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Re: [XTalk] The Anger of Jesus

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: Crosstalk Cc: GPG In Response To: Loren Rossen On: Anger of Jesus From: Bruce Are we belaboring this Leper Healing passage too much? Quite possibly. If so,
    Message 1 of 11 , Dec 20, 2008
      To: Crosstalk
      Cc: GPG
      In Response To: Loren Rossen
      On: Anger of Jesus
      From: Bruce

      Are we belaboring this Leper Healing passage too much? Quite possibly. If
      so, I hasten to add a word in order to bear my fair share of the possible
      guilt:

      LOREN: I certainly didn't mean to imply Jesus didn't heal the man, only that
      the following stern warning is probably more along the lines of a curt
      dismissal if Mk 1:40b was an honor-challenge.

      BRUCE: Which I think there is room to doubt. And why? Contrast this with the
      recently mentioned Healing of the Possessed Boy:

      Mk 1:40 (Leper): "If you will, you can make me clean." (Jesus) "I will, be
      clean." There is here no dare by the Leper; no doubt by the Leper of Jesus's
      powers, rather a certainty that if he puts them forth, the leper will be
      cleansed. Jesus supplies the missing datum, again without detectable rancor,
      "I will." The only stringency comes later in the episode. I think it wrong
      to retroject it back to the beginning of the episode.

      So far, so good. Now contrast:

      Mk 9:21 (Father): "If you can do anything, have pity on us and help us."
      (Jesus) "If you can! All things are possible to him who believes." Here,
      there is doubt, not only about Jesus's willingness to help, but about his
      ability to help ("if you can do anything"). This is in the strongest
      contrast with the Leper's confidence in Jesus's powers, where the healing
      depends only on Jesus's willingness to use those powers. And Jesus's answer
      is also in strong contrast to his response in the previous case. He is in
      fact indignant; he repeats the father's remark verbatim, but sarcastically:
      "If you will!" And he proceeds to challenge the father's faith as the real
      element lacking in the cure: "all things are possible to him who believes."
      It is the father's defective faith that is holding up the proceeding.

      The Leper had no such defect.

      INTERPRETATION

      And so the question passes, not to the question of Jesus's curative powers,
      but to the question of the believer's *degree of faith* in those powers
      (implicit in the one case, explicitly defective in the other). I think that
      such a contrast is real in these two passages, and that it is also visible
      at other points in Mark. I think that this set of contrasts is significant
      for the analysis of Mark.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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