Mar 9:28   ...could not we cast him out?
Mar 9:38   ...we saw one casting out devils in thy...
Mar 9:47   ...eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better...
Mar 11:15  ...temple, and began to cast out them that sold...
Mar 12:8   ...killed him, and cast him out of...
Mar 16:9   ...out of whom he had cast seven devils.
Mar 16:17  ...In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall...

Note how in Mark 1 Jesus heals a "leper" (skin disease) and then in Mk 5:21-43 Jesus heals a woman with a discharge, followed by the raising of a dead girl (ceremonially unclean due to contact with a dead body). All of these are contagious impurities (Fletcher-Louis 2003) that affect others who touch them.
v40: Myers (1988) declares: "Mark's story of Jesus stands virtually alone among the literary achievements of antiquity for one reason: it is a narrative for and about the common people. The Gospel reflects the daily realities of disease, poverty, and disenfranchisement that characterized the social existence of first-century Palestine's 'other 95%.'"(p39)
v40: Kazmierski (1992) points out that the leper's request presupposes that Jesus is well known as a healer. He also observes that the leper is not merely beseeching Jesus for help, but implicitly challenging Jesus' reputation for being able to help.
v41:  Myers (1988, p153) argues that the source of Jesus' indignation was his realization that the leper had already been rejected by the priests.
v43: Crossan (1991, 322) observes that this may be a scribal insertion (it is not in the parallel texts of Matt and Luke), but the fact that it is a characteristic doublet of v44 argues for Markan authorship. 
v44: Myers (1988, p153) interprets the command for the leper to show himself to the priests as an injunction to become a witness on behalf of Jesus that the old order has been overturned and the new one announced by Jesus has begun. The Greek translated here as "for a proof to the people" is actually a technical term for bearing witness in a hostile situation. Most exegetes see this as Jesus carefully following the precepts of Mosaic law, which calls for a healed leper to prove it to the priests so that he may be considered ritually clean again.

Brian Stoffregen
The person who has the leprous disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head be disheveled; and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, "Unclean, unclean." he shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp. [Leviticus 13:45-46, NRSV]
Myers (Binding the Strong Man) writes about this: "The leper appears aware that his approach to Jesus, a nonpriest, was itself in violation of the symbolic system, which is why he gives Jesus a chance to refuse. It is almost as if he says, "You could declare me clean if only you would dare (1:40)."

There is another possible reason for Jesus staying outside the cities in the wilderness places -- he had become unclean by touching the leper. As the now-clean leper tells everyone what happened to him, it would have been clear to all the people that Jesus had become unclean. It was against the rules for anyone to associate with Jesus -- but see quote from Witherington above.
A third possibility is suggested by Malina and Rohrbaugh (Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels) which they call "gossip backlash". They write:
Among nonliterate peoples (only 2 to 4 percent could read or write in agrarian societies), communication is basically by word of mouth. Where reputation (honor status) is concerned, gossip informed the community about (and validated) ongoing gains and losses and thereby provided a guide to proper social interaction. Its effects could be both positive (confirm honor, spread reputation, shape and guide public interaction) and negative (undermine others), though overall it tended to maintain the status quo by highlighting deviations from the norm. It thus functioned as an important mechanism of informal social control. For example, in cases where a person sought to claim more honor than his birthright provided (an action considered stealing in a limited-good society in which gain for one automatically meant loss for someone else), the gossip network could trigger a backlash that cut the claimant down to size very quickly. That may be the reason for Mark's note here (1:45) that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town. Since he is in his home region and his reputation is growing, backlash may have started. [p. 185]

A  And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
     B And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, "If you will, you can make me clean."
         C  Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, "I will; be clean."
             D  And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.
             D  And he sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, and said to him, "See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people."
         C  But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country;
     B and people came to him from every quarter.
A  And when he returned to Caper'na-um after some days, it was reported that he was at home.

Pietistic Attempts by to Make the Passage Palatable:
Matthew Henry: When Christ had cured him, he strictly charged him; the word here is very significant, embrimesamenos--graviter interminatus--prohibiting with threats. I am apt to think that this refers not to the directions he gave him to conceal it (v. 44), for those are mentioned by themselves; but that this was such a charge as he gave to the impotent man whom he cured, John v. 14, Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee; for the leprosy was ordinarily the punishment of some particular sinners, as in Miriam's, Gehazi's, and Uzziah's, case; now, when Christ healed him, he warned him, he threatened him with the fatal consequence of it if he should return to sin again. He also appointed him, (1.) To show himself to the priest, that the priest by his own judgment of this leper might be a witness for Christ, that he was the Messiah, Matt. xi. 5. (2.) Till he had done that, not to say any thing of it to any man: this is an instance of the humility of Christ and his self-denial, that he did not seek his own honour, did not strive or cry, Isa. xlii. 2. And it is an example to us, not to seek our own glory, Prov. xxv. 27. He must not proclaim it, because that would much increase the crowd that followed Christ, which he thought was too great already; not as if he were unwilling to do good to all, to as many as came; but he would do it with as little noise as might be, would have no offence given to the government, no disturbance of the public peace, not any thing done that looked like ostentation, or an affecting of popular applause. What to think of the leper's publishing it, and blazing it abroad, I know not; the concealment of the good characters and good works of good men better become them than their friends; nor are we always bound by the modest commands of humble men. The leper ought to have observed his orders; yet, no doubt, it was with a good design that he proclaimed the cure, and it had no other ill effect than that it increased the multitudes which followed Christ, to that degree, that he could no more openly enter into the city; not upon the account of persecution (there was no danger of that yet,) but because the crowd was so great, that the streets would not hold them, which obliged him to go into desert places, to a mountain (ch. iii. 13), to the sea-side, ch. iv. 1. This shows how expedient it was for us, that Christ should go away, and send the Comforter, for his bodily presence could be but in one place at a time; and those that came to him from every quarter, could not get near him; but by his spiritual presence he is with his people wherever they are, and comes to them to every quarter.

John Wesley: See thou say nothing to any man - But our blessed Lord gives no such charge to us. If he has made us clean from our leprosy of sin, we are not commanded to conceal it. On the contrary, it is our duty to publish it abroad, both for the honour of our Benefactor, and that others who are sick of sin may be encouraged to ask and hope for the same benefit.

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