Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [XTalk] Mark 2:18-22

Expand Messages
  • FMMCCOY
    INTRODUCTION Mark 2:18-22 reads, And were the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fasting. And they came and say to him, Why (do) the disciples of John
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 2, 2001
    • 0 Attachment
      INTRODUCTION

      Mark 2:18-22 reads, "And were the disciples of John and of the Pharisees
      fasting. And they came and say to him, 'Why (do) the disciples of John and
      of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?' And Jesus said to them,
      'Can the sons of the bridechamber fast fast while the bridegroom is with
      them? As long as they have the bridegroom, they are not able to fast. But
      will come days when will have been taken away from them the bridegroom, and
      then they will fast in those days. And no one a piece of unfulled cloth
      sews on an old garment, otherwise the new filling up of it takes away from
      the old, and a worse rent takes place. An no one puts new wine into old
      skins. Otherwise the new wine bursts the skins, and the wine is poured out,
      and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine is to be put into new
      skins.'"

      In this post, it will be pointed out that the evidence is consistent with
      the hypothesis that the people who came to question Jesus were
      Therapeutae.

      WHO ARE THE "THEY"?

      Mark does not tell us the identity of the people who came to question Jesus.

      We have two clues as to their identity. First, as they speak impersonally
      about the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees, they are not
      disciples of John or of the Pharisees. Second, they are deeply concerned
      that Jesus' disciples do not fast and, hence, they were strongly in favor of
      fasting.

      That they were stongly in favor of fasting is consistent with the hypothesis
      that they had been Therapeutae: for the Therapeutae were zealous fasters.
      According to Philo (Cont., 34-36), they fasted from sunrise to sunset every
      day except on the Sabbath and the most zealous fasted for up to six days at
      a time.

      JESUS' RESPONSE: PART I

      In his response to the question as to why his disciples don't fast, Jesus
      begins by saying, "Can the sons of the bridechamber fast fast while the
      bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom, they are not
      able to fast. But will come days when will have been taken away from them
      the bridegroom, and then they will fast in those days."

      Here, I suggest, Jesus is indicating that he is the Logos: who, as the High
      Priest of Lev. 21:10, is a Bridegroom. So, in Fuga 113, Philo declares, "To
      him (i.e., the Logos as the High Priest of Lev. 21:10) is betrothed moreover
      a virgin of the hallowed people, pure and undefiled and of ever inviolate
      intention".

      So, I think, what Jesus says in the beginning of his response can be roughly
      paraphrased this way, "My disciples can hardly fast when I, the Logos, am
      with them. The day is coming when God will take me away from them, and then
      they, like the disciples of John and the Pharisees, will fast."

      Seen this way, Jesus, in the beginning of his response, lets the questioners
      know that he is not, in principle, against fasting. Rather, he thinks,
      fasting should be temporarily suspended while he, the Logos, is temporarily
      here on earth. Once he is taken away by God, then it is acceptable to go
      back to fasting.

      JESUS' RESPONSE: PART II

      In his reponse to the people, Jesus thusly continues, "And no one a piece of
      unfulled cloth sews on an old garment, otherwise the new filling up of it
      takes away from the old, and a worse rent takes place. An no one puts new
      wine into old skins. Otherwise the new wine bursts the skins, and the wine
      is poured out, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine is to be put
      into new skins."

      This is negative in tone, so Jesus appears to be criticising a fundamental
      belief of the people who have come to question him.. Thus, if they are
      Therapeutae, then he appears to be criticising a fundamental Therapeutic
      belief.

      However, as he has already answered their question on fasting, if they are
      Therapeutae, then the fundamental belief of the Therapeutae he is
      criticising cannot be their strong belief in fasting but, rather, some
      other fundamental Therapeutic belief.
      .
      Indeed, it appears to be a criticism, by Jesus, of a fundamental
      Therapeutic belief that that is thusly outlined by Philo in Cont.
      (78), "The exposition of the sacred scriptures treats the inner meaning
      conveyed in allegory. For to these people the whole law book seems to
      resemble a living creature with the literal ordinances for its body and for
      its soul the invisible mind (noun) laid up in its wording. It is in this
      mind especially that the rational (logike) soul begins to contemplate the
      things akin to itself and looking through the words as through a mirror
      beholds the marvellous beauties of the concepts, unfolds and removes the
      symbolic coverings and brings forth the thoughts and sets them bare to the
      light of day for those who need but a little reminding to enable them to
      discern the inward and hidden through the outward and visible."

      Here, the "invisible mind", which is "akin" to the rational soul is the
      Logos: whom Philo, in Heres (134), declares to be the pattern for human
      minds.

      In particular, it is the Logos as the "thoughts". That is to say, it is the
      Logos, as the speech of God, as broken-down into its individual "thoughts"
      that are the individual "logoi (words)" uttered by God. So, in Mig (80),
      Philo declares that "'thoughts' are nothing else than God's 'words (logon)'
      or speech (hrematon)."

      Therefore, what Philo is saying is that, the Therapeutae believe, there are
      two levels of meaning to the laws of the Torah: (1) the outer literal level
      of meaning, and (2) the inner symbolic level of meaning. The outer literal
      level is like a human body, while the inner symbolic level is like the human
      soul. Further, the inner symbolic level consists of the Word (Logos) of
      God, as speech, and as broken-down into its component thoughts that are the
      words (logoi).

      What I suggest is that Jesus accepted the Therapeutic idea that there are
      two revelations: (1) the Law of Moses and (2) Logos, as speech, as
      broken-down into the words (logoi) of God. However, he rejected their idea
      that the words (logoi) of God can be found on an inner symbolic level of
      the literal text of the Torah (and, so, rejected the Therapeutic practice of
      allegorically interpreting the Torah in order to "find" its inner meaning).
      Rather, he believed, they are a new revelation. As a result, by trying to
      place them in an inner level of the Torah, he is saying, they are wrongfully
      trying to link what is old with what is new. This is a big mistake: like
      trying to sew a new piece of cloth on an old garment or like trying to pour
      new wine into old wineskins. Rather, he concludes, the new wine (i.e., the
      words of God) deserve to be hid on an inner level of new wineskins (i.e.,
      the parables).

      We now realize the significance of Jesus, in the first part of his response,
      identifying himself as being the Logos. It was to let the questioners know
      that a new era has dawned in which the Logos has become incarnate on earth
      and is speaking the logoi (words) of God that he personifies.

      Compare Luke 10:23-24 (Q tradition), "And, having turned apart to his
      disciples, he said, 'Blessed (are) the eyes that see what you see. For I
      say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and saw
      not, and to hear what you hear, and heard not.'"

      Here, I suggest, Jesus tells his disciples that, unlike all those before
      them, they see the Word of God as personified in himself and hear this Word
      of God as uttered by himself.. A new era has dawned in which, for the first
      time, the Word of God is present on earth in both its personification and in
      its utterance.

      Also compare Luke 16:16 (Q tradition), "The Law and the Prophets (were)
      until John. Since that time the Kingdom of God is gospelized, and everyone
      forces into it."

      Here, we have two eras: (1) the now ended era of an old revelation
      consisting of the Law of Moses and the writings of the Prophets, and (2) the
      now begun era of a new revelation--the gospel.

      If (as suggested) Luke 16:16 relates to the second part of Jesus' response
      to the questioners, then the "new wine", which consists of the logoi (words)
      of God, must be the gospel.

      Indeed, Mark provides us with evidence that, Jesus believed, the gospel
      consists of the logoi (words) of God.

      Particularly important is Mark 8:35-38, where Mark has Jesus first say the
      phrase, "on account of me and of the gospel" and then has him, later, say
      the phrase, "of me and my logoi (words)". The parallelism between these two
      phrases indicates that the gospel = the logoi/words (of God).

      So, to summarize, Jesus, in his response to the questioners, appears to be
      criticising the fundamental Therapeutic belief that there are two levels of
      meaning to the laws of the Torah: (1) the outer literal level of meaning
      which is like the body, and (2) the inner symbolic level of meaning which is
      like the soul and which consists of the Word (Logos) of God, as speech, and
      as broken-down into its component thoughts that are the words (logoi).
      Rather, he maintained, they are two separate revelations: the literal
      ordinances of the Law being the first revelation and the logoi (words) of
      God being a second revelation (which, elsewhere he calls the gospel). The
      second revelation has been revealed by the Logos, incarnate on earth in the
      person of himself. The first revelation belonged to an era that has now
      ended, while the second revelation belongs to an era that has now begun.

      WHERE DID "THEY" RESIDE?

      Mark does not tell us where the people who came to question Jesus resided.
      However, since he speaks of them immediately after Mark 2:15-17 (which takes
      place at a house in or near Capernaum), the likelihood is that they resided
      in or near Capernaum..


      SUMMARY

      In Mark 2:28-22, I suggest, some Therapeutae come to question Jesus as to
      why, unlike the disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees, his
      disciples don't fast. They went to the trouble of going to Jesus to ask him
      this question because, being zealous fasters, they were upset over learning
      that his disciples weren't fasting..

      In his response to them, Jesus first emphasises that he is not, in
      principle, against fasting. It's just that as long as he, the Logos, is
      incarnate on earth, it is not a proper time for fasting. However, once God
      takes him away from earth, then it will be acceptable to fast.

      Next, he criticises a Therapeutic doctrine that the Law has two levels of
      meaning: (1) the literal level, which regards the written ordinances, and
      (2) the inner spiritual level, which regards the Logos, as the speech of
      God, as broken down into the logoi (words) of God. Rather, he argues, the
      logoi (words) of God are a new revelation (which, elsewhere, he calls the
      gospel), that has been revealed by himself as the Logos incarnate on earth
      and, so, they ought not to be put in an inner level of the old revelation,
      i.e., the written ordinances of the Law. Instead, they ought to be placed
      in an inner level of a new kind of narrative, i.e., the parables. The old
      revelation belongs to an era that has now ended, while the new revelation
      belongs to an era that has now begun.

      Most likely, these Therapeutae resided in or near Capernaum.

      Frank McCoy
      1809 N. English Apt. 17
      Maplewood, MN USA 55109
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.