Sunday, June 13, 2021

Mark 4.35-41 Translations and Notes (RCL 4th Sunday after Pentecost Year B)

Sea of Galilee from Mt. of Beatitudes, 2014, mgvh

The designated passage for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B, of the RCL (20 June 2021) is Mark 4.35-41. It's the story of Jesus stilling the storm on the Sea of Galilee. As I've been doing in previous posts, I provide a collection of English translations along with my own translation and commentary on translation matters. It's part of the project I'm working on, Let the Hearer Understand: A Translation and Performance Guide for Hearing the Gospel of Mark

My point is that the standard English versions turn Mark's oral storytelling into literary English. They seek to smooth out the Greek, but in doing so they lose both the oral character and the narrative cues in the text. For Mark 4.35-41, there are three "greats / μεγα- forms" in the story: a great windstorm, a great calm, and a great fear. They provide narrative structure to the story, but they rarely are evident in English versions which tend to use synonyms that are more dramatic or sound better or work more closely with the object described. (E.g., the NIV has: "a furious squall... completely calm...terrified.") In particular, note that the fear happens after the calm, not during the storm.

Attention to performance of the text also highlights choices of attitude that the performer must make. In v38 are the disciples desperate or angry at Jesus for sleeping? In v40, was Jesus angry? Disappointed? Frustrated? Exasperated? Resigned to the fact of the disciples’ incomprehension? The choices one makes affect translation, performance, and reception.

Here are my notes both in DOCX and PDF.

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