Re: [XTalk] The Anger of Jesus
- To: Crosstalk
In Response To: Loren Rossen
On: Anger of Jesus
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
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.
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.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst