Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Mark 9.38-50 Translations and Notes (RCL18th Sunday after Pentecost Year B )

Salt crystals on the shore of the Dead Sea
Mark 9.38-50 is the appointed RCL text for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost in Year B. If the goal is simply to translate words, there is no problem. But translating for good sense and making evident the intricate weaving of repeated words turns out to be complicated. And even if one can produce a satisfactory translation, there still remains the problem of figuring out what it actually means!

The brief anecdote culminating with the memorable saying of Jesus serves as the starting point for a string of loosely connected sayings linked by catchwords. There is plenty of repetition, but there is also slight variations. The textual tradition reflects both the desire to make the wording more consistent and also to clarify.

Close attention to the Greek shows evidence of how the text was pieced together, but also that the pieces do indeed come from different settings. There are changes in the word order, pronouns, perspectives, and descriptions. My color-coded translation at the end of the linked document shows both the repetitions and where the repetitions are broken.

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