One thing that I’ve found to be fairly essential in ‘manuscript study’ is the ability to sit with the questions, without rushing in to answer them. This is something that we who are Americans are not always great at, with our unquenchable optimism in our ability to overcome any obstacle, whether we know what it is or not. It doesn’t mean that we can never have answers, or that answers are inherently evil or wrong. But it does mean that, at times, we might need to sit with the questions without having all the answers. I believe that in that ‘sitting’ is found part of the powerful experience of this type of study.
So, for Day 1, I’ve posted some thoughts/questions/observations. Perhaps they resonate with you. Perhaps they frustrate you or confuse you. Whichever it is, let them roll around a bit, and keep them within reach as we continue through Mark to see what might happen to them.
Oh, one other caveat. Often those of us who have grown up in the church are used to consulting ‘experts’ when it comes to a study of the Bible. We who have gone to seminary are probably even worse when it comes to this reliance on ‘experts.’ Again, I’m not saying commentaries or scholars are bad–many have devoted their lives to this study and of course have a vast knowledge to share from that. But for now, for this time, let’s not rush to see what the experts say, but let’s dwell in the text and see where it leads us.
So, to begin Day 2, which begins at page 2 line 1 (“And passing along by the Sea of Galilee…”) until page 3 line 11 (“And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.”) Remember, the questions you are asking are “What do you see?” and “Where do you see it?” What do you notice repeated, left out, described…what surprises you, what is confusing to you?
Some of my questions/observations (and feel free to add your own):
- Line 4, “immediately they left their nets and followed him”: Were they just bored of the whole fishing thing? They were in the middle of casting a net, which makes one think they were a little busy. But ‘immediately’ they followed. What was it about Jesus, the way he spoke or looked or acted, that made them so ready to ditch what they were doing and obey him, hook line and sinker? (sorry, couldn’t help myself…)
- Line 6: Same thing with James and John. They left their father, in the middle of mending the nets. This time the ‘immediately’ is Jesus calling them (Line 7).
- ‘Immediately’ (line 10) on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. What did he teach? Why were they so astonished? How had the scribes been teaching? (obviously, sometimes we will ask questions for which we may never have answers…that’s okay, keep asking)
- Line 13: ‘immediately’ again–this time a man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue
- Line 14: unclean spirits are talking to Jesus? Who is this guy? What do we make of the fact that the ‘unclean spirit’ knows something about Jesus that the others present don’t seem to understand?
- Line 19: they were amazed. In line 11 they were astonished. ‘a new teaching, with authority’ seems to be the cause.
- Line 24: immediately again. This time he left.
- Line 25: If Simon has a mother-in-law, then where is Simon’s wife?
- Line 26: “immediately they told him of her.” The opening of the book of Mark seems to be in quite a hurry…
- Line 29: ‘at sundown’–pay attention to time of day being referenced. What would this mean? In this case, it had been the sabbath, so ‘at sundown’ would signal the end of the sabbath. If the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law happened before this, then Jesus had healed her on the sabbath, something that gets him in trouble later, but actually, we’re not supposed to be reading ahead… 😉
- Line 29: ‘all who were sick or possessed with demons’–really? All of them? Wonder how many that was? Seems like it could have been quite chaotic…
- Line 1: the whole city was gathered together. That’s likely a big crowd.
- Line 2: ‘he healed many who were sick.’ But not all? What about the others? If they all had come, why were only ‘many’ healed? Was he not capable of healing the rest? Did he run out of time?
- Line 4: how/why did the demons know him? What does that mean?
- Line 5: ‘lonely place’ Was Jesus an introvert? What did he pray? How did he pray?
- Line 8-9: Jesus seems unconcerned that ‘everyone is searching for you’. If he had any PR sense he’d take the opportunity to launch his movement with all of this momentum behind him, wouldn’t he? That doesn’t seem to be his strategy…
- Line 9: ‘preach there also’ What had he been preaching? What was the content of the preaching? Have we seen that yet? (hint, page 1)
So, those are some thoughts to get you started…