Saturday, June 8, 2013

ἐκβάλλω in Mark

Okay Greek scholars, I'm going to need your help with this one.  The verb ἐκβάλλω and its conjugations appears 18 times in the Gospel of Mark.  Most of the time ἐκβάλλω is used in reference to casting out demons (1:34, 39; 3: 15, 22, 23; 6:13; 7:26; 9:18, 28, 38; 16:9, 17).  The verb shows up once in the parable of the wicked tenants (the tenants kill the owner's son and cast his dead body out of the vineyard, 12:8).  Jesus casts out moneychangers (11:15), mocking mourners (5:40), and a healed leper (1:43).  Jesus tells his disciples to cast out their eye if it causes them to stumble (9:47).

However, the first time ἐκβάλλω is used the occasion is not a demon exorcism or a rebuking of sinful behavior.  Instead, immediately after his baptism the Spirit ἐκβάλλει Jesus into the wilderness.  Matthew and Luke use versions of the verb ἄγω, which means that the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness, a much milder version of this episode.

At the beginning of chapter one, the Spirit treats the newly baptized Jesus the same way that Jesus treats the newly healed leper at the end of chapter one.

1: 12-- εὐθὺς τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτὸν ἐκβάλλει
1: 43-- εὐθὺς ἐξέβαλεν αὐτὸν

Jesus as the newly healed who can't be completely trust and so the Spirit cast Jesus out of his old life and into the wilderness for further purifying?  Is that what's going on here?  The newly healed leper is not trustworthy; he is cast out and then disobeys Jesus' warning.  Jesus is trustworthy; he is cast out and then resists temptation.  

Jesus knows what it feels like to have the Spirit turn on him.  I think that's the idea that's got me doubting my interpretation and its implications.