Beware children of Abraham! (Lk 3:8-3:9)

“Bear fruits

Worthy of repentance!

Do not begin

To say to yourselves!

‘We have Abraham

As our ancestor!’

I tell you!

‘God is able

From these stones

To raise up children

To Abraham.

Even now,

The ax is lying

At the root of the trees.

Every tree

That does not bear

Good fruit

Is cut down

And thrown

Into the fire.’”

 

ποιήσατε οὖν καρποὺς ἀξίους τῆς μετανοίας· καὶ μὴ ἄρξησθε λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς Πατέρα ἔχομεν τὸν Ἀβραάμ· λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι δύναται ὁ Θεὸς ἐκ τῶν λίθων τούτων ἐγεῖραι τέκνα τῷ Ἀβραάμ.

ἤδη δὲ καὶ ἡ ἀξίνη πρὸς τὴν ῥίζαν τῶν δένδρων κεῖται· πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται.

 

Here is the first of the sayings from the so-called Q source.  Both Matthew, chapter 3:9-10, and Luke here have the exact same wording in their presentations of John’s preaching to the people.  Instead of just the Pharisees and Sadducees, Luke has John address this to all the people coming to be baptized.  This saying emphasized deeds, rather than relying on ancestry.  They were to produce fruit that was worthy of repentance (ποιήσατε οὖν καρποὺς ἀξίους τῆς μετανοίας).  They had to perform good deeds.  They should not presume that because they have had Abraham as their father, as the privileged chosen ones (καὶ μὴ ἄρξησθε λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς Πατέρα ἔχομεν τὸν Ἀβραάμ), that all would go well for them.  Then John pointedly said to them (λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν) that God had the power (ὅτι δύναται ὁ Θεὸς) to change stones and rocks into the children of Abraham (ἐκ τῶν λίθων τούτων ἐγεῖραι τέκνα τῷ Ἀβραάμ), a Hebrew play on words that was translated into Greek.  The axe was already lying at the foot of the trees, ready to go to work (ἤδη δὲ καὶ ἡ ἀξίνη πρὸς τὴν ῥίζαν τῶν δένδρων κεῖται).  Every tree that was not bearing or producing good fruit would be cut down (πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται).  Then they would be thrown into the fire (καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται).

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The coming wrath (Lk 3:7-3:7)

“John said

To the crowds

That came out

To be baptized

By him.

‘You brood of vipers!

Who warned you

To flee

From the wrath

To come?’”

 

Ἔλεγεν οὖν τοῖς ἐκπορευομένοις ὄχλοις βαπτισθῆναι ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, τίς ὑπέδειξεν ὑμῖν φυγεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς μελλούσης ὀργῆς;

 

Luke then presented the teachings of John that can be found in all 4 gospel stories.  Notice how this teaching lines up with what Jesus would say.  Matthew, chapter 3:8, has something similar but it was directed at the Pharisees and the Sadducees who were coming to be baptized by John.  Mark and John do not have anything about this “brood of vipers.”  Luke indicated that John spoke to all the crowds who were coming out to be baptized by him (Ἔλεγεν οὖν τοῖς ἐκπορευομένοις ὄχλοις βαπτισθῆναι ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ), not just a select few people.  John told them that they were like a group of vipers (Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν) who would kill young people.  Vipers were poisonous snakes or reptiles.  Who warned them to flee from the wrath to come (τίς ὑπέδειξεν ὑμῖν φυγεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς μελλούσης ὀργῆς)?  This might be a saying from the so-called Q source, since both Matthew and Luke have the exact same wording.  It might also be an allusion to the prophet Amos, chapter 5:18-20.  Amos saw the day of Yahweh as an angry day of judgment.

No sign will be given to this generation (Mk 8:12-8:12)

“Jesus sighed deeply

In his spirit.

He said.

‘Why does this generation

Seek a sign?

Truly!

I say to you!

No sign will be given

To this generation.’”

 

καὶ ἀναστενάξας τῷ πνεύματι αὐτοῦ λέγει Τί ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη ζητεῖ σημεῖον; ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, εἰ δοθήσεται τῇ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ σημεῖον

 

While both Matthew, chapter 12:39, and Luke, chapter 11:29-30, perhaps using a Q source, said that Jesus would only give them the sign of Jonah, Mark said here that Jesus was not going to give them any sign at all.  He said that Jesus sighed deeply in his spirit (καὶ ἀναστενάξας τῷ πνεύματι αὐτοῦ).  He asked them why was this generation seeking a sign (λέγει Τί ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη ζητεῖ σημεῖον)?  With a rare solemn proclamation (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) in Mark, Jesus told them point blank that no sign would be given to this generation in this convoluted phrase (εἰ δοθήσεται τῇ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ σημεῖον).  Sometimes miracles were considered heavenly signs, but Mark continued to call miracles works of power and not signs, as other gospel writers sometimes referred to them.

Title

The Gospel according to Mark

τὸ κατὰ Μᾶρκον εὐαγγέλιον,

What is a gospel?  Who is Mark?  The musical play “Godspell” that opened on Broadway in 1971, was based on the Old English ‘godspel.’  Like the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον, this Germanic based word gospel means good news or good tidings.  This term originally meant the Christian message itself.  However, in the second century, it came to be used for the books where this message was set out.  Thus, the gospels became known as the written accounts of the life, actions, and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.  This Gospel of Mark is anonymous since there is no explicit mention of a named author within the text itself.  This title (Τὸ κατὰ Μᾶρκον εὐαγγέλιον), however was added some time in the second century, perhaps by Papias of Hierapolis (60–130 CE), an early bishop and apostolic father.  Traditionally, this work has been ascribed to John Mark, the companion of the apostle Peter, who may have transcribed the teachings of Simon Peter.  This John Mark was the son of a widow named Mary as indicated in Acts, chapter 12:12.  He also accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journeys, since he was also the cousin of Barnabas, as indicated in Colossians, chapter 4:10.  However, he  left Paul and Barnabas for some unknown reasons in Acts, chapter 13:13.  Today, most scholars agree that his anonymous Gospel of Mark was the first written gospel, probably written between 66–70 CE, during Emperor Nero’s persecution of the Christians in Rome or the Jewish revolt.  Thus, the authors of Matthew and Luke used Mark with a second document called the Q source.  This short Gospel of Mark was written for a gentile audience in a simple Greek style that is often called “street Greek.”  This Greek style is thus vivid and concrete showing a very active Jesus with less teaching or preaching.  Mark explained Jewish traditions and translated Aramaic terms for his Greek-speaking Christian audience who would not have understood them.  Some suggest Rome as the origin of this gospel since there are some Latin terms.  Others have suggested Antioch, the 3rd largest city in the Roman Empire.  This author may have been influenced by Greco-Roman writings, but all his references are from the Jewish Greek version of the Septuagint Bible or the Old Testament.

 

 

 

 

Your house is desolate (Mt 23:38-23:39)

“See!

Your house

Is left to you

Desolate!

I tell you!

You will not see me again,

Until you say.

‘Blessed is the One

Who comes

In the name

Of the Lord!’”

 

ἰδοὺ ἀφίεται ὑμῖν ὁ οἶκος ὑμῶν.

λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν, οὐ μή με ἴδητε ἀπ’ ἄρτι ἕως ἂν εἴπητε Εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου.

 

Both Luke, chapter 13:35, and Matthew have this desolation of Jerusalem, almost word for word the same, so that this may be a Q source.  Jesus said that their house of worship would be left desolate at its destruction (ἰδοὺ ἀφίεται ὑμῖν ὁ οἶκος ὑμῶν), because Yahweh God would abandon the Temple of Jerusalem.  In a solemn pronouncement (λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν), they would not see him again (οὐ μή με ἴδητε ἀπ’ ἄρτι), until they would say the Hallel Psalm 118:26 about blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord (ἕως ἂν εἴπητε Εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου).  This was a warning against the powerless Temple of Jerusalem, perhaps indicating that Temple had already been destroyed.

O Jerusalem (Mt 23:37-23:37)

“O Jerusalem!

O Jerusalem!

The city

That kills the prophets!

They stone those

Who are sent to it!

How often

Have I desired

To gather

Your children together,

As a hen gathers

Her brood

Under her wings,

But you were not willing!”

 

Ἰερουσαλὴμ Ἰερουσαλήμ, ἡ ἀποκτείνουσα τοὺς προφήτας καὶ λιθοβολοῦσα τοὺς ἀπεσταλμένους πρὸς αὐτήν, ποσάκις ἠθέλησα ἐπισυναγαγεῖν τὰ τέκνα σου, ὃν τρόπον ὄρνις ἐπισυνάγει τὰ νοσσία αὐτῆς ὑπὸ τὰς πτέρυγας, καὶ οὐκ ἠθελήσατε.

 

Both Luke, chapter 13:34, and Matthew here have this lament about Jerusalem, word for word the same, so that this may be a Q source.  Jesus addressed Jerusalem (Ἰερουσαλὴμ Ἰερουσαλήμ), saying that it was the city that killed the prophets (ἡ ἀποκτείνουσα τοὺς προφήτας).  They stoned those prophets who were sent to it (καὶ λιθοβολοῦσα τοὺς ἀπεσταλμένους πρὸς αὐτήν).  God, the Father, or Jesus had often desired to gather her children together (ποσάκις ἠθέλησα ἐπισυναγαγεῖν τὰ τέκνα σου), just like a hen gathers her brood of little chicks under her wings (ὃν τρόπον ὄρνις ἐπισυνάγει τὰ νοσσία αὐτῆς ὑπὸ τὰς πτέρυγας).  However, Jerusalem was not willing to do so (καὶ οὐκ ἠθελήσατε).  This idea of a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings can be found in Psalm 17:8 that spoke about hiding in the shadow of her wings and Psalm 91:4 that once again spoke about being covered with wings.  The exact incidents of the city of Jerusalem killing prophets are not clear.

The parable of the yeast (Mt 13:33-13:33)

“He told them another parable.

‘The kingdom of heaven is

Like yeast

That a woman took.

She mixed in

Three measures of flour,

Until all of it was leavened.’”

 

Ἄλλην παραβολὴν ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς Ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν ζύμῃ, ἣν λαβοῦσα γυνὴ ἐνέκρυψεν εἰς ἀλεύρου σάτα τρία, ἕως οὗ ἐζυμώθη ὅλον.

 

This parable about the yeast in bread can be found in in Luke, chapter 13:20, indicating a Q source.  Once again, the emphasis of this parable is growth from a small piece of flour to a large leavened loaf of bread because of the yeast.  Jesus, via Matthew, told them another short parable (Ἄλλην παραβολὴν ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς).  The kingdom of heaven is like yeast (Ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν ζύμῃ).  A woman mixed in three measures of flour (ἣν λαβοῦσα γυνὴ ἐνέκρυψεν εἰς ἀλεύρου σάτα τρία,) so that the bread was all leavened (ἕως οὗ ἐζυμώθη ὅλον).  The kingdom of heaven will be like this leavened bread, always expanding.