Lectionary Year B
October 5, 2003
Step V: Distillation
A. Summary of Salient Features
(JFC) "The theological 'center of gravity' in this passage might be Jesus' words from
the Old Testament and His actions accepting the children. Or, if we might enlarge on the topic(s) addressed by this pericope, the theological focal theme could be Jesus' changing the subject the Pharisees raise, the legality of divorce, to the subject of marriage, without ever mentioning to them the original issue they initiated - divorce. Was Jesus a (logical) positivist? He certainly seems to be so in verse 14b and in the next paragraph in Mark 10 where He says, "With God all things are possible", in response to the disciples' realizing it is quite a challenge for anyone wealthy to get into God's Kingdom. Other major and/or main elements might include God's making male and female, humans not separating them and the discussion with the disciples, re: divorce and adultery. Also, the scene with the children could be this episode's finest moment. These observations leave as minor incidents, the Pharisees' question/testing, the disciples' need for further data and their error in rebuking those who brought the children to Jesus and His stating that to them belongs the Kingdom of God. An "aha" might be a realization that all the secondary characters in this pericope, all but Jesus, are in vulnerable states. The Pharisees try unsuccessfully to trick Jesus. The disciples ask for more insight. The children and their transporters look for embracing and touching. They all need Jesus and they request His attention, awareness, support, etc. He provides for their needs more than they can know.
B. Smoother Translation
(JFC) 2 And having approached the Pharisees asked him if lawful/proper it is for a
man to divorce a woman, which they did to test Him. 3 But He answering said to them, "What to you did Moses command?" 4 Then they said, "Allowed/Permitted Moses a written document stating re: divorce to write and to set free/send away/divorce." 5 But Jesus said to them, "For the stubbornness of you he wrote to/for you this commandment. 6 And from the beginning of creation male and female God made them. 7 Because of this shall a man leave his father and his mother [and he shall be united to/with his wife], 8 and shall be/become the two as if one flesh; thus/in order that no more/longer will they be two rather (they become as) one flesh. 9 So whomever God joined together humans are not to separate."
10 And in the house again the disciples asked Him about this matter. 11 And He said to them, "Anyone who/Whoever would/might divorce his wife and marry another commits adultery with her; 12 and if she having divorced her husband marries another she commits adultery." (NB. Do we emphasize the feminine pronouns in this sentence? Mark probably did, though not grammatically, and perhaps so too did Jesus in those ancient/archaic/primitive days.)
13 And they brought to Him children so that He might touch/hold them; but the disciples rebuked/scolded them. 14 Yet having seen this action transpire (too much?), Jesus became indignant/angry and said to them; "Allow the children to come to me, never forbid/prevent/hinder them, for of them such is the kingdom of the God. 15 Truly I say to you (pl.), whoever does not receive the kingdom of the God as a child, not ever shall he enter into it. 16 And having taken them into His arms, He blessed them indicated by (?) His placing His hands on them.
C. Hermeneutical Bridge
(JFC) Any essay, re: marriage, divorce, more marriages for divorcees, etc., might
bring these images more up to date than they were in Biblical times. Even and especially today, we all know marriages and divorces, their joys and their sorrows, their what ifs and their coulda, woulda, shoulda's. Perhaps Anthony Storr (b. 1920), British psychiatrist, in The Integrity of Personality, chapter 9 (1960) gets at the gist of today's passages' intents, when stating, "A happy marriage perhaps represents the ideal of human relationship - a setting in which each partner, while acknowledging the need of each other, feels free to be what he or she by nature is; a relationship in which instinct as well as intellect can find expression; in which giving and taking are equal; in which each accepts the other, and I confronts Thou."
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