Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tjitze Baarda Gives Us an Idea of What Really Happened in the Mystery of the Kingdom of God of Secret Mark

Tjitze Baarda is among the greatest living scholars today. I feel very honored to be mentioned in his latest article. Yet there was something Baarda wrote back in 1958 which has particular significance for our study of Secret Mark. He argues that Jesus makes reference to a 'baptism by fire' a chapter before the reference to Jesus teaching his disciple the mystery of divine kingship. I have long argued that the mystery was related to fire baptism. The material in question is found at the end of chapter 9 of the canonical gospel of Mark which reads:
If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched. Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.
Here is at least part of Baarda's 1958 article Mark ix.49 in JTS:
Perhaps it may not be very conclusive, but I wish to point to a curious coincidence: Matt. iii. 11 and Luke iii. 16 are the only NT passages, wherein baptism by fire is spoken of; in the same passages there is also mention of πῦρ ἀσβέστον, Matt iii.12 and Luke iii.17. which expression is not frequent in NT literature ; the only other instance is Mark ix. 43, cf. verse 48. It would indeed be remarkable, if in this last case the original Aramaic text spoke of a baptism by fire also. The solution given above dealt only with the possibility of a mishearing in the case of Mark ix. 49. This explanation seems to fail, when we have to assume a written source-text — and not an oral tradition — used by the translator in his composition of our Greek Mark. But now I wish to point to the fact that tbl sometimes also had the meaning 'to spice, to season' ... [various rabbinic texts are cited] ... It is true, these examples — a pi'el and a hif*il — are taken from post-Biblical Hebrew, and not from Aramaic; but they seem to be of Palestinian origin. We do not know very much about the vocabulary of Palestinian Aramaic of the first century and we also know very little about Hebrew influences on the Aramaic language of that time. But I think, we are not allowed to exclude any exchange of words between the learned Hebrew language and the popular Aramaic speech. So I venture to suppose an Aramaic tbl, which in pa' el and perhaps in 'af 'el had the meaning 'to season.' If this is right, then we may put forward this solution: in his source-text the translator found [hebrew text] which words he vocalized : di kol' enash benura yittabbal, and therefore translated Πᾶς γὰρ πυρὶ ἁλισθήσεται perhaps because he was partly influenced by the following salt-logion. But his text ought to be read his text ought to be read yitbol and consequently translated βαπτίσθηςεται
I had more to say but my vacation isn't yet over. My wife is back from gambling. More to follow tomorrow ...

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