Monday, February 20, 2012

The Spirit at Baptism: From Dove to Harpy!

The Gospel reading for Feb.29, the 1st Sunday of Lent for 2012, is the story of Jesus baptism and his first preaching moment in Mark's gospel. Below is a rough translation, with the Greek text first, my initial translation in bold font, and then some study of verbs below that. My interpretive comments - mostly in question form this early in the week! - are in blue.

There are two things that I find particularly interesting in this text.
First, the description of "the spirit" goes from something that descends like a dove to something that immediately throws Jesus out into the wilderness to be tested by Satan. It's like the spirit turns from that sweet little dove on our ornate stained glass windows into some wild harpy with vicious talons. Look closely at the verb  in v.12, ἐκβάλλω, which is used to describe the spirit's action. Yowzah! Don't mess with the spirit, that's all I'm saying. For your pleasure, I include a definition of a "Harpy." 
Second, look at the word παραδίδωμι in v.14. It carries the sense of "arrest" in this text, but it is a pernicious word in the Gospels, often meaning "betray". 

Enjoy! Your questions, corrections, or whatevers are always welcomed. 

Mark 1:9-15

9Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις ἦλθεν Ἰησοῦς ἀπὸ Ναζαρὲτ τῆς 
Γαλιλαίας καὶ ἐβαπτίσθη εἰς τὸν Ἰορδάνην ὑπὸ Ἰωάννου. 
And it happened in those days Jesus went from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
ἐγένετο : AMI 3s, γίνομαι, 1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being  2) to become, i.e. to come to pass, happen
ἦλθεν : AAI 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 
ἐβαπτίσθη : API 3s, βαπτίζω, 1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)  2) to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean  with water, to wash one's self, bathe  3) to overwhelm 

10καὶ εὐθὺς ἀναβαίνων ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος εἶδεν σχιζομένους τοὺςοὐρανοὺς καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα ὡς περιστερὰν καταβαῖνον εἰς αὐτόν: 
And immediately coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the spirit as a dove coming down to him;
ἀναβαίνων: ἀναβαίνω to cause to ascend, to go up, climb up, mount, ascend (from βαίνω used of all motion on the ground, go, walk, tread, step, the direction being determined by the preposition prefixed; here by ἀνά up or back).
σχιζομένους: PPPart apm, σχίζω, 1) to cleave, cleave asunder, rend  2) to divide by rending  3) to split into factions, be divided 
καταβαῖνον: καταβαίνω 1. come down, 2. descend to go or come down, to descend from a higher to a lower place (from βαίνω used of all kinds of motion on the ground, as go, walk, step).
  1. Jesus and the spirit move in contrasting directions. The verb for “coming out” and for “coming down” have the same root with opposing prefixes.
  2. The verb σχίζω is where we get the prefix for schizo-phrenia, a ‘rent’ or ‘divided’ mind. It also is related to schism, a ‘divided’ people. I can’t tell if the sense of the word is meant to be violent – like the heavens “tore apart” – or simply that the heavens “opened.”
  3. The word σχίζω is used in Mk.15:38 to refer to the veil of the temple that is torn in two.

11καὶ φωνὴ ἐγένετο ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν, Σὺ εἶ ὁ υἱός μου  ἀγαπητός, ἐν σοὶ 
And a voice happened out of the heavens, “You are the son of me the beloved, in you I am well pleased.”
ἐγένετο : AMI 3s, γίνομαι, 1) to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being  2) to become, i.e. to come to pass, happen
εὐδόκησα: AAI 1s, εὐδοκέω,v  \{yoo-dok-eh'-o}
1) it seems good to one, is one's good pleasure  1a) think it good, choose, determine, decide  1b) to do willingly  1c) to be ready to, to prefer, choose rather  2) to be well pleased with, take pleasure in, to be favourably  inclined towards one

12Καὶ εὐθὺς τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτὸν ἐκβάλλει εἰς τὴν ἔρημον. 
And immediately the spirit throws him into the wilderness.
ἐκβάλλει: PAI 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  1a3) to expel a person from a society: to banish from a family  1a4) to compel one to depart; to bid one depart, in stern  though not violent language  1a5) so employed that the rapid motion of the one going is  transferred to the one sending forth  1a51) to command or cause one to depart in haste  1a6) to draw out with force, tear out  1a7) with implication of force overcoming opposite force  1a7a) to cause a thing to move straight on its intended goal  1a8) to reject with contempt, to cast off or away  1b) without the notion of violence  1b1) to draw out, extract, one thing inserted in another  1b2) to bring out of, to draw or bring forth  1b3) to except, to leave out, i.e. not receive  1b4) to lead one forth or away somewhere with a force which he  cannot resist 
1, The Definition of “Harpies” from "Robbers". In earlier versions of Greek myth, Harpies were described as beautiful, winged maidens. Later they became winged monsters with the face of an ugly old woman and equipped with crooked, sharp talons. They were represented carrying off persons to the underworld and inflicting punishment or tormenting them. Those persons were never seen again.

13καὶ ἦν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τεσσεράκοντα ἡμέρας πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ Σατανᾶ, 
καὶ ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων, καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι διηκόνουν αὐτῷ. 
And he was in the wilderness 40 days being tempted by the Satan, and was with the wild beasts and the angels served him.
πειραζόμενος : PPPart nsm, πειράζω, 1) to try whether a thing can be done  1a) to attempt, endeavour  2) to try, make trial of, test: for the purpose of ascertaining  his quantity, or what he thinks, or how he will behave himself  2a) in a good sense  2b) in a bad sense, to test one maliciously, craftily to put  to the proof his feelings or judgments  2c) to try or test one's faith, virtue, character, by  enticement to sin  2c1) to solicit to sin, to tempt  1c1a) of the temptations of the devil  2d) after the OT usage  2d1) of God: to inflict evils upon one in order to prove his  character and the steadfastness of his faith  2d2) men are said to tempt God by exhibitions of distrust,  as though they wished to try whether he is not justly  distrusted  2d3) by impious or wicked conduct to test God's justice and  patience, and to challenge him, as it were to give proof  of his perfections. 
διηκόνουν: IAI 3p, διακονέω, 1) to be a servant, attendant, domestic, to serve, wait upon  1a) to minister to one, render ministering offices to  1a1) to be served, ministered unto  1b) to wait at a table and offer food and drink to the guests,  1b1) of women preparing food  1c) to minister i.e. supply food and necessities of life  1c1) to relieve one's necessities (e.g. by collecting alms),  to provide take care of, distribute, the things necessary  to sustain life  1c2) to take care of the poor and the sick, who administer the  office of a deacon  1c3) in Christian churches to serve as deacons  1d) to minister  1d1) to attend to anything, that may serve another's interests  1d2) to minister a thing to one, to serve one or by supplying  any thing

14Μετὰ δὲ τὸ παραδοθῆναι τὸν Ἰωάννην ἦλθεν  Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν 
κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ 
Yet with the arresting of 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  2a) to deliver to one something to keep, use,  take care of, manage  2b) to deliver up one to custody, to be judged, condemned,  punished, scourged, tormented, put to death  2c) to deliver up treacherously  2c1) by betrayal to cause one to be taken  2c2) to deliver one to be taught, moulded  3) to commit, to commend  4) to deliver verbally  4a) commands, rites  4b) to deliver by narrating, to report  5) to permit allow  5a) when the fruit will allow that is when its ripeness permits  5b) gives itself up, presents itself 
  1. παραδίδωμι is a very significant verb in the Gospels, often referring to ‘betrayal’ or ‘handing over.’
  2. Here are the other uses of παραδίδωμι in Mark:
Mark 1:14          Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into...
Mar 3:19           ...Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they...
Mar 4:29           ...when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth...
Mar 7:13           ...your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such...
Mar 9:31           ...Son of man is delivered into the hands...
Mar 10:33          ...Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief...
Mar 10:33 death, and shall deliver him to the...
Mar 13:9  yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and...
Mar 13:11          ...lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought...
Mar 13:12          Now the brother shall betray the brother to...
Mar 14:10          ...chief priests, to betray him unto them...
Mar 14:11          ...he sought how he might conveniently betray him.
Mar 14:18          ...eateth with me shall betray me.
Mar 14:21          ...Son of man is betrayed! good were it...
Mar 14:41          ...Son of man is betrayed into the hands...
Mar 14:42 go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at...
Mar 14:44          And he that betrayed him had given...
Mar 15:1           ...him away, and delivered him to Pilate...
Mar 15:10          ...the chief priests had delivered him for envy...
Mar 15:15          ...unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he...
κηρύσσων: PAPart, nms, κηρύσσω, 1) to be a herald, to officiate as a herald  1a) to proclaim after the manner of a herald 
  1. What is the significance of the timing – John’s arrest precluding Jesus coming to preach?

15καὶ λέγων ὅτι Πεπλήρωται ὁ καιρὸς καὶ ἤγγικεν  βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ: 
μετανοεῖτε καὶ πιστεύετε ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ. 
And saying, “The time is fulfilled and the reign of God is at hand. Repent and believe/trust in the good news.”
λέγων: PAPart nms, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak  1a) affirm over, maintain 
This participle, ‘saying,’ corresponds with ‘preaching’ from v.14 – “Jesus came preaching … and saying” 
  1. Interpretive Q: Is “saying” the same as “preaching” or does the “and saying” of v.15 mean that the quote here is in addition to what Jesus was “preaching”? In other words, is the message: “The time is fulfilled and the reign of God is at hand” the good news itself? Or, has Jesus proclaimed the good news and now v.15 is the admonition to take it seriously and to respond with repentance and trust?

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
1.      Note the temporal and spatial references: the ‘time’ if fulfilled, the KoG is ‘at hand’ (or ‘near’)
2.      Robert Gundy: The Greek for "believe in" occurs nowhere else in Mark, once in John, and then nowhere else in all of Greek literature or Greek papyri (Gundry 1993, p70).

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