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Archive for January 8th, 2012

Suggested Resources for the Liturgical Year of Mark

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 8, 2012

This post lists resources-some free and available online, some available for purchase-which you may find of value for a better understanding of the Gospel of Mark. My listing them here should not be considered a wholesale endorsement of the content, methods, etc.

Free: Father Phillips’ Podcast on Mark. A very basic audio study (scroll down).

Free: EWTN Podcast~The Way to Follow Jesus. A 13 part audio study on the Gospel  hosted by Catholic biblical scholar, Dr. Tim Gray.

Free: Introduction to Mark. Online booklet by Father Dom Henry Wansbrough O.S.B.

Mark: Storyteller, Interpreter, Evangelist. By Father Francis J Moloney. A fine introduction to Mark.

Free: Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on the Gospel. Links to the individual chapters of all four Gospels.

Gospel of Mark (Ignatius Study Bible). Very popular, basic introductory commentary on Mark.

The Navarre Bible: St Mark. Extremely popular study series which was the brainchild of St Jose Marie Escriva. The four Gospel and Acts can be purchased in a single volume, however, the commentary is truncated in this single volume.

The Gospel of Mark (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture). The CCSC is an outstanding new commentary series on the New Testament.

The Beginning of the Gospel, Vol. 1. Fr. Eugene LaVerdiere, S.S.S. A bit repetitive at times but this is necessitated-at least in part-by Mark’s frequent use of the word παλιν (“again”). Don’t know what that means? Buy the books and figure it out (two volumes, see next link).

The Beginning of the Gospel, Vol. 2. Fr. Eugene LaVerdiere, S.S.S.

A Costly Freedom: A Theological Reading of Mark’s Gospel. Fr. Brendan Byrne, S.J.

The Gospel of Mark (Sacra Pagina Series). A bit more advanced but not “unreachable” to the average person in the pew.

The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary. Fr. Francis J. Moloney. I’m not personally familiar with this highly regarded commentary but it comes highly recommended; and I am familiar with a few other works by Father Moloney.

The Gospel of Mark As a Model for Action: A Reader-Response Commentary. Again, I’m not familiar with this work, but I am familiar with the author. The title clearly suggests that the work is concerned with the Markan theme of discipleship.

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My Notes on Mark 1:29-39

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 8, 2012

Mar 1:29  And immediately going out of the synagogue they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

Immediately. The word is found dozens of times in this Gospel; 14 times in just the first two chapters (often left untranslated). The word and its usage should probably be seen in relation to the urgency with which Christ came into Galilee. Recall my post on Mark 1:14-20 and, specifically, my comments on verse 15:

Mar 1:15  And saying: The time is accomplished and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel:

The time is accomplished, &c. In the person and mission of Jesus the Kingdom of God is already breaking into the world, another reason for the importance of the adversative δε (deh) mentioned in the previous comments: John prepares, Jesus inaugurates. The inbreaking of the kingdom is shown forth in the kingly power and authority of Jesus’ words and deeds (e.g., Mark 1:23, 27).   The word ordering of the Greek text place the emphasis on the verbs and gives a sense of urgency to Jesus’ mission: πεπληρωται ο καιρος και ηγγικεν η βασιλεια του θεου μετανοειτε  και πιστευετε (Accomplished the time, and at hand the kingdom of God, repent and believe).

Going out of the synagogue. Having just freed a man from an unclean spirit (Mark 1:21-28). The episodes about to be narrated and the exorcism should be seen as closely related. Jesus worked the exorcism (a supernatural malady) in a holy place, a synagogue, the other healings (natural and supernatural maladies-see verse 34) he worked in a common place, the home of Peter and Andrew.

They came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. The first four disciples called by Jesus (Mark 1:16-20). They will appear together again in Mark 3:13-19, being the first four of the twelve apostles who are named there. They will be portrayed by St Mark as the four who hear Jesus’ end-time discourse (Mark 13:3). For more on the town of Capernaum (Capharnaum) and Peter’s house (the “Insula Sacra”) see here.

Mar 1:30  And Simon’s wife’s mother lay in a fit of a fever: and forthwith they tell him of her.

Lay in a fit of fever. Luke 4:38 refers to it as a great fever. The imperfect tense of the word “lay” (κατεκειτο) suggests a fever of severity and duration.  The Greek πυρεσσουσα (pyressousa = “fever”) is derived from the word πυρά, “fire”, from which comes our word “pyre”, as in “funeral pyre.” Marie Noonan Sabin, in her commentary on Mark (New Collegeville Bible Commentary), the word was often used in ancient times as a synonym for death. This is rather important in light of the language which St Mark employs to describe the healing in the next verse.

The catechism on sickness in the OT: 1502 The man of the Old Testament lives his sickness in the presence of God. It is before God that he laments his illness, and it is of God, Master of life and death, that he implores healing.[98] Illness becomes a way to conversion; God’s forgiveness initiates the healing.[99] It is the experience of Israel that illness is mysteriously linked to sin and evil, and that faithfulness to God according to his law restores life: “For I am the Lord, your healer.”[100] The prophet intuits that suffering can also have a redemptive meaning for the sins of others.[101] Finally Isaiah announces that God will usher in a time for Zion when he will pardon every offense and heal every illness.[102]

Mar 1:31  And coming to her, he lifted her up, taking her by the hand; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.

And coming to her. The Greek word translated here as “coming” (προσελθων) occurs only 5 times in this Gospel (only here is it used of Jesus’ movement). This is the first instance of its usage; the last will be in Mark 14:45 where it describes the approach of the traitor Judas~And when he was come, immediately going up to him he saith: Hail, Rabbi! And he kissed him.

He lifted her up. A better translation of the Greek word ηγειρεν would be “he raised her up.” St Mark is here employing resurrection language (Mark 16:6. See also Mark 6:14-16; Mark 12:26). The term also appears in other miracle stories (e.g., Mark 3:3; Mark 5:41; Mark 9:27).

Taking her by the hand. Coupled with the theme of rising also in Mark 5:41 and Mark 9:27. Jesus also takes the hand of a blind man he heals (Mark 8:23).

Immediately the fever left her. The word translated here as “left” (αφηκεν) can have the meaning of “expired.” Coupled with the fact that the word for fever could also indicate a state of death, or near-death, we could say that Jesus caused death to die (“Dieing you destroyed our death”). “Immediately” and “left” were also used in reference to the first four disciples leaving their nets (Mark 1:18) and their boat and father (1:20).

She ministered unto them.Witnessing to the extent of her healing, St Bede the Venerable: The health which is conferred at the command of the Lord, returns at once entire, accompanied with such strength that she is able to minister to those of whose help she had before stood in need (Commentary on Mark).

Mar 1:32  And when it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all that were ill and that were possessed with devils.

Evening, after sunset. Jews reckoned days not midnight to midnight but, rather, sundown to sundown. The time indication here informs us that the Sabbath is over (see Mark 1:21). Perhaps St Mark is subtly hinting at the fact that people were reluctant to seek healing on a Sabbath. The point will become an issue in Mark 3:1-6. Peter and Andrew (presumably the ones who told Jesus about the mother-in-law, verse 30), were not so squeamish, probably because they had witnessed the Sabbath day exorcism (Mark 1:23-36).

They brought to him all that were ill and that were possessed with devils. As indicated above, those with natural maladies (“ill”) like Peter’s mother-in-law, and those with supernatural maladies, like the man in the synagogue with the unclean spirit.

Mar 1:33  And all the city was gathered together at the door.

As previously noted (yesterday’s notes, see on Mark 1:28), crowds will become a problem as the narrative progresses.

Mar 1:34  And he healed many that were troubled with divers diseases. And he cast out many devils: and he suffered them not to speak, because they knew him.

Healed many…cast out many devils. Again emphasizes Christ’s twofold assault against the natural and supernatural afflictions of humanity.

He suffered them not to speak, because they knew him. The Greek word here translated as “suffered” (ηφιεν) is related to the word describing how the fever “left” (αφηκεν) Peter’s mother-in-law (verse 31), thus drawing a parallel between his power over demons and his power over sickness.

Mar 1:35  And rising very early, going out, he went into a desert place: and there he prayed.
Mar 1:36  And Simon and they that were with him followed after him.
Mar 1:37  And when they had found him, they said to him: All seek for thee.
Mar 1:38  And he saith to them: Let us go into the neighbouring towns and cities, that I may preach there also; for to this purpose am I come.

Rising very early. The Greek implies that it is morning but still dark (πρωι εννυχα λιαν = “much before dawn”). A similar phrasing occurs at the beginning of the resurrection narrative, an event which also took place the day after a Sabbath: And when the Sabbath was past…very early in the morning ( λιαν πρωι Mark 16:1-2).

His seeking out a desert place recalls that the Spirit had driven him out into the desert where he was tempted by Satan (Mark 1:12-13). Having in the span of one day at Caernaum confronted an unclean spirit, demons, sickness, Jesus now returns-as it were-to the environs of his initial victory over evil: to a desert place that he might pray. He is alone and, apparently, wanted it that way, but his solitude with his Father is short lived. The popular enthusiasm which will soon keep Jesus from entering towns or, for that matter, finding solitude, is already influencing his disciples who have as yet no real grasp of who he is or what his mission is. The translation I’m using speaks of Peter and those with him following Jesus, suggesting an act of discipleship, but the Greek is probably to be taken negatively:   “They hunted him down” (και κατεδιωξεν αυτον).

Mar 1:39  And he was preaching in their synagogues and in all Galilee and casting out devils.

Rounds out the account of Jesus’ day in Capernaum and its aftermath while giving confirmation that Jesus is fulfilling the purpose of his coming mentioned in the previous verse.

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