The male inhabitants of Gennesaret or its people?

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The male inhabitants of Gennesaret or its people?

Post by FransJVermeiren » Sat Jul 21, 2018 12:54 pm

There are two versions of the ‘healing of the sick in Gennesaret’ story in the gospels, a shorter version in Matthew and a longer in Mark.

The stories go as follows, with the corresponding content opposite each other (my emphasis):

Matthew 14:34-36 Mark 6:53-56
(34) And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret.




(35) And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent round to all that region and brought to him all that were sick,




(36) and besought him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched it were made well.
(53) And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret,

and moored to the shore. (54) And when they got out of the boat, immediately


the people recognized him, (55) and ran about the whole neighborhood and began to bring sick people

on their pallets to any place where they heard he was. (56) And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or country, they laid the sick in the market places,

and besought him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched it were made well.


Besides the extra content in Mark, there is one crucial difference between both versions: the difference between the men – the male inhabitants – of Gennesaret in Matthew 14:35, and the people (in fact ‘they’) in Mark 6:54b. I believe we should address this difference first because in my opinion a correct interpretation of this pericope depends on a sound decision which of both is original: ‘males’ or ‘they’? Did Matthew narrow the recognizers to the male half of the population, or did Mark extend the males to the whole population? Which of both is more plausible when gathering sick people?

At first sight Mark’s version seems to be original, as it seems plausible that both sexes were involved in gathering the sick. What then could have inspired Matthew to exclude the women, and – at the same time – to remove the details of the gathering and transport of the ill?

In my opinion we should look at this pericope the other way around. Maybe Matthew’s ‘male’ version is original, and maybe Mark has led this pericope away from its original meaning by replacing ‘men’ by ‘the people’ in general, at the same time adding an explanation on physical illness or disability. Does πάντας τοὺς κακῶς ἔχοντας necessarily point to physical illness if an explanation in that direction is not provided? The expression κακῶς ἔχειν indicates that the person described is in a bad shape, but this deplorable condition doesn’t have to be confined to physical health. Without Mark’s physical health specification people in a more deplorable condition in general (materially, socially, psychologically) can be meant. The ‘only males’ description in Matthew could in itself point to a situation which was reserved for men, which is suggestive for a military context. Men were gathering other men. At the end of the pericope the people involved (the males involved?) feel better. The effect of Jesus’ action is not described with θεραπεύω, the verb for physical healing, but with διασᾠζω in Matthew and with σᾠζω in Mark. Although these verbs can be used in a health context, their meaning is much broader, with the general meaning of ‘keep from harm, preserve, rescue’, referring primarily to the positive effect of what leading figures did for the people under their protection. So maybe Jesus is not depicted here a miracle healer but as a leader.

This brings us to the touching of the fringe of Jesus’ garment by the sick. This behavior relies on Numeri 15:37-41, with the use of identical terms. The core of the Numeri verses depicting this practice is the total dedication to God of the person involved, culminating in the last words ἐγὼ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὑμῶν, ‘I am the Lord your God’. Maybe this is what the men who came to Jesus did: they totally committed themselves to God, and to the Zealot commandment to have only God as their master. This commitment brought about a positive change in the mind of these poor wretches: a new project, new hope, new enthusiasm, expressed by the verb (δια)σᾠζω.

I believe that the reality behind this pericope in Matthew is described by Ben-Sasson in A History of the Jewish People p. 271: Landless farmers, refugees from various places and unemployed temporary labourers constituted the reserves from which the increasingly frequent riots and rebellions drew their manpower.

The picture which arises from Matthew’s version of the story of the healing of the sick in Gennesaret is the picture of Jesus (son of Saphat) making his round in the Galilean countryside recruiting soldiers for the Zealot revolutionary army. Arriving in Gennesaret some man recognize him, and they make their round in the neighboring villages where they easily find numerous men in a deplorable situation who want to fight against the Romans in the hope of an amelioration of their pitiable situation. They come to Jesus and as a kind of ‘oath of allegiance’ to the Zealot ideals they touch the fringes of the garment of the leader of the rebellion in their region. Maybe they spoke out an accompanying formula like ‘God alone is my Master’. This recruitment mission took place at the beginning of the war against the Romans (second half of 66 CE, first half of 67).

Although in general I adhere to Markan priority, in this pericope Matthew has priority over Mark. This pericope is an example of the complexity of the editing of the gospels.
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Re: The male inhabitants of Gennesaret or its people?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Jul 21, 2018 3:16 pm

It seems remiss not to include Matthew 14.21 = Mark 6.44 (the feeding of the five thousand) and Matthew 15.38 = Mark 8.9 (the feeding of the four thousand) in the reckoning. In the first, both Matthew and Mark have 5000 "men" being fed, and Matthew adds "besides women and children." In the second, Matthew has "4000 men, besides women and children" again, but Mark fails to specify the sex of those who ate.
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Re: The male inhabitants of Gennesaret or its people?

Post by DCHindley » Sat Jul 21, 2018 3:16 pm

FransJVermeiren wrote:
Sat Jul 21, 2018 12:54 pm
There are two versions of the ‘healing of the sick in Gennesaret’ story in the gospels, a shorter version in Matthew and a longer in Mark.

The stories go as follows, with the corresponding content opposite each other (my emphasis):

Matthew 14:34-36 Mark 6:53-56
(34) And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret.




(35) And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent round to all that region and brought to him all that were sick,




(36) and besought him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched it were made well.
(53) And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret,

and moored to the shore. (54) And when they got out of the boat, immediately


the people recognized him, (55) and ran about the whole neighborhood and began to bring sick people

on their pallets to any place where they heard he was. (56) And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or country, they laid the sick in the market places,

and besought him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched it were made well.


Besides the extra content in Mark, there is one crucial difference between both versions: the difference between the men – the male inhabitants – of Gennesaret in Matthew 14:35, and the people (in fact ‘they’) in Mark 6:54b. I believe we should address this difference first because in my opinion a correct interpretation of this pericope depends on a sound decision which of both is original: ‘males’ or ‘they’? Did Matthew narrow the recognizers to the male half of the population, or did Mark extend the males to the whole population? Which of both is more plausible when gathering sick people?
In Mark 6:55 I think the meaning is the local folks (in the agricultural region = the peasant folk) "compelled" the sick to go to where Jesus was, but at least they made them beds so they could be carried. I have to assume that whoever was doing the compelling had authority to do so (that is, were civic leaders and village elders).

In Matt 14:35, the same story, but told from a different perspective. Now it is from a perspective where the "men" (this term, οἱ ἄνδρες, is often used for civic leaders of a city or town, I seem to recall) dispatch envoys to the countryside to fetch the sick and bring them to where Jesus was.

Why the author of Matthew chose to present the story one way and the author of Mark another may just represent different points of view about the mechanics of bringing sick folks to a folk healer. It is hard to tell whether they were doing so (and this must have been a major undertaking) out of concern for the sick or they were being pragmatic: "If this Jesus fellow really can heal the sick, with some effort we can clear out all the sick and crippled who are draining our limited resources! Let's get moving ..."

Perhaps in my hypothetical latter case it would be like a city/town/village "solving" its unemployment problem by jailing them or kicking them out of their region.

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Re: The male inhabitants of Gennesaret or its people?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Jul 21, 2018 3:40 pm

DCHindley wrote:
Sat Jul 21, 2018 3:16 pm
It is hard to tell whether they were doing so (and this must have been a major undertaking) out of concern for the sick or they were being pragmatic: "If this Jesus fellow really can heal the sick, with some effort we can clear out all the sick and crippled who are draining our limited resources! Let's get moving ..."

Perhaps in my hypothetical latter case it would be like a city/town/village "solving" its unemployment problem by jailing them or kicking them out of their region.
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Re: The male inhabitants of Gennesaret or its people?

Post by DCHindley » Sat Jul 21, 2018 11:04 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Jul 21, 2018 3:40 pm
DCHindley wrote:
Sat Jul 21, 2018 3:16 pm
It is hard to tell whether they were doing so (and this must have been a major undertaking) out of concern for the sick or they were being pragmatic: "If this Jesus fellow really can heal the sick, with some effort we can clear out all the sick and crippled who are draining our limited resources! Let's get moving ..."

Perhaps in my hypothetical latter case it would be like a city/town/village "solving" its unemployment problem by jailing them or kicking them out of their region.
Ah, Dave the accountant. Such a cynic. ;)
Of course(TM), I was speaking "tongue-in-cheek..." :cheeky:

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Re: The male inhabitants of Gennesaret or its people?

Post by FransJVermeiren » Sun Jul 22, 2018 8:25 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Jul 21, 2018 3:16 pm
It seems remiss not to include Matthew 14.21 = Mark 6.44 (the feeding of the five thousand) and Matthew 15.38 = Mark 8.9 (the feeding of the four thousand) in the reckoning. In the first, both Matthew and Mark have 5000 "men" being fed, and Matthew adds "besides women and children." In the second, Matthew has "4000 men, besides women and children" again, but Mark fails to specify the sex of those who ate.
I discussed the military context of the feeding of the five thousand elsewhere. That pericope describes the same rebellious reality as Josephus in Life 212: So I consented to remain; and, giving orders that five thousand of them were to join me in arms, bringing their own provisions, I dismissed the rest to their homes. (my underlining) I believe that in this case also the shorter version is original. Just like the Markan version of the Gennesaret story obscures the real course of events by generalizing from ‘males’ to ‘they’, here also the longer version in Matthew tries to eliminate the military context by introducing women and children alongside the soldiers.
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Re: The male inhabitants of Gennesaret or its people?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Jul 22, 2018 9:15 am

FransJVermeiren wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 8:25 am
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Jul 21, 2018 3:16 pm
It seems remiss not to include Matthew 14.21 = Mark 6.44 (the feeding of the five thousand) and Matthew 15.38 = Mark 8.9 (the feeding of the four thousand) in the reckoning. In the first, both Matthew and Mark have 5000 "men" being fed, and Matthew adds "besides women and children." In the second, Matthew has "4000 men, besides women and children" again, but Mark fails to specify the sex of those who ate.
I discussed the military context of the feeding of the five thousand elsewhere. That pericope describes the same rebellious reality as Josephus in Life 212: So I consented to remain; and, giving orders that five thousand of them were to join me in arms, bringing their own provisions, I dismissed the rest to their homes. (my underlining) I believe that in this case also the shorter version is original. Just like the Markan version of the Gennesaret story obscures the real course of events by generalizing from ‘males’ to ‘they’, here also the longer version in Matthew tries to eliminate the military context by introducing women and children alongside the soldiers.
Do you mean this? If so, what are you doing with the 4000? Why does that pericope seem to lack the connections that the one about the 5000 bears?
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Re: The male inhabitants of Gennesaret or its people?

Post by Stuart » Sun Jul 22, 2018 1:26 pm

yeesh, read the Greek text before you guys comment. You will see the inference is made in the English text of Mark and is not part of the Greek Text.

Mark reads:
εὐθὺς ἐπιγνόντες αὐτὸν
Immediately they recognized him

There is no "people", no gender reference one way or the other

Matthew clarifies by adding "the men of this place"
καὶ ἐπιγνόντες αὐτὸν οἱ ἄνδρες τοῦ τόπου

Mark expands on the healing, with people being brought on palates, etc. And he also expands the landing, telling us the boat was moored and Jesus got out of the boat. Matthew's account is simpler, the arrived on the opposite shore, those who touched his cloak were cured (Jesus doesn't reach out and touch anyone).

In my view you have a common source, Matthew or a later editor added the phrase "the men of this place", while Mark's additions are more typical of his style, filling in the scene (Jesus apparently wandered to a whole bunch of cities and towns that day in what must have been a major parade) with more details and fill words. As elsewhere in mark it's important to shows Jesus was already a big deal with lots of followers, probably countering claims like those of Celsus that it was a pathetic small movement. But I digress into speculative motive.

Seeing a military reading in Matthew's addition of οἱ ἄνδρες τοῦ τόπου is something of a stretch. More likely the 4000 feeding is a more primitive version of the 5000 feeding, and included no mention of men, just four thousand. Matthew could have transported "men' from the other story and Matthew 14:21 ἄνδρες ὡσεὶ πεντακισχίλιοι χωρὶς γυναικῶν καὶ παιδίων "about five thousand men besides women and children" (Mark 6:44 / Luke 9:14 ἄνδρες πεντακισχίλιοι, "five thousand men"). Of the three accounts, Luke's version looks the most artificial, being a parenthetical comment, suggesting that could be merely a harmony from a later writer, and that the feeding was of an unspecified multitude (Luke 9:11, Matthew 14:19 twice ὄχλος ... the first one rendered "people" in English in Matthew). Anyway Matthew's version again expands on Mark, this time adding "beside women and children" to the account.

What I see going on is a game of one-upmanship, where an unspecified crowd becomes four thousand then five thousand men, then includes in addition women and children to show Jesus five thousand was even greater than that. The stories all look like they have been elaborated, as some have details missing in the others. I am convinced fish were not in the original story, and that the number fed was not either, nor was the specific reference to men (which came with the specific number).

Anyway, to the original point, Mark didn't write the word "people" (ἄνθρωπος ... only occurs in John 6:10), rather Matthew or a later editor added "the men of this place". This feeding story was so important that all the Gospels appear to have suffered harmonization with each other, and a series of one-upmanship on details that the original version is obscured. My WAG, it was just an unenumerated "crowd" (ὄχλος) that was given bread (no fish --which is a Christian symbol).
Last edited by Stuart on Sun Jul 22, 2018 2:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The male inhabitants of Gennesaret or its people?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Jul 22, 2018 1:27 pm

Stuart wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 1:26 pm
yeesh, read the Greek text before you guys comment. You will see the inference is made in the English text of Mark and is not part of the Greek Text.

Mark reads:
εὐθὺς ἐπιγνόντες αὐτὸν
Immediately they recognized him

There is no "people", no gender reference one way or the other.
That was already made clear (enough) in the OP:
Besides the extra content in Mark, there is one crucial difference between both versions: the difference between the men – the male inhabitants – of Gennesaret in Matthew 14:35, and the people (in fact ‘they’) in Mark 6:54b.
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Re: The male inhabitants of Gennesaret or its people?

Post by Stuart » Sun Jul 22, 2018 2:58 pm

Ben,

There is no "they" but an implied they. Also there is no mention in the OP of the added words in Greek by Matthew to the story, and no examination of the harmonizing process from which the entire misguided military formation talk is derived. There is no mention of Elijah or other bread multiply parallels, nor of the meaning of desolate place. In short the entire context if lost.

Reviewing the parallels, the most likely reason for the difference was an addition to the account by Matthew harmonizing from the common source shared with Mark 6:44, or if from a later editor, then taken directly from Matthew 14:21/Mark 6:44.
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