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.

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