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[XTalk] Re: Mark 3:21

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  • Jeffrey B. Gibson
    ... snip ... In Greek the charge that is translated as he is beside himself/mad/crazy etc. is (ELEGON GAR) hOTI EXESTH. EXESTH is a form of EXISTHMI. Here
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 3, 1999
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      Julie Buescher wrote:

      > In Mark 3:20-21 it says: 20Then Jesus entered a house, and
      > again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able
      > to eat. 21When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of
      > him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."

      snip

      > I've read many bible commentaries, and most of them agree that
      > Jesus was
      > percieved by the surrounding people to be acting crazy or insane. But
      > one commentary implies, that the part which says "He is out of his
      > mind", can be translated as "He fainted."
      > I was hoping that someone who really knows how to translate the Greek
      > version, could tell me if there really is any possible way to translate
      > it as "He fainted", and if not, does the Greek version leave any room
      > for doubt, that he was acting out in some sort of a crazy or insane
      > manner?
      >

      In Greek the charge that is translated as "he is beside himself/mad/crazy etc.
      is (ELEGON GAR) hOTI EXESTH. EXESTH is a form of EXISTHMI.

      Here is the entry from LSJ regarding the semantic range of this word:,

      existêmi,
      A. causal in pres., impf., fut., aor. 1:--

      displace: hence, change, alter utterly, tan phusin
      Ti.Locr.100c, Aristot. Nic. Eth. 1119a23, cf. Plot.6.2.7;
      tên
      politeian Plu.Cic.10; e. tês poiotêtos ton oinon
      IDEM=Plu.Cic. =lr.
      2. metaph., existanai tina phrenôn drive one out
      of his senses, Eur. Ba. 850; nou oinos exestêse
      me E.Fr.265; tou phronein Xen. Mem. 1.3.12;
      tauta kinei, tauta existêsin anthrôpous hautôn
      Dem. 21.72; simply e. tina drive one out of his
      senses, confound, amaze, Hp.Coac.429;
      existanta kai phobounta tous anthrôpous
      Muson.Fr.8p.35H.; existêsi diverts the
      attention, Aristot. Rh. 1408b23; excite,
      IBID=au=Aristot. Rh. 1408b36=lr, Ev.Luc.24.22;
      ton logismon, tên dianoian, Plut. Sol. 21,
      ti=Plu.
      Crass.23; also e. tina tôn logismôn
      IDEM=Plu.Fab.5; eis apatheian e. tên psuchên
      IDEM=Plu.Publ. 6.

      3. get rid of, dispose of the claims of a person,

      Sammelb.5246.14(i B.C.), etc.

      4. exesta^kota (exestêkota cod.): eis dikên
      keklêkota, Hsch.

      B. intr. in Pass. and Med., with aor. 2, pf., and plpf.
      Act.:
      1. of Place, arise out of, become separated, ex
      . . histato Neikos Emp.36, cf. au=Emp. =lr;
      stand aside from, ekstantes tês hodou out of
      the way, Hdt. 3.76; ek tou mesou Xen. Anab.
      1.5.14; thakôn kai hodôn e. [tini] stand out of
      the
      way forhim, make way for him, IDEM=Xen. Sym.
      4.31; ekstênai tini Soph. Phil. 1053, ti=Soph.
      Aj.
      672, Aristoph. Frogs 354, etc.: abs., in same
      sense, Eur. IT 1229 (troch.), Aristoph. Ach. 617,

      etc.: metaph., ex hedras soi plokamos
      exestêch' is displaced, disordered, Eur. Ba.
      928; oude menei nous . . all' existatai Soph.
      Ant.
      564.

      2. c. acc., shrink from, shun, nin ouk an exestên

      oknôi IDEM=Soph. Aj. 82; ouden' existamai
      Dem. 18.319; oudena pôpote kindunon
      exestêsan IDEM=Dem. 20.10.

      3. go out of joint, e. ischion Hp.Aph.6.59, cf.
      ti=Hp. Fract.14,au=Hp. Fract. 6.

      II. c. gen. rei, retire from, give up possession of,
      tês
      archês Thuc. 2.63, au=Thuc. 4.28; ekstênai tês
      ousias, hapantôn tôn ontôn, become bankrupt, Antiph.
      2.2.9, Dem. 36.50; tôn huparchontôn BGU473.11 (ii
      A. D.).

      2. cease from, abandon, tês philias, tôn
      mathêmatôn, Lys. 8.18, Xen. Cyrop. 3.3.54; tôn
      spoudasmatôn Plat. Phaedrus 249c, etc.; hoi
      tôn politikôn exestêkotes Isoc. 4.171; tês
      hupotheseôs Dem. 10.46; tôn pepragmenôn,
      i.e. disown them, IDEM=Dem. 19.72; e. tinos
      eis ti Plat. Laws 907d; also e. athlou tini,
      stratêgias tini, abandon it in his favour,
      Nic.Dam.73J., Plut. Nic. 7; tês Sikelias tini
      IDEM=Plu.Pomp.10.

      3. ekstênai patros lose one's father, give him
      up, Aristoph. Wasps 477; kardias existamai to
      dran I depart from my heart's purpose, Soph.
      Ant. 1105; esp. phrenôn ekstênai lose one's
      senses. Eur. Orest. 1021, etc.; dia to gêras tou
      phronein Isoc. 5.18; emautou Aeschin. 2.4,
      Men.Sam.276; psuchê exestêkuia tôn logismôn
      Plb.32.15.8: abs., to be out of one's wits, be
      distraught, e. melancholikôs Hp.Prorrh.1.18, cf.
      Men.Sam.64, etc.; exestên idôn Philippid.27; e.
      hupo gêrôs Com.Adesp.860; tais dianoiais
      Vett. Val.au=Com.Adesp. =lr; existasthai kai
      mainesthai pros tên osmên Arist.HA577a12; of
      anger, eutheôs exstêsomenos Phld. Ir.p.78 W.;
      to be astonished, amazed, Ev.Matt.12.23,
      Ev.Marc.2.12, etc.; lose consciousness, of
      Sisera, LXXJd.4.21.

      4. existasthai tês hautou ideas depart from,
      degenerate from one's own nature, Plat. Rep.
      380d; ek tês hautou phuseôs Arist.HA488b19;
      [dêmokratia] exestêkuia tês beltistês taxeôs
      IDEM=Aristot. Pol. 1309b32; hai dêmokratiai e.
      eis tas enantias politeias degenerate into . .,
      IBID=au=Aristot. Pol. 1306b18, cf. ti=Aristot.
      Rh. 1390b28: abs., e. mê metaphuteuomenon
      Thphr.HP6.7.6, etc., cf. Plu.2.649e; chumos
      existamenos changing its properties, turning,
      Hp.VM24; oinos exestêkôs or existamenos
      changed, sour wine, Dem. 35.32,
      Thphr.CP6.7.5; prosôpa exestêkota disfigured
      faces, Xen. Cyrop. 5.2.34.

      5. abs., change one's position, one's opinion,
      egô men ho autos eimi kai ouk existamai Thuc.
      2.61: opp. emmenein têi doxêi, Aristot. Nic. Eth.

      1151b4.

      6. of language, to be removed from common
      usage, IDEM=Aristot. Rh. 1404b13.


      III. stand out, project, exestêkos convex, opp.
      koilon,
      IDEM=Arist.HA493b4.

      You'll see that there is one LXX example in which EXISTHMI is used with the
      meaning "to faint", but grammatically and contextually this cannot be the
      meaning of the word in Mk 3:21. Are Jesus relatives accusing him of
      fainting??!!

      Yours,

      Jeffrey
      --
      Jeffrey B. Gibson
      7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
      Chicago, Illinois 60626
      e-mail jgibson000@...
    • Robert M Schacht
      On Thu, 02 Dec 1999 22:55:05 -0800 Julie Buescher ... able ... of ... Jesus was ... mind , ... translate ... manner? ... Julie, Your question is an
      Message 2 of 5 , Dec 4, 1999
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        On Thu, 02 Dec 1999 22:55:05 -0800 "Julie Buescher"
        <mrge100kid@...> writes:
        > In Mark 3:20-21 it says: 20Then Jesus entered a house, and
        > again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even
        able
        > to eat. 21When his family heard about this, they went to take charge
        of
        > him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."
        > Here are some other translations of Mark 3:21. ...
        > I've read many bible commentaries, and most of them agree that
        Jesus was
        > percieved by the surrounding people to be acting crazy or insane. But
        > one commentary implies, that the part which says "He is out of his
        mind",
        > can be translated as "He fainted."
        > I was hoping that someone who really knows how to translate the Greek
        > version, could tell me if there really is any possible way to
        translate
        > it as "He fainted", and if not, does the Greek version leave any room
        > for doubt, that he was acting out in some sort of a crazy or insane
        manner?
        >
        > Thank You
        > Julie

        Julie,
        Your question is an interesting one. First, as Jeffrey as pointed out,
        the translation "he fainted" won't work.

        Second, I think to understand this verse we need to find a context for
        it. I would suggest that the appropriate context is descriptions of
        Jesus' non-mundane behavior. I would further suggest three groups of
        texts:

        1. Mark 3:21, as noted. In The Acts of Jesus(AJ), this verse is printed
        in pink. In their commentary, Funk et al. note that "evidence scattered
        through the gospels sustains the claim that some authorities thought
        Jesus demon-possessed." (p.72)

        2. Texts where Jesus is described as "filled with the holy spirit", etc,
        as in
        Luke 4:14 ("Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit", validated by
        reading from Isaiah in )
        4:18), or "Full of the holy spirit" ( Luke in 4:1; cf. Mark 1:12).
        Perhaps include "led by the spirit" (Mat 4:1), and "rejoiced in the Holy
        Spirit" in Luke 10:21. Note that this is mostly Lukan language, and is
        set up by "Filled with the holy spirit" applied to Jesus prospectively
        in Luke 1:15. Assessment in AJ:
        L 4:1, gray
        L 4:14, red

        3. Texts were Jesus is described as possessed with an evil spirit
        (Matthew 12:24-32 //Luke 11:14-23; Mark 3:22-30):
        "24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "It is only by Beelzebul,
        the
        ruler of the demons, that this fellow casts out the demons."
        The Lukan version of this verse,
        15 But some of them said, "He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of

        the demons."
        is printed in bright red in the Acts of Jesus(AJ), where the source is
        attributed to Q.
        In their analysis of this passage (AJ, pp. 48-50), the Jesus Seminar came
        to these two bright red conclusions:
        * Some who saw Jesus thought he was mad
        * Some who saw Jesus said he was an agent of Beelzebul

        Now, this analysis leads to a number of alternatives:
        1. The three viewpoints reveal independent redactional tendencies in
        Mark, Matthew and Luke that are not based on historical realities.

        2. The three viewpoints are historical, but describe different
        situations.

        3. The three viewpoints represent 3 different attempts to describe and
        interpret the same kind of behavior exhibited by the historical Jesus.

        This third point of view is expressed, I think, in Stevan Davies' book
        Jesus the Healer, who develops the thesis that Jesus was frequently
        "possessed," and that these possession states were integral to
        understanding his legacy.

        I would add this additional comment: Mark's comment (expressed by his
        family) that Jesus was 'out of his mind', is the most basic and
        descriptive (and less interpretive).
        The Beelzebul data from Mark and Q suggest a first (negative) stage of
        interpretation by Jesus' opponents.
        Luke's spirit-language represents an attempt to understand and interpret
        the 'out of his mind' data that he had about Jesus more positively.

        The Gospel of John, in a general way, seems to support and generalize
        Luke's understanding.

        So I think that Mark 3:21, when examined in this context, seems not so
        exceptional after all.

        Bob
      • Davies
        ... Bob, thanks for the kind words in your letter. I d want to stress a factor (evidenced by the detailed philological posting regarding the exact meaning of
        Message 3 of 5 , Dec 4, 1999
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          Robert M Schacht wrote:

          > I would add this additional comment: Mark's comment (expressed by his

          > family) that Jesus was 'out of his mind', is the most basic and
          > descriptive (and less interpretive).
          > The Beelzebul data from Mark and Q suggest a first (negative) stage of
          > interpretation by Jesus' opponents.

          Bob, thanks for the kind words in your letter.
          I'd want to stress a factor (evidenced by the detailed philological
          posting regarding the exact meaning of the term) that Jesus being
          out of his mind is NOT probably to be taken in the English language
          cliche sense. The point is not, trivially and possibly anachronistically,
          the assertion that Jesus is crazy. Back then their "crazy" generally
          entailed a possession thesis to account for the craziness.

          Rather the term should be taken literally. Jesus is OUT of
          his mind. Who then is IN? Immediately the Markan scenario turns
          to discussion of this question. Is it Beelzebul? Satan? Are they IN
          his mind? Not so,
          these are blasphemies against the Holy Spirit because, of course,
          the HS is IN his mind and, that having been established, here
          come mom and the kids to be thoroughly repudidated. The
          whole package makes perfectly good sense, especially in context
          of earlyMark where exorcisms have been graphically portrayed.

          Is this what you too were getting at Bob?

          Steve
        • Julie Buescher
          ... Although it appeared pretty obvious (in mark 3:21)that Jesus was acting out in some sort of crazy manner, I wanted to confirm that the translation he
          Message 4 of 5 , Dec 4, 1999
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            > 1. The three viewpoints reveal independent redactional tendencies in
            > Mark, Matthew and Luke that are not based on historical realities.
            >
            > 2. The three viewpoints are historical, but describe different
            > situations.
            >
            > 3. The three viewpoints represent 3 different attempts to describe and
            > interpret the same kind of behavior exhibited by the historical Jesus.
            >
            Although it appeared pretty obvious (in mark 3:21)that Jesus was
            acting out in some sort of "crazy" manner, I wanted to confirm that the
            translation "he fainted", was unfounded. Because I think that this
            sheds light on the origins of the unforgivable sin...blashemy of the
            Holy Spirit. It was this confrontation with the Pharisees that later
            led Jesus to speak of the unforgivable sin. (Matt 12:31-32, Mark
            3:28-29, and Luke 12:10)
            First, let's look at Matthew's version of how the confrontation
            arose. Matt 12:22-24 says: "22Then they brought him a demon-possessed
            man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both
            talk and see. 23All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be
            the Son of David?" 24But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It
            is only by Beelzebub, [1] the prince of demons, that this fellow drives
            out demons."
            Luke shows the origins of this event in the same context. Luke
            11:14-15 says: "14Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When
            the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was
            amazed. 15But some of them said, "By Beelzebub, [1] the prince of
            demons, he is driving out demons."
            But Mark, which was the first of these gospels, (and a book which
            scholars agree was used by Matthew and Luke as a guide) shows this
            incident to have arisen from very different circumstances. Mark 3:20-22
            says: "20Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so
            that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21When his family
            heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He
            is out of his mind." 22And the teachers of the law who came down from
            Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Beelzebub [1]! By the prince of
            demons he is driving out demons."
            I believe that Matt and Luke were redacted to change the context.
            In Mark, we are told that because of the crowds, "he and his disciples
            were not even able to eat." And then in the very next verse we are told
            that Jesus' family had to remove him, because he was out of his mind.
            It appears to me that he had lost his temper. It's also significant to
            note that in Mark, his behavior is the ONLY reason that he is being
            accused of being possessed, he did not cast out a demon just prior to
            the accusation. (Matt and Luke added that in)
            I think that Matt and Luke redacted this story to make it appear
            that Jesus was being accused BECAUSE of a miracle he had just
            performed, INSTEAD of his temper. Also when one considers the fact that
            things like demon possession were a commonly accepted belief at the
            time, it's not surprising that someone would accuse one, who was acting
            crazy, of being possessed.
            Although the following is debatable, it appears that he is still
            angry when his mother and brothers requested to speak to him. Mark
            3:32-35 says: "32A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him,
            "Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you."33"Who are my
            mother and my brothers?" he asked. 34Then he looked at those seated in
            a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers!
            35Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother." (Also
            in Matt 12:46-50)
            It appears to me that Jesus is saying to those seated around
            him,(who Matt identifies as the disciples) "You are my REAL mother and
            brothers, NOT them!" You must remember that it was his family, NOT the
            disciples, who physically removed him while he was acting out. (The
            Bible Knowledge Commentary by Walvoored and Zuck tells us that "his
            family" comes from a Greek idiom for kinsmen, not friends. pg.117). I
            believe that Jesus may still have been angry, not just in general, but
            specifically at his family.
            I believe there are three good reasons to believe Mark's account
            of these events over Matthew and Luke. 1st) Mark was the original of
            the three, and Matthew and Luke used it as a guide. 2nd) It makes no
            sense that the author of Mark, would make up a fictional story, which
            showed Jesus in such a negative light. 3rd) It's only in Mark's version
            that it finally makes sense, why Jesus would make such a strong threat.
            That a mere utterance would never be forgiven, while all other sins
            such as murder, rape, torture, etc., would.

            Julie
          • Jeffrey B. Gibson
            Julie Buescher wrote: [much snipped] ... Coincidentally, I was just about to return to and revise for publication an article on this topic that I worked up
            Message 5 of 5 , Dec 4, 1999
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              Julie Buescher wrote:

              [much snipped]

              > It appears to me that Jesus is saying to those seated around
              > him,(who Matt identifies as the disciples) "You are my REAL mother and
              > brothers, NOT them!" You must remember that it was his family, NOT the
              > disciples, who physically removed him while he was acting out. (The
              > Bible Knowledge Commentary by Walvoored and Zuck tells us that "his
              > family" comes from a Greek idiom for kinsmen, not friends. pg.117). I
              > believe that Jesus may still have been angry, not just in general, but
              > specifically at his family.
              > I believe there are three good reasons to believe Mark's account
              > of these events over Matthew and Luke. 1st) Mark was the original of
              > the three, and Matthew and Luke used it as a guide. 2nd) It makes no
              > sense that the author of Mark, would make up a fictional story, which
              > showed Jesus in such a negative light. 3rd) It's only in Mark's version
              > that it finally makes sense, why Jesus would make such a strong threat.
              > That a mere utterance would never be forgiven, while all other sins
              > such as murder, rape, torture, etc., would.
              >

              Coincidentally, I was just about to return to and revise for publication an
              article on this topic that I worked up some time ago. I come to a different
              conclusion about why Jesus utters so severe a condemnation against the
              Scribes, namely, that the charge they level against him is calculated calumny
              -- that is to say, they know it is not true, but they are trying intentionally
              to blacken Jesus' name. Should you -- or any XTalker --wish to see my
              arguments on this issue, I have uploaded the article to the XTalk Articles for
              Review Page. Go to (watch the wrap!):

              http://www.egroups.com/docvault/crosstalk2/Articles%20for%20Review/MK322.htm

              Yours,

              Jeffrey Gibson
              --
              Jeffrey B. Gibson
              7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
              Chicago, Illinois 60626
              e-mail jgibson000@...
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