Mark 1:21-28

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Deckard
 
Reply Wed 30 Dec, 2009 10:42 pm
In Mark there is a story of Jesus going to a synagogue in Capernaum and beginning to teach. Everyone is amazed that Jesus "taught as one that had authority". Well here's the verses I am talking about:

Quote:
21And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.
22And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
23And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,
24Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.
25And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.
26And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.
27And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.
28And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.
Does this mean that Jesus was assertive and charismatic and just a really great speaker? Big deal. Why would the people be "astonished"? Was Jesus breaking with the traditional speaking style practiced by the other rabbis?

Granted there are many people that will believe anything that is spoken in an assertive and confident voice and there are also those who will immediately dismiss the ideas of those who seem uncertain. I run across this often and do my best to adjust my speaking style accordingly. (For example: I have learned to be more assertive when speaking to a hostile audience and more humble when speaking among friends.) I have found also that often those who speak with authority and confidence are completely wrong about what they say while those who speak without authority speak the plain truth. I try to remember this when I listen to someone speak.

The verses seem to say that my efforts to separate the truth of what someone says from the authority with which they say it are ill-conceived.

Is there some older quasi-magical concept of authority? It is important to note that he uses authority to teach in verse 22 and then to drive out a demon in verse 27. What is this strange thing called authority?

Were there no other rabbis who spoke with authority in Jesus' time. Why else would it be amazing? Why else would his "fame spread". Any ideas?
 
Justin
 
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2009 11:35 am
@Deckard,
Hmm... good question.

It's actually a story. This story was not written during the time of Jesus, it was a story written decades after the supposed life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If it actually took place the way described in Mark, there would have been other people that would have written about it during the time it took place rather than the fabrication of a story up to 100 years after. Do you see the importance here of when the story was written?

Another thing to note is that this is the same with the other gospels as well. Instead of any writings about Jesus during the life of Jesus, they all came long after Christ. It's also important to know that we don't actually know who wrote these gospels. Under careful analysis by biblical scholars it's been said that the gospels look not to be written by 4 but by 2 people. It's also necessary to understand Luke in all this. He was a follower of Paul who never met Jesus but was the spearhead behind him proclaiming to know the way of Christ and showing and influencing others towards it. In all seriousness, it could be a myth. Faith is needed to buy it because evidence and science lead in different directions.

Lots and lots of questions. There are saints and rabbis that preach or speak out with authority and then sin and commit acts of sin on their free time.

There's also a lot we don't know about Christ. His mother was young and his father old and after his birth his father just vanished... and his brothers? Was she a virgin or was she a victim of a sick old man? LOL, lots of questions. The what happened after Christ taught in the temples? Why is the greatest and most important part of Jesus' life missing? Where was this young boy from the age of 14 to about 33? Maybe the mount of olives? Who knows.

So many questions that taking a verse from it doesn't include the whole picture. This verse you quote could have been written by Luke under the influence of Paul... we don't really know this. For me, it's mostly mythology. It's fashioned and written long after the time it took place if in fact it did.

IMHO, truth is not something we'll find within the gospels unless we're willing to have faith that these gospels are truth. Then of course, they become truth not because they are true but because we choose to believe they are.

The reason it spreads is like how anything else spreads. People suck it up and believe it and then re-tell the story so the fish becomes larger than the one actually caught. What starts out as one thing becomes another and it spreads because people are at a lack of understanding and an appropriate place to find these answers.

Humans are the most gullible of all creatures on the earth. Human follow other humans. Humans believe in silly things and then take them to the extreme while bloating the stories and turning them into something they are not and once it gets to a certain point, faith is needed to believe in them.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2009 03:52 pm
@Justin,
Justin;115896 wrote:


IMHO, truth is not something we'll find within the gospels unless we're willing to have faith that these gospels are truth. Then of course, they become truth not because they are true but because we choose to believe they are.


I agree. However, in this case since I don't understand the way "authority" is used I wouldn't know what I was believing or what I was not believing.

The question is really: "What is authority?"
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2009 07:15 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;115944 wrote:
I agree. However, in this case since I don't understand the way "authority" is used I wouldn't know what I was believing or what I was not believing.

The question is really: "What is authority?"
Jesus wasn't part of the orthodox clergy. It would be like if I walked into a Presbyterian church and started teaching. Further, the custom is to refer to accepted writings as if one is only conveying the wisdom of others. This was was part of the form of the scribes who were devoted to the Torah. Never mind that rabbis routinely disagreed on interpretation.

When I quote someone you respect, I'm coopting that person's standing. If I confidently tell you something I figured out on my own, I lack standing. You're apt to be amazed at my audacity.

By the way, Mark is my favorite of the gospels. Mark's Jesus is fiery and passionate (no pun intended.) Mark's Jesus is obviously human. Note that in iconography Mark is the guy sitting at a desk with a lion sitting beside him.

But you also bring up a good point about the nature of authority during that time. The didn't have the widespread use of credentials that we have. Authority might be taken in ways that we would find to be devious. The visions and sayings of mystics were also relied on from then into the middle ages. I was shocked once to find that the writings of Merlin were used by Franciscan monks as authority during the middle ages. I thought at first.. who the heck is Merlin? Yea... the Merlin.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2009 07:24 pm
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;115984 wrote:
Jesus wasn't part of the orthodox clergy. It would be like if I walked into a Presbyterian church and started teaching. Further, the custom is to refer to accepted writings as if one is only conveying the wisdom of others. This was was part of the form of the scribes who were devoted to the Torah. Never mind that rabbis routinely disagreed on interpretation.

When I quote someone you respect, I'm coopting that person's standing. If I confidently tell you something I figured out on my own, I lack standing. You're apt to be amazed at my audacity.

By the way, Mark is my favorite of the gospels. Mark's Jesus is fiery and passionate (no pun intended.) Mark's Jesus is obviously human. Note that in iconography Mark is the guy sitting at a desk with a lion sitting beside him.



This is more or less how I read it as well. The other rabbis always prefacing there comments with as it says in the book of X .... whereas Jesus just started preaching without referring to the Torah.

I just realized something.

The audience's response is one of amazement but I think the one guy who stood up really represents the voice of dissent to Jesus' authority. That voice of dissent is driven out and called a demon.

Do you have any thoughts on the relationship between the driving out of demons and Jesus' authority?

Happy new years!
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2009 07:43 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;115985 wrote:
This is more or less how I read it as well. The other rabbis always prefacing there comments with as it says in the book of X .... whereas Jesus just started preaching without referring to the Torah.

I just realized something.

The audience's response is one of amazement but I think the one guy who stood up really represents the voice of dissent to Jesus' authority. That voice of dissent is driven out and called a demon.

Do you have any thoughts on the relationship between the driving out of demons and Jesus' authority?

Happy new years!
Happy new Year!!! And a new decade... but we still don't have a name for the decade. I think I'm going to call it the Teeny Decade.

The demons recognize Jesus and surrender to his authority. The Pharisees later claim that Jesus got this power over demons from the Devil. Jesus responds with: "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Which Lincoln later used in reference to the USA.

There's a long standing connection between medicine and spirituality. Being able to cure the sick would put bonus points in Jesus' holyman bucket.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Thu 31 Dec, 2009 08:11 pm
@Arjuna,
The use of the word "authority" in Mark 1:22 is acceptable enough. Jesus breaking from the authority of previously written documents has some obvious parallels with the Empiricists and Rationalists breaking from the methods of the Scholastics at the beginning of the Modern age.

The use of the word "authority" in Mark 1:27 creeps me out a little. I get a distinct whiff of propaganda. It seems to imply that whoever would refuse to recognize the authority of Jesus (and by extension his followers) must be possessed by a demon.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 1 Jan, 2010 03:51 am
@Deckard,
"Speaks with authority" means in my view charismatic authority. Not as a scribe, one who has learned by rote, but one who really knows whereof he speaks. As to the meaning of 'authority' in my view it was much more an 'authenticity', something utterly real which, when you saw it manifest, left no room for doubt. In modern parlance, it would 'knock your socks off'. A shame then it became turned into authoritarianism by the institution that invented that idea.

'What new doctrine is this'? Simply put, 'this ain't in the Torah! Where'd he get THIS from?'

Why did the unclean spirit challenge Jesus? Because he knew he was toast, to put it colloquially. He probably thought he could lurk around in this person indefinitely. But then he met his match. (When he says 'I know who though art', picture it being said by Gollum in L.O.T.R. and you would be close:-)

Modern people don't believe this kind of thing but I don't doubt it. (Does that make me a believer? I guess so.)
 
salima
 
Reply Fri 1 Jan, 2010 08:41 am
@Deckard,
i would have thought the demon speaking out and saying 'i know thee' was significant in the fact that he in fact recognized jesus as being whatever it is he was when other people didnt. demons are pretty smart, right? maybe that was how jesus knew it was a demon speaking and not the man he inhabited.

if i was reading this as a narration that is the way it would appear to me. and if i was thinking it to be anything else i wouldnt be reading it in the first place.

in other words, i am not reading the bible to debunk it...but i read things and try to see what they really mean, why they were written...what they reflect of reality. i try to be uncritical but inquisitive.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Fri 1 Jan, 2010 03:50 pm
@salima,
salima;116055 wrote:
i would have thought the demon speaking out and saying 'i know thee' was significant in the fact that he in fact recognized jesus as being whatever it is he was when other people didnt. demons are pretty smart, right? maybe that was how jesus knew it was a demon speaking and not the man he inhabited.

if i was reading this as a narration that is the way it would appear to me. and if i was thinking it to be anything else i wouldnt be reading it in the first place.

in other words, i am not reading the bible to debunk it...but i read things and try to see what they really mean, why they were written...what they reflect of reality. i try to be uncritical but inquisitive.


I'm not sure what sort of line you are drawing between "debunking" and being "uncritical but inquisitive" but I'm pretty sure that I will cross it. Perhaps Jesus is the demon, or in any case evil, and the dissenter in the crowd was the only one who recognized it. Everyone else was mesmerized by this thing called "authority".
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 1 Jan, 2010 04:29 pm
@Deckard,
Now why would you think that Jesus was an evil demon? How is this more likely than the prima facie interpretation of Jesus casting out demons?
 
Deckard
 
Reply Fri 1 Jan, 2010 05:04 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;116149 wrote:
Now why would you think that Jesus was an evil demon? How is this more likely than the prima facie interpretation of Jesus casting out demons?


The dissenter in the crowd didn't take the scene at face value either. Hmmm...maybe I am possessed by evil. Mark 1:27 is just the type of verse that was later read at inquisitions and witch burnings.

Maybe if I knew exactly what Jesus was teaching in Capernaum that day I would be better able to decide regarding its authority but this information is conveniently left out of the account and I think this was on purpose because the first chapter of Mark is only about establishing authority for authority's sake, just raw baseless authority. Sure we find out later in Mark the type of things he said but only after we are sufficiently cowed and only after all dissenters have been exorcised.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 1 Jan, 2010 05:56 pm
@Deckard,
the question of 'authority' is extremely important, I agree. But I even though I don't go to Church or read the Bible, I am very defensive about Jesus, for some reason. I think it is my cultural heritage. I can't think anything ill of him whatever. Whatever bad has come out of Christianity, and there has been plenty, has been the work of followers.

On a more academic note, I recommend Beyond Belief by Elaine Pagels, which is especially relevant to understanding the nature of authority in the early church. Another that I have only read excerpts from, but which looks very good indeed on this very question, is When Jesus became God by Richard E. Rubenstein.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Fri 1 Jan, 2010 06:39 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;116169 wrote:
the question of 'authority' is extremely important, I agree. But I even though I don't go to Church or read the Bible, I am very defensive about Jesus, for some reason. I think it is my cultural heritage. I can't think anything ill of him whatever. Whatever bad has come out of Christianity, and there has been plenty, has been the work of followers.


I am no enemy of Jesus. I am a bit defensive of Jesus as well in most cases but I have problems with some verses like this one. The authority bit is one of the stumbling stones for me. I have anarchist tendencies so verse like this stick in my craw.

One day when I was driving back from the grocery store, thinking anarchist thoughts about kings and governments it occurred to me that the only king I would be willing to bow to would be one that laid down his/her life for me. My heart swelled up and I even shed a few tears of joy about it. I suppose bowing to a king is bowing to his/her authority. The authority that I recognize, the authority bought at Calvary could be applied retroactively to Mark 1. I don't know.
 
salima
 
Reply Fri 1 Jan, 2010 07:10 pm
@Deckard,
hi deckard-
i dont have problems with any of the verses, because i know most of them are unreliable so what does it matter? it is using certain ones to enforce particular beliefs that serve elite groups that used to enrage me. (i dont get angry much any more.) but there could be so many ways of interpreting the verse, and in general i look for a positive meaning than a bad one.

i could go through the bible and say 'here is why these words were written, so that they could be used for such and such a ...oh, that is what you meant then? ...

i think it is important when trying to find any meaning in the biblical or any scriptural writings, it is important to try and dissociate oneself from the harm they have been used for, and you are finding better meanings on your own. if you are thinking that someone like you would be burned at the stake by the hierarchy in the church, (and someone like me would as well) that is most likely true, but why think that way?

so if any doubts plague a person, they are easily resolved...
 
Deckard
 
Reply Fri 1 Jan, 2010 07:30 pm
@salima,
salima;116185 wrote:
hi deckard-
i dont have problems with any of the verses, because i know most of them are unreliable so what does it matter? it is using certain ones to enforce particular beliefs that serve elite groups that used to enrage me. (i dont get angry much any more.) but there could be so many ways of interpreting the verse, and in general i look for a positive meaning than a bad one.

i could go through the bible and say 'here is why these words were written, so that they could be used for such and such a ...oh, that is what you meant then? ...

i think it is important when trying to find any meaning in the biblical or any scriptural writings, it is important to try and dissociate oneself from the harm they have been used for, and you are finding better meanings on your own. if you are thinking that someone like you would be burned at the stake by the hierarchy in the church, (and someone like me would as well) that is most likely true, but why think that way?

so if any doubts plague a person, they are easily resolved...


In enjoy talking and thinking about verses. I'm not sure why. I generally focus on the ones that confuse or annoy me. There are many positive verses as well. Maybe next time I'll pick one I agree with completely. I think I'll start a new thread asking "What is authority?" That is the question that is at the bottom of this thread.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Fri 1 Jan, 2010 10:18 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;116141 wrote:
Perhaps Jesus is the demon, or in any case evil, and the dissenter in the crowd was the only one who recognized it. Everyone else was mesmerized by this thing called "authority".
The dissenter in the crowd was possessed. That might translate into modern language as delusional or schizophrenic. Maybe the whole scene is somebody's psychotic episode and the figure of Jesus arises as a desperate measure to regain sanity.

Jeeprs: I feel protective of Abraham Lincoln... don't know why exactly, but it hurts my feelings if people disparage him. At the same time I feel I should get over it. And yet I don't.

But anyway... there is something kind of freaky about someone speaking from personal authority. It's an aspect of Protestants: that they feel they need no priest... they believe that every person has a direct connection to God. Thus we have the strange case of the man (some subsection of the Mormons) who realized that God wanted him to kill his wife. In his community such connections to God were to be honored. So the guy talks to his brothers about it and manages to convince them. And there you have it.

My most recent case of being freaked out by this type of thing was when George W. Bush announced that Iraq was an immediate threat. When asked by the press to explain more about that, he said: "You're just going to have to trust me." I was driving in my car at the time and I had to pull over to the side of the road and contemplate this: You're just going to have to trust me. What.... the.... I was just a tad profoundly confused that day. I could blab on about this sort of thing... maybe later. Happy New Years Day!!!
 
salima
 
Reply Sat 2 Jan, 2010 03:13 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;116217 wrote:


But anyway... there is something kind of freaky about someone speaking from personal authority. It's an aspect of Protestants: that they feel they need no priest... they believe that every person has a direct connection to God. Thus we have the strange case of the man (some subsection of the Mormons) who realized that God wanted him to kill his wife. In his community such connections to God were to be honored. So the guy talks to his brothers about it and manages to convince them. And there you have it.

My most recent case of being freaked out by this type of thing was when George W. Bush announced that Iraq was an immediate threat. When asked by the press to explain more about that, he said: "You're just going to have to trust me." I was driving in my car at the time and I had to pull over to the side of the road and contemplate this: You're just going to have to trust me. What.... the.... I was just a tad profoundly confused that day. I could blab on about this sort of thing... maybe later. Happy New Years Day!!!


i know what you mean. that is what my eye doctor told me before the surgery because he wasnt prepared to answer my questions. i dont believe we should give anyone complete trust-not even ourselves.

i guess one could say authority is closely linked-no one has any authority over us unless we give it to him, and by doing that we have given complete trust. i think i managed that with my second husband, and it served a purpose at the time-it would be really great if we could do that when it was necessary. but later if you find out you were wrong, you can take back the trust and the authority and go on alone. i doubt if i would ever meet anyone i could trust completely again unless i was so out of control of my own faculties and knew it that anyone would be better off in charge than my own warped mind.. and that can always happen.

yes...there was a muslim recently who said Allah told him to marry his daughter and have a child with her and he did...dont know what was done about that. but in islam only Allah first and secondly the Prophets have the authority, so it wasnt allowed or condoned. yes, i also believe the only connection anyone should have with a god if they believe in one is between the person and his god-but at the same time, society has to have concensus on certain things that are simply not tolerated no matter whose god says it is ok.

whenever someone says 'you will just have to trust me'...and i have heard that so many times in my life...they become the last i would ever trust.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sat 2 Jan, 2010 04:58 am
@Deckard,
I don't know. I trust the Government we have - as much as I need to anyway.

Spiritual authority - I bow to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, every day. I trust the teachings of the Buddha but the teaching says it is totally up to me how I conduct myself and what becomes of me as a result. I like it like that. If I was Christian, I would have to be a Disciple. I couldn't be a believer. I don't think there is any point in believing unless you're willing to walk the walk.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Sat 2 Jan, 2010 06:12 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;116254 wrote:
I don't know. I trust the Government we have - as much as I need to anyway.

Spiritual authority - I bow to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, every day. I trust the teachings of the Buddha but the teaching says it is totally up to me how I conduct myself and what becomes of me as a result. I like it like that. If I was Christian, I would have to be a Disciple. I couldn't be a believer. I don't think there is any point in believing unless you're willing to walk the walk.


Is trusting someone different from accepting someone's authority?
It is subtle but I think there is a difference. I think there is trust between equals, between friends. But accepting the authority of another is more unequal and patriarchal. (Etymology of "author" traces back to Old French "father" and then Latin "master, leader" etc.)

I think this may be getting to the heart of faith here though I don't have a very good idea what faith is so I can't be sure.

How important is authority to faith? Is there such thing as faith without authority?
 
 

 
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