Hardness of heart (Mk 10:5-10:5)

“But Jesus

Said to them.

‘Because of your hardness

Of heart.

He wrote

This commandment

For you.’”

 

ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Πρὸς τὴν σκληροκαρδίαν ὑμῶν ἔγραψεν ὑμῖν τὴν ἐντολὴν ταύτην.

 

This response of Jesus about divorce can also be found in Matthew, chapter 19:8.  Jesus responded to the Pharisees (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς).  He said that Moses allowed them to divorce their wives, because they were so hard-hearted, perverse, and obstinate (Πρὸς τὴν σκληροκαρδίαν ὑμῶν).  Moses wrote this ordinance or commandment for them (ἔγραψεν ὑμῖν τὴν ἐντολὴν ταύτην).  Jesus had taken the stronger stance of no divorce.  However, in Matthew, there was one exception for divorce, the sexual misconduct of the wife.  Here in Mark, there is no exception, no divorce.

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A certificate of divorce (Mk 10:4-10:4)

“They said.

‘Moses allowed

A man

To write

A certificate

Of dismissal.

He could

Divorce her.’”

 

οἱ δὲ εἶπαν· Ἐπέτρεψεν Μωϋσῆς βιβλίον ἀποστασίου γράψαι καὶ ἀπολῦσαι.

 

This answer of the Pharisees about Moses and divorce can also be found in Matthew, chapter 19:7, with some minor changes.  The Pharisees are here responding to the question of Jesus, rather than the other way around, as in MatthewMark indicated that the Pharisees said (οἱ δὲ εἶπαν) that Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce or dismissal (Ἐπέτρεψεν Μωϋσῆς βιβλίον ἀποστασίου γράψαι).  Thus, the man could then divorce her or send her away (καὶ ἀπολῦσαι).  The reference to Moses is from Deuteronomy, chapter 24:1-4, where there was talk about a certificate of divorce, and the possibility of many marriages.  This certificate was called in Hebrew a “get.”  Clearly divorce for a man was okay.  However, after the second marriage there was a defilement.

Only Jesus was there (Mk 9:8-9:8)

“Suddenly,

When they looked around,

They saw no one

With them,

But only Jesus.’”

 

καὶ ἐξάπινα περιβλεψάμενοι οὐκέτι οὐδένα εἶδον ἀλλὰ τὸν Ἰησοῦν μόνον μεθ’ ἑαυτῶν.

 

This leaving of Moses and Elijah can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 17:8, Luke, chapter 9:36, and here in Mark.  Matthew was more elaborate than the others, so that there are some differences in all 3 accounts.  Suddenly or unexpectedly (καὶ ἐξάπινα) when they looked around (περιβλεψάμενοι), they no longer saw anyone (οὐκέτι οὐδένα εἶδον), but only Jesus himself alone with them (ἀλλὰ τὸν Ἰησοῦν μόνον μεθ’ ἑαυτῶν).  Where were Moses and Elijah?  Was this just a dream?

This is my beloved Son (Mk 9:7-9:7)

“Then a cloud

Overshadowed them.

There came

A voice

From the cloud.

‘This is my beloved Son!

Listen to him!’”

 

καὶ ἐγένετο νεφέλη ἐπισκιάζουσα αὐτοῖς, καὶ ἐγένετο φωνὴ ἐκ τῆς νεφέλης Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ Υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἀκούετε αὐτοῦ.

 

This voice from the cloud can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 16:5, Luke, chapter 9:34-35, and here in Mark, but there are minor differences in all 3 accounts.  The wording of the voice from the cloud sounds almost exactly like the voice from heaven in chapter 1:11, after the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John the Baptist.  Instead of from heaven there, the voice comes from a cloud here.  This voice did not address Jesus personally.  However, the idea of a heavenly voice or a voice from a cloud had a very strong tradition in the Jewish writings of the Hebrew Bible, especially among the prophets and Moses.  The Baptism of Jesus, like the transfiguration here, has become the starting point for any theological reflection about early Christian Christology.  Mark said that a cloud overshadowed them (καὶ ἐγένετο νεφέλη ἐπισκιάζουσα αὐτοῖς).  Then there was a voice from the cloud (καὶ ἐγένετο φωνὴ ἐκ τῆς νεφέλης) that said Jesus was his Son, the beloved one (Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ Υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός).  There was nothing about being pleased by him here.  However, there is the further admonition to listen to him (ἀκούετε αὐτοῦ).  Mark has a clear connection between the Baptism of Jesus and his transfiguration.  Both times, the Father as the voice from heaven or the cloud pronounced that Jesus was his beloved Son.

Peter wants to make three tents (Mk 9:5-9:5)

“Then Peter said

To Jesus.

‘Rabbi!

It is good for us

To be here!

Let us make

Three dwellings,

One for you,

One for Moses,

And one for Elijah.’”

 

καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Πέτρος λέγει τῷ Ἰησοῦ Ῥαββεί, καλόν ἐστιν ἡμᾶς ὧδε εἶναι, καὶ ποιήσωμεν τρεῖς σκηνάς, σοὶ μίαν καὶ Μωϋσεῖ μίαν καὶ Ἡλείᾳ μίαν.

 

These remarks of Peter can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 17:4, Luke, chapter 9:33, and here in Mark, but there are minor differences in all 3 accounts.  Mark said that Peter responded to Jesus (καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Πέτρος), once again as the leader of this small group of apostles.  He called Jesus “Rabbi” or “Teacher”, not like Matthew as “Lord” (λέγει τῷ Ἰησοῦ Ῥαββεί).  He said that it was good for them to be there (καλόν ἐστιν ἡμᾶς ὧδε εἶναι).  Peter was going to set up 3 tents or dwellings here (καὶ ποιήσωμεν τρεῖς σκηνάς), one for Jesus (σοὶ μίαν), one for Moses (καὶ Μωϋσεῖ μίαν), and one for Elijah (καὶ Ἡλείᾳ μίαν).  Peter was really the builder.

The three disciples go to the mountain (Mk 9:2-9:2)

“Six days later,

Jesus took with him

Peter,

James,

And John.

He led them up

A high mountain,

Alone by themselves.

He was transfigured

Before them.”

 

Καὶ μετὰ ἡμέρας ἓξ παραλαμβάνει ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὸν Πέτρον καὶ τὸν Ἰάκωβον καὶ Ἰωάνην, καὶ ἀναφέρει αὐτοὺς εἰς ὄρος ὑψηλὸν κατ’ ἰδίαν μόνους. καὶ μετεμορφώθη ἔμπροσθεν αὐτῶν

 

Going to a special mountain can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 17:1, Luke, chapter 9:28, and here in MarkMark and Matthew are exactly the same, almost word for word, but Luke talked about 8 days and going to pray on the mountain.  Mark said that this activity took place 6 days later (Καὶ μετὰ’ ἡμέρας ἓξ), probably after the proclamation of Peter about Jesus being the Christ messiah.  Jesus took with him (παραλαμβάνει ὁ Ἰησοῦς) Peter (τὸν Πέτρον), and the 2 sons of Zebedee, James (καὶ τὸν Ἰάκωβον) and John (καὶ Ἰωάνην).  There was no mention of Peter’s brother Andrew.  Jesus brought these 3 disciples to an unnamed high mountain (καὶ ἀναφέρει αὐτοὺς εἰς ὄρος ὑψηλὸν), presumably near the Sea of Galilee, probably Mount Tabor in lower Galilee or Mount Hermon near Caesarea Philippi, much further north.  They were alone by themselves (κατ’ ἰδίαν μόνους), not with any of the other apostles or disciples.  Going up a high mountain was an attempt to have a special communication with God, just as Moses had done in the Old Testament.  Jesus was transfigured or transformed in front of the 3 apostles (καὶ μετεμορφώθη ἔμπροσθεν αὐτῶν).  Was this a foretaste of the resurrected Christ?

The tradition of the elders (Mk 7:3-7:3)

“The Pharisees,

And all the Jews,

Do not eat

Unless they wash

Their hands.

Thus,

They observe

The tradition

Of the elders.”

 

οἱ γὰρ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ πάντες οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι ἐὰν μὴ πυγμῇ νίψωνται τὰς χεῖρας οὐκ ἐσθίουσιν, κρατοῦντες τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων,

 

There is nothing like this elsewhere, because Mark was explaining this Jewish practice to his gentile Christian readers.  Mark said that the Pharisees (οἱ γὰρ Φαρισαῖοι) and all the Jews (καὶ πάντες οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι) did not eat. unless they had washed their hands (μὴ πυγμῇ νίψωνται τὰς χεῖρας οὐκ ἐσθίουσιν).  Not washing hands was considered to be not upholding or a violation against the Jewish tradition of the elders or priests (κρατοῦντες τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων).  The importance of this tradition was clearly seen in Matthew, chapter 15:2, in this more Jewish Christian writing.  It is not clear that all Jews followed this tradition, but the Pharisees certainly did.  Originally, this practice of washing hands before eating was what the priestly Levites did in the Temple to practice ritual purity as indicated in Exodus, chapter 30:17-21.  Yahweh had told Moses that there should be a bronze basin with a bronze stand for washing.  Thus, Aaron and his sons should wash their hands and feet when they went into the meeting tent or the altar.  The penalty for not washing your hands and feet was death under this perpetual ordinance.  However, the Pharisaic oral tradition, or the tradition of the elders, had extended this practice to individual and their own homes.