Why does the apostle John get so upset at others casting out devils? What does Jesus say about divorce and how does it differ compared to what is recorded in Matthew? What does Jesus say about wealth? How does Mark’s account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem differ from Matthew’s account? What angers Jesus so much that he enters the temple and starts throwing things around? What does Jesus say about paying taxes?  All these questions are discussed in this episode of The CES Podcast (for the rest of us).

Welcome to episode 9a of Rational Faiths’ newest podcat series, The CES Podcast (for the rest of us), with Bible scholar, Dr. Sheldon Greaves and his co-host, Michael Barker. Dr. Greaves and Mike Barker will be looking at this year’s seminary and institute curriculum, which covers the New Testament, and will be distilling a week’s worth of lessons and readings down to a half hour podcast. Episode 9a will cover Mark chapters 9-13.

Please leave us feedback if you like what we are doing or if there is an area upon which we can improve.

– Dr. Greaves and Mike


Mike’s notes:

vs 1 “Not taste death”
As Mormons we are taught that this is a reference to John the Beloved (who many think is the same as the man who wrote Revelation, but that is a discussion for another time). How would scholars read that? How would a first century Jew and Christian read that?
vs 2: “Six days later” unusually precise (side note, “six days later” also occurs in Matthew 17) 7 days, 12 days, 40 day, we could read some symbolism in there. I did fine this precise number in one other place Exodus 24:15-16.
“15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud.”
Exodus 19:10-11
“10 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11 and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.”
So the six days is a doubling of the period that the Israelites underwent to sanctify themselves to merely witness the divine presence.
Matthew is making Jesus the New Moses. But Mark isn’t doing that as much. But the “six days” seems to be a reference to Moses and sure enough, Moses shows up on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Comparisons and contrasts with the Mt. of Transfiguration and Sinai:
Only Moses goes up to Sinai. Only Moses hears the voice of the Lord. The instructions given to Moses are how to build the tabernacle (Ark of the Covenant, Lampstand,priestly vestments, ordination of priests, etc). Transfiguration, Peter, James and John all hear the voice of God. When Moses comes down, he comes down with the tablets of stone written with the finger of God. When the Transfiguration is done, they hear again, “This is my Beloved Son.” Which is what is also said at Jesus’ baptism.
Review with us again what “Beloved Son” means and to what it references.
Comparing with Matthew 17, the stories are pretty much exactly the same.
1)Mark takes 7 verses to tell the story. Matthew takes 8 verses to tell the story.
2)With Mark the mountain appears to be in Caesarea Philippi (8:27). With Matthew the mountain also appears to be in Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13)
3)If the mountain of transfiguration is in Caesarea Philippi, the the mountain is Mount Hermon. Moses 24:12-16, to which the transfiguration alludes, occurs on Mt. Sinai. Regarding Mount Hermon:
In the Book of Enoch, Mount Hermon is the place where the Watcher class of fallen angels descended to Earth. They swear upon the mountain that they would take wives among the daughters of men and take mutual imprecation for their sin (Enoch 6).
4)Both Matthew and Mark have the transfiguration occurring right after Peter’s declaration about Jesus which is followed by Jesus foretelling of his death and resurrection.

vs. 10 “questioning what the rising form the dead could mean.” Makes sense since most Jews believed the resurrection would come at the End Times.
vs. 21 “How long has this been happening to him?” It’s an odd question for Jesus to ask. Why would he ask this?
vs. 24 “I believe, help my unbelief”
vs. 29 “Come out only through prayer (some authorities add “and fasting”). No record in this story of Jesus praying though, just him commanding.
vs 30-32 This is the second time that Jesus foretells to his disciples of his death and resurrection. First time occurs in Mark 8 right before Jesus’ transfiguration.
vs. 38 “John said to him, ” We saw someone casting out demons in your name.” Interesting for two reason:
1)It puts this question in the mouth of John and not Peter and tradition tells us that Peter was the source for Mark. Why would Peter have told the story to Mark as if John was asking and not Peter?
2)We get John speaking again in chapter 10 when he and his brother James ask to sit on Jesus’ right hand. In Matthew 20:20-21 the question is put in the mouth of James’ and John’s mother. I don’t think Mark has John say anything else in his Gospel. I’ll be interested to see.
vs 42 “These little ones” Referring to disciples, the 12, children?
vs 49: “salted with fire” What does that even mean?

Jesus and Divorce
vs. 2-9 Jesus is answering a question asked by the Pharisees. His answer says nothing about committing adultery.
vs.10-12 Jesus is answering a question asked by the disciples. Here Jesus’ answer states that the man commits adultery if the man marries another AND Jesus says a woman commits adultery if she divorces her husband.
Matthew teaches it differently:
Matthew 5:31-32 (Jesus is not answering a question but this comes from the Sermon on the Mount)
31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
Here Jesus puts the commitment of adultery solely at feet of the woman who is divorced AND the man commits adultery ONLY if he marries another woman who has been previously divorced.
Matthew 19:1-10 Parallels Jesus’ teaching in Mark 10 and even the wording and the situation are very close. But there are some twists. In both Matthew 19 and Mark 10, Jesus is answering a question asked by the Pharisees but Matthew 19 has no follow up question put forth by the disciples but instead only has a statement regarding Jesus’ answer. What Jesus says in Matthew 19 puts adultery at the feet of the man and the woman but it’s different than what we find earlier in Matthew 5 ( Matthew 5 says man ONLY commits adultery if he marries a woman who has been divorced.)
Matthew 19:
8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality,[d] and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
10 His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”
In summary
1)Is Jesus answering a question?
Matthew 5 – No
Matthew 19 – Yes, Answering only a question put forth by the Pharisees. Answer has a follow up statement by the disciples but they ask no question.
Mark 10 – Yes, Answering a question asked by the Pharisees and a follow up question asked by his disciples.
2)Where is Jesus teaching about divorce?
Matthew 5 – Sermon on the Mount. Not clear where the Sermon on the Mount occurs. Previous verses says “Great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and from Beyond the Jordon. When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up to the mountain.”
Matthew 19 – Judea, beyond the Jordan
Mark 10 – Judea and beyond the Jordan
3)To whom is Jesus speaking?
Matthew 5 – His disciples
Matthew 19 – Pharisees, disciples (and maybe others? Text does not say)
Mark 10 – Pharisees,maybe others, and then His disciples.
4)Who is doing the divorcing?
Matthew 5 – Man
Matthew 19 – Man
Mark 10 – Woman and man
5)Who is committing adultery?
Matthew 5 – Woman commits adultery if her husband divorces her for reasons other than unchastity. Nothing said regarding man remarrying after his divorce. Begs the question, who was being unchaste, wife or husband? Husband ONLY if he marries a divorced woman.
Matthew 19 – Woman commits adultery if her husband divorces her for reason other than unchastity and he marries another woman.
Mark 10 – His (presumably public) answer the Pharisees says nothing about anyone committing adultery. In Jesus’ (presumably private) answer to his disciples Jesus’ teaches: Man commits adultery if marries another woman after his divorce. Woman commits adultery if she divorces her husband and marries another.
Mark’s teaching about divorce seems to be the more egalitarian even though it is the earliest Gospel. That being said we will have to see later what Luke says about divorce.
Teaching on wealth
vs 23-27
Rich can only be saved through God.
Third time Jesus foretells his death and resurrection. We see a progression
vs 32-24
Matthew 8 – Jesus will be killed but doesn’t say by whom
Matthew 9 – Jesus will be killed by human hands.
Matthew 10 – Jesus says the chief priests and scribes will condemn him to death and will hand Jesus one to the Gentiles.
vs 35 only other time (Mark 9:38 is the other) where John speaks. And is the only time John’s brother, James , speaks. Both times John isn’t painted as being too great – complaining about people casting out demons in Jesus’ name and asking to sit on Jesus’ right hand. Both times Jesus teaches the 12 a lesson.
vs 45 (part of Jesus answer regarding James’ and Johns’ request)
Is the first time that Jesus teaches that his death and resurrection will carries salvific significance.
Healing the blind man
Mark gives the man a name Bartimaeus son of Timaeus. Is there any significance or symbolism to that name? Matthew 20:29-34 does not give the name and actually has two blind men being healed. Both Gospels have the blind men follow Jesus afterwards. Jesu encounters both as he and his disciples are leaving Jericho.

n Mark this is first time the title, “Son of David” is used and it is used twice. It occurs again with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.
miracle in both Gospels immediately precedes Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

vs. 2 only has the colt. Matthew 21:2 has a colt and a donkey
Matthew ties this story into Hebrew scripture (Zechariah 9:9) which is for Matthew’s audience (Jewish Christian audience)
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Matthew’s interpretation has the colt and the donkey as two different animals while Zechariah actually has them as the same animal.
Mark 11:17 and Matthew 21:9 have the crowds say something different but both Gospels have the crowds saying Psalms 118:26
“Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.”
Fig tree
vs 12 – 14
Harpers Collins:
“the image of the fruitless fig tree is used to indict the leaders of the people. In the immediate context here the reason is that the they failed to welcome Jesus as he entered Jerusalem. It was not the season, or “time appointed [by God],” for fits.”
Jesus cleansing temple
vs 18 First time Jesus grabs the attention of the high priests who are Sadducees.
Lesson of the withered fig tree
vs 20-25 In Matthew 21:18-22 both stories of the fig (the cursing and the lesson) are told as one story instead of two.
vs 25 ends with “may also forgive you your trespasses” Matthew’s account does not have this part. This occurs instead in Matthew 6:13 which is the end of the Lord’s Prayer. Mark does not contain the Lord’s Prayer anywhere but vs 25 is the closest thing Mark has to the Lord’s Prayer. It is an instruction on how to pray.

Mark has little proof texting of the Hebrew Bible up until Jesus entry into Jerusalem and then Mark starts quoting right and left.
Why would this be? Is it because his Gentile Christian audience would have little use of this proof texting regarding Jesus’ ministry, but the last week of Jesus’ life is the important story and even Gentile Christians would have been familiar with the Hebrew scriptures prophesying of Jesus’ last week? Specifically the Passion Story which was probably the first story told of Jesus?

Question regarding taxes
This is interesting in light of what Jesus did in the previous chapter regarding the temple – specifically with regards to the money changers.
Explain again why money changers even existed.
Also interesting that Matthew and Mark put this question on the lips of Pharisees who wanted nothing to do with the Roman government. Also the Pharisees probably would want nothing to do with the Herodians. Now if just the Herodians had asked the question, that would have made more sense historically.
Question about the resurrection
Sadducees didn’t believe in a bodily resurrection so this questioning is interesting. It would be like me trying to trap a Catholic regarding the Immaculate Conception (story of conception of Mary in her mother’s womb) and Mary’s mother having sex when I don’t believe in the Immaculate Conception. Maybe that’s a bad comparison.
The First Commandment
Matthew has this question come from the Pharisees. Mark has it come from a scribe. Scribes were a subset of the Pharissess (see Mark 2:16 “scribes of the Pharisees.”
It is interesting how Matthew (22:34-40) and Mark tell this story differently. With Matthew Jesus answers the question with “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (whole scriptures). Matthew has Jesus do a very confident “mic drop.”
Mark makes Jesus a little unsure of himself. “When Jesus saw that he answered wisely..” And he actually ends with something encouraging and almost a back-handed compliment which can be interpreted as more damning or less damning than Matthew does “You are not far from the Kingdom.”
Question regarding David’s son
vs 35-37 (Matthew 22:41-45) are quoting Psalms 110:1
“How can the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David?”
Harper Collins:
“An oracle probably delivered by a prophetic or priestly figure. My lord, ies., the king. At my right hand is a place of power and honor. The ruler here is lord Lord. Your footstool refers to the practice of victorious kings placing their feet on the backs of captured enemies. The ver is cited in the NT in reference to the exaltation of Christ.”
“Yahweh says to my lord,
Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”
What’s Jesus argument? (in Mark it is a monologue. In Matthew it is a back-and-forth)
From the Jewish Annotated Bible (recommended reading by BYU’s Maxwell Institute podcast and the reason I bought it:
“the messiah is not just the son of David (i.e., a king of the Davidic line) but something greater. Mark may have been opposing those who, during the Jewish War, longed for the military intervention of the Son of David. Elsewhere Mark affirms Jesus’ connection with David but the idea of “messiah” presented in Mark does not correspond to the expectation of Jesus’ contemporaries. Most Jews assumed that it was David’s voice who speaks in Psalms: “The LORD (God) says to my lord (the messiah, not David)…” The argument assumes that David, the purported speaker of Psalms 110:1 called the messiah “my lord,” indicating that the messiah was David’s superior.”
Denounces scribes
Widow’s mite
Destruction of the temple foretold an the Peter, James, and John ask him when the temple will be destroyed and what will be “the sign that all these things are bout to be accomplished?” Matthew (24:3,4) has them ask a little bit of a different question. Matthew adds “what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?”
Jesus’ answer is essentially the same in both Gospels:
Persecution, Desolating Sacrilege, The coming of the Son of Man, Lesson of the Fig Tree, Necessity for watchfulness.
After Jesus’ discourse, Matthew inserts a few parables. Mark does not.

Dr. Sheldon Greaves received his Ph.D. in Ancient Near Eastern Studies with an emphasis in Hebrew Bible from UC Berkeley in 1996. He is a co-founder of Henley-Putnam University, a private university catering to the intelligence and counterterrorism communities. He has taught Old and New Testament and similar subjects at Stanford University. At present, Dr. Greaves leads seminars on biblical and related topics as Scholar-in-Residence at the Episcopal Church of the Good Samaritan in Corvallis, Oregon. He is also the founder of Guerrilla Scholars (501(c)(3) status pending), a loose association of learners, thinkers, teachers, artists, and recovering academics that can best be described as, "a bunch of geeks who want to save the world."

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