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“Jesus Walks on Water” (Mark 6:45-52)

This text is excerpted from The Gospel according to Mark, by Julie M. Smith, 424-432. It includes the New Rendition, Notes, and Analysis. 

New Rendition

45 And immediately he required his disciples to enter into the boat and to go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismisses the crowd. 46 And having left them, he went to the mountain to pray. 47 And evening having come, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And having seen them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them, as the night was ending, he comes to them walking on the sea and intending to pass by them. 49 And having seen him walking on the sea, they thought that it is a ghost and screamed. 50 For all saw him and were terrified. And immediately he spoke with them and says to them, “Have courage. I am [here]. Do not fear.” 51 And he went up into the boat to them, and the wind stopped. And they were extremely, utterly amazed. 52 For they did not understand about the loaves, but their heart was hardened. Continue reading

The Coexistence of Opposites: The Wheat and Tares Together

This text is excerpted from The Parables of Jesus: Revealing the Plan of Salvation, by John W. Welch and Jeannie S. Welch, with art by Jorge Cocco Santangelo and art commentary by Herman du Toit. The book is available from Amazon here. Used by permission. 

Following directly after the parable of the sower comes the parable of the wheat and tares. It adds one more cruelty to the list of things that the sower’s enemy will perpetrate in trying to diminish or destroy the efforts of the sower.

Jesus can be found quite clearly in this parable as the master of the household (see Matthew 13:27), the one who planted the field with good seed. The enemy who comes as men sleep and who then sows the field with the seed of a certain kind of weed called zizania is identified and referred to in the parable of the sower as the evil one, Satan, or the devil.

Jesus’s surprising but highly sensible solution to this problem is to allow the wheat and the tares to grow together.

SETTING AND CONTEXT

This parable is found only in what is sometimes called the “parable sermon” in Matthew 13 and is the second in that series of kingdom parables. As such it can be most specifically understood as a sequel to the parable of the sower. In the context of the historical playing out of the plan of salvation, the parable of the wheat and tares makes it prophetically clear that problems will arise shortly after the sower plants the field. Continue reading

Mark 2:23-28: Jesus Teaches about the Sabbath

Excerpted from The Gospel according to Mark, by Julie M. Smith, p. 188-196.

New Rendition

23 And it happened on the Sabbath that he went through the grain fields. And his disciples began to make their way, plucking the grain. 24 And the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why do they do on the Sabbath that which is against the law?” 25 And he says to them, “Did you never read what David did, when he had need and was hungry, him and those with him, 26 how he went in to the house of God in the time of Abiathar, the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread—which is unlawful for any to eat except the priests—and he gave some to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for the sake of people, and not people for the Sabbath.” 28 So the son of man is even master of the Sabbath.

Notes

2:23 And it came to pass: It is likely that Mark used this phrase to create a biblical sound to his text, making it another example of Mark’s irony: “a passage in which Jesus’ disciples are to be accused of violating a biblical law begins with the Old Testament formula ‘and it came to pass.’”[1] For the perceptive reader or listener, this phrase would contribute to the redefinition of what it means to be scriptural.

that he went through the corn fields: The KJV’s “corn” is likely misleading to American readers since the grain would have been wheat or barley and not maize, which is a New World crop and was therefore unknown to the biblical world. Continue reading

Jesus Heals a Lame Man (Mark 2:1-12)

This section is excerpted from The Gospel according to Mark, by Julie M. Smith, p. 156-171. It includes the New Rendition, Notes on each verse, and an Analysis.

Controversies: Jesus Heals a Lame Man (2:1–12)

New Rendition

1 And having entered again into Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he is at home. 2 And many were gathered, so there was no more room, not even near the door. And he spoke about the word to them. 3 And they come, bringing to him a man who could not walk, carried by four people. 4 And not being able to come near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof where he was. And having torn it off, they lowered the mat on which the lame man was lying. 5 And Jesus, having seen their trust, says to the lame man, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” 6 But there were some scriptorians there, sitting and questioning in their minds, 7 “Why does this one speak this way? He blasphemes! Who is able to forgive sins except one, God?” 8 And immediately Jesus, recognizing in his spirit that they are questioning within themselves this way, he says to them, “Why are you questioning about these things in your minds? 9 What is easier: to say to the lame man, ‘Your sins have been forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and take your mat and walk’? 10 But so you may know that the son of man has authority to forgive sins on earth—” He says to the lame man, 11 “I say to you: Rise. Take up your mat and go into your home.” 12 And immediately he rose, and having taken up the mat, went in front of all of them, so that all were amazed and honored God, saying, “We never saw this before!”

Notes

2:1 And again he entered into Capernaum after some days: It is unclear whether “after some days” modifies “entered” (he entered after some days) or “noised” (his presence was not widely known until some days after he entered). Either way, the phrase prevents a conflict with 1:45 (where Jesus couldn’t enter into the towns), either by indicating that enough time had passed so that the crowd had died down (if it modifies “enters”) or that Jesus entered the town quietly so that no crowd gathered (if it modifies “noised”).

and it was noised that he was in the house: The “that” (Greek: hoti) can indicate direct speech, so this part of the verse could be translated as, “It was said, ‘He was in the house.’” The house could be

  1. Peter’s house, since that was the last house mentioned (1:29).
  2. any (unspecified) house.
  3. Jesus’ own home.[1]

2:2 And straightway: Most ancient manuscripts do not include “straightway” (Greek: euthys) here.[2] Continue reading

Luke 6:20-49, The Sermon on the Plain

This post is excerpted from The Testimony of Luke, by S. Kent Brown, pp. 330-54. It begins with an introduction, the New Rendition (a new version of the Greek text by Eric D. Huntsman), a verse-by-verse commentary,  and finally an analysis.

Introduction

The Sermon on the Plain, it seems, is aimed as much at the Twelve as it is at the crowd, plainly setting out the rules for his community. He intends that the Twelve do as he will teach, offering them his guidelines as he and they step off together in their joint efforts to reach the hearts of others in both word and deed (see 6:47-49; also Matt. 5:19-20).

The sermon itself stands as a sleepless sentinel within the recorded words of the Savior, casting its reassuring gaze across his disciples and their lives. Its robust requirements touch much of how people live their lives and interact with others, lifting away the dazzle and heartache of this world and allowing a peek into the life to come. The command to love one’s enemies in imitation of the Father graces the most important part of the sermon (see the Notes on 6:27, 35-36). His command to “do good,” and then his illustrations of what it means to do exactly that, impart an enabling power and dignity into the lives of anyone who will follow this directive (see 6:27-34; the Analysis below). The differences in the content and recoverable setting between this sermon and the Sermon on the Mount point to the distinctiveness of the two sermons rather than to their unity (see the Analysis on 6:20-49 below).

Mediterranean landscape.

New Rendition

20And when he raised his eyes on his disciples, he said,

“Blessed are the poor,

because yours is the kingdom of God.

21Blessed are those who are now hungry,

because you will eat your fill.

Blessed are those who now weep,

for you will laugh. Continue reading

Review of The Gospel according to Mark

Thanks to Dan Peterson, who wrote a feature in the Deseret News about our newest book, The Gospel according to Mark, by Julie M. Smith. He writes:

Each commentary volume includes a substantial introduction, followed by the King James Version translation, a fresh “New Rendition” from the original Greek in a parallel column, and detailed notes drawing on both mainstream modern biblical scholarship and uniquely Latter-day Saint sources.

Smith’s newly published commentary on Mark’s gospel weighs in at nearly 1,000 pages, with extensive explanations covering the entire text. Although it cannot be dismissed as a work of merely feminist scholarship, one of its welcome contributions is to provide a woman’s perspective on Mark and, thereby, on Jesus.

A case in point comes in a section titled “Jesus Heals a Woman and Raises a Girl” (pages 336-370) where Smith gives insightful and sensitive attention to the famous account in Mark 5:25-34 of the woman with “an issue of blood,” a story that, as she points out, “requires male audience members to relate to and sympathize with uniquely female concerns” and “suggests that Jesus shared these concerns.” Moreover, she says, “The intertwined stories of the bleeding woman and Jairus’s daughter may be Mark’s most intricately plotted and symbolically rich text.”

According to Jewish law, the bleeding woman’s touch should have made Jesus ritually unclean. However, it doesn’t. Or, if it does, he appears not to care. This, says Smith, “is a commentary about Jesus’ relationship to the law of Moses.” Moreover, discussing Jesus’ question about who had touched his clothes, Smith remarks that “A Jewish audience may have thought that Jesus wanted to know who had touched him so that she could be rebuked for transmitting impurity.” But “the story plays out very differently.”

“Mark,” Smith observes, “had introduced the woman by calling her a woman with ‘an issue of blood.’” She had no name, no relationships, no geographical location; her disease is the sole marker of her identity. But in this verse (5:34), Jesus gives her a new identity marker: she is his daughter.

I cannot begin to summarize or even outline the richness of Smith’s discussion of this episode, which includes fascinating parallels and contrasts with Zechariah 8:23, 1 Samuel 1, Jeremiah 8 and, intriguingly, Genesis 3.

And space permits me only to hint at the intriguing suggestions that Smith offers about the women witnesses of Christ’s Resurrection and the possible role of women in the transmission of Mark’s gospel itself. Read the book! Or its e-book!

For an earlier example of Smith’s approach to the story of the bleeding woman that is accessible at no charge online, see her article “A Redemptive Reading of Mark 5:25-34,” in “Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship” 14 (2015): 95-105; online at mormoninterpreter.com/a-redemptive-reading-of-mark-525-34/.

Luke 4:1-13

Excerpted from The Testimony of Luke, by S. Kent Brown, pp. 221-36, a volume of the BYU New Testament Commentary. The commentary can be purchased at BYU Studies. 

New Rendition

1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Ghost, turned back from the Jordan, and was led in the wilderness by the spirit 2 for forty days to be tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing in those days, and when they were ended, he was hungry.

3 And the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, say to this stone that it become bread.” 4 And Jesus replied to him, “It is written that man shall not live by bread alone [but by every word of God].” Continue reading

News: January 2019

Our conference “In the Beginning Were the Words: A Closer Look at Key New Testament Terms” is January 26 at BYU. Information here. 

Julie Smith’s commentary on Mark has finally arrived! It is for purchase at BYU Studies. 

Our commentaries contains our “New Rendition,” which is a new version of the New Testament text. We’re offering it free as ebooks via Kindle and Deseret Bookshelf. So far we have Mark, Luke, First Corinthians, and Revelation. Here are the links. 

Readings from the New Testament Commentary to accompany LDS Come, Follow Me, for Individuals and Families are listed by our publisher, BYU Studies. Have a look! 

Julie Smith’s interview about her Mark book is available from Interpreter Radio. Follow the link here.  

Selected New Renditions available as Free Ebooks

We are happy to announce that New Renditions of the New Testament books Mark, Luke, First Corinthians, and Revelation are now available as free ebooks, as Kindle books at Amazon and on the Deseret Bookshelf e-reader.

These New Renditions come from the BYU New Testament Commentary volumes. They are modern English versions translated by Latter-day Saint scholars based on the most reliable Greek texts while taking into account the Joseph Smith Translation and the King James Version. They aim to be as close as possible to the way they were composed by their original writers. These renditions provide a new reading experience for people of all ages who want to embrace each of these New Testament writings.

The Gospel according to Mark: A New Rendition, by Julie M. Smith, at Amazon

The Testimony of Luke: A New Rendition, by Eric D. Huntsman and S. Kent Brown, at Amazon

Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians: A New Rendition, by Michael D. Rhodes and Richard D. Draper, at Amazon

The Revelation of John the Apostle: A New Rendition, by Michael D. Rhodes and Richard D. Draper, at Amazon

The Gospel according to Mark: A New Rendition, by Julie M. Smith, at Deseret Book

The Testimony of Luke: A New Rendition, by Eric D. Huntsman and S. Kent Brown, at Deseret Book

Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians: A New Rendition, by Michael D. Rhodes and Richard D. Draper, at Deseret Book

The Revelation of John the Apostle: A New Rendition, by Michael D. Rhodes and Richard D. Draper, at Deseret Book

The New Renditions of the books of Epistle to the Ephesians and the Epistle to the Hebrews are expected to be available later in January 2019.

 

Luke 3:16, 17: John the Baptist foretells Jesus’ baptism

Excerpted from The Testimony of Luke, by S. Kent Brown. This excerpt features the verse-by-verse commentary of Luke 3:16, 17. See the book for much additional analysis and the new rendition.

John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

3:16 John answered: Here John’s response about himself points first to his ministering acts and then to the one who “cometh,” the same order as in John 1:26–27. According to John’s Gospel, the Baptist answers the queries of authorities by saying that he is not the Christ nor Elijah nor “that prophet” (John 1:20–21).

I indeed baptize you with water: Here Luke turns to words of John that he shares with Matthew and Mark, though Matthew adds “unto repentance,” a phrase missing in the records of Mark and Luke (see Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8). Perhaps Luke means to place emphasis on the difference between the water baptism that the Baptist offers and the Messiah’s baptism “with the Holy Ghost and with fire” that not only comes to one who repents but also purges the person’s sins (see 2 Ne. 31:13–14; 3 Ne. 9:20; 12:2). The phrase “with water” or “in water” represents a dative of instrument.[1]

one mightier: As do Mark and Matthew, Luke acknowledges that John introduces Jesus to his hearers, though Jesus himself does not appear in the story until 3:21. The expression does not seem to preserve a Christian answer to persons who venerate the Baptist as the Messiah.[2]

cometh: The verb (Greek erchomai), though common, seems to allude to that of LXX Malachi 3:1 (“behold, he comes”), which points to the “coming one” who brings both judgment and purifying powers (see 13:35; Acts 13:25; Ps. 118:26; Zech. 9:9; Mal. 3:2–3; Mosiah 3:9; D&C 133:2, 10, 17, 19, 66; JST Matt. 3:38–40).[3] Because the verb appears strategically here, at the beginning of Luke’s narrative, and near its end (see 19:38; 20:16), it forms a possible inclusio that unifies the Gospel account.[4]

the latchet: The Greek word (himas) means “thong” or “strap.” The act of unbinding such a strap is left to slaves.[5] The word draws subtle attention to the connection of Jesus’ sandals and the highway to be built for the coming king.

baptize you with the Holy Ghost: In another allusion to the creation, that of the spirit of God moving “upon the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2), John ties the actions of Jesus to those of Jehovah in the beginning. In his words to Nicodemus, Jesus speaks of being “born of . . . the Spirit,” an event equivalent to being baptized “with the Holy Ghost” (John 3:5).

with fire: The allusion is both to judgment or punishment and to purifying, aspects that stand together in Malachi’s prophecy about the one who comes “to his temple” (see Mal. 3:1–3). These two functions are also joined in modern scripture (see 1 Ne. 22:17; 2 Ne. 30:10). Moreover, fire is the agent that purges sins: “then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost” (2 Ne. 31:17; see also 2 Ne. 31:13). Further, the clear tie between fire and offering sacrifices on a burning altar is not to be missed. Finally, the fire stands as an agent of testimony, along with the Holy Ghost. In this sense, the promise of fire is fulfilled in the burning hearts of the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, thus forming an inclusio that arcs across Luke’s narrative and brings a unity to all.[6]

3:17 he will throughly purge his floor: Threshing floors in ancient Israel consist of walled areas where the soil is cleared off to expose the smooth limestone crust of the earth. The expression means to “clean thoroughly” and carries the senses (1) that the Messiah will clean the soil from the floor where the grains of wheat will fall to the earth after being threshed and separated from the chaff, and (2) that, because the threshing floor is completely clean, he will be able to retrieve every grain.

the wheat . . . the chaff: A subtle affirmation stands within these terms that the good and the bad grow up together, often inseparable until the judgment (see Matt. 13:24–43).

the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable: John returns to the image of fire as judgment.

[1] Blass and Debrunner, Greek Grammar, §195.

[2] Marshall, Luke, 145.

[3] BAGD, 310–11; TDNT, 2:666–69.

[4] Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, 124–47, 366–67, 388, 390–93.

[5] BAGD, 376; Marshall, Luke, 146; Fitzmyer, Luke, 1:473.

[6] Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, 124–47, 366–67, 388, 390–93.