Sunday, September 4, 2011

Thinking About Baarda's Proposed Reconstruction of Mark 9:49

I just got in from my flight home but I find it very important to see that at least according to Baarda's proposal the 'baptism by fire' immediately precedes Secret Mark's 'mystery of the kingdom of God' by a handful of lines.  We begin with:

For everyone will be baptized by fire,

The Alexandrian and Western text have two remarkably different reading which have been conflated in the Byzantine text. The opening words of this verse have been transmitted in three principal forms: (1) πᾶς γὰρ πυρὶ ἁλισθήσεται (B L Δ f 1 f 13 syrs copsa al, “For every one will be salted with fire”); (2) πᾶσα γὰρ θυσία ἁλὶ ἁλισθήσεται (D itb, c, d, ff2, i, “For every sacrifice will be salted with salt”); and (3) πᾶς γὰρ πυρὶ ἁλισθήσεται καὶ πᾶσα θυσία ἁλὶ ἁλισθήσεται (A K Π al, “For every one will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be salted with salt”). The history of the text seems to have been as follows. At a very early period a scribe, having found in Lev 2.13 a clue to the meaning of Jesus’ enigmatic statement, wrote the Old Testament passage in the margin of his copy of Mark. In subsequent copyings the marginal gloss was either substituted for the words of the text, thus creating reading (2), or was added to the text, thus creating reading (3). Other modifications include πυρὶ ἀναλωθήσεται (Θ, “… will be consumed with fire …”), θυσία ἀναλωθήσεται (Ψ, “… sacrifice will be consumed …”), ἐν πυρὶ δοκιμασθήσεται (1195, “… will be tested by fire …”), and πᾶσα δὲ οὐσία ἀναλωθήσεται (implied by itk, “and all [their] substance will be destroyed,” ο being read for θ, and αναλω for αλιαλις).

The point then is that if Baarda is correct the original form of the text has been lost or obscured by the variety of other readings. Sacrifices were slaughtered, salted and then placed in fire in the Jewish temple. This must have explained to the original readers of Mark was going on during the initiation into the mystery of the kingdom of God. More on that later ...

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