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Textual Criticism and Exegesis of the Gospel of Mark

by Robert Randle  
9/11/2009 / Bible Studies

1: 1
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

NOTE: Just like in John 1:1 without mentioning genealogy, the Virgin birth, or the Nativity story.

2: 14a
As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office.

2: 18a
The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting.

NOTE: John the Baptizer must have been a very pious Jew who practiced all the rigorous requirements of the Law ["Torah"] as well as the traditions of the elders [Oral Law of the Pharisees "Halakh"].

3: 18
Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus, Simon the Cananite.

NOTE: Were James and Levi (Matthew) brothers (Cp. 2: 14a), and why is Simon referred to as "Zealot" in some translations rather than simply, a person from Cana [in Galilee], like Nathanael (Cp. John 21: 2a)?

3: 25-26
But He said to them, "Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: "how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?"

NOTE: This incident is recorded in I Samuel 21: 1-6, but King David's encounter was with Ahimelech, Abiathar's father; and there is no mention of him being a high priest at that time.

4: 10
But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable.

NOTE: This is further evidence that the disciples of Jesus numbered more than just "the twelve."

5: 41
Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, "Talitha, cumi," which is translated, "Little girl, I say to you, arise."

NOTE: The Aramaic simply has, "Little girl, arise;" and not all the additional wording.

6: 7, 13
And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. And they (1) cast out many demons, and
(2) anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.

NOTE: Only in this narrative do we learn about the "twelve" actually casting out demons and healing people. Also, the second part accords well with James 5: 14.

7: 1, 3b, 5b, 6-9, 13 (The tradition of the elders or Pharisees)

NOTE: Is this the teaching that strict former Pharisee Saul/Paul (Cp. Acts 22: 3; 26: 5; Galatians 1: 14) said is done away with in Christ? SEE the passages in Romans 3: 20, 28; Ephesians 2: 15 and Colossians 2: 14-15.

7: 24
From there He arose and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And He entered a house and wanted no one to know it, but He could not be hidden.

NOTE: This is most curious and there doesn't seem to be an explicit reason for the secrecy.

7: 33-35
And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue [with the saliva/spittle]. Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened." Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly.

NOTE: The Aramaic bears this out completely, although the word used is "Etpatakh." This is a most unusual healing.

8: 23-25
So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on His eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he could see anything. And he looked up and said, "I see men like trees, walking." Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everything clearly.

NOTE: This is the second unusual healing that involved Jesus using saliva/spittle on someone (on their eyes as opposed to on their tongue, previously). Perhaps what is odd about this cure is that it was not immediate or complete as in past times because Jesus had to touch the man's eyes a second time.

9: 14, 17-18
And when he came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. And He asked the scribes, "What are you discussing with them?" Then one of the crowd answered and said, "Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. "And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes (grinds) his teeth, and becomes rigid (stiff, paralyzed). So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not."

9: 28-29, 35a
And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" So He said to them, "This kind [of unclean spirit or demon] can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting. And He sat down with the twelve and said to them. . .

NOTE: This is a very interesting incident because it has many layers of meaning. At a first reading, one might think the "twelve" was included, and perhaps they were but if so, they cast out demons before, according to Mark 6: 13. It is entirely possible that the larger group of Jesus' followers who although disciples have not been empowered as the Apostles with the authority to cast out demons and heal.

This could also be a special class of 'spirit' which afflicted a person with being deaf, mute, and epilepsy; to which Jesus said it was going to take a certain discipline, self-denial, sacrifice and total commitment to God through fasting and prayer to be able to drive out this 'kind' of unclean spirit. There is also a lesson for us today, and that is, if we desire a special gift of God's grace and power, it may need to be supplemented through prayer and fasting in 'faith,' too.

10: 17a, 21a, 22, 23, 25
Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and said to Him. . . Then Jesus, looking at Him, loved Him and said to Him. . .But he was sad at His word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!" "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

NOTE: There is no explanation why the narrative says that Jesus loved him and he could very well be the enigmatic "beloved disciple" [possibly Joseph of Arimathea] who outran Peter to see Jesus' tomb after His resurrection (Cp. John 19: 38; 20: 1-10). Also, the Greek translation has mistaken the word 'camel' for 'rope' like it is in the Aramaic; which makes more sense. As a rope is a thick cord of strands, but if you shed enough of them into a single fiber that is thin enough, you can thread the needle (Andrew Gabriel Roth).

Jesus was in essence telling the person that he has to shed a sufficient amount of his wealth or riches and trust in God, but not to such an extent where he becomes poor, destitute, needy and dependent upon others; which would be irresponsible, anyway. If it were a camel for real, then no rich person would be saved; but Jesus used the word "easier," not impossible.

14: 3a
And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at table. . .

NOTE: This is a highly improbable scenario because a leper would not be entertaining dinner guests in the city, town or village in those or any other times. In fact, the person would be quarantined, isolated, and living in a leper colony living off the scraps of food that people would discard, and if such a one approached people the leper would have to warn anyone approaching that they were a leper and would not seek or entertain company; certainly not for a meal. The Greek mistranslation for 'leper' is the Aramaic word for jar maker or better still, 'potter.'

14: 51-52
Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.

NOTE: Why this mention in the narrative and it seems like just too much unnecessary information; unless there is a very good reason for leaving it in.

15: 21
Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Rufus and Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross.

NOTE: This is more information than contained in the other narratives; and why is this? Alexander seems to be part of the Jewish priestly caste (Cp. Acts 3: 5) and a Rufus is mentioned in Romans 16: 13.

15: 34
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is translated, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"

NOTE: although only Matthew and MARK contain these famous last words of Jesus, is this really what He said? The Greek translation for 'forsaken' is just one of the various Aramaic meanings, and it is troubling to think that Jesus would be forsaken and abandoned by the Heavenly Father in His most dire need and darkest hour. Jesus said in John 16: 32: Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has already come, that you will be scattered, each to his own [home], and will leave Me alone. And yet, I am not alone, because the Father is [always] with Me.

In Hebrews 13: 5b: Deuteronomy 31: 6b; and Joshua 1: 5b, God says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you," so it is inconceivable that Jesus would be left alone, God would turn His back on Him and Heaven's grace would be withdrawn at the Cross of Calvary.

15: 40b
Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome (Cp. 16: 1a).

NOTE: Were these some of Jesus' siblings (Cp. Mark 6: 3)? Interestingly, Jesus' brother James the "Less" doesn't seem to be as prominent as James the son of Zebedee or James the son of Alphaeus (Cp. 3: 17-18) because he was not a believer at this time but somehow inexplicably, he becomes quite prominent in the "Faith" and the leader of the Church (Cp. Acts 12: 17b; 15: 13, 19-22a; 21: 18, 23a; Galatians 1: 18-19; 2: 9a).

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