Monday, October 25, 2021

John 8.31-36 Translations and notes (Reformation Sunday)

The Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives
John 8.31-36 is the text designated for Reformation Sunday. The incident takes place while Jesus is in Jerusalem and teaching on the Temple Mount.

The passage actually starts at 8.12 when Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” But this causes controversy with the Pharisees whether he is testifying about himself and whether it’s true. This leads into a discussion about who Jesus’ father is, and then Jesus says “I am going away, and you will look for me but will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” The Jewish authorities speculate that this means he plans to commit suicide. Jesus says that they are clueless. That’s why they will die in their sins, unless they believe, Jesus says, that “I am.” They now ask Jesus who he is, and Jesus says, “When you lift up the Son of Humanity, then you will know that I am.” It’s reported that this exchange caused many people to believe in him. 

Things only get worse following the exchange in 8.31-36 and ends in 8.59 with people picking up stones to stone Jesus.

It's helpful to keep in mind that John is a 2-level story:

  • The story of what happened in Jesus' life
  • The story of what has been happening in the Johannine community whose experiences parallel Jesus’ experiences

I.e., the Gospel of John is a meditation on the life of Jesus that reflects the experiences of the Johannine community. It is a community that understands themselves in faithful continuity with Jesus. 

Here are a collection of translations, including my own, and my notes on translating this passage.

Mark 12.28-34 Translations and Notes (RCL23rd Sunday after Pentecost Year B )

The blue box shows where Solomon's Portico was located on the east side of the Temple Mount. It is reasonable to suggest that this is where Jesus' teaching occurred that is described starting in Mark 11.27.

Mark 12.28-34 is the RCL designated text for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost Year B which occurs on 31 October 2021. (Many Lutheran / Protestant congregations will probably celebrate Reformation Sunday on this day. I'll have a separate post for John 8.31-36.)

On Monday of Holy Week, Jesus had driven the merchants out of the Temple Mount, but he returned on Tuesday to continue his teaching. Jesus is confronted with questions by various Jewish authorities to trick or entrap him, but he replies and refutes each challenge successfully. And that brings us to the last question posed to him here in Mark 12.28-34.

Here are a collection of translations, including my own, and my notes on translating this passage.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Mark 10.46-52 Translations and Notes (RCL22nd Sunday after Pentecost Year B )

Mark 10.46-52: Jesus and Bartimaeus on The Way from Jericho to Jerusalem

Mark 10.46-52 is the designated RCL text for the the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, 24 October in 2021. This account of Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus forms a frame with the earlier healing of a blind man in 8.22-26. This time, Bartimaeus 'sees' Jesus for who he really is and ends up being a model of discipleship following Jesus on The Way to Jerusalem and Jesus' crucifixion.

Here are a collection of translations, including my own, and my notes on translating this passage.

 I also recommend that people check out the resources at the GoTell site including this chapter 7 on the Bartimaeus story in Thomas Boomershine's  Story Journey: An Invitation to the Gospel as Storytelling

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Mark 10.35-45 Translations and Notes (RCL21st Sunday after Pentecost Year B )

Mark 10.35-45 is the appointed text for the RCL 21st Sunday after Pentecost Year B and occurs on October 17, 2021.

The disciples continue to display their lack of comprehension. Following Jesus is not a matter of glory and sitting in honor but of following Jesus and enduring in some way what he also was going to endure. Once again, pointing back to Mark 9.35, we hear that true greatness is about service, even being a slave to all. Mark 10.45 gives the most explicit explanation of an atonement theory in Mark. 

For even the Child of Humanity didn’t come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Here is a collection of translations of Mark 10.35-45 along with my notes on translating this passage. My own translation tries to capture the oral character of how this story might have been 'heard' when originally performed.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Mark 10.17-31 Translations and Notes (RCL20th Sunday after Pentecost Year B )

"As Jesus was setting out on the way..."(Mark 10.17) - Wadi Hamman path with Arbel in distance

Mark 10.17-31 is the account of Jesus meeting the person who wants to know what he should he do to inherit eternal life. It the appointed RCL text for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B, which occurs on 10 October 2021. The account ends up centering around wealth and following Jesus. 

There are a number of notable narrative details.

  • Note that the effect of the account is ruined if it is billed as the story of the "rich young man." Only Matthew describes him as young. (Luke introduces him as a "ruler" which also changes the dynamic of the story.) In Mark, we only learn that he is rich at the very end, a detail that heightens the suspense of the story.
  • The hearer / reader struggles to know how to respond to the man. It seems he is sincere and not testing Jesus because he kneels before him. But then Jesus chides him for calling him "good." I think the reader is supposed to admire the man for his faithfulness in observing all the commands Jesus mentions, but the astute reader is also mindful of what is not mentioned. (And when Jesus tells him to sell all and follow him, is that what the first part of the commandments dealing with humans' relationship to God is about?) It is not clear whether the man responds simply with dismay and sorrow or shock and anger. Importantly and surprisingly, however, we are told that Jesus "loved him." This is the only person in the whole gospel of Mark whom Jesus explicitly "loves."
  • Do not forget the man's original question: "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" What must anyone do to inherit anything? Usually nothing... but someone has to die.

Here is my collection of translations and notes.