The history of this young man (Mk 9:21-9:22)

“Jesus asked

This father.

‘How long has this

Been happening

To him?’

The father said.

‘From childhood.

It has often cast him

Into a fire

And into water,

To destroy him.

But if you able

To do anything,

Have pity on us!

Help us!’”

 

καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ Πόσος χρόνος ἐστὶν ὡς τοῦτο γέγονεν αὐτῷ; ὁ δὲ εἶπεν Ἐκ παιδιόθεν

καὶ πολλάκις καὶ εἰς πῦρ αὐτὸν ἔβαλεν καὶ εἰς ὕδατα ἵνα ἀπολέσῃ αὐτόν· ἀλλ’ εἴ τι δύνῃ, βοήθησον ἡμῖν σπλαγχνισθεὶς ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς.

 

This is unique to Mark.  Jesus asked the father of this boy (καὶ ἐπηρώτησεν τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ Πόσος) how long a time had these convulsions been happening to him (χρόνος ἐστὶν ὡς τοῦτο γέγονεν αὐτῷ)?  The father said that it had been happening since his childhood (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν Ἐκ παιδιόθεν).  This evil spirit would often cast him both into fire (καὶ πολλάκις καὶ εἰς πῦρ αὐτὸν ἔβαλεν) and water (καὶ εἰς ὕδατα), as Matthew had mentioned, in order to destroy him (ἵνα ἀπολέσῃ αὐτόν).  Then the father asked Jesus, if he was able to do anything to help him and his son (ἀλλ’ εἴ τι δύνῃ βοήθησον ἡμῖν)?  He wanted Jesus to have pity and compassion on him and his son (σπλαγχνισθεὶς ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς).

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A description of his illness (Mk 9:18-9:18)

“Whenever it seizes him,

It dashes him down.

He foams.

He grinds his teeth.

He becomes rigid,

Wasting away.”

 

καὶ ὅπου ἐὰν αὐτὸν καταλάβῃ, ῥήσσει αὐτόν, καὶ ἀφρίζει καὶ τρίζει τοὺς ὀδόντας καὶ ξηραίνεται·

 

The story of the man with the incurable son can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 17:15, Luke, chapter 9:39, and here in Mark, but there are minor differences in all 3 accounts.  Apparently, this son was an epileptic, who was often considered to be possessed by the devil.  Even today, we are still unsure of the exact cause of epilepsy seizures.  This description of the young man’s suffering differed from Matthew who had the child suffer very badly, falling into fire and water.  Luke had a description similar to Mark.  However, this was a very descriptive narrative of what was happening to this young man.  Mark said that whenever the spirit seized him (καὶ ὅπου ἐὰν αὐτὸν καταλάβῃ), it dashed or threw him down (ῥήσσει αὐτόν).  This young boy would foam (καὶ ἀφρίζει) at the mouth.  He would grind or gnash his teeth (αὶ τρίζει τοὺς ὀδόντας).  He would become rigid as he was wasting or withering away (καὶ ξηραίνεται).

The great storm (Mk 4:37-4:37)

“A great windstorm

Arose.

The waves beat

Into the boat.

Thus,

The boat

Was already

Being swamped

With water.”

 

καὶ γίνεται λαῖλαψ μεγάλη ἀνέμου, καὶ τὰ κύματα ἐπέβαλλεν εἰς τὸ πλοῖον, ὥστε ἤδη γεμίζεσθαι τὸ πλοῖον.

 

This stormy boat ride episode can be found in Matthew, chapter 8:24, and Luke, chapter 8:23, somewhat the same as here.  Mark said that a great severe windstorm came upon them (καὶ γίνεται λαῖλαψ μεγάλη ἀνέμου).  There was no mention of an earthquake while they were at sea, as in Matthew.  The waves of the sea were beating into the boat (καὶ τὰ κύματα ἐπέβαλλεν εἰς τὸ πλοῖον).  Thus, the water was already filling up the boat (ὥστε ἤδη γεμίζεσθαι τὸ πλοῖον).  They were in real danger.

Would Elijah save Jesus? (Mt 27:49-27:49)

“But the others said.

‘Wait!

Let us see

Whether Elijah

Will come to save him.’”

 

οἱ δὲ λοιποὶ εἶπαν Ἄφες ἴδωμεν εἰ ἔρχεται Ἡλείας σώσων αὐτόν.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 15:36.  There was nothing about Elijah in Luke, chapter 23, and in John, chapter 19.  Matthew said that some of the other bystanders (οἱ δὲ λοιποὶ εἶπαν) wanted to wait and see whether Elijah would come to save Jesus (Ἄφες ἴδωμεν εἰ ἔρχεται Ἡλείας σώσων αὐτόν).  Other ancient manuscripts have the additional symbolic phrase that can be found in John, 19:34 that happened after Jesus had died.  This verse read “Another soldier took a spear and pierced his side.  Then out came water and blood (ἄλλος δὲ λαβὼν λόγχην ἔνυξεν αὐτοῦ τὴν πλευράν, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ὕδωρ καὶ αἷμα).”

 

They give him sour wine to drink (Mt 27:48-27:48)

“At once,

One of the bystanders ran.

He got a sponge.

He filled it

With sour wine.

He put it on a stick.

He gave it to him

To drink.”

 

καὶ εὐθέως δραμὼν εἷς ἐξ αὐτῶν καὶ λαβὼν σπόγγον πλήσας τε ὄξους καὶ περιθεὶς καλάμῳ ἐπότιζεν αὐτόν.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 15:36.  In Luke, chapter 23:36, there was an indication of a soldier who gave some sour wine to Jesus.  In John, chapter 19:28-29, Jesus said that he was thirsty before they gave him this sour wine that was standing nearby.  Matthew said that soon one of the bystanders ran to get a sponge (καὶ εὐθέως δραμὼν εἷς ἐξ αὐτῶν καὶ λαβὼν σπόγγον).  He filled it with sour wine or vinegar (πλήσας τε ὄξους).  Then he put it on a stick or reed (καὶ περιθεὶς καλάμῳ) to give Jesus something to drink (ἐπότιζεν αὐτόν).  This sour wine or vinegar might have been a reference to Psalm 69:21, where the psalmist complained that they gave him vinegar to drink.  This common Roman soldier drink of sour wine or vinegar mixed with water might also have been an anesthetic to ease the pain.  Thus, this action might have been an act of compassion for Jesus hanging on the cross.

Pilate claims that he is innocent (Mt 27:24-27:24)

“Thus,

When Pilate saw

That he could do nothing,

But rather that

A riot

Was beginning,

He took some water.

He washed his hands

Before the crowd.

He said.

‘I am innocent

Of this man’s blood.

See to it yourselves!’”

 

ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ Πειλᾶτος ὅτι οὐδὲν ὠφελεῖ ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον θόρυβος γίνεται, λαβὼν ὕδωρ ἀπενίψατο τὰς χεῖρας κατέναντι τοῦ ὄχλου λέγων Ἀθῷός εἰμι ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος τούτου· ὑμεῖς ὄψεσθε.

 

Once again, only Matthew has the Roman governor Pilate proclaim his innocence about the death of Jesus.  These comments of Pilate were not in any of the other gospel stories.  Matthew said that Pilate saw that he could do nothing (ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ Πειλᾶτος ὅτι οὐδὲν ὠφελεῖ).  He thought that this might be the beginning of a riot (ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον θόρυβος γίνεται).  He took some water (λαβὼν ὕδωρ) and washed his hands (ἀπενίψατο τὰς χεῖρας) before the crowd (κατέναντι τοῦ ὄχλου).  He proclaimed (λέγων) that he was innocent of this man’s blood (λέγων Ἀθῷός εἰμι ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος τούτου).  He told them to see to it themselves (λέγων Ἀθῷός εἰμι ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος τούτου).  In fact, only the Roman governor, himself, could impose the death penalty of crucifixion.  This was another attempt by Matthew to show that the Romans were not responsible for the death of Jesus.

The fourth beatitude about righteousness (Mt 5:6-5:6)

“Blessed are

Those who hunger for righteousness,

Those who thirst for righteousness,

They shall be filled.”

 

μακάριοι οἱ πεινῶντες καὶ διψῶντες τὴν δικαιοσύνην, ὅτι αὐτοὶ χορτασθήσοντ

 

The happy, blessed, and fortunate ones (μακάριοι) were those who hungered and thirsted for righteousness (οἱ πεινῶντες καὶ διψῶντες τὴν δικαιοσύνην).  They would not go away empty handed.  They would be satisfied or filled (ὅτι αὐτοὶ χορτασθήσοντ).  Isaiah, chapter 55:1-2 has an invitation to those without money to come to drink and eat.  They could have water, wine, milk and bread.  They would enjoy themselves at this banquet.  Matthew may have been referencing Psalm 107:4-9, where Yahweh had helped a small group of lost Israelites who were hungry and thirsty, while wandering in the desert.  He satisfied their thirst and filled their hunger with good food.  In their distress, they called out to Yahweh, who heard them.  He led them in a straight path to an inhabited town.  Thus, they gave thanks to Yahweh.  So too, those who hungered and thirsted for righteousness, the right way of doing things, would be satisfied or filled with this righteousness.