Mark 2:1-12  Rough Translation 2001

1.      And having come (gone) into again into Capernaum through days he/she was

heard that in house he/she is,

2.       And they were gathered together many so that no longer to be room for and not the things toward the door and he/she was speaking them the word.

3.   And they come bearing toward him a paralytic being lifted up by four

4.   And not being able to bring to him on account of the crowd they unroofed the roof where he was and them having dug out they lowered the bed/mat where the paralytic he was lying (down).

5        And having seen Jesus the faith of them he says to the paralytic child they are forgiven of you the sins

6        But they were some of the scribes there sitting and pondering as was their custom in hearts of them

7        Why is this one thus he speaks?  He blasphemes. Who is able to forgive sins but not (except) one God.

8        And immediately having known the Jesus, by the spirit of him, that thus they ponder in themselves he says to them, why these things you all pondering in the heart of you all?

9        What is a better trouble, to say to the paralytic are forgiven of you the sins or to say rise and pick up the mat of you and walk?

10    but so that you all may know that authority has the son of man to forgive sins on the earth - he/she/it says to the paralytic

11    to you I say rise take up the mat of you and go to the house of you 

12    and he/she/it was raised up and immediately having taken the mat he/she/it went out in front of all, with the result that to be amazed all and to glorify God saying that thus never we saw

Bi 216 Website

Class Feedback 2001

Paper #1

On the whole an outstanding effort by all.

Step I

A statement of one's understanding of this step as a whole was missing from some. Please add such in the future.

The comparison of published translations did not always yield a selection of highlighted moments of major differences for follow-up study.

Textual Criticism was carried out with a good sense of readings from the Alexandrian family and external evidence in general. Internal evidence was applied well when the external evidence was inconclusive. There was a tendency, nonetheless, to underestimate the complexity of the difficulty in Mk. 2:5. Continue to wrestle with what lectio difficilior might mean for the "forgivenesss" problem here.

Rough Translation generally quite good. There were some discrepancies between text-critical choices and word choice in the translation. Be sure to let the English reflect what is actually there in the Greek.

Step II

A statement of one's understanding of this step as a whole was missing from some. Please add such in the future.

Genre identification for Mk. 2:1-12 as a hybrid mix of "miracle story" (healing) and "controversy dialogue" was recognized by most, but there needs to be a delineation of the themes and motifs which help one to recognize that these genre types are present here. To do so now will be helpful later when you search for comparative material in step IV.

Dispositional interaction through questions and observations, on the whole, outstanding. Some would benefit from continued reflection on the true nature of your question...what it is that you are really asking.

Organization will improve as we get further into the methodology. The differences between steps III and IV will become clearer with experience. The markan composition, for example, is the focus of step III; the "redactional wall" has not yet been crossed. It is in the latter that we struggle with the historicity of the "events" in the narrative.

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General orientation on what one is supposed to do in these two steps was, on the whole, quite good.

III A - The immediate context could be explored with more satisfying results if one were guided more - than was demonstrated in most cases - by the genre observations made in step II. For example, the ties fore and aft, when approached in terms of the distinctive genre types of miracle/healing story and controversy dialogue, would be very engaging when talking about the compositional goals of the author. If one were to take the anacoluthon in 2:10 seriously and were to reconnect the miracle story conclusion on vv. 11-12 - so that the words spoken to the paralyzed one ("child of the covenant"?), upon recognition by Jesus of the presence of faith in God, were originally: "rise, take up your pallet, and go to your home" - there remains the question of the origins and location of the remnant, namely, the controversy dialogue. Interesting and troubling is the proposal that it formed the original conclusion to the leper story in 1:40-45. The "witness to them" (1:44) and the placement of the controversy interlocutors at the front end of the parallel story in Luke 5:17ff seem to invite the possibility of such a close connection. That the original "tevknon" could have been the leper is an intriguing option. There also follows, of course, a sequence of controversy dialogues in 2:15ff, which may indeed build on the substantive content of this debate. That needs to be explored. The placement of the offering of "didachv" and the discipleship motif as hinge pins in 2:13-14, moreover, may also provide key transition moments in the early stages of compositional development in this gospel.

Some used the occasion of the III A line of questioning for 2:1-12 to advance their general views on this gospel as a whole and a presumed religious system/world that was - to paraphrase - hostile to Jesus, deliberately sought to paralyze people with guilt, and was opposed to the experience of spiritual freedom. Jesus was sent by God - so it was laid out as idea basic to Mark's understanding of "gospel" - to break the bondage of this paralysis and to introduce "spiritual freedom." Although the redaction-critical angle of inquiry is quite germane to step III as a whole, the wider interests of markan interpretation emerge more directly during the developments of B and C rather than here in A; it is premature here to posit an overview when all we have probed is the "immediate" context. It is important, furthermore, to keep in mind that when one does begin here to ponder themes and motifs related to genre that we exercise self-critique when it comes to the use of modern terms and concepts from the behavioral sciences when talking about the dynamics of an ancient text, e.g. an emotional sense of guilt or the phenomenon of frustration.

The outline of the major sections of Mark in III B is a good place to show your reading of this document in terms of its primary theological and historical intersections. Some showed an awareness of the special place of 2:1-12 in their outline - most did not - and tried to tether it to the theme development throughout. Most did, however, sense the inadequacy of a strict geographical principle of organization. Some were inconsequential with regard to the text-critical evidence at 16:9-20. And some made perhaps too light of the passion prediction triad in 8:31; 9:31; and 10:32-34 by either not mentioning them at all or not attributing to them any special compositional weight. In addition, please remember that beginnings and endings are critical for the genre "gospel." Literally, this gives special weight to 1:1 (and 1:14-15?) and 16:8 as we span the scope and content of all that falls between them. To characterize this content as something like "Jesus is proclaiming religion and faith" probably needs further refinement as one keeps reading this gospel with a heightened sense of interest.

And in III C most - but again not all - considered the Papias reference to "Mark" as a companion of Peter; some who did got tangled up a bit in the views expressed in the handouts from Kuemmel and Lane rather than focusing on the issue of this Mark - companion of Peter or not - having followed an independent principle of ordering the material passed on to him. When pondering the difference(s) between "bivo"" and "eujaggevlion" for Mark a deductive approach would help here. One can infer from the existing ordered sequence what the principle of arrangement for the gospel genre, as understood by Mark, would be. At one level, this is an important breakthrough on the authorship question. Only a few valued this aspect of the dialogue with the Papias quotation. In other respects, however, we are beginning to get interested in the authorship question as a dialogue with the content of the document itself as a way out of the published impasse between scholars of the so-called left and right. In IV A, of course, contrasts to Mark found especially when comparing Matthew and Luke help to make the gospel genre for Mark even more distinctive.

Some, following up in most cases with a kind of thematic offensive begun in III A and/or resonating with Kuemmel's view that Mark is developing a "sharp polemic against the unbelieving Jews" (p. 97), asserted for 2:1-12 a hostility that exceeded the demonstrable givens of this text. Please be careful to stick with what the text itself actually yields. In the final paper this would call for a more measured balance between steps II and III. Even when referring, for example, to locations later in Mark (a good III B exercise) take care not to overstate what can be said. For example, the "ajgreuvw" reference to catching or capturing with respect to a "lovgo"" in 12:13 is used only here in Mark and, for that matter, in the rest of the New Testament. It is not at all clear that the addition by Bauer's Lexicon "in an unguarded statement" is justified. It could just as easily be argued that the intent is something like "to pin him down" or "to get him to say what he says clearly, plainly" (much like the dynamics in 8:32 or 4:34 etc). There is, of course, no mistaking the deadly earnest of the quest for clarification; the peril of blasphemy, a trial, and a possible death sentence are at stake. One wonders - at least I do - if there isn't something more than an adversarial relationship among historical principals here for Mark, that something being linked to the mystery of what the gospel genre (for Mark) is trying to explore theologically... something about divine necessity - God's chosen way with the world and history - and Jesus' dying, something exposed cryptically for a moment in 14:32-42: "ajpevcei."

In IV A most opted for the road called via minimale, i.e. less is better (a version of less is more, I suppose???)... :-) ... I guess that all the handouts provided in class as a sample for the long haul left most of you in retreat and planning to return another day to fight the step IV battle. There were, to be sure, brief journeys into the synopsis to check out the parallel references in the other gospels (IV A), into Old Testament references (IV B) in the margins of the Nestle text, and into a resource or two for Jewish (IV B) and Hellenistic (IV C) backgrounds. Perhaps because of time constraints - who can say? - the latter two often drew not on the primary sources collected in those resources but rather on the secondary comments of the editors of those works. And the journeys into the gospel parallel references and the Old Testament texts (like Isaiah or the Psalms) did not go beyond a surface reading. On occasion some sought to check the Hebrew or the LXX for some form of linguistic derivation or history of tradition indebtedness, but this was the exception. A few noted the peculiar reference to "God the one" in 2:7 and sought to differentiate this from the phrase "God alone," but did not follow up on the possible connections to the Shema (Deut. 6:4) "...the Lord our God is one Lord," which, by the way, the Jewish New Testament scholar Pinchas Lapide calls the foundation confession of all Judaism past and present. If the Shema is in fact behind the declaration (question?) of 2:7 the implications for the debate would be enormous.

At this point you should understand the above as an encouragement to stay with step IV and not as a criticism. It takes practice to become efficient in working with the lines of questioning pertinent to history of tradition and history of religion comparison. As promised, credit was given in accord with the maxim "less is more" so long as one tried to stay tethered to the text and to make critical integration of the parallels introduced. One key juncture for further reflection in this passage is the matter of the identity of Jesus, the pronouncement of the forgiveness of sin, and the potential background of Isaiah 43:25 and Psalms 103 and 130. Before moving too quickly to the conclusion that these parallels yield the conclusion that Jesus is placing himself in the position of God ponder the consequences of Mark 10:45 (the son of man question again!) or Philippians 2:6. Are there other possibilities besides Jesus making some kind of self-assertive coup or playing a divine trump card in a debate with inferiors? In my view, the question deserves careful reflection before one replies, so let it simmer a while.

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VA - The summary of salient features from steps I-IV was, for the most part, rather uneven. Remember: this should be the place where you can return when looking at this pericope again in the future and can pick up where you left off. Some tried to organize things in direct conversation with their dispositional questions from IIB, grouping them by "answered" and "unanswered" categories. This is a good approach, but often the results seemed somewhat flat and superficial. Others said that their questions had changed so much in the post-IIB/C exercises that there was little point in going back to them. And others were so focused on searching for an "aha"-moment or a "point" to preach that there really was no "summary" and there were no "salient features" to speak of at all.

Of the three groups mentioned above, clearly the first one will be the most helpful over the long haul, if the results can become less flat and superficial and more engaging in depth and detail.

The second would be helpful if the intersections between the now-obsolete questions and those new ones could become more apparent; very often the new is a manifestation of the old in extension. For example, several had abandoned interest in "houses at the time of Jesus" because size and roof construction became secondary interests in light of the growing importance of the "events" in the pericope. A version of the interest in the "house," however, can become less secondary when construction details give way to house as household, the place from which the leper at the end of ch. 1 had been banned, the place where professional, learned debate could transpire (2:1), in spite of the absence of construction details concerning the adequacy of these "halls" for public discourse and action, the place to which the paralytic is restored and returned (2:15), and the place that is the context for the subsequent pericope (2:15). That is to say, renewed interest in "oikos" at a new level of appreciation may, in fact, place the exegete at the threshold of new discoveries both here and elsewhere in the NT.

And, finally, the narrow search for one preachable "aha" moment is too restrictive. That one such or several such moments can and usually do emerge from engagement with multiple possibilities is to be expected and welcomed, but exclusive interest in a kind of "pop-up sermon" from exegetical engagement stunts the larger possibilities of the method's scope as pertains to a broad range of pastoral work and personal edification etc. This approach also makes it harder to use VA in the future as a handy re-entry into your previous work on the pericope.

VB - The smooth translation also varied considerably in quality. Remember that three features distinguish VB from IC. They are: 1) generally, the benefit of the intervening exegetical research should now put you in a place to decide on certain translational options where you had been unsure (e.g. the content of the "word" in 2:2); 2) you can now move toward the canons of better English usage in contrast to a version of English that directly reflects what is there in the Greek (of course, use caution: what is gained and what is lost when one chooses to change all present tense verbs with past tenses calling them "historical presents"?); 3) take risks and back them up with footnotes to stimulate further conversation among colleagues in this interpretive endeavor. Examples of this might be, for example, translating "son of man" with "the mortal of God's choosing" while pointing to non-titular antecedents in the vicinity like Mt. 9:8's reading with a plural ("anthropois") or like the plural in Mark 3:28f; similarly, translating the passive voice in vv. 5, 9, and 12 as divine passive and including thereby the phrase "by God" (many of you took the risk of rendering the periphrastic tense in v. 6 with "as was their custom" but failed to put it in brackets).

VC - The hermeneutical bridges were, on the whole, vital and helpful. You were able to liken what you saw or heard in the text with some aspect or dimension of life, with something you had read or heard or otherwise had experienced. Where most of the bridges stopped short, however, was the part that mulls things a bit more and probes some of the differences as well as the similarities. Press on in the direction of this critical integration of conversation between your bridge and the markan text. Though somewhat apprehensive, most of you showed considerable imagination in this part of step V...congratulations!

VIA - The description of the audience for your contemporary address drew mostly from sociological, demographic categories, e.g. age, race, marital status, class, and economic strength etc. While most added something about denomination, very few said anything about their own relationship to the hearers, whether there was a history of any kind between you, whether there was a relationship of trust and so on. Be sure in the final paper to give some thought to your relationship to the audience when you discuss the hearers.

VIB - The goals were often expressed through use of the categories :focus and function. This is fine and helpful. The intent behind "goals" language here is not only what and how you are going to say what you are going to say, but also why. By considering "why" you are forced to think about the tie between parts A and B of this step, which is something pastors have to think about all the time. This moves one to think about the larger prayers, hopes, and dreams of the congregation for its ministry. I would encourage you to retain focus and function categories and to supplement them with the above.

VIC - The contemporary address sometimes showed clear connections with the exegesis in step I-V and sometimes not at all. In fact, it seemed on occasion that the sermon (outline or manuscript) could have been presented without having done the exegesis at all. How can this be? This is a question with which we all must wrestle. The two most obvious answers would be that either the writer was in a hurry and just did not express him- or herself efficiently or the writer is putting together his or her thoughts on this "topic" - perhaps having "worked before" on it in another class - and did not need assistance from the text since the sermon already had a life of its own prior to the exegesis. Neither of these two answers will serve the pastor well. Perhaps there are other reasons for a cleft between exegesis and sermon design. They certainly need to be confronted and bridged. To do that in a thorough-going way we'll need to find a discussion context of promise. Where would you hope to find that context?