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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Mark 6:51-52 the disciples unbelief

The disciples had just witnessed the feeding of the five thousand but when Jesus came walking over wind tossed waters to them in the dark of night and the wind died down when he joined them in the boat, Mark tells us that they still didn’t understand. Mark adds a narrator’s comment on their spiritual condition not found in the other gospels. The text:

Mark 6:51 NA27 καὶ ἀνέβη πρὸς αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ πλοῖον καὶ ἐκόπασεν ὁ ἄνεμος, καὶ λίαν [ἐκ περισσοῦ] ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἐξίσταντο·  52 οὐ γὰρ συνῆκαν ἐπὶ τοῖς ἄρτοις, ἀλλ᾿ ἦν αὐτῶν ἡ καρδία πεπωρωμένη.

There are some textual variants for Mark 6:51-52. The following is the SBLGNT with apparatus edited by Michael Holmes.

Mark 6:51 SBLGNT  και ανεβη προς αυτους εις το πλοιον, και εκοπασεν ο ανεμος. και λιαν ⸂εκ περισσου⸃ εν εαυτοις ⸀εξισταντο, 52  ου γαρ συνηκαν επι τοις αρτοις, ⸂αλλ ην⸃ αυτων η καρδια πεπωρωμενη.

Mark 6:51:

    •    εκ περισσου Treg NIV RP ] – WH
    •    εξισταντο WH Treg NIV ] + και εθαυμαζον RP

Mark 6:52:

    •    αλλ ην WH Treg NIV ] ην γαρ RP

key to apparatus:  WH: Westcott & Hort, RP: Robinson-Pierpont, Treg: Tregelles

The majority text (RP) adds και εθαυμαζον which provides some rhetorical underlining in regard to the disciples mental state but it really doesn’t add much since ἐξίσταντο is a strong word and combined with λίαν [ἐκ περισσοῦ] leaves no question that disciples were overwhelmed by their experience in the boat. Mark’s comment οὐ γὰρ συνῆκαν ἐπὶ τοῖς ἄρτοις ties this pericope to the miracle of the bread and the fish. In all three accounts, Matthew, Mark and John, the feeding of the multitude comes immediately before the walking on the water but only Mark joins the two episodes explicitly by finding fault with the disciples for not drawing an obvious inference concerning Jesus after observing his multiplication of the loaves and fish. The language in Mark 6:52 is strong and harsh οὐ … συνῆκαν … ἡ καρδία πεπωρωμένη,   similar to language leveled at Jesus’ opponents. Later on in Mark 8:15-21 Jesus will upbraid the disciples for being preoccupied with concerns about food, reminding them of the food they collected after the feeding miracles.


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