April 02, 2007

Mark 9.43->

"If your hand is your undoing, cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life maimed than to go to hell and the unquenchable fire. And if it is your foot that leads you astray, cut it off; it is better to enter into life a cripple than to keep both your feet and be thrown into hell. And if it is your eye, tear it out; it is better to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye than to keep both eyes and be thrown into hell, where the devouring worm never dies and the fire is not quenched.

"For everyone will be salted with salt.

"Salt is a good thing, but if salt loses its saltness, what will you season it with?

"Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."


At 11:09 p.m., Blogger forrest said...

"Your hand," of course, is your way of doing things, or whatever particular means you think you need to use.

"Your foot," your means of getting to where you want to be.

"Your eye," your way of seeing things. Your "opinion."

It is said, "Everyone has a right to his own opinion," and certainly we all have a right to any number of things, not all of them good either for us or for bystanders... I say, everyone who wants the truth badly enough can pray for understanding and be shown the way there.

For the literal-minded, this whole passage comes out pretty warped. Hardly consistent with a God who knows how many hands and eyes to give a person in the first place, let alone our Father who is good to everyone.

The sayings about salt, now, appear to have been thrown together without regard for what Jesus was using the word for on different occasions.

At 10:44 a.m., Blogger forrest said...

Okay, I've been waiting for somebody to notice, and point out something.

That "something" might be anything; I really want more signs I'm not alone in this project! But specifically, two things:

1) Some early church traditions hold that Matthew was the first gospel written. Our contemporary scholars have good reasons to believe that Mark was first.

But here we have a few chunks of Jesus's teaching material, resembling that in Matthew, thrown into the narrative.

First, perhaps, came some sort of "sayings gospel" like 'Q' or Thomas. Later that became the core of Matthew & Luke, but not yet. Meanwhile, "Mark" produces the first actual written narrative gospel, and here he includes a little of the teaching. Why here? I don't know either; can anyone please make a good guess?

2) Quite apart from whether a previous written gospel, of any sort, existed, the lumping together of all these apparently unrelated uses of the word "salt" suggests that this part has been performed as an oral liturgy for some time, these sayings being remembered as a unit precisely because of that one word.

At 6:05 a.m., Blogger david said...

Hiya Forrest:

The study notes to my bible (NRSV -- Renovere) suggests this was a jibe at the Pharisees and their over-scrupulosity. In other words, if you're frightened that a glance might catch glimpse of a woman's ankle, just pull your eyes out!

If they're right this saying applies more to some Christians I know than most Jews.

It also reminds me of a Zen story. Two monks walking down the road come to a river where a woman is trying to cross. One monk lifts the woman onto his shoulders and fords the river. They continue on their way. Finally the second monk turns the the first and says, "I can't believe you touched that woman." The other replies, "I set her down ten miles ago, you're still carrying her on your back."


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