An experiment: The original Gospel of Mark?—Chp. 5

As noted in the Introduction, two texts of the relevant chapter in the Gospel of Mark are presented here. The first is a short, hypothetical “core”—the first draft of an UrMark reconstructed according to the criteria below.

At the bottom of this post is the entire Chapter 5 in the RSV English translation. Both the short and the longer forms of the chapter are color coded. In order to separate out later Catholic accretions from the earlier Jewish Christian “core,” I have employed the following criteria:

The criteria used for color coding are discussed here. The resultant color coding is as follows:

[Contained in the Hebrew Gospel / UrMark]

Green: Possible/probable, or amended in UrMark.

STAGE 1: Gnostic. To c. 50 CE. “Jesus” is the saving gnosis.
                           Black: May contain historical elements going back to Yeshu ha-Notsri.
                           [Blue] Logia/parables of Yeshu.

STAGE 2a: Jewish Christian. [Brown] C. 50–c. 150 CE. “Jesus” is a divine spiritual entity sent from Yahweh indwelling any worthy human through the grace of God/obedience to God. But the first in whom the Jesus dwelled (the prophet Yeshu ha-Notsri by my reckoning) was known as “the first-begotten Son” of God, the “Christ” (Messiah; NTA I:177.2). This messiah was only a model for emulation, not the unattainable figure of later Christianity. Possessing the Jesus (which we can all do, and should do) enables repentance and the forgiveness of sins. The spirit Jesus is divine, but the humans in whom the Jesus dwells are not.

[Not in the Hebrew Gospel / UrMark]

STAGE 2b: Pauline/Marcionite. [Purple] C. 50–c. 150 CE. “Jesus” is a divine spiritual entity sent from the immaterial God (not the God of creation) indwelling any worthy human through the grace of God/obedience to God. The death on the cross of a prophet (“Jesus Christ”) in the distant past was a cosmic event of human redemption. Jesus is divine, but the human(s) in whom it dwells are not. Belief is required.

STAGE 3: Catholic Christianity. [Red] C. 150+. “Jesus of Nazareth” is the savior of the world. Gnosis, repentance, and forgiveness of sins have been superseded. “Jesus Christ” was both divine and human. Belief is required.      (Red underlined: Catholic and anti-Marcionite.)

The comprehensive UrMark, cumulatively updated after each installment, is found here.
The canonical (color coded) Gospel of Mark, also updated after each installment, is found here.

The Hebrew Gospel / UrMark: Chp. 5

[1] And he went to the other side of the sea;1
[21] and when he had crossed again to the other side2 [he said]
[34] “Your faith has made you well; go in peace.

Chapter 5 notes:

1. Etymologies: Cf. Jesus (Heb. “Joshua”) crossing the Jordan (Jos 3); in OT also linked to Moses and the Hebrews crossing the Yam Suf (Heb. “Sea of the Ending” = death [Jos 4:23; Ps 106:9; also Ex 15:4, 22; Deut 11:4; Ne 9:9]).

2. Verses 1 and 21 presuppose the symbolism water = gnosis, and crossing the water = attaining understanding/overcoming death. This very archaic concept was known already in Bronze Age Mesopotamia. It informed the crossing of the Yam Suf (later falsely, “Red Sea”) by the Hebrews. The word “Hebrew” itself means “cross over” (BDB 717). More on this important concept (with Christian connections) is found here.

The Gospel of Mark: Chp. 5
(Revised Standard Version)

          [Kai ηλθεν εiς τo περαν της θαλασσης, אcvid C L Δ Θ f13 28. 700. 892. 1241 al q sy bo; Epiph]
[1] And he went to the other side of the sea
, to the country of the Gerasenes.
[2] And when he had come out of the boat, there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
[3] who lived among the tombs; and no one could bind him any more, even with a chain;
[4] for he had often been bound with fetters and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the fetters he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him.
[5] Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out, and bruising himself with stones.
[6] And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped him;
[7] and crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”
[8] For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”
[9] And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”
[10] And he begged him eagerly not to send them out of the country.
[11] Now a great herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside;
[12] and they begged him, “Send us to the swine, let us enter them.”
[13] So he gave them leave. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea.
[14] The herdsmen fled, and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened.
[15] And they came to Jesus, and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the man who had had the legion; and they were afraid.
[16] And those who had seen it told what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine.
[17] And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their neighborhood.
[18] And as he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him.
[19] But he refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
[20] And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and all men marveled.

          [Kai διαπερασαντoς παλιν εις τo περαν, 1 2 P45 D Θ f1 28. 565. 700 pc it sys]
[21] And when he had crossed again to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him; and he was beside the sea.
[22] Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and seeing him, he fell at his feet,
[23] and besought him, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.”
[24] And he went with him.
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.

[25] And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years,
[26] and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.
[27] She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment.
[28] For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.”
[29] And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.
[30] And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, “Who touched my garments?”
[31] And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’”
[32] And he looked around to see who had done it.
[33] But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.
[34] And he said to her, “Daughter,
your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

[35] While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”
[36] But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

[37] And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James.
[38] When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly.
[39] And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.”
[40] And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was.
[41] Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi”; which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”
[42] And immediately the girl got up and walked (she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.
[43] And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

 Chapter 4          Chapter 6 

About René Salm

René Salm is the author of two books on New Testament archeology and manages the companion website


An experiment: The original Gospel of Mark?—Chp. 5 — 2 Comments

  1. Neil Godfrey explores the possibility that “talitha cumi” is meant to be a magical incantation, “arise to my talit [prayer shawl]!” Cf. also here.

    Are we perhaps seeing in these miracle pericopes a popular tradition of a magician Jesus, grafted onto the Ur-Mark?

  2. Hermann Detering, in a work which has disappeared from the Internet, once demonstrated the connection between the resurrection accounts in the gospels and Acts with the rebellion of Masada. This is already supported by the names of those resurrected: Archsynagogue Iairus leads to Eleazar Ben Ya’ir, head of the rebels. Lazarus–resurrected in the Gospel of John–also points to this zealot chieftain. The son of the widow of Nain, resurrected in the Gospel of Luke, points to a village located according to Flavius Josephus in the vicinity of Masada and involved in the battles of the rebels. Then there is Tabitha, resurrected by Peter according to Acts, whose name almost sounds like Mark’s “Talitha (cumi)” (which in fact means “Young maiden, arise”). Tabitha is the heroine of the Jewish Christian Apocalypse of Elijah, where she is martyred in a battle against the Antichrist but rises subsequently. Finally, a connection can be made with the statements of the wives and daughters of the Masada rebels, who were hiding in a well, discovered, and interrogated by the Romans. According to these interrogations, the rebels were not dead but only asleep, as in Mark 5:39.

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