The First Commentary on Mark: An Annotated Translation

By Michael Cahill | Go to book overview
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Next, we have the fourth miracle.1 Four men come carrying the paralytic on a stretcher (cf. Mark 2:3). They are impeded by the crowd so they remove the roof. Through their faith the paralytic is forgiven his sins. He carries the bed on which he was carried, and he goes home in the sight of everyone. Moreover, his paralysis serves as a type for the time when he lies in the softness of the flesh, though having the desire for salvation. He is impeded by the crowds of sloth, and by indecisive thoughts which are like useless legs. The four who carry him are those we termed virtues above. They bring him to the roof tiles of divinity and wisdom exposed in Christ's fleshly house.2 He is told, as a obligation, to carry the flesh which used to carry him.3

What we call the second chapter of Mark's Gospel gets short shrift from the commentator. It is not clear why he comments only on the two opening incidents. The reason cannot be his declared intention to concentrate on parts proper to Mark because all of Mark 2 is paralleled in Matthew and Luke. It is worth recalling that the writer, along with the other ancient commentators, did not read the Gospel in our modern chapter and verse divisions. These have no critical significance and should not be allowed to influence our perception of the movement of the narrative.
It is hard not to be captivated by the charm of this interpretation, although the method is not acceptable today. The primary goal of such commentary is to instruct and edify. The doctrines of the Incarnation, the divinity, and the humanity of Christ are major ones, so opportunities to call them to mind and illustrate them are seized upon.
This is puzzling. In the Gospel text he is told to carry the bed not "the flesh." The bed can certainly be seen as something that used to carry him. The commentary text has "to carry the flesh." Despite the agreement of all the manuscripts, it is likely that there is a


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