Why do people fast? (Mk 2:18-2:18)

“John’s disciples

And the Pharisees

Were fasting.

People came.

They said to him.

‘Why do John’s disciples

And the disciples

Of the Pharisees fast?

But your disciples

Do not fast.’”

 

Καὶ ἦσαν οἱ μαθηταὶ Ἰωάνου καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι νηστεύοντες. καὶ ἔρχονται καὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Διὰ τί οἱ μαθηταὶ Ἰωάνου καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ τῶν Φαρισαίων νηστεύουσιν, οἱ δὲ σοὶ μαθηταὶ οὐ νηστεύουσιν;

 

Luke, chapter 5:33, and Matthew, chapter 9:14, are similar to Mark, so that Mark might be the source of this incident, although there are some differences.  Matthew had only the disciples of John the Baptist ask about fasting.  Mark has this strange combination of the disciples of John the Baptist with the Pharisees who agreed about fasting (Καὶ ἦσαν οἱ μαθηταὶ Ἰωάνου καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι νηστεύοντες).  They wanted to know why the disciples of Jesus did not fast.  The disciples of John seemed to be on the side of the Pharisees, and not followers of Jesus, as they wondered why they and the disciples of the Pharisees were often fasting or abstaining from food (καὶ ἔρχονται καὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Διὰ τί οἱ μαθηταὶ Ἰωάνου καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ τῶν Φαρισαίων νηστεύουσιν), while the disciples of Jesus were not fasting (οἱ δὲ σοὶ μαθηταί οὐ νηστεύουσιν).  Some have traced the descendant followers of John the Baptist to the Mandaeans along the Iraq-Iran border.

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