April 5: Mark 9:31-32 (continued)

Mark 9:31-32, continued

“…the Son of Man is being given along into (the) hands of men”

The first portion of Jesus’ second Passion-prediction (Mk 9:31 par) is centered on the verb paradi/dwmi, “give along, give over”. Here, the specific meaning relates to giving someone over to the authorities (as an accused criminal, etc). In the first prediction, the emphasis was on Jesus’ suffering (he will “suffer many things”). An important aspect of this suffering, and the moment that will instigate Jesus’ Passion, is his betrayal (by Judas), when he will, quite literally, be “given over” into the hands of the Jewish authorities. In turn, following the interrogation before the Sanhedrin, he will be “given over” again, to the Roman authorities.

The verb paradi/dwmi is used in the Gospels almost exclusively in reference to the betrayal of Jesus. It features prominently in the Passion narrative itself (Mk 14:18, 21, 41ff par; Jn 13:2; 18:2, etc), and, in the Eschatological Discourse, Jesus tells his disciples that they will be “given over” to the authorities as well (Mk 13:9-12 par), following his own example. Elsewhere in the New Testament, the verb tends to be used in the more general (and positive) sense of the Gospel message and early Christian tradition that is “given along” from one generation to the next.

As in the first Passion-prediction, Jesus uses the title (or expression) “Son of Man” (o( ui(o\$ tou= a)nqrw/pou) as a self-reference. The significance of this was discussed in a prior note (cf. also my earlier set of notes and the article in the series “Yeshua the Anointed”). Of special importance is how the title relates to the human condition, in a basic sense, but specifically to human mortality. In these (and other) “Son of Man sayings,” Jesus effectively identifies himself with the human condition, especially in its experience of suffering and death. The background of the expression “son of man” (in Old Testament poetry, etc) frequently emphasizes the limited dimension of human (mortal) life, in comparison with the Divine/Eternal life of God.

The predicate of this primary statement in the prediction is the prepositional phrase “into (the) hands of men” (ei)$ xei=ra$ a)nqrw/pwn). The expression “hands of men” simply refers to the power/control wielded by human authority. In other words, the expression is another way of saying that Jesus will be handed over to the Jewish government, the ruling authorities, in Jerusalem. The first Passion-prediction clearly refers to the interrogation of Jesus before the ruling Council (Sanhedrin) in Jerusalem, and that is the primary point of reference here as well. The betrayal by Judas led to Jesus being taken into custody by the Jewish authorities, after which his interrogation before the Sanhedrin would follow.

In Matthew and Luke (Matt 17:22; Lk 9:44), the form of this part of the prediction is:

“the Son of Man is about to be given along into (the) hands of men”

The modal verb me/llei (“about to [be]”) + infinitive more accurately reflects the context of the Gospel narrative—that is, the betrayal will occur soon, but it is not happening right now. It represents a minor agreement between Matthew and Luke (against Mark), but is of the sort that could easily have been introduced independently. Curiously Luke omits (or otherwise does not include) the second part of the prediction (regarding the death and resurrection of Jesus). This means that the Lukan form of the prediction consists entirely of the portion cited above. The author also introduces the prediction in a distinctive (and rather dramatic) manner:

“…and all of them were knocked out upon (witnessing) the greatness of God. And, (as they) were wondering upon all the (thing)s which he did, he said to his learners [i.e. disciples], ‘You must put these words into your ears: for the Son of Man is about to be given along into (the) hands of men’.” (9:43-44)

In some ways, the Lukan version of the saying itself cuts to the heart of the message: the betrayal of Jesus, and how strikingly this contrasts with his identity as the Messiah, etc. Instead of judging and subduing the wicked in Jerusalem, Jesus (the Messiah) will be taken captive and judged by them. The betrayal marks the beginning of a great suffering and humiliation that he would face. Being given over “into the hands of men” is, by any measure, a most humiliating fate to befall the Messiah.

However, in the Passion-predictions, Jesus identifies himself, not as the Anointed One (Messiah), by as the “Son of Man”, emphasizing his connection with the human condition–and the weakness, suffering, and death which that condition entails (cf. above). The parallelism of the statement is clear enough:

    • “Son of Man”
      • given over into the
    • “hands of men”

Jesus’ suffering at the “hands of men” (i.e., by human authority) is essential to his identity as the “Son of Man”.

In the next daily note, we will turn to the second part of the prediction, which focuses on what will happen once the Son of Man (Jesus) is taken into the “hands of men”.

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