Historical Commentary on the Gospel of Mark
Chapter 5
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Mark 5:1-20
1: They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Ger'asenes. 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 Decap'olis how much Jesus had done for him; and all men marveled. 

NOTES
 
1: They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Ger'asenes.

v1: Gerasenes. In some manuscripts Gadarenes, and others Gergasenes. Gerasa is thirty miles from the Sea of Galilee, and thus the idea of pigs galloping all those miles to toss themselves into the water is a bit of a stretch, even for a miracle. Consequently, this verse is "corrected" in many manuscripts to cities closer to the Sea of Galilee. Ched Myers (1988) observes:


"Throughout the Gospel Mark is far more interested in articulating geo-social "space" in terms of narrative symbolics than actual place names."(p188)

v1: Hedrick (1999), reviewing the story of Apollonius of Tyana by Philostratus, observes:


"What this analysis of Philostratus suggests is that Mark is employing a literary device used by other authors in the ancient world in order to expand the borders of his narrative beyond the specific events that he describes in detail. The summary statements create an impression of animation and movement in the narrative over broad geographic areas and general time frames. As literary devices they give the narrative an expanded setting and lengthened time frame."(p142) 


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.

v2-5: Gundry (1993, p258) also identifies a number of commonalities with the LXX version of Isa 65:1-7, which includes pigs, demons, tombs, mountains, and an attempt to keep others away. There are even similarities in the Greek. Our modern version, which is slightly different, runs:


1 "I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, 'Here am I, here am I.' 2 All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations- 3 a people who continually provoke me to my very face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on altars of brick; 4 who sit among the graves and spend their nights keeping secret vigil; who eat the flesh of pigs, and whose pots hold broth of unclean meat; 5 who say, 'Keep away; don't come near me, for I am too sacred for you!' Such people are smoke in my nostrils, a fire that keeps burning all day. 6 "See, it stands written before me: I will not keep silent but will pay back in full; I will pay it back into their laps- 7 both your sins and the sins of your fathers," says the LORD . "Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains and defied me on the hills, I will measure into their laps the full payment for their former deeds." (NIV)


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."


v7-10: Josephus reports in Book Eight of Antiquities of the Jews:


"...I have seen a certain man of my own country, whose name was Eleazar, releasing people that were demoniacal in the presence of Vespasian, and his sons, and his captains, and the whole multitude of his soldiers. The manner of the cure was this: He put a ring that had a Foot of one of those sorts mentioned by Solomon to the nostrils of the demoniac, after which he drew out the demon through his nostrils; and when the man fell down immediately, he abjured him to return into him no more, making still mention of Solomon, and reciting the incantations which he composed. And when Eleazar would persuade and demonstrate to the spectators that he had such a power, he set a little way off a cup or basin full of water, and commanded the demon, as he went out of the man, to overturn it, and thereby to let the spectators know that he had left the man..."

8: For he had said to him, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!"


v8: the Greek is "difficult." The RSV has chosen the simplest version here, but it should read, more correctly, "for he had been about to say to the man," or something similar rather than "for he had said" (Donahue and Harrington 2002, p165). The RSV's approach is preferred by many pious translators because the Greek may make it appear that Jesus has hitherto been unsuccessful in getting the demon to leave, implying that there are limitations to Jesus' power.

9: And Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" He replied, "My name is Legion; for we are many."


v9: Jesus is presented in this pericope as a typical magic worker of the day. Hoskyns and Davey (1931) note:


Knowledge of a name was commonly considered by the ancients to give power over its owner, and a formula for exorcism in the great Magical Papyrus of Paris leaves a space for the name of the devil who is to be cast out.

v9:  David Frankfurter (1987) writes:


"Apocalyptic demonology had great implications for an eschatological view of the cosmos: people with such a view understood the evils of the present both in terms of God's destruction of evil in the imminent future, and in terms of the origins of these evils in the distant past. Demons were not just annoying poltergeists, but part and parcel of the eschatological army of Satan. The Christian gospels bear traces of an apocalyptic demonology: for example, the demon's name "Legion" has an obviously military significance (Mk 5:9b & par); and Jesus' threat to call down twelve legions of angels to defend him shows the military preparation of the angelic side (Mt 26:53)."

20: And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decap'olis how much Jesus had done for him; and all men marveled.


v20: Decapolis: a group of ten city states east of Samaria and Galilee: Damascus, Philadelphia, Raphana, Scythopolis, Gadara, Hippos, Dion, Pella, Gerasa, and Canatha, according to Pliny the Elder. This is probably the first time the  word "Decapolis" occurs in ancient literature (Meier 1994, p653), depending on how the Gospel of Mark is dated.

Historical Commentary 

This pericope is obviously unhistorical, containing several miracles and certain geographic absurdities. "The country of the Gerasenes" is thirty miles from the Sea of Galilee, not directly adjacent. However, Gundry (1993, p256) suggests that this may refer to the modern town of Kursi, which sounds a bit like Gergasa. The miraculous aspects of this story rule it out as a historical event. It contains numerous Markan themes and motifs -- boats, the shore, crowds, and crowds amazed at Jesus' powers. And most miraculously, in v15 the demoniac shows up dressed and ready to go. Where did the clothing come from? Must be a miracle! 

A number of other possible sources have been suggested. Macdonald (2000) argues that this scene is based on the story of Polyphemus the one-eyed giant from the Odyssey (summarized on this site) and the story of Circe, who turns Odysseus' men into pigs. 

Many New Testament scholars see a reference to a Roman legion occupying Palestine, either Legio 1 Italica, which had as its legionary standard a boar and was in the east in around 67, or more likely Legio X Fretensis, which had among its standards a bull, a tireme, a dolphin, and a boar, and was responsible for occupying Jerusalem after the Jewish War (ended 70 CE), staying  into the fourth century. After 70 it was stationed in Gerasa for a while (Winter 1974, p180-181). Against this interpretation is the fact that Gerasa is in Gentile rather than Jewish territory, where the legion would not have been viewed so negatively (Donahue and Harrington 2002, p166). However, in the second century Legio X was made the sole occupying legion of "Syria Palestina" (Hadrian's abusive name for the Jewish homeland), so a later date for Mark might be indicated. In addition to the symbol of the pig itself, Myers (1988, p191) points out that this pericope is saturated with military terminology.  The term agele that the writer uses for a "herd" of pigs is often used to denote a gaggle of new recruits for the military, the Greek term epetrepsen ("he dismissed them") echoes a military command, and the pigs' charge (ormesen) into the lake sounds like a military attack. 

Cliff Carrington in his Flavian Testament has also pointed out some parallels between this and a passage in Josephus, where Jewish rebels, led by a rebel named Jesus (son of Shaphat), are chased into the nearby lake and killed by Titus' army. Myers (1988, p191) also sees possible Josephean parallels, with both War 4.9.1, and Antiquities 14.15.10. Joseph Atwill (2005) who in a forthcoming book uncovers a number of resonances between the fighting around Gadara and this passage, observes:


"In the Gadara passage in War of the Jews Josephus tells us the number of prisoners taken captive: ‘There were besides two thousand and two hundred taken prisoners’ Josephus also informs us that, ‘ A mighty prey was taken also, consisting of Asses, and sheep, and camels, and oxen’. Notice that there were no swine taken."(p49)

At the general level, enemy soldiers killed by drowning recalls the fate of Pharaoh's army in the Red Sea.

The structure of the pericope is laid out below:


A
They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Ger'asenes.

B
And when he had come out of the boat, there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who lived among the tombs; and no one could bind him any more, even with a chain;


C
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. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out, and bruising himself with stones.



D
And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped him;




E
 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."





F
For he had said to him, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!"






G
And Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"







H
A
He replied, "My name is Legion; for we are many."








B
And he begged him eagerly not to send them out of the country.







H
A
Now a great herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside;








B
and they begged him, "Send us to the swine, let us enter them."






G
So he gave them leave.





F
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.




E
The herdsmen fled, and told it in the city and in the country.



D
And people came to see what it was that had happened. 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. And those who had seen it told what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine.


C
And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their neighborhood. And as he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 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."

B
And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decap'olis how much Jesus had done for him; and all men marveled.
A
And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side,

Whatever its source, nothing in this pericope supports historicity.
 


Mark 5:21-43
21: And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat 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, Ja'irus 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, "Tal'itha cu'mi"; 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. 

NOTES 
21: And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him; and he was beside the sea.

v21: back on the other side, Jesus is now in Jewish territory again. In Mark the Sea of Galilee functions as a symbolic boundary between the Jews and the Gentiles in some interpretations of the gospel. In a classic study in 1963, Bornkamm argued that the boat in Mark represented the Church (the ship on the sea was a symbol of the Church among primitive Christians and is used even today in the logo of the World Council of Churches) (Myers 1988, p230). This bringing together of Gentiles and Jews under the dominion of Jesus is a strong Pauline theme refracted in Mark through the boat trips across the Sea of Galilee.

22: Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Ja'irus by name; and seeing him, he fell at his feet,

v22: Jairus' name means "He will awaken/enlighten," another clue as to the constructed nature of this miracle. Against this Meier (1994, p783, p847n44) argues that this name is well-attested in the OT, in Josephus, and elsewhere. Unfortunately the historical existence of the name "Jairus" is not an argument against the writer's construction of it here.

v22: Steve Carr (2004) points out:


"One of the rulers of the synagogue." Diaspora synagogues may sometimes have had more than ruler, as at Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:15), but Palestinian synagogues normally had only one. Matthew 9:18, drops this phrase.

25: And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years,


v25: Although the bleeding is traditionally seen as vaginal, the writer does not explicitly say so.

v25: the flow of blood recalls Lev 12:7


He shall offer them before the LORD to make atonement for her, and then she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood. (NIV)

v25: the writer increases the misery of the woman by noting that she has spent all her money, suffered under the care of many doctors, and yet has grown worse over the years.

v25: William Loader (2004) points out that the woman, in a state of permanent ritual uncleanness, is as dead socially as the young girl is physically. 

 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.


v27: Crispin Fletcher-Louis (2003) notes that in recent years exegetes have argued that the underlying concept here is still one of contagion, but one that flows not from impurity to purity, but one in which Jesus communicates purity the way an unclean person contaminates, through contagious contact. Arguing that Jesus is being represented as a High Priest in this way in Mark, Fletcher-Louis notes that there are several biblical precedents for such an outflow of holiness, include some where garments communicate holiness. These include Ezekiel 44:19, where, speaking of the way the High Priests should behave, the text directs the priests:


And when they go out into the outer court to the people, they shall put off the garments in which they have been ministering, and lay them in the holy chambers; and they shall put on other garments, lest they communicate holiness to the people with their garments.(RSV)

Similarly, Leviticus 21:10-12 offers:


10: "The priest who is chief among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil is poured, and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not let the hair of his head hang loose, nor rend his clothes;
11: he shall not go in to any dead body, nor defile himself, even for his father or for his mother;
12: neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: I am the LORD.

Here the priests are anointed with oil and consecrated to wear the priestly vestments. In Exodus 30:29, God instructs Moses that whatever is consecrated with the oil of holiness will communicate holiness to anything it touches. Clearly, Fletcher-Louis argues, there are biblical precedents for a belief that garments could communicate holiness like a contagion, if worn by a consecrated priest. Additionally, he observers, in the Wisdom of Solomon (which may also lie behind the Gospel of Mark), Aaron rushes out of the sanctuary to stop a plague of death on Israel that God has sent. The text makes clear that the Power lies on the word written on Aaron's robes (Fletcher-Louis 2003, p34-7). Recall that earlier in Mark 1:21-28, the demon addressed Jesus as "Holy One of God," a form of address used for Aaron.  The writer of Mark is presenting Jesus as High priest here, in the way he does later in the work when he compares him to Simon Maccabaeus.

v27: Jack Poirier (2005) writes:


Few scholars are aware of the fact that [Isaiah 61] was apparently associated, in the minds of apocalyptically minded Jews, with the endtime appearance of Elijah. There is, in fact, a very good (that is, by contemporary standards) exegetical basis for this belief: Isaiah 61 speaks, in the first person, of an "anointed" figure whose activities seem to suggest that he is prophet. Jews who knew their Bible well will have known that only two prophets in Scripture were said to be anointed: Elijah and Elisha. While the offices of king and priest were signified by an anointing, the office of prophet was not. This fact, combined with the anointing of Elijah and Elisha, led to the popular belief that Elijah was also a priest. He was, moreover, the priestly messiah, made famous in our day by the Dead Sea scrolls. Marks of Elijah's priesthood appear all over the traditions of his endtime reappearance.

31: And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, `Who touched me?'"


v31: Markan redaction containing the constant theme of disciples not really getting what is going on.

34: And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."


v34: Go in peace. Found in many places in the OT.

v34: while just a moment ago, in 4:40, Jesus has rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith, here the woman is applauded for her faith.

v34: Although the Markan Jesus is often described by exegetes as annulling purity laws, Haber (2003) observes:


"After telling the woman that she has been made well because of her faith, Jesus immediately tells her to be healed. The statement is best understood against the background of Jewish purity law and its distinction, in the case of the zabah, between the cessation of the bloodflow, healing and purification. In accordance with Lev. 15.28-30, the cessation of the blood flow is the first indication of a cure, but healing can only be verified after the counting of seven days. It is only after this specified period of time that a woman is considered completely healed from her disease and thereby undergoes the purification procedure. Jesus' final words to the woman allude to the purity laws and present Jesus as advocating their observance. Now that her faith has effected a reversal of her condition, she should count her seven days, verify that she is healed and undergo the appropriate purification rites. The audience, being familiar with the purity laws, would pick up on the allusion to Lev. 15. They would also recall that earlier in Mark’s narrative, the leper healed by Jesus was given similar, albeit more explicit instructions, to present himself to the priest for the appropriate cleansing and purification rites (1.44).(p183-4)


37: And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James.

v37: the reason these three in particular accompany Jesus will not become apparent until Mark 9:10.

9: And when he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping."


v39: "sleeping" is common in the NT as a euphemism for death; for example, 1 Thess 4:14-5

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.


v40: this is the only miracle story where Christ is portrayed "as bouncer" (Meier 1994, p787). Matthew and Luke both deleted that.


41: Taking her by the hand he said to her, "Tal'itha cu'mi"; which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise."


v41: "Arise." the Greek verb egeirein is the verb typically used to depict resurrection from death (Mark 6:14, 16; Matthew 11:5; Luke 7:14) and Jesus' own resurrection (Mark 16:6; Matthew 28:6; Luke 24:6). See also the raising of Peter's mother-in-law in Mark 1.

v41: "Talitha cumi." The phrase is Aramaic. It may well be simply a foreign word of power, much like the way today's Harry Potter novels use Latin.


42: And immediately the girl got up and walked (she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.


v42: The RSV does not do a good job capturing the exact wording of this verse, which is taken from the Septaugint version of a healing by Elijah in 4 Kings, which the writer of Mark is paralleling. In the Elijah tale the mother is "ecstatic with all this ecstasy" while similarly, in Mark, the parents are "ecstatic with great ecstasy." The YLT captures the doublet more accurately in translation.


And immediately the damsel arose, and was walking, for she was twelve years [old]; and they were amazed with a great amazement, (YLT).

v42: the girl's age and the woman's age, both twelve years, in some interpretive schemes represent the 12 Tribes of Israel, sick, near death, but ready to be re-energized by Jesus. 

43: And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.


v43: Markan redaction: motif of silence on Jesus' powers and identity. It may be that the command to give the child something to eat is a fairytale motif: it graphically demonstrates that Jesus has been successful in raising her back from the dead, and that she is not a ghost (ghosts cannot eat). Eating to prove one is not a ghost is a theme that recurs in John 21, which may be the missing ending of Mark. Gundry (1993, 276-7) who believes that this event actually occurred, argues that the command to eat was meant to buy time for Jesus to slip away. How? For he has already implied in v39 that he will wake the dead, so it is implausible that the mourners would simply let him slip out without questioning him.

Historical Commentary
 The structure of this pericope is classic Markan structure, with the story of the woman with bloody hemorrhage sandwiched between the account of Mark's raising of the daughter of Jairus. The writer of Mark has linked the two women by referring to both as "daughter," and by the woman's bleeding for twelve years connecting to the girl's age of 12 years. The girl has already died, while the woman is getting worse, with the implication that she will die.

Miracles do not occur; both stories are fictional. In addition to being miraculous, evidence of OT creation abounds in the resurrection account. Mark has created the raising of Jairus' daughter out of the Elijah-Elisha Cycle: 


Mark 5:21-43 2 Kings 4:8-37
synagogue ruler falls at Jesus' feet woman grasps Elisha's feet
only daughter is dying only son is dying
word reaches Jesus the child is dead word reaches Elisha the child is dead
only a few disciples follow Jesus to see miracle Elisha alone with child
Jesus touches child and it awakens Elisha touches child and it awakens
parents are ecstatic with great ecstasy mother is ecstatic with all this ecstasy (IV Kgs LXX)

The final parallel, a direct citation of the OT, is the writer's pointer to the source of the story. The healing of the hemmorrhaging woman also contains typical miracle motifs, including information that the woman had been sick for a long time, and that doctors could not help her. Such information is common in modern tales of miraculous healings as well.

Funk et al (1997) point out that the words in the two pericopes here in Mk 5 are not sayings, are unmemorable, and probably would not have been preserved in any oral tradition of these stories. Hence, the words cannot be traced back to Jesus either.

From the literary point of view, the writer contrasts the faith that brought about cures in Mark 5, with the faithlessness and fear of the disciples in the boat in the last pericope in Mark 4.

Numbers 5:1-2 directs:


1: The LORD said to Moses, 2 "Command the Israelites to send away from the camp anyone who has an infectious skin disease or a discharge of any kind, or who is ceremonially unclean because of a dead body.

Note how in Mk 1:40-45 Jesus heals a "leper" (skin disease) and then in Mk 5:21-43 Jesus heals a woman with a discharge, followed by the raising of a dead girl (ceremonially unclean due to contact with a dead body). Robert Price (2004) observes of concordances between the Gospel narratives and the Old Testament like this:


"Earlier scholars (e.g., John Wick Bowman), as many today (e.g., J. Duncan M. Derrett), saw gospel echoes of the ancient scriptures in secondary coloring here or redactional juxtaposition of traditional Jesus stories there. But the more recent scrutiny of John Dominic Crossan, Randel Helms, Dale and Patricia Miller, and Thomas L. Brodie has made it inescapably clear that virtually the entirety of the gospel narratives and much of the Acts are wholly the product of haggadic midrash upon previous scripture." 

The chiastic structure of this pericope is actually quite simple.


A
And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him; and he was beside the sea.

B
Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Ja'irus by name; and seeing him, he fell at his feet, 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."


C
And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.



D
And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment




E
.For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well."




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F
And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.






G
And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, "Who touched my garments?"







H
And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, `Who touched me?'"








I
And he looked around to see who had done it.









J
A
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.










B
And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."









J
A
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?"










B
But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe."








I
And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James.







H
When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly.






G
And when he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping."





F
And they laughed at him.




E
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.



D
Taking her by the hand he said to her, "Tal'itha cu'mi"; which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise."


C
And immediately the girl got up and walked (she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.

B
And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
A
He went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him.

Due to the presence of Markan invention, creation off of the OT, and the supernatural, nothing in this pericope supports the historicity of the story.


Excursus: Literary Structures in Mark

Introduction

The writer of Mark was a skilled literary artist who was capable of creating marvelously complex and beautiful literary structures that have delighted his readers for twenty centuries. Here are a few of the literary habits scholars have mapped out:

Fast Moving, Detailed Narratives
Many exegetes have noted the details in Mark that humanize its characters and actions, and that move scenes along with great rapidity and power. Consider the Gerasene Demoniac of Mark 5:1-20, who broke all chains, and cut himself with stones. Jesus is irritated, angered, and moved by compassion. Rulers are pictured as indecisive, suspicious, even wracked by uncertainty. The writer of Mark brings the reader right into a scene and then moves through the action with great speed and power.

Repetition
One of the most distinctive features of Mark is the use of repetition at all levels. The writer repeats keywords, phrases, sentences, structures, even whole scenes. For example, in Mark 1:16-20 Jesus calls a pair of disciples, then calls another pair. In the next chapter the writer doubles this double call with the call of Levi in Mark 2:13-17, repeating the Greek of the previous disciple call. F. Neirynck has written an entire book, Duality, on this characteristic feature of the writer of Mark.

In addition to doublets, the writer is also fond of threefold patterns, and fivefold patterns. For example, Peter denies Jesus three times. Immediately after that, Pilate doubles this by offering Jesus to the crowd three times. Hanging on the cross, Jesus is mocked three times, by passers-by, the Temple authorities, and the robbers. Jesus makes three passion predictions, in chapters 8, 9, and 10. Three women watch Jesus from a distance. Fivefold patterns are also common. There are five conflict stories, doubled. There are five healings, also doubled. In Mark 15 Vernon Robbins has identified five different identifications or allusions to Jesus in his kingly role.

Framing
Throughout Mark events and stories are sandwiched inside other events and stories, a practice called "framing" or "intercalating." Another term often encountered is "chiasm." These techniques were common in antiquity and used by great writers from Homer on. Famous intercalations in Mark include the passage above, the Temple Cleansing (Mark 11:15-19), intercalated between the two ends of the Cursing of the Fig Tree (Mark 11:12-14), and the Healing of the Bleeding Woman, which is sandwiched between the two parts of the Raising of Jairus' Daughter (Mark 5:21-43). A number of scholars, such as Edwards (1999), argue that these framing or sandwich techniques exist to call attention to important theological themes in Mark.

Patterns of framing work in a similar way. The healing of the paralytic above begins a sequence of five conflict stories, that begins and ends with a healing based on a story from the Book of Kings (ending with the man with the withered arm, Mark 3:1-6).

These framing patterns, argues Tom Shepard (1995), are meant as a form of "dramatized irony."

As you read the Gospel of Mark, pay close attention to the way words and ideas are repeated and structured to shape the way the reader and listener experiences the Gospel of Mark.


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