My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Mark 3

Powers and Authority

Jesus healed a man's hand on the Sabbath as well, because it's okay to go good on the Sabbath.

Many crowds followed him, but he ordered silence whenever properly identified as God's Son. He appointed twelve disciples.

Accused of driving out demons by Satan's powers, he said that that was impossible, or else Satan would be fighting himself! God's Spirit cannot be blasphemed!

Jesus' family are his followers, more than his physical family.

Key verse:
35. Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother.

My thoughts:
Mark is a lot more succinct. It does seem to just burn through a lot of ideas, giving many ideas just one sentence.

Notice how no-one questions the legitimacy of Jesus' miracles. They are more concerned with whether he does them on the Sabbath or by what power he does them. People's biggest question today is whether miracles actually happen.


Blogger Deane said...

It's interesting that the miracles are just accepted, isn't it? Why do you think that is?

I think it is largely explicable in terms of the way people viewed the world then and now. 2000 years ago in the Near East, many more events had 'miraculous'/'mythical' explanations. Sickness was caused by demons; the stars in the sky were heavenly beings; uttering a person's name gave you power over that person; strange monsters lived at the ends of the world; the world itself was three-tiered, with the realm of god(s) above and the underworld below; a rainbow was really God's bow that he placed there as a sign. These days, the dominant discourse for each of these things is the scientific way of speaking: sickness is caused by things able to be viewed under a microscope; the stars in the sky are just suns further away; a person's name is just an arbitrary conjunction of signifier and signified; there are no strange monsters at the end of the world (even the moas have died); the universe is absolutely huge without heaven being inside it; and a rainbow is just a dispersion of sunlight.

We've got a new way of talking about this stuff, and it doesn't fit with the old way of talking about it. The Gospel writers talked in the old way, as did most of their audience, so it wasn't an issue that any of them might have thought to bring up. But it's an issue for "scientific us".

1:25 pm

Blogger Pete W said...

This is true to a certain extent. Many of the conditions described in the Bible would be labelled as varied diseases these days and would be treated with varied success.

Your whole wee diatribe there, Deane, reeks of a lack of belief that miracles can happen today, though. That I would disagree with. Jesus did miracles, ones that science couldn't explain now. They would be amazing for us too.

Obviously, I can't actually historically prove that Jesus did miracles. That's not my intention here. My intention is to show that Jesus is not properly seen unless his miracles are seen as truly miraculous, independent of which age you live in.

4:54 pm

Blogger Deane said...

Pete wrote:
Many of the conditions described in the Bible would be labelled as varied diseases these days

Like Matthew 17.15-18?

" 'Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic' ... And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly."

Pete wrote:
Your whole wee diatribe there, Deane, reeks of a lack of belief that miracles can happen today, though

That is entirely your projection.

I was commenting on the change in dominant discourses between first century Palestine and the twenty-first century West. It was only descriptive, a social-historical observation, and involved no "diatribe" whatsoever aimed at anybody. Whether miracles happen or not, almost everybody expected them in first century Palestine, whereas almost everybody expects a scientific cause can be found in the twenty-first century West. There is a change in the default setting.

11:02 pm

Blogger Pete W said...

Yes, there has been such a change in most people's thinkings with regards to the supernatural.

I guess the only point I would want to make is that Jesus' miracles were amazing then, and would be as amazing now.

My original point was that (as far as Mark is concerned) there was no-one really claiming that Jesus didn't do real miracles. Their culture would have helped that, but I don't think that even in that culture, someone fool claiming to do miracles wouldn't be ridiculed for not doing real miracles. This didn't appear to happen to Jesus.

1:20 pm

Blogger Deane said...

Sure, even 2000 years ago in Palestine, people got accused of being charlatans. There's quite a lot of examples of healers and prophets being accused BOTH of only pretending, AND of doing so under the influence of demons. This is standard practice in a lot of Christian and pagan works in the early centuries. While some miracles were seen as due to the supernatural, others were due to charlatans. And if your opponent carried out miracles, he was either a charlatan or in contact with demons! So, although there was no fundamental disbelief in miracles (as there is today), people then could still distinguish a simple charlatan.

In the case of Jesus, of course, he was accused of the second option: of being possessed by a demon.

1:46 pm

Blogger Pete W said...

I agree. My point - Jesus was not considered a fraudster like others.

3:23 pm

Blogger Deane said...

Right - Jesus was consdered (like thousands of others) to have done real miracles.

3:32 pm


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