Thursday, August 5, 2010

Another Hint that Marcion's Name is Related to the Name Mark

Kronholm (Motifs from Genesis 1-11 in the genuine hymns of Ephrem the Syrian with particular reference to the influence of Jewish exegetical tradition, LiberLäromedel/Gleerup, 1978) notices an interesting play on words in Ephrem's refutation of Marcion. He writes that according to Ephrem:

Marcion is entirely a child and servant of the Evil One (eg CH 1.9 - 18; XXXII,2). Playing on the name of Marcion, Ephrem remarks that the Evil One 'polished Marcion intensely' (lmrqywn [MSS AE mrqywn] mrq 'sgy, CH 2, 1 - 4]

The full citation in Ephrem is "Marcion he polished so much as to make him rusty. He scoured him to the point of blunting his mind with blasphemy." The play on words is between Marqion and maroq "to polish, to finish, to perfect."

I remind my readers what my teacher Ruairidh Boid always emphasized to about the name Mark. He noted that although Mark is a personal name in Latin and Greek, an Aramaic-speaker would have taken it as a TITLE if it had been useful to do so. The Samaritan Targum translates Sh-L-M as maroq or mirroq, this definitely doesn’t mean that the Samaritans would have expected to use either of these two specific forms as a name or a title. These two forms are only the infinitives of the root M-R-Q, and the form marqa would have been felt as the ABSTRACT NOUN from the same root. As for speakers of what is attested in Jewish Palestinian Aramaic, and Jewish and Samaritan speakers of Hebrew, they would have felt the form marqa to be the abstract noun from the root M-R-Q meaning in legal usage “signed, sealed, and delivered”.

None of the extant Jewish Targums use this word in this place, but the LXX has a translation that looks like the equivalent, which means there was probably once a Jewish Targum with this form. Besides, how else can you explain why it is that the massively important figure Mårqe is not known to us by his Hebrew or Aramaic personal name? So” John Mark” would be a personal name followed by a title. As for the importance of the name John (Yohanan “the Lord is gracious”) here is a plausible route back to the Torah. Note the words “Grace and Truth” right at the start of John’s Gospel, and note that what is meant is that the insight once limited to Moses will be accessible to everyone, the reference being to Exodus XXXIV: 6 IN ITS CONTEXT.

The words “Grace upon Grace”don’t mean, as the Evangelicals think, “lots and lots of grace”. They mean Grace on top of Grace or Grace in addition to Grace, i.e the universal awareness of grace going beyond the awareness once limited to Moses.

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