Friday, June 25, 2010

293: All These Things Have Happened

Mark 12-13
"I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." - Mark 13:30

There's not too much to talk about today. Mark's account (at least today) is pretty much the same as Matthew's.

The first parable is about the tenants who kill their landlord's servants and child. Next is the story about people asking if Jesus if it is right to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus says (like in Matthew) that they should give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's. Isn't this a bit of a shallow answer? Money is still money, even if it belongs to the state (or has the king's face on it). Does this mean that we should only give gold bars to the poor, since government money belongs to the state?

Next is Jesus being asked what the "greatest commandment" is. Jesus just can't pick one, and lists loving God and loving your neighbor (this is the same as in Matthew). Again, there is a disparity between the commandments that he tells the rich young man he needs to follow, and those he lists as the greatest. Why are these commandments the greatest if you don't have to follow them to get to heaven? Maybe Jesus just thinks those sound the best.

The next story is about a poor widow who gives money to the temple treasury. She only puts in a small amount, but Jesus says that she's put in the most because she gave all she had. Isn't that a bad thing? Shouldn't Jesus mention that poor people shouldn't give away all their money? Especially to a corrupt temple.

The entirety of chapter 13 is about the end of days. This is all very similar to Matthew's story. There will be many false Jesuses (Jesusi?), there will be many earthquakes, brothers will kill brothers, etc. Mark's story also includes Jesus clearly stating that all these things will happen before their generation passes away. Is Jesus talking about some other end of the world that I don't know about?

Continuing on today's theme of unoriginality, I have another fundie letter to the editor:
Churches deal with the same difficulties and struggles as everyone else. While not perfect, churches have made great strides in supporting people with same-sex attraction who seek to live a life of holiness and separation from sin.
I've still yet to witness these terrible difficulties American churches have to go through. What to do with all the money they have? What to do with the thousands of square footage that some churches have? Maybe they struggle with the horrible taxes American churches have to pay. Oh wait, they don't have to pay taxes.

I agree, some churches have made strides in supporting homosexuals. Unfortunately, a lot of this seems to be done by jumping through mental hoops to try to make the bible somehow say that being gay is ok. Even if this were true, do you really need a book to tell you to stop being a prejudicial ass hole?

Anyway, back on topic. I agree some churches have made great strides, lets see what the writer thinks are "strides":
Many people choose to explore singleness or their heterosexual potential for various reasons. Churches can and do provide loving support for those struggling with same-sex attraction. I have witnessed personal friends who have overcome their struggles.
"Explore singleness"? "Heterosexual potential"? I suppose that's a stride if you compare it to lynching them. "Hmm, I see you're gay, how about we explore you being single for the rest of your life, and dying alone. How does that sound?"

I know I've said this before, but I like this mental exercise. Pretend the rolls were reversed. Being gay is the norm, and it's a terrible sin to like people of the opposite sex. Would you be happy with someone of the same sex? How about being single for the rest of your life? I think I can safely say that you'd stay whatever sexuality you are, regardless of what society or God thinks of you.


  1. I am a prophet of the bible.
    I was sent from God to reveal to you his simple truth.
    It is simple, but not easy to accept.
    Here is wisdom…
    Have an ear... the hour is here...
    Like a thief in the night.
    The number is perfect, the signature of God.
    I was born 75 years to the day after
    Earthquake No. 333 caused by Nikola Tesla
    Or I would not have been told.
    My Social Security Number # is Six Hundred and Sixty-Six.
    My Federal E.I.N. ends 666.
    I have counted the number of the beast.
    With insight I calculate the number of his name as a googol.
    I bring proof from God by solving the 111 year old riddle of Tesla.
    Nikola Tesla made The 1899 Yakutat Bay Earthquakes.
    The biggest earthquake all time.
    It was so big it had to be wiped, from the minds of the world.
    I am saying that your reality is not.
    The biggest discovery ever can be hid from you like nothing.
    Mankind and a world blind like nothing happened.
    Do you find that hard to believe?
    They hid a twenty seven day earthquake?
    Who knew?

    Sept. 3, 1899 3:03
    "If you only knew the magnificence of the 3, 6 & 9;
    Then you would have a key to the universe."
    -Nikola Tesla
    THREE = 3 + THREE = 6 + THREE = 9
    New International Version NIV© This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666.

    New American Standard NAS© Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.

    International Standard Version ISV© In this case wisdom is needed: Let the person who has understanding calculate the total number of the beast, because it is a human total number, and it’s the sum of the number is 666.

  2. Back to the commentary.

    Mark 12

    Mark 12:1-12. There is some confusion here as to who the wicked sharecroppers represent? The chief priests (as in 12:12)? In that case, what was going to be taken from them? It would have to be the temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, making the parable about God allowing the Romans to destroy Jerusalem because the priests had put Jesus to death. But the Gospels depict the Romans as killing Jesus, so why weren't they punished? Moreover, why would the priests think that the parable was directed toward them, since certainly they didn't think that Jesus was the Son of God, nor did they know that they were going to have him killed (and they weren't responsible for the murder of the earlier prophets either). The reaction of Jesus' opponents here presumes they know how the story will end and that they share the Christian point of view!

    However, there is another way to interpret this parable, which Mark may or may not have had in mind but Matthew certainly did: It could be about how after the murder of Jesus, God will transfer his blessing from the Jews to the Gentiles. If this is what is meant, then it was obviously written from a later Christian's perspective and runs counter to the whole idea that Jesus espouses throughout the Gospel that Jesus is there to save the "lost sheep of Israel, " coming from a time when the Christians had made a clean break from the Jews. Also in that case, then there would be no reason for the chief priests to think the parable was directed at them specifically, since it refers to all of Israel. Note that Matthew, in 21:43, specifies that God will give the KoG to a different PEOPLE, indicating that he (and Jesus) is definitely interpreting this parable in this way, making the priests reaction even more inexplicable.

    Finally, a minor difference: In Mark 12:9 Jesus answers his own question, whereas in Matt 21:41 the people to whom he is speaking do.

    Mark 12:13. The chief priests are said to have "sent some of the Pharisees," as if they were in league with each other. But in reality, the Pharisees and Sadducees (the group from whom the chief priests came) were enemies and would not have been associating with each other. Mark makes this mistake throughout his Gospel, probably because he was far removed from Jesus in both time and space.

    Mark 12:26-27. How does God saying "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob"make him the God of the living? All those people were certainly dead at the time of Moses, when God supposedly said this! (And even if they weren't dead at that time, how would listing 3 names make the God of the living and not dead? I don't think God was giving an exhaustive list. Moreover, even if God were only the God of the living, what would that have to do with the Sadducees' question?)

    Bryan, in Mark 12:28-31, just because Jesus says that certain commandments are more important than others doesn't mean that one does not have to follow them all. This sort of debate was common in rabbinic Judaism. And in Jesus' response to the young man earlier, he didn't say that one must follow only these commandments.

    Mark 12:32-34. Mark has one of the teachers of the law giving a good answer, which is unacceptable to Matthew, so he cut it. It wouldn't do to have Jesus' opponents praised for being wise.

  3. Mark 13

    It is believed by some scholars that most of Mark 13:5-37 was originally part of another document, similar to revelations, perhaps written during the Jewish Wars, predicting an imminent end of the world. As I pointed out earlier, the line "Let the reader understand" indicates that this came from a written document, not a remembered speech of Jesus. In any case, it is largely constructed out of OT passages, especially from Daniel. For example, Mark 13.7 is from Dan 2:28; Mark 13.8 from Isa 19.2 and 2 Chr 15.6; Mark 13:12 from Mic 7.6; Mark 13:14 from Dan 9.27, 12:11, Gen 19:17; Mark 13:19 from Dan 12:1; Mark 13:21-22 from Deut 13:1-2; Mark 13:24 from Isa 13:10; Mark 13:25 from Isa 34:4; Mark 13:26 from Dan 7.13-14; Mark 13:27 from Zech 2:10, Deut 30.4.

    Mark 13:9,11 describes the situation that existed in Mark's day (not Jesus') where Christians were being persecuted and put on trial.

    Mark 13:10 seems to be a rationalization of why the end times haven't come already. Maybe it was added later, as it seems to interrupt the flow of the ideas in 13:9 and 13:11.

  4. "Bryan, in Mark 12:28-31, just because Jesus says that certain commandments are more important than others doesn't mean that one does not have to follow them all. "

    Nonsense. If have a list of things you need to follow (the commandments) in order to achieve a certain result (salvation, supposedly), and you either achieve that result or you don't, you cannot say that one of them is more important than the rest and still maintain that they must all be followed.

    If they must all be followed, saying that one of them is more important than the other makes no sense. More important how? You are either "saved" or "not saved," correct?

    Now, if there were varying degrees of being "saved," you might have a point. In that situation, you might be saved, you know, a bit less than some other guy that followed ALL the commandments. But when you have a perfect dichotomy such as this, you can't have commandments that have varying degrees of importance without the whole thing falling apart.

    Each time Jesus opens his mouth things fall apart, so this is to be expected.


    P.S. That was me that "liked" your post. I clicked "like" by mistake. I wouldn't want you to get a big head.



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