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Mark chapter 4, verses 10 thru12 ??? #297925 08/22/08 11:53 AM
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Aunt B Offline OP
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In Mark's chapter 4, after the parable about sowing the seed along the path, on rocky ground, among the thorns, and on good soil, he writes:

And when He was alone, those who were about Him with the twelve asked Him concerning the parables. and He said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables; so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven."

Can someone explain the words I've put in bold print, especially the underlined words?

Re: Mark chapter 4, verses 10 thru12 ??? [Re: Aunt B] #297930 08/22/08 02:10 PM
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Hieromonk Elias Offline
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Dear, in Christ, Aunt B,

I wish I could explain the words of Mark 4. Aren't they extraordinary? I don’t really understand it, but as a ‘discussion starter’ may I share a few thoughts?

Certainly the Lord came as man, to reveal the love of God, and universally announce the Word. How can God be deliberately obtuse, choose to exclude some, or hide the mystery making it deliberately beyond our grasp?

I think our Savior might be speaking to several issues.

There were those among his hearers who embraced the Word, and those who rejected it (following on the meaning of the parable of the ‘sower’). In the early Church too, when Mark was assembling this Gospel in its final form, the apostles were dealing with this same reality (some embrace the faith, while others reject it). In fact, this is something we know in our own experience today. Why doesn't everyone rush to worship the Lord, embrace his message of life, and submit themselves to God? Why doesn't everyone confess Christ, and accept forgiveness and reconciliation to the Father?

We have our spiritual senses, like our physical ones. It is with spiritual ears that we hear the Word of God in such a way as to understand its sublime meaning. We have spiritual eyes, with which to see the Lord. These are God's gifts (as real as our physical senses) by which we come to know the mysteries of the spiritual.

If we study these questions with natural reason, skeptical scholarship, scientific analysis (all worthy disciplines) we will fall short of the true answers the Lord wants us to grasp. It is the spiritual senses, informed by faith, driven by hope, and conformed to perfect charity, which enable us to see the truth of the Word. We can choose to give ourselves over to him, to submit ourselves to him. God himself accomplishes our conversion (our turning again) and the forgiveness of our sins. He gives real purity of heart, so that we might know the forgiveness of sins, and the vision of Light. It is the forgiveness of sins and the gift of grace that perfects the spiritual senses, making the message clearer and God's intention more transparent.

In the time of Christ, at the preaching of the Apostles, and in the Church of our own time, we struggle with the painful truth that the Gospel is not yet universally accepted. There are even those who have heard of it, seen it, and yet reject it in the hardness of their hearts.

It must have pained our Savior, puzzled the Apostles. It troubles us even now, that there are those who, having been offered the free gift of salvation and reconciliation in Christ, finding themselves unable to accept it.

So, we continue to preach and teach. We announce the message of God's universal invitation, and hope for the day when it receives a universal 'Amen', when everyone shall turn to God, forgiven in Christ.

I think Christ is preparing the Apostles for:

1. the nature of the ministry, where some accept, and others reject the preaching.

2. the beauty of the mystery, where those who are reconciled to God and live a virtuous life are shown more of the mystery, able to probe its depth and be initiated deeper into its meaning. (…to those who have, more will be given). While those who reject the Word, will find it ever more incomprehensible.

3. 'To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God.' We are entrusted with a great treasure, and we also have not exhausted its wonder. As the wise householder, we return to the store to take out something old and new, every time we turn to the Word, asking God to show us something more of himself.

4. 'those outside' are those who have heard and rejected (and so the sin is theirs). Or, they are those who have not yet heard (and the sin is ours).

Perhaps I have it wrong, and I'm sure there is not just one explanation of the text? Aunt B, may I ask if you have some explanation for Mark 4? Do you think there is something here I don't see?

the unworthy,
Elias

Re: Mark chapter 4, verses 10 thru12 ??? [Re: Hieromonk Elias] #297933 08/22/08 03:14 PM
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Paul B Offline
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Hieromonk Elias said:
Quote
If we study these questions with natural reason, skeptical scholarship, scientific analysis (all worthy disciplines) we will fall short of the true answers the Lord wants us to grasp. It is the spiritual senses, informed by faith, driven by hope, and conformed to perfect charity, which enable us to see the truth of the Word. We can choose to give ourselves over to him, to submit ourselves to him. God himself accomplishes our conversion (our turning again) and the forgiveness of our sins. He gives real purity of heart, so that we might know the forgiveness of sins, and the vision of Light. It is the forgiveness of sins and the gift of grace that perfects the spiritual senses, making the message clearer and God's intention more transparent.


Confirming Father Elias's thoughts, partially in this Sunday's epistle (15th Sunday after Pentecost) St Paul teaches us:

"But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest he light of the gospel of the golory of Christ who is the image of God, should shine on them." 2Cor 4:3-4 Then he says, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us." (verse 7)

God avails His Mercy to anyone who opens himself to it, but God respects our free will and won't force it upon us.

Fr. Deacon Paul

Re: Mark chapter 4, verses 10 thru12 ??? [Re: Paul B] #297941 08/22/08 06:37 PM
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theophan Offline
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Father Elias:

Father bless!!

Father Deacon Paul:

Thank you both for this exegesis on this passage. I haven't heard a better explanation of this portion of the Gospel treasure.

May the Lord continue to confirm you both in His Vineyard.

In Christ,

BOB

Re: Mark chapter 4, verses 10 thru12 ??? [Re: Aunt B] #297957 08/22/08 10:51 PM
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Aunt B Offline OP
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Please, I still don't understand.

The word "lest" according to the dictionary is:
"for fear that —often used after an expression denoting fear or apprehension <worried lest she should be late><hesitant to speak out lest he be fired>"

That would mean that Our Lord was saying "but for those outside everything is in parables; so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; for fear that they should turn again, and be forgiven."

Is He saying that those other than the twelve are taught in short stories or examples so that they may see but not percieve and hear but not understand for fear that they should amend their lives (turn again) and be forgiven. That's how it reads to me, but it sounds so strange.




Re: Mark chapter 4, verses 10 thru12 ??? [Re: Aunt B] #297968 08/23/08 03:11 AM
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Paul B Offline
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Aunt B,

Your question is a good one. The commentary that I read skirts your question, amplifying Isaiah, which you probably already read.

I'm not a Bible scholar, and if my answer should be wanting, I gladly defer to anyone who may have a more accurate answer. Anyway, here is my humbly understanding as to why the parables are incomprehensible to the crowd, AND, may I add, to the twelve Apostles (until Jesus explains it.)

First, recall in various incidences that Jesus asks some of the healed people to keep it a secret (Mt 8:4) and that in MK 1:25 when the unclean spirit said "I know who you are Son of God!" Jesus commanded him to be silent. Why didn't He let it be known that He was God? He also had Pilate befuddled at his "hearing" before His crucifixion; Pilate seemed to want to free Jesus, but Jesus would not defend Himself.

Now, contemplate what would have happened if there had been a mass conversion of the Jews. There would have been no crucifixion -- and NO REDEMPTION! God's plan of Redemption would not have been completed, so there would be no Resurrection.
It was the role of the Holy Spirit to enlighten minds AFTER God's plan of Redemption was completed.

That is why we don't question God's will for us; our finite intelligence is lacking. It's accepting God's graces and obediently accepting His Will that brings us peace. Indeed the saying "Ignorance is bliss" is sometimes a sign of wisdom.

Humbly,
Fr. Deacon Paul


Re: Mark chapter 4, verses 10 thru12 ??? [Re: Paul B] #297979 08/23/08 11:04 AM
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Aunt B Offline OP
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Thank you Deacon Paul - yes, now I understand.

You have truly been blessed to share this insight. You've given me much to contemplate.

Re: Mark chapter 4, verses 10 thru12 ??? [Re: Aunt B] #297994 08/23/08 04:54 PM
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Paul B Offline
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Aunt B,
Thank you for your kind words; I will be gratefull if you thank me only with a prayer.

May the Holy Spirit continue to bless you with the graces bestowed by reading His Holy Scripture. And gratefullness to Hieromonk Elias for responding with his good insight.

Re: Mark chapter 4, verses 10 thru12 ??? [Re: Paul B] #298002 08/23/08 07:17 PM
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Here is what St. Augustine said in his Tractates on John, Tractate 112:

"Jesus ordinarily did not assume that his teaching would remain hidden. He expected it to be proclaimed openly and in every direction. Yet it is possible, in defensive circumstances, to utter something openly and yet veiled at the same time. Something may be said not strictly in secret, but in a secret way. Note that it was not in secret that Jesus said 'they may not indeed see but not perceive.' If this had not been spoken openly, there would have been no sense to the phrase 'not seeing.' The same hearer may not perceive the level on which something is spoken openly, yet on another level secretly understood. The very things which his detractors had heard without understanding were such as could not with justice or truth be turned into a criminal charge against him. As often as they tried by their questions to find something by which to accuse him, he gave them such replies as utterly confounded all their plots and left no ground for the calumnies they devised."

And St. Cyril of Alexandria said this in his "On the Gospel of Luke":

"Parables are word pictures not of visible things, but rather of things of the mind and the spirit. That which cannot be seen with the eyes of the body a parable will reveal to the eyes of the mind, informing the subtlety of the intellect by means of things perceivable by the senses, and as it were tangible."

Re: Mark chapter 4, verses 10 thru12 ??? [Re: Terry Bohannon] #298014 08/23/08 11:33 PM
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Aunt B Offline OP
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Thank you Elias, Paul, Bob, and Terry. Thank you all for taking the time to answer my questions. Indeed, I will remember you all to the Father.

Re: Mark chapter 4, verses 10 thru12 ??? [Re: Aunt B] #298021 08/24/08 03:26 AM
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It is kind of like the teaching of predestination.
As I have thought of it and see it, it is in relation to God's foreknowledge. He knows our response to divine grace and so for those whome he knows will not respond it is all hidden, to the elect it is revealed. Just a thought that maybe we can reflect and expand upon.
Stephanos I

Re: Mark chapter 4, verses 10 thru12 ??? [Re: Aunt B] #298699 09/02/08 03:57 AM
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Ray Kaliss Offline
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Originally Posted by Aunt B

And when He was alone, those who were about Him with the twelve asked Him concerning the parables. and He said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables; so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven."




Dear Aunt B...

Jesus is referring to a verse regarding a vision had by Isaiah. In Mark's gospel what Jesus said is shortened and Mark has paraphrased (taken some liberty) in the shortening. Mark is writing his gospels for Jews ... Jews commit scriptures to memory ... and so Mark need only indicate the passage ... and the entire passage in Isiah immediately comes to the Jewish mind.

So now go to Matthew 13:14 ... and you will find that Matthew gives more of what Jesus said.

Quote

Matthew 13:14

"With them the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which [prophey] says: 'You will listen and listen but never understand. You will look and look but never comprehend, (etc..)


Below is a typical English translation of the passage in Isaiah that Jesus is referring to. I will highlight the word 'least' because that is the word you are having trouble with.

Isaiah 6:9
Go .. and say ...
Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.
Make the heart of this people dull,
and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.


The word 'least' is a bad choice for modern readers.

Translators tend to follow what earlier translators have done. Very few translators disregard earlier translations and begin from scratch. That would be a lot of work and it would dismiss early translation work that had been done well. And so translators will follower earlier opinions unless they really see a reason to change a word or phrase from what eariler translators had figured.

In this case ... it appears that the word 'least' is a hold over from Old English (Victorian English). Our modern sense of the word 'least' is a negative one ... a kind of sense of 'God forbid it should happen'.

The meaning of 'least' in Old English is more like 'per-chance'. Or perhaps better it has a meaning of 'on the possibility that it happen'.

To the Jewish mind ... understanding .. took place in the heart. Someone who did not understand something was [dull / thick / fat] of heart. Someone who did understand - understood within his heart.

We today think of spiritual enlightenment as taking place in the head (intellect and brain) while they had the view that spiritual enlightenment and understanding took place within - the heart.

This passage of Isaiah comes on the heals of a vision where God placed hot coals to Isiah's lips (to purify them) and God asks "Whom shall I send to Israel to be my messenger?" and Isaiah replys "Here I am - send me." ... and so Isaiah will be sent to speak God's words to the people of Israel ... BUT ... God is telling Isaiah that no one will understand what he is saying at the time he is saying it. And so the prophet is sent to give the message of God - but - don't expect them to immediatly understand the message.

Allow me to paraphrase and expand in order to get the meaning across.

----begin paraphrase---
Go ... and say to them ...

You all have ears to listen with - but in listening - you hear it but you do not understand it.

You all have eyes to see with - but in seeing it (Isaiah speaking for God) you don't know what you are seeing.

So now Isaiah .. what I want you to do is ...
Declare this people's heart to be thick with fat.
And declare its ears to be heavy and dull.
And declare its eyes to be dazzled (blinded by the light like a deer in headlights)

UNTILL such time when they do see with their eyes, (know what they are seeing)
and do hear with their ears, (understand what they are hearing)
and their heart does consider and understand
and turn to me (their hearts turn to God)
and I forgive and heal them.
---end paraphrase ----

And so transpose the word 'least' with a though of "until such time .."

A parable is not a method to keep something hidden or secret. The 'secret' is the mental understanding of the parable. One can read or hear a parable and not understand it ... BUT ... it is remembered! And one day while it is being remembered the real understanding may dawn on you ("OH! ... NOW I get it!!") ... just as I hope it has come to you today. And so you see there is an advantage to speaking in parables in as much as they are very simple and memorable and if you don't understand them right way .. perhaps you may at some later time.

This seems to be the meaning of it all.A very interesting subject as it really does go to the heart of why Jesus spoke in parables to the public but took efforts to explain the understanding of the parables to the disciples.

Peace be to your church.
-ray

Re: Mark chapter 4, verses 10 thru12 ??? [Re: Ray Kaliss] #298770 09/02/08 11:37 PM
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Aunt B Offline OP
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Thank you Ray, you've given me soooooooooooooo much to think about.

Re: Mark chapter 4, verses 10 thru12 ??? [Re: Ray Kaliss] #298857 09/04/08 02:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Ray Kaliss
if you don't understand them right way .. perhaps you may at some later time.



I often get into trouble for this ..

I often use the word 'you' in a philosophical way - it was not directed at you personally but rather meaning .. anyone .. including myself smile

Peace to you Aunt B
-ray


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