From: Edward Hobbs (EHOBBS@WELLESLEY.EDU)
Date: Sat Sep 26 1998 - 10:11:11 EDT
Jonathan writes: ---->>>>>>>>>
Mark 8:12 TI hH GENEA hAUTH ZHTEI SHMEION; AMHN LEGW hUMIN, *EI* DOQHSETAI
TH GENEA TAUTHi SHMEION
I've been wrestling with this. According to several translations and
grammars, the "EI" is a semiticism that is related to a form used for
oaths: "surely this generation shall not be given a sign". And that makes
sense after the use of AMHN LEGW hUMIN.
But it's confusing in context. In verses 14-21, Jesus tells the disciples
to beware the leaven of the Pharisees, who had been looking for a sign. He
then goes on to ask them about the food left over after multiplying food
for the crowd, and asks, "do you not yet understand"? To my mind, he seems
to be saying that these great miracles are occuring, and they should sit up
and pay attention, because God is working in a powerful way. The leaven of
the Pharisees seems to be the ability to walk into a situation with this
kind of miracle going on, fail to notice what is happening, and demand a
sign. Jesus seems to be saying that they should pay attention to the signs
that are already occuring. In this context, the point seems to be not that
no sign shall be given to them, but that signs *are* being given to them,
and they just don't get it.
Except for Mark 8:12, which seems to say that no sign will be given to
them. Is there another plausible way to interpret the elided conditional in
Mark 8:12, or is there a better way to understand the entire passage
without changing the traditional translation of this verse?
<<<<<<<<<<----------end of citation
What is oddly omitted in Jonathan's summary of the passage is what it
mostly consists of: recitation of the numbers of loaves, thousands fed,
and baskets of crumbs, in the two feedings which have just occurred.
It is immediately after Jesus' insistence on remembering these data, with
precise numbers tallied, that he asks, "Do you not yet understand?"
Mark is of course asking the READER, "Don't you understand, even YET?"
These clues are commonly ignored; but Mark insists on giving them.
I commend them to your attention.
Wellesley College (where, for the next three days, about a thousand
faculty members in fields other than religion from over 300 colleges and
universities, including 35 college and university presidents, are meeting
to discuss the inclusion of moral and spiritual components into courses
throughout the curriculum [including, significantly, even in mathematics!])
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