Comments

Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Second Sunday after Pentecost - June 7, 2015



Saint Dominic contemplating the Scriptures Saint Dominic contemplating the Scriptures
Author's note:
Sometimes I have material left over when I edit Comments down to fit the available space. This page presents notes that landed on the clipping room floor. Some may be useful to you. While I avoid technical language in the Comments (or explain special terms), Clippings may have unexplained jargon from time to time.

A hypertext Glossary of Terms is integrated with Clippings. Simply click on any highlighted word in the text and a pop-up window will appear with a definition. Bibliographic references are also integrated in the same way.

1 Samuel 8:4-11,(12-15),16-20,(11:14-15)

This section views the rise of kingship as especially problematic and associates it with earlier failings of the people. [ NOAB]

Deuteronomy 17:14-20 says that once they enter the Promised Land, they will seek to have a king set over them. This will be permitted, but he must live relatively modestly, not acquiring significant wealth, and live by the Law, showing no favouritism. [ NOAB]

The evils presented here and in the Deuteronomy passage seem to be mainly those of the reign of Solomon, and it is probable that resentment against the monarchy arose at this time and never ceased, becoming part of the thought of many of the prophets and of the Deuteronomic writers. [ NOAB]

8:3: Note the parallel with Eli’s sons in 2:12-17. [ JBC]

8:7: “they have rejected me from being king over them”: In his farewell address, Samuel recalls this verse: see 12:12. In Judges 8:22-23, despite the people’s wish that he rule over them, he insists that Yahweh “will rule over you”. [ JBC]

8:11-17: The picture of the king that emerges was typical in the ancient Near East, but in Israel the prophets tempered the absolute rule. For an earthly king as a military commander who would repulse attacks by enemies, see Judges 8:22-23. [ JBC]

9:1-10:16: These verses present kingship as a splendid thing, a blessing from God voluntarily bestowed, and not a concession to the improper desires of the people: see especially 9:16 ( Yahweh reveals to Samuel that he is sending Saul to him) and 10:1 (Samuel anoints Saul as king).

11:1-15: When the Ammonites from east of the Jordan attacks Israel, Saul defeats them. His victory is taken as a sign of divine support. [ CAB]

Psalm 138

Verse 1: “gods”: Perhaps this refers to the heavenly court – God’s agents – or says that God cannot be compared with other gods. The Hebrew word is elohim. [ JBC]

Comments: steadfast, enduring love: “love and faithfulness”, v. 2 and “love endures ...”, v. 8.

Verse 3: A scholar tells me that Hebrew poetry is extremely difficult to understand and to translate, so the NRSV and REB being so different is not surprising.

Verse 4: “All the kings ...”: For the universalism of God, see also 22:28-30 (“... dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations ...”) and 47:2.

Verse 7: NJBC translates this verse as How exalted is Yahweh – he can see the depths (below)! He perceives the heights afar (below him)!.

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

Comments: “the usual translation of his day”: i.e. the Septuagint, where it is 115:1. [ NJBC]

4:14: “will raise us”: The thought of death leads Paul to the reward of resurrection, which robs death of its power. [ NJBC] Constant opposition and persecution of Paul and the other apostles recalls the cross of Jesus, where death is overcome by the resurrection-life, which will vindicate and renew the life of God’s faithful messengers. [ CAB] Paul writes of the significance of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:12-24. [ JBC]

4:15: The thanksgiving of the community grows in proportion to the increasing number of those who accept Paul’s grace-filled message (see 3:5-6) and so become capable of giving glory to God (see 1 Corinthians 2:7). [ NJBC]

4:16-5:1: Paul affirms his confidence by contrasting what is of permanent value with what is only transitory. [ NJBC]

4:16: “we do not lose heart”: or we are not faint-hearted . [ NJBC] In 3:18, Pauls writes: “And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit”. [ NOAB]

4:16: “our inner nature is being renewed day by day”: The inner person is renewed daily in that the person who strives continuously to please God grows in the life of Christ, becoming more and more like him. [ JBC]

4:17: The vast disproportion between humiliation and reward is articulated in terms of weight and time. [ NJBC]

4:18: “what can be seen ... what cannot be seen”: 5:12 tells us that Paul’s opponents tend to focus on external appearance. Philippians 1:9-10 state what really matters. [ NJBC]

5:1-10: Very divergent interpretations of this paragraph have been proposed because of disagreement concerning the topic discussed. The majority would tend to see the problem as that of bodily existence between burial and resurrection and so would interpret the images anthropologically and individualistically. The context, however, would suggest that Paul is concerned with showing that present sufferings are not a valid criterion for apostleship because the true home of all believers is elsewhere. The images, in consequence, should be interpreted existentially. [ NJBC]

5:1: “earthly tent”: NJBC offers tentlike house. The image highlights the impermanence and fragility of the human body, the “clay jars” of 4:7.

Secular authors also use the figure of the tent to show the mortal condition of bodies. To Paul, we shall not (as Greek philosophers claimed) exist as disembodied spirits, wafting around forever somewhat aimlessly; rather, he insists that at the second coming of Christ we will be given bodies of a different nature than the ones we have now – they will be immortal and unable to suffer (see 1 Corinthians 15). I tend to think that his emphasis on bodily resurrection is rooted in his culture. We will certainly have a new modality of existence.

5:1: “we have”: The present tense emphasizes the certainty of the hope. [ NJBC]

5:1: “building from God”: This is the “spiritual body” of 1 Corinthians 15:42-50. [ NOAB] This image may have been influenced by the eschatological temple (see Apocalypse of Baruch 4:3 and 2 Esdras 10:10-47). It symbolizes a new existence (see Philippians 3:12-21) rather than the resurrection body. [ NJBC]

5:1: “not made with hands”: When Jesus appeared before the Jerusalem Sanhedrin: “Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, ‘We heard him say, 'I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands’’” (Mark 14:57-58).

5:2: to be clothed”: The clothing metaphor of 1 Corinthians 15:53-54 fits badly with the building image. The common denominator is a new modality of existence (as in Galatians 3:27 and in Romans 13:14), which however, refers to the new way of living this life: in Christ. [ NJBC]

5:3: “if indeed”: NJBC points out that the Greek introduces a necessary assumption. It thus expresses assurance, not doubt. He renders it as presupposing.

5:3: “not be found naked”: The image does not suggest the stripping-off of the body in death, as in the Greek philosophical tradition, but in conjunction with the clothing metaphor refutes the view that there is no life after death. [ NJBC] Paul hopes that the Lord will come and that he will receive his new body before he has to put off the old one. [ NOAB]

5:4: See also 1 Corinthians 15:51-54. [ NOAB] A repeat of the thought in 5:2. [ NJBC]

5:4: “still in this tent”: i.e. still living in this world. [ NJBC]

5:4: “burden”: i.e. of afflictions. He mentions them in 1:6; 4:8, 17. [ NOAB] Paul’s suffering intensifies his longing for another mode of existence. [ NJBC]

5:4: “ not to be unclothed but to be further clothed”: Paul hopes that Christ will come again before he is killed. He writes in 1 Corinthians 15:50-51 “... We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet ...”. See also 1 Thessalonians 4:15. [ NJBC]

5:5: Paul’s hope is based on what God has already done through the Spirit. He says in 1:21-22: “it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment”. [ NJBC]

Mark 3:20-35

Related passages are Matthew 12:22-27; Luke 11:14-23; 12:10; 6:43-50. [ NOAB]

V. 19b, although not part of the reading, is important for the interpretation given in Comments.

Verse 19b: “home”: While CAB says that this in Capernaum, HenMk says that it was in Nazareth. The Greek word may mean into a house here. [ BlkMk] I attempt to tracing Jesus’ movements:

  • In 3:7, “ Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea ...”
  • In 3:13, “He went up the mountain ...”
  • In 4:1, “Again he began to teach beside the sea ...”

Nazareth is some 25 km (16 miles), close to a day’s walk, from the sea. There is a mountain near Capernaum, but Nazareth is in a plain. So geography would favour Capernaum., but would require that Jesus’ “mother and brothers” have either moved there, or are visiting there. In ancient times, people did travel, but would be unlike ly to relocate permanently. So perhaps CAB and BlkMk are correct.

Verse 20: “the crowd”: V. 8 says the the crowd came from “Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon”. Idumea was west of the Dead Sea, south of Judea, east of Gaza. People from Idumea would have travelled some 240 km (150 miles) to hear Jesus and be healed!

Verse 21: “his family”: BlkMk says that the Greek word can mean either his family, near or remote (as in the Septuagint translation of Proverbs 29:31), or his followers, so he translates it as his associates . They try to avoid embarrassing the family. [ NJBC]

Verse 21: “restrain”: HenMk translates the Greek as seize. He says that the verb is a violent one. It also appears in 6:17 (“Herod himself had sent men who arrested John”) and 12:12 (The Jewish leaders want to arrest Jesus after he tells the Parable of the Vineyard).

Verse 21: “He has gone out of his mind”: To BlkMk, the Greek word does not mean pathological excitement (in the medical sense) but religious frenzy induced by a god, its meaning in 2 Corinthians 5:13: “For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you”.

Verse 22: In Luke 7:33, Pharisees attribute John the Baptizer’s way of life to being possessed by a demon. In John 10:20, after Jesus likens himself to a good shepherd, many of the Jewish authorities say “‘"He has a demon and is out of his mind’”. [ NOAB]

Jesus has already driven out demons in 1:23-27 and 3:11-12. [ HenMk]

Verse 22: “scribes”: They were professional interpreters of the Law. [ CAB]

Verse 22: “down”: The Sea of Galilee is at a much lower elevation than Jerusalem. [ BlkMk]

Verse 22: “Beelzebul”: The name, meaning lord of dung , may come from a Hebrew word, Baal-zebub, meaning lord of the dwelling or house. This would be appropriate for Jesus’ words in v. 27. It also occurs in Matthew 12:25. The Syriac and Vulgate versions have Beelzebub (meaning lord of the flies), the false god of Ekron (a Philistine town) in 2 Kings 1:2. [ HenMk] [ HBD]

Verse 23: “parables”: Unlike the material usually considered parables, here the word is related to the Hebrew mashal, translated in the Septuagint as parabole. They are short, pithy sayings, riddles, proverbs, etc. [ HenMk]

Verses 24-27: Inner division is destructive. [ NOAB]

Verse 25: “house”: The Greek word oikia can refer to either a building or the people inhabiting it (household). [ NJBC]

Verse 27: Jesus’ victory over the devil has already begun with his time in the wilderness: see 1:12-13. [ HenMk]

Verse 28: “Truly”: This is a translation of Amen. That this word is at the beginning of words (rather than at the end, as in Jewish liturgy) highlights them. This usage is unique to the gospels. [ HenMk]

Verse 28: “people will be forgiven for their sins”: NJBC says that this includes murder, unchastity and apostasy.

Verses 29-30: Matthew 12:31-32 is very similar. [ NOAB]

Verse 29: When the Spirit of God in Jesus is denied, how can God forgive? [ HenMk]

Verses 31-35: “brothers”: Matthew 13:55 tells us that Jesus’ brothers were named “James and Joseph and Simon and Judas”. [ NOAB]

Verse 35: “does the will of God”: Jesus establishes a new criterion for membership in his family. For Christians, this includes the will of God to establish the Kingdom of God: see 1:15. [ HenMk]

Can Jesus’ family include his blood family? I think that the answer lies in whether his mother and brothers are still “standing outside” (v 31) when he says “‘Here are my mother and brothers” (v. 34), or are they by then seated around him.

© 1996-2016 Chris Haslam



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