entête

Mark 10: 17-30

I propose a biblical analysis with the following steps: a study of each Greek word of the evangelical text, followed by an analysis of the structure of the narrative and its context, to which is added a comparison of parallel or similar passages. At the end of this analysis and as a conclusion, I propose to summarize what the evangelist meant, and I end up with some suggestions on how this Gospel could shed light on our current situation.


 


  1. Translation of the Greek text (28th edition of Kurt Aland)

    Greek textTransliterated Greek textLiteral translationTranslation in current language
    17 Καὶ ἐκπορευομένου αὐτοῦ εἰς ὁδὸν προσδραμὼν εἷς καὶ γονυπετήσας αὐτὸν ἐπηρώτα αὐτόν• διδάσκαλε ἀγαθέ, τί ποιήσω ἵνα ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω;17 Kai ekporeuomenou autou eis hodon prosdramōn heis kai gonypetēsas auton epērōta auton• didaskale agathe, ti poiēsō hina zōēn aiōnion klēronomēsō?17 And when him going forth toward road, having run up one and having knelt down to him he was asking him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do in order that I might inherit eternal life?"17 And when he went on his way, somebody, having run to him and knelt down, asked him, "Good Master, what shall I do to inherit the life without end?"
    18 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ• τί με λέγεις ἀγαθόν; οὐδεὶς ἀγαθὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς ὁ θεός.18 ho de Iēsous eipen autō• ti me legeis agathon? oudeis agathos ei mē heis ho theos.18 Then the Jesus said to him, "Why to you call me good? No one (is) good if not one the God.18 But Jesus answered him, "Why do you say that I am good? Nobody is good, if only God.
    19 τὰς ἐντολὰς οἶδας• μὴ φονεύσῃς, μὴ μοιχεύσῃς, μὴ κλέψῃς, μὴ ψευδομαρτυρήσῃς, μὴ ἀποστερήσῃς, τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου καὶ τὴν μητέρα.19 tas entolas oidas• mē phoneusēs, mē moicheusēs, mē klepsēs, mē pseudomartyrēsēs, mē aposterēsēs, tima ton patera sou kai tēn mētera.19 The commandments you know: you should not murder, you should not commit adultery, you should not steal, you should not bear false witness, you should not defraud, honor your father and mother."19 You know the commandments: Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not commit fraud, treat your father and your mother with honor".
    20 ὁ δὲ ἔφη αὐτῷ• διδάσκαλε, ταῦτα πάντα ἐφυλαξάμην ἐκ νεότητός μου.20 ho de ephē autō• didaskale, tauta panta ephylaxamēn ek neotētos mou.20 Then, him he was declaring to him, "Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth."20 But he said to Jesus, "Master, all this I have kept from my youth.
    21 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἐμβλέψας αὐτῷ ἠγάπησεν αὐτὸν καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ• ἕν σε ὑστερεῖ• ὕπαγε, ὅσα ἔχεις πώλησον καὶ δὸς [τοῖς] πτωχοῖς, καὶ ἕξεις θησαυρὸν ἐν οὐρανῷ, καὶ δεῦρο ἀκολούθει μοι.21 ho de Iēsous emblepsas autō ēgapēsen auton kai eipen autō• hen se hysterei• hypage, hosa echeis pōlēson kai dos [tois] ptōchois, kai hexeis thēsauron en ouranō, kai deuro akolouthei moi.21 Then, the Jesus having looked at him, loved him and said to him, "On thing is lacking to you, go, as much as you have sell and give to the poors and you will have treasure in heaven and come, follow me."21 Then Jesus, having set his eyes on him, began to love him and said to him: "One thing is missing, go, sell all these things that you possess, give them to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven, come here and follow me".
    22 ὁ δὲ στυγνάσας ἐπὶ τῷ λόγῳ ἀπῆλθεν λυπούμενος• ἦν γὰρ ἔχων κτήματα πολλά.22 ho de stygnasas epi tō logō apēlthen lypoumenos• ēn gar echōn ktēmata polla.22 Then, having been sad upon the word, he went away grieving; for he was having many possessions.22 But the latter, become sad at these words, went away all unhappy. Because he owned a lot of goods.
    23 Καὶ περιβλεψάμενος ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγει τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ• πῶς δυσκόλως οἱ τὰ χρήματα ἔχοντες εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰσελεύσονται.23 Kai periblepsamenos ho Iēsous legei tois mathētais autou• pōs dyskolōs hoi ta chrēmata echontes eis tēn basileian tou theou eiseleusontai.23 And having looked around the Jesus says to his disciples, "How difficultly those having riches will enter into the kingdom of God."23 And turning to look at his disciples, Jesus said to them, "How difficult it will be for those who possess property to enter into the domain of God".
    24 οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ ἐθαμβοῦντο ἐπὶ τοῖς λόγοις αὐτοῦ. ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς πάλιν ἀποκριθεὶς λέγει αὐτοῖς• τέκνα, πῶς δύσκολόν ἐστιν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν•24 hoi de mathētai ethambounto epi tois logois autou. ho de Iēsous palin apokritheis legei autois• tekna, pōs dyskolon estin eis tēn basileian tou theou eiselthein•24 Then, the disciples were astonished upon his words. Then, the Jesus answering again he says to them, "Children, how difficult it is to enter into the kingdom of God those who had trusted upon the riches.24 And hearing these words, the disciples were astonished. But Jesus spoke again to say to them, "My children, how difficult it is to enter the domain of God.
    25 εὐκοπώτερόν ἐστιν κάμηλον διὰ [τῆς] τρυμαλιᾶς [τῆς] ῥαφίδος διελθεῖν ἢ πλούσιον εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν.25 eukopōteron estin kamēlon dia [tēs] trymalias [tēs] rhaphidos dielthein ē plousion eis tēn basileian tou theou eiselthein.25 It is easier a camel to go through the eye of the needle than a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the domain of God".
    26 οἱ δὲ περισσῶς ἐξεπλήσσοντο λέγοντες πρὸς ἑαυτούς• καὶ τίς δύναται σωθῆναι;26 hoi de perissōs exeplēssonto legontes pros heautous• kai tis dynatai sōthēnai?26 Then, them they were exceedingly amazed saying to one another, "And who is able to be saved?"26 These were extremely flabbergasted saying to each other: "But who can be saved?"
    27 ἐμβλέψας αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγει• παρὰ ἀνθρώποις ἀδύνατον, ἀλλʼ οὐ παρὰ θεῷ• πάντα γὰρ δυνατὰ παρὰ τῷ θεῷ.27 emblepsas autois ho Iēsous legei• para anthrōpois adynaton, allʼ ou para theō• panta gar dynata para tō theō.27 Having looked at them, the Jesus says, "With men (it is) impossible, but not with God; for all things (are) possible with God."27 After staring at them, Jesus said, "For men it is impossible, but not for God. Because for God everything is possible".
    28 Ἤρξατο λέγειν ὁ Πέτρος αὐτῷ• ἰδοὺ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν πάντα καὶ ἠκολουθήκαμέν σοι.28 Ērxato legein ho Petros autō• idou hēmeis aphēkamen panta kai ēkolouthēkamen soi.28 He began to say the Peter to him, "Behold, we, we have left all and have followed you."28 Peter began to say to him, "Behold, we have left everything to follow you."
    29 ἔφη ὁ Ἰησοῦς• ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐδείς ἐστιν ὃς ἀφῆκεν οἰκίαν ἢ ἀδελφοὺς ἢ ἀδελφὰς ἢ μητέρα ἢ πατέρα ἢ τέκνα ἢ ἀγροὺς ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ καὶ ἕνεκεν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου,29 ephē ho Iēsous• amēn legō hymin, oudeis estin hos aphēken oikian ē adelphous ē adelphas ē mētera ē patera ē tekna ē agrous heneken emou kai heneken tou euangeliou,29 He was declaring the Jesus, "Amen, I say to you, no one he is who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for the sake of me and the sake of the gospel29 Jesus said, "Truly, I assure you, no one will have left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields because of me and because of the Gospel,
    30 ἐὰν μὴ λάβῃ ἑκατονταπλασίονα νῦν ἐν τῷ καιρῷ τούτῳ οἰκίας καὶ ἀδελφοὺς καὶ ἀδελφὰς καὶ μητέρας καὶ τέκνα καὶ ἀγροὺς μετὰ διωγμῶν, καὶ ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τῷ ἐρχομένῳ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.30 ean mē labē hekatontaplasiona nyn en tō kairō toutō oikias kai adelphous kai adelphas kai mēteras kai tekna kai agrous meta diōgmōn, kai en tō aiōni tō erchomenō zōēn aiōnion.30 if he would not receive a hundred times now in this time houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands with persecutions, and in the age which is coming eternal life."30 that he will not receive a hundred more times now as homes, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions, and for the coming period, a life without end."

  1. Analysis of each verse

    v. 17 And when he went on his way, somebody, having run to him and knelt down, asked him, "Good Master, what shall I do to inherit the life without end?"

    Literally: And when him going forth toward road (hodon), having run up (prosdramōn) one (heis) and having knelt down (gonypetēsas) to him he was asking him, "Good (agathe) Teacher (didaskale), what shall I do in order that I might inherit eternal (aiōnion) life (zōēn)?"

hodon (road)
The mention of Jesus going back on the road may seem trivial, but it has great symbolic value. Jesus' entire ministry was a long road where he went from village to village. Unlike some of the great spiritual men who isolated themselves and to whom people went to hear a word of wisdom, Jesus went to the people, he travelled the roads of Palestine. And he asked his disciples to do the same (Mk 6:8). For it is on the road that Jesus will have encounters (for example, he meets the blind Bartimaeus on the side of the road, Mk 10:46), it is on the road that he asks his disciples to express their faith in him. When one will want to describe the reality of Christians who call themselves disciples of Jesus, he will speak of the followers of the Way (Acts 9:2; 18:25): the Christian faith is a way of seeing things and a way of doing things, and therefore a direction in a journey in this world.

Noun hodos dans in the Gospels-Acts
prosdramōn (having run up)
Prostrechō means: to run to, to rush to. In the Gospels, Mark (Mt = 0; Mk = 2; Lk = 0; Jn = 0) is the only one to use this word, here, and in the previous scene (9:15) where the crowd runs to Jesus after the Transfiguration scene. The only other use in the entire New Testament is in the scene where Philip runs to join the eunuch in his chariot reading the prophet Isaiah in Acts (8:30). The verb describes the intensity of an action, the deep desire to reach a person. Our anonymous person is stretched with all his being towards Jesus, and his quest is urgent.

heis (one)
The word heis (one) is a numeral adjective used here as a noun and could be translated literally: a person. Mark means an undefined person, a person of some sort. But in doing so, we guess that he is making a generalization: through this man, we must see many people who want to follow Jesus.

gonypetēsas (having knelt down)
This is a very rare word (Mt = 2; Mk = 2; Lk = 0; Jn = 0) which appears only twice in Mark, here, and in the scene of the leper who begs Jesus by kneeling (1:40), and twice in Matthew, first in the scene of the father of a lunatic child who begs Jesus by kneeling, after the Transfiguration scene (17:14), and then in the scene where the Roman soldiers kneel before Jesus wearing a crown of thorns, in derision. The gesture of kneeling is one of deference to the king or an authority. The kneeling before Jesus by this anonymous man expresses the intensity of his faith in Jesus and the high esteem in which he is held. This scene is reminiscent of another scene where Abraham runs to three messengers of the Lord and prostrates himself before them (LXX: Genesis 18:2):
As he looked up, he saw three men standing over him; and having seen them, he ran (prostrechō) from the door of his tent to meet them, and he bowed (proskyneō) to the ground.
We find here the same word prostrechō, and while we speak of prostrating (proskyneō) rather than kneeling (gonypeteō), the same idea emerges of expressing a deep gesture of faith.

didaskale (teacher)
The word didaskalos (teacher) is much more frequent (Mt = 12; Mk = 11; Lk = 17; Jn = 8). This seems to be the title usually used to address the historical Jesus: it is in the mouths of the disciples (4:38; 9:38; 10:35; 13:1; 14:14), it is in the mouths of the Pharisees and Sadducees (12:14; 12:19), it is in the mouths of the people who approach him (9:17; 10:17"20). We are far from a Christological title, and therefore we are closer to the historical Jesus.

agathe (good)
The word agathos (Mt = 16; Mk = 4; Lk = 16; Jn = 3) is also very rare in Mark and appears only here (three times in our scene) and in Jesus' reply to the Pharisees (3:4) asking them whether it is permissible to do good or evil on the Sabbath. So we are not dealing with a vocabulary familiar to Mark. All this gives the impression that he did not create this text, but draws on a tradition, even if the role he gives it, as we shall see later, bears the sign of his editorial work.
zōēn (life)
The word zōē (life) is also rare in Mark (Mt = 7; Mk = 4; Lk = 6; Jn = 36) and appears in only two passages, here, and in Jesus' discourse on the scandal where it is better to enter life (zōē) one-handed than to go with both hands into Gehenna. In all these cases, the meaning of the word is clear: it refers to life after death, that world or kingdom that God offers to his chosen ones (it should be distinguished from psychē, also translated as life, which refers rather to the person in his conscious life).

aiōnion (eternal)
Finally, aiōnios (eternal, without beginning) is also very rare in Mark (Mt = 6; Mk = 3; Lk = 7; Jn = 10); the only other use is in Jesus' discourse concerning the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit and is guilty of an eternal fault (3:29). And so the expression "life without end" is found only here. We must therefore recognize that we are not dealing with Mark's usual vocabulary, which leads us to suspect that he is borrowing here from a tradition which he has inherited. On the other hand, the meaning of the sentence is very clear: the question concerns that life after death in which a certain Jewish tradition believed, a life offered by God to his chosen ones after the final judgment (in contrast, the expression "eternal life" is very frequent in John, but for the latter, life after death has already begun for the believer). This question resembles the one we used to find in our little catechism: what must we do to go to Heaven?

Expression zōē aiōnios in the Gospels-Acts
klēronomēsō (I might inherit)
Once again, we are faced with very rare words in Mark. The word klēronomeō (receive as an inheritance, inherit) appears only here (Mt = 3; Mk = 1; Lk = 2; Jn = 0). In Mt and Lk it is also found in the parallel passages to this scene as well as in similar contexts, i.e. it is about the inheritance of eternal life (Mk 10: 17; Lk 10: 25; 18: 18; Mt 19: 29) or the kingdom (Mt 25: 34). The only exception is the proclamation of the beatitudes where the meek shall inherit the earth (Mt 5:4).

v. 18 But Jesus answered him, "Why do you say that I am good? Nobody is good, if only God.

Literally: Then the Jesus said to him, "Why to you call me good (agathon)? No one [is] good (agathos) if not one the God.

 
This verse is surprising in more ways than one. First of all, the idea developed here appears like a meteorite out of nowhere: one will search in vain throughout the New Testament for a similar discussion comparing the goodness of God and the goodness of men. Jesus' questioning and his answer will never come up again: it is a completely isolated theme. Moreover, it is hard to understand why Mark insisted on keeping this verse, which not only plays no role in the rest of the narrative, but also distances Jesus from God, since he cannot be called good like God. Matthew saw this last point well and transformed the man's question, "Teacher, what good (agathos) must I do to obtain eternal life?". What to conclude? If such a verse does not serve Mark's catechetical purpose at all, it could not have been created by him and probably comes from his source. If it is an echo of the historical Jesus, it shows us his view of God's transcendence and of human dependence, including his own, on God to produce good acts.

agathon (good)
When we analyze the use of agathos throughout the gospels, with the exception of our passage and its parallels, we can group them into four broad categories:

  1. First, there is the goodness or quality of people (Jesus sometimes speaks of the good as opposed to the bad, Mt 5:45; in the parable of the workers of the eleventh hour, the owner justifies his action by the fact that he is good, Mt 20:15; the servants who have made the master's assets bear fruit are called good and faithful, Mt 25:21; Jesus himself is considered good by the people, Jn 7:12; finally, Joseph of Arimathea will be called a good and just man, Lk 23:50; see also, Mt 12:35; 22:10; 25:23; Lk 6:45; 19:17)

  2. Some actions are called good (Jesus challenged the Pharisees by telling them that their words cannot be good because they are evil, Mt 12:34; Jesus challenged them again by asking if it is permissible to do good rather than evil on the Sabbath, Mk 3:4; at the time of the judgement, people will come out of their graves, and those who have done good will be raised to life, Jn 5:29)

  3. The word refers to things that are good, useful and beneficial to humans (Jesus compares God to human beings who, even if they are bad, know how to give good things to their children, Mt 7:11; God fills the hungry with good things, Lk 1:53; Jesus tells Mary that she has chosen the good part, Lk 10:42; Nathanael wonders if anything good can come out of Nazareth, Jn 1:46; see also Lk 11:13; 12:18-19; 16:25)

  4. Finally, we qualify the elements of nature that can be good or bad (a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, Mt 7, 17-19; the seed fell on good soil, Lk 8, 8.15)

This brief analysis only underlines the anomaly of our verse which forbids Jesus to be called good, and supports the idea that it is not a creation of Mark the evangelist.

v. 19 You know the commandments: Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not commit fraud, treat your father and your mother with honor".

Literally: The commandments (entolas) you know: you should not murder, you should not commit adultery, you should not steal, you should not bear false witness, you should not defraud, honor your father and mother."

entolas (commandments)
The word entolē (command, commandment, precept) is infrequent in the Synoptics (Mt = 6; Mk = 6; Lk = 4; Jn = 10). In Mark, it refers primarily to requests or demands from God, the exception being a prescription established by Moses marking out divorce procedures (10:4). But these demands are not limited to the so-called ten words of Yahweh at Sinai (Exodus 20:1-17). Of course, the six requirements in our verse refer to them, as does Jesus' rebuke of the Pharisees and scribes for nullifying the requirement to honor one's father and mother with their tradition of the korban (7:8-9). But in his discussion with the lawyer about the greatest commandment (12: 28-31), Jesus refers to the traditional Jewish prayer, called Shema', which is an amalgam of Deuteronomy 6: 4-9; 11: 13-21; Numbers 15: 37-41 (to speak of the commandment to love God), and then to Leviticus 19: 18 (to speak of the commandment to love one's neighbor). Thus, the entire first five books of the Bible or Pentateuch represent the Law or commandments of God, so that the Talmud (tractate Makot 23b) teaches us that there are 613 commandments in the Torah; 248 positive commandments ("do") and 365 negative commandments ("do not").

  • The Bible offers us two versions of the story where God reveals to Moses his requirements: Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:7-21. Whereas Exodus rather uses the phrase "word of God" or his "ten words" (Exodus 34:28: Moses remained there with Yahweh 40 days and 40 nights. He neither ate nor drank, and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten words) to designate these requirements, it is Deuteronomy that systematizes the use of commandment, miṣwâ in Hebrew, entolē, in Greek, to speak of these requirements.

  • Let's compare the commandments mentioned by Jesus in Mark with the versions in Exodus and Deuteronomy. We also thought we would add the version of the Little Catechism of Quebec of 1868 for the benefit of some Catholics. In parenthesis we have placed the order of the commandments of Mark's Jesus and that of the Little Catechism which diverges from Exodus and Deuteronomy.

    #Exodus 20Deuteronomy 5Mark 10Little catechism
    12 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery6 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery
    23-6 you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol... etc.7-10 you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol... etc.(1) One God you shall worship,
    And love perfectly
    37 You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.11 You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.(2) God in vain thou shalt not swear, nor any other thing like it
    48-11 Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work...etc.12-15 Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work...etc.(3) Sundays thou shalt keep,
    Serving God devoutly
    512 Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.16 Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.[cited last in Mark] (6) Honor your father and mother(4) Father and mother you will honor,
    In order to live for a long time
    613 You shall not murder.17 You shall not murder.(1) you should not murder,(5) No homicide will be.
    Neither in fact nor voluntarily.
    714 You shall not commit adultery.18 Neither shall you commit adultery.(2) you should not commit adultery,(6) Unchaste act not will be.
    Of body nor of consent
    815 You shall not steal.19 Neither shall you steal.(3) you should not steal,(7) Thou shalt not take the property of others
    Nor knowingly withhold
    916 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.20 Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor.(4) you should not bear false witness(8) False testimony will not bear,
    Nor will you lie in any way
    1017 You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. 21 Neither shall you covet your neighbor's wife. Neither shall you desire your neighbor's house, or field, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.you should not defraud,(9) The act of flesh shall not desire
    But in marriage only (10) Other people's possessions shall not desire,
    To have them unjustly

    The observant mind will have noticed that the only real difference between the Exodus and Deuteronomy versions concerns the requirement of the Sabbath: Exodus speaks of remembering the Sabbath day, while Deuteronomy speaks of keeping the Sabbath day. Jewish tradition has resolved this difficulty by stating that the words were spoken at the same time by God. Of the ten words, seven are negative (do not...), and three are positive (I am your God, keep the Sabbath, honor your father and mother).

    The Jesus of Mark retained six commandments among these ten, beginning with the negative ones and ending with a positive one. Which ones, then, did he leave out of the list presented to the man who wants to know the way to inherit life? The first four: I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods, You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, Observe the sabbath. Why is this so? One can speculate that the first four were interwoven into the culture and that it was unthinkable that they would not be observed. And so Jesus only focuses on what is not guaranteed in 1st century Judaism. At the same time, one could add this: there is nothing in the six commandments retained by Mark's Jesus that is not universal, i.e. applicable to Gentiles or anyone else, regardless of their religion or lack thereof. In other words, the four commandments that the Jesus of Mark dropped are typically Jewish.

    A word about the Little Catechism of Quebec. We note a cultural adaptation. First of all, the evocation of the going out of Egypt is unnecessary and forgotten. The Sabbath which began on Friday evening, at sunset, and ended on Saturday evening, at sunset, becomes Sunday. The commandment on adultery becomes a commandment on modesty, which covers a lot more (according to the dictionary: "Feeling of shame, of embarrassment that a person feels in doing, in contemplating things of a sexual nature; embarrassment that a delicate person feels in front of what dignity seems to forbid). The commandment on false witness is extended to cover lying as well. As the tenth commandment of the Bible covers the coveting of both goods and the wife of the neighbor (the woman being seen as a possession of the man in the same way as his ox and his ass), the Little Catechism separates the two aspects: the coveting of the woman becomes a commandment on the prohibition of sexual relations outside marriage, while the coveting of all other goods becomes the desire to appropriate them in an unjust manner. One can speak of an actualization, but at the same time of a revelation of cultural traits, such as this emphasis on the rules concerning sexuality.

  • v. 20 But he said to Jesus, "Master, all this I have kept from my youth.

    Literally: Then, him he was declaring (ephē) to him, "Teacher, all these things I have kept (ephylaxamēn) from my youth (neotētos)."

    ephē (he was declaring)
    Two points to note. First, we have a verb in the past continuous tense, which signifies an ongoing, unfinished action. The narrative suggests, therefore, that as Jesus lists the commandments, for each one the man signifies to him that he has always kept it. Second, the very fact that Jesus needs to list commandments suggests that he really does not know this man.

    ephylaxamēn (I have kept)
    This is the only time we have the word phylassō (to guard someone, watch, stand guard, defend, protect, guard, observe) in Mark (Mt = 1; Mk = 1; Lk = 6; Jn = 3). This is yet another indication of a vocabulary unfamiliar to Mark and points us to a source from which he draws.
    Verb phylassō in the New Testament
    neotētos (youth)
    The word neotēs (youth) is quite unique in the Gospels (Mt = 0; Mk = 1; Lk = 1; Jn = 0), as Luke merely repeats the text of Mark.
    v. 21 Then Jesus, having set his eyes on him, began to love him and said to him: "One thing is missing, go, sell all these things that you possess, give them to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven, come here and follow me".

    Literally: Then, the Jesus having looked at (emblepsas) him, loved (ēgapēsen) him and said to him, "On thing is lacking (hysterei) to you, go (hypage), as much as you have sell (pōlēson) and give (dos) to the poors (ptōchois) and you will have treasure (thēsauron) in heaven and come (deuro), follow (akolouthei) me."

    emblepsas (having looked at)
    The word emblepō (to look at, to stare at) is very infrequent in the gospels (Mt = 2; Mk = 4; Lk = 2; Jn = 2). It would be wrong to think that it is a word peculiar to Mark when we see that he is the one who uses it the most. First of all, two of the four uses are in our story. The other two uses, where it is no longer a behavior from Jesus, come from the account of the healing of the blind man of Bethsaida who begins to see clearly (emblepō, 8:25), and which is thought to come from an early source (see Meier), and of the passion narrative as one of the high priest's maids stares at (emblepō, 14: 67) Peter, who is trying to remain incognito; in the latter case, Mark is probably borrowing from an earlier source, and there is no indication of editorial work. In Matthew, a similar observation can be made: apart from this passage, which he borrows from our account (Mt 19:26), the only other reference to emblepō comes from the so-called Q Document (Mt 6:26). Only Luke and John give the impression of drawing from their own vocabulary, the words occurring in passages that show editorial work (Lk 20:17; 22:61; Jn 1:36.42). Whatever the origin of the word in our story, its meaning is clear: the staring at the man is intended to express a form of choice or election, as in the case of a disciple.

    ēgapēsen (he loved)
    Of all the evangelists, Mark speaks least of love, either through the word agapaō (Mt = 8; Mk = 5; Lk = 13; Jn = 37), or through the word phileō (Mt = 5; Mk = 1; Lk = 2; Jn = 13). We should even add: our passage is the only one in all the synoptic gospels where Jesus is mentioned as loving (see Glossary). The other four references to love in Mark concern love of God and love of neighbor (12:30-33). Again, we don't have a particular vocabulary of Mark's here, and we still have to acknowledge that he is probably drawing from a source. What this source says is that Jesus has taken a liking to the anonymous man and wants him to become his disciple.

    hysterei (it is lacking)
    The word hystereō is very rare (Mt = 1; Mk = 1; Lk = 2; Jn = 1) and appears only in this one passage in Mark, echoed by Matthew. Other than noting that it does not come from Mark's usual vocabulary, can we say anything else? Earlier, Jesus presented the elements of a universal ethic that opens the door to the kingdom of God. Suddenly we are surprised to hear that this universal ethic is not complete. What does that mean? For the moment, we can only say that this lack concerns only this individual. For the phrase "one thing you lack" comes only after Jesus has looked at him and loved him.

    Verb hystereō in the Gospels-Acts
    hypage (go)
    The verb is here in the imperative tense and is thus found eight times in Mark. Each time, it appears in the mouth of Jesus and, with the exception of a reproach to Peter, it always follows a gesture of healing, as Jesus invites his interlocutor to follow up on what he has just experienced.

    • Mark 1: 44: and (Jesus) said to him (leper), "Beware of saying anything to anyone; but go (hypagō) show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded: it shall be a testimony to them."
    • Mark 2: 11: I (Jesus) command you," he said to the paralytic, "get up, take up your mat and go (hypagō) home."
    • Mark 5: 19: He (Jesus) did not grant it to him (possessed), but said to him, "Go (hypagō) home to your own, and report to them all that the Lord has done for you in his mercy."
    • Mark 5: 34: And he (Jesus) said to her, "My daughter, your faith has saved you; go (hypagō) in peace and be healed of your infirmity."
    • Mark 7: 29: Then he (Jesus) said to her, "Because of this word, go (hypagō) the demon has gone out of your daughter.
    • Mark 8: 33: But he (Jesus), turning and seeing his disciples, admonished Peter and said, "Get thee behind me, Satan; for thy thoughts are not of God, but of men!"
    • Mark 10: 21: Then Jesus, having set his eyes on him, began to love him and said to him: "One thing is missing, (hypagō), what you have, sell it and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."
    • Mark 10: 52: Jesus said to him, "Go (hypagō) your faith has saved you." And immediately he received his sight and walked after him.

    Thus, the challenge of Jesus is to follow up on the fact that he has chosen and loved him. This choice costs something, because the man must change his life to live accordingly.

    pōlēson (sell)
    Again, this is a word Mark rarely uses (Mt = 6; Mk = 3; Lk = 6; Jn = 2). The only other use is in the scene of the sellers in the temple (11:15). And this is the only example in the entire New Testament where the verb is in the imperative in Jesus' mouth: sell (Lk 18:22 and Mt 19:21 only echo Mark), with the exception of Luke of 12:33 (Sell your possessions, and give them in alms. Make for yourselves purses that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where neither thief approaches nor moth destroys) where we find a theme dear to Luke. We do not have here a typical Markan catechesis.

    dos (give)
    The verb didōmi in the imperative is very rare in Mark (Mt = 10; Mk = 3; Lk =11; Jn = 5). And there are only two instances where it comes out of Jesus' mouth, here, and in the scene of the feeding of the crowd (6:37: He answered them (disciples), "Give them (didōmi) yourselves to eat." ). The idea of giving to the poor is more of a theme in Luke (Lk 6:30: To everyone who asks of you, give (didōmi), and from whomsoever you take away your good do not ask for it; Lk 6:38: Give (didōmi), and it shall be given to you; a good measure, packed, shaken, overflowing, shall be poured into your bosom; for of the measure with which you measure it shall be measured to you in return; Lk 11:41: Give (didōmi) rather in alms what you have, and then all will be pure for you; Lk 12:33: "Sell your possessions, and give (didōmi) them in alms. Make for yourselves purses that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where neither thief approaches nor moth destroys).

    ptōchois (poors)
    Although Mark uses the word ptōchos (beggar, poor) five times (Mt = 5; Mk = 5; Lk =10; Jn = 4), it is never to invite his disciples to care for the poor (Mk 12:42-43: Jesus simply values the gesture of a poor widow; Mk 14:5-7: people are indignant about the perfume poured on Jesus whose money could have been given to the poor, but Jesus responds that there will always be poor people, and that he will not always be there). In our scene, Jesus does not explicitly invite to take care of the poor, but asks the man to free himself from his possessions in order to follow him.

    Adjective ptōchos in the Gospels-Acts
    thēsauron (treasure)
    The word thēsauron (Mt = 9; Mk = 1; Lk =4; Jn = 0) (treasure, chest, precious, valuable object, sum of money) appears only here.
    Noun thēsauros in the Gospels-Acts
    deuro (come)
    The same must be said of deuro (Mt = 1; Mk = 1; Lk =1; Jn = 1) (here, so far); Matthew and Luke merely repeat Mark's narrative expression.
    akolouthei (follow)
    Only the verb akoloutheō (Mt = 25; Mk = 18; Lk =17; Jn = 19) (to follow someone, to be a disciple of) appears regularly in his gospel. Here, the verb is in the imperative, and in all the gospels, when this verb is in the imperative and has Jesus as its direct object complement, it always designates a call to become disciples (Mt = 4; Mk = 3; Lk =4; Jn = 4):

    • Mark 2: 14: As he passed by, he saw Levi, the son of Alpheus, sitting at the customs office, and he said to him, "Follow me (akolutheō)." And, rising, he followed him.
    • Mark 8: 34: Calling the crowd together with his disciples to him, he said to them, "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (akolutheō)
    • Mark 10: 21: Then Jesus fixed his eyes on him and loved him. And he said to him, "You lack only one thing: go, what you have, sell it and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me (akolutheō)"
    • Matthew 8: 22: But Jesus said to him, "Follow me (akolutheō), and let the dead bury their dead
    • Matthew 9: 9: When Jesus went out, he saw a man sitting at the customs office, whose name was Matthew, and he said to him, "Follow me! (akoloutheō)" And he got up and followed him.
    • Matthew 16: 24: Then Jesus said to his disciples: "If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (akolutheō).
    • Matthew 19: 21: Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me (akolutheō)"
    • Luke 5: 27: After this he went out, noticed a publican named Levi sitting at the customs office, and said to him, "Follow me (akolutheō)"
    • Luke 9: 23: And he said to everyone: "If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (akolutheō).
    • Luke 9: 59: He said to another, "Follow me (akolutheō)." The latter said, "Allow me to go away first to bury my father."
    • Luke 18: 22: Hearing this, Jesus said to him, "One thing you still lack: whatever you have, sell it and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me (akolutheō)"
    • John 1: 43: The next day, Jesus decided to leave for Galilee; he met Philip and said to him, "Follow me! (akoloutheō)"
    • John 21: 19: He meant, by saying this, the kind of death by which Peter should glorify God. Having said this, he said to him, "Follow me (akolutheō)."
    • John 21: 22: Jesus said to him: "If I want him to stay until I come, what do you care? You, follow me (akoloutheō)."
    • John 12: 26: If anyone serves me, let him follow me (akolutheō), and where I am, there shall my servant be also. If anyone serves me, my Father will honor him.

    I have made a point of presenting this long list of fifteen references where Jesus practically commands people to follow him. This authoritative tone is present throughout the gospel tradition, whether it is the tradition from Mark (2: 14 || Mt 9: 9 || Lk 5: 27; 8: 34 || Mt 16: 24 || Lk 9: 23; 10: 21 || Mt 19: 21 || Lk 18: 22), either that from the Q Document (Mt 8: 22 || Lk 9: 60), and either that from the Johannine tradition (1: 43; 21: 19. 22). This broad consensus most likely gives us an echo of the historical Jesus and emphasizes the urgency of the mission he proposes. All of this gives us an image of strength that distances us from the mawkish image of the figure of Jesus that some Christian iconography proposes.

    In conclusion, we could ask the question: why must a man strip himself in order to be a disciple of Jesus? Our story does not give an explanation. Doesn't it say that riches are bad in themselves? A clue is given to us by the fact that being a disciple consists in walking after him, in moving constantly, and therefore in traveling light (Mk 6:8-9: he commanded them to take nothing for the road but a staff only, no bread, no bag, no small change for a belt... not two tunics). Another clue is given to us by the parable of the seed in the ground (Mk 4:19: the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of wealth, and other lusts penetrate them and choke the Word, which remains without fruit): attachment to Jesus must be undivided and whole.

    v. 22 But the latter, become sad at these words, went away all unhappy. Because he owned a lot of goods.

    Literally: Then, having been sad (stygnasas) upon the word (epi tō logō), he went away grieving (lypoumenos); for he was having many possessions (ktēmata).

    stygnasas (having been sad)
    The verb stygnazō (to be sad, to become sad) is extremely rare in the entire Bible (Mt = 1; Mk = 1; Lk =0; Jn = 0). In the New Testament, the only other presence is in Matthew (13:3: and at dawn: Bad weather today, for the sky becomes red in darkening (stygnazō). Thus, the face of the sky you know how to interpret, and for the signs of the times you are not able! ). In the Greek version of the Old Testament, it is found only in Ezekiel on the occasion of three laments of Yahweh, first on Tyre, a people of sailors, then on Egypt:
    • Ezekiel 27:35: All thy rowers are fallen; all the inhabitants of the isles have mourned (stygnazō) over thee (epi se); their kings are amazed, and their faces are covered with tears
    • Ezekiel 28:19: And all that know thee among the nations shall groan (stygnazō) over thee (epi se). Thou art destroyed, and shalt not be in the ages.
    • Ezekiel 32:10: And many nations shall mourn (stygnazō) over thee (epi se), and their kings shall be astonished, when my sword shall fly before their face, and they shall feel their ruin when they see the day of thy destruction.

    If the passages in Ezekiel are indicative of the meaning of this verb, we cannot speak of a sweet sorrow, for the verb is closer to affliction and groaning. We are closer to upset and stupor. In any case, this vocabulary is not Marcan and points to a tradition which he inherits.

    epi tō logō (upon the word)
    The same is true of the expression (epi tō logō), literally: upon the word (Mt = 0; Mk = 1; Lk =0; Jn = 0; Acts = 1), which is the only example from Mark here, and is used elsewhere only by Luke (Lk 1:29; Acts 20:38). A few verses later, we will have the same expression, but in the plural this time (epi tois logois): upon the words (Mt = 0; Mk = 1; Lk =1; Jn = 0; Acts = 0) that only Luke (4:22) knows elsewhere.

    lypoumenos (grieving)
    The verb lypeō (grieve, afflict, sadden, be saddened, be sad), used here in the present passive participle tense (literally: being grieved), is another very rare word (Mt = 6; Mk = 2; Lk =0; Jn = 1) in Mark; the only other presence is at the last supper when the disciples hear from Jesus that one of them will betray them (Mark 14:19: They became all sad (lypeō) and began to say to him one after another, "Could it be me?"). It is easy to imagine that it was part of the original story that Mark took up as is. The point is: the fact that he cannot follow Jesus distresses him to the utmost and becomes a catastrophe for him.

    ktēmata (possessions)
    The word ktēma (possession, to have) appears only here in the gospels (Mt = 1; Mk = 1; Lk =0; Jn = 0; Acts = 2), Matthew merely repeating Mark's account. Only Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, uses it to tell that the first Christians sold their possessions (2:45) and to tell the story of Ananias and Sapphira who sold their property (5:1), but embezzled part of the price. If we trust Luke, we can imagine that we are dealing with a vocabulary known to the first Christian communities.

    With this verse the story of the rich man who wants to follow Jesus ends, since thereafter Jesus begins a dialogue with his disciples about wealth. After examining the vocabulary of this story, we can conclude with a high degree of probability that Mark did not invent this story from scratch, but received it from a tradition, for several reasons: 1) we are dealing with words that are not part of his familiar vocabulary; 2) the story does not, in itself, belong to his major catechetical themes, such as suffering or the messianic secret. Historically, it is likely that Jesus was rejected in his calls to follow him. In the story, there is a great tension between the beginning when a man expresses such a great desire for the eternal life offered by God (he runs to Jesus, he kneels down), and the end when he is distressed and stunned at not being able to go all the way.

    v. 23 And turning to look at his disciples, Jesus said to them, "How difficult it will be for those who possess property to enter into the domain of God".

    Literally: And having looked around (periblepsamenos) the Jesus says to his disciples, "How difficultly (dyskolōs) those having riches (chrēmata) will enter (eiseleusontai) into the kingdom of God (tēn basileian tou theou)."

    periblepsamenos (having looked around)
    The atmosphere changes as we fall into a dialogue between Jesus with his disciples. And the first verb in this new narrative, periblepō (look around, consider), formed from two words, peri (around, as in peripheral), blepō (to look) is a thoroughly Marcan word (Mt = 0; Mk = 5; Lk =1; Jn = 1), for he is the only one to use it, Luke (6:10) merely repeating one of his accounts. The action of looking around is meant to express the attention given to each person before saying something important (see 3:5 where Jesus looks around at the scribes and Pharisees, sorry for the hardness of their hearts, and 3:34 where Jesus looks around at his audience to say who his mother and brothers really are), or, when it comes to things, it means attention to detail (see 9:8 where Peter, James and John scan the surrondings to try to find Moses and Elijah at the end of the scene of Jesus' transfiguration, and 11:11 where Jesus examines the temple to come back the next day to knock down the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of the dove traders). We should therefore expect an important word here.

    dyskolōs (difficultly)
    With the word dyskolōs (difficultly, arduously), we return to a rare word (Mt = 1; Mk = 1; Lk =1; Jn = 0) that is found only in Mark in the entire Bible, Matthew and Luke merely retelling Mark's account. One can imagine that it was part of the original story.

    chrēmata (riches)
    The same is true of chrēma (goods, having, wealth, money) which, apart from this passage taken up by Luke, appears only in Acts (Mt = 0; Mk = 1; Lk =1; Jn = 0; Acts = 4). This sentence was to be the conclusion of the original story.

    eis tēn basileian tou theou eiseleusontai (they will enter into the kingdom of God)
    Of course, the verb eiserchomai (to enter, penetrate) is a very frequent word (Mt = 33; Mk = 30; Lk =50; Jn = 15). In Mark, Jesus enters the synagogue, the house, the temple, a city. But the question that must be asked is this: is the expression "entering the kingdom of God" present elsewhere in Mark's gospel? The answer is: yes. First, there is the set of words of Jesus around the scandal: it is better to enter the kingdom of God or life one-handed or crippled or one-eyed, than with all one's limbs intact (see 9:43.45.47). Then there is the passage where Jesus warns his audience that whoever does not welcome the Kingdom of God as a little child will not enter it (10:15). This last verse acts as a kind of introduction to our story. So we must admit that we have here a Marcan expression.

    In this verse we have a mixture of words familiar to Mark and rare words that seem to come from the original story. We must admit that Mark has slightly modified the conclusion of the original story to put a personal touch to it, which allows it to be integrated into the whole of his gospel.

    v. 24 And hearing these words, the disciples were astonished. But Jesus spoke again to say to them, "My children, how difficult it is to enter the domain of God.

    Literally: Then, the disciples were astonished (ethambounto) upon his words. Then, the Jesus answering again he says to them, "Children (tekna), how difficult it is to enter into the kingdom of God those who had trusted upon the riches.

    ethambounto (they were astonished)
    The verb thambeō (to strike with awe, to be seized with fear, to be astonished), though infrequent, appears quite Marcan (Mt = 0; Mk = 3; Lk =0; Jn = 0). We first encounter it in the scene where Jesus heals a man with an unclean spirit on the Sabbath at the synagogue in Capernaum and the people were all amazed (thambeō), so that they asked each other, "What is this? A new teaching, given with authority! Even to unclean spirits he commands and they obey him!" (1: 27). Mark also uses it at the moment when the disciples go up to Jerusalem behind Jesus, and they are stunned (thambeō) and frightened, as Jesus is about to announce what awaits him (10: 32). The verb, therefore, reflects the fact that the disciples are taken aback, unsettled, and even afraid before the vision of life that Jesus presents to them.

    tekna (children)
    This verse essentially repeats what Jesus has already said, which our analysis has revealed to contain a mixture of Marcan words and words presumably from the source he uses. The only new element is the word teknon (child, son, or daughter), here in the vocative plural, so literally "children!" which we have rendered as "my children" to express the call out. The word teknon is very frequent (Mt = 14; Mk = 9; Lk =14; Jn = 0). Children are present in the gospels, especially in Mark. But what we want to know is, does Mark present us elsewhere with a call out of someone, especially an adult, with the word "child"? Yes, we have that in this scene in Capernaum where a paralytic is brought to Jesus through the roof, and to whom Jesus says, "My child (teknon), your sins are forgiven" (2:5). In short, we must conclude that the word is part of Mark's usual vocabulary. It probably conveys a feeling of tenderness and affection, like a master towards his disciples.

    Noun teknon in the New Testament
    v. 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the domain of God".

    Literally: It is easier (eukopōteron) a camel (kamēlon) to go through (dielthein) the eye of the needle ([tēs] trymalias [tēs] rhaphidos) than a rich man (plousion) to enter into the kingdom of God."

    eukopōteron (it is easier)
    The adjective eukopos (easy to do), is always used as a comparative (easier than) in the gospels (Mt = 2; Mk = 2; Lk =3; Jn = 0). It is Mark who seems to introduce it in the gospels, here in our story and earlier in the scene of healing a paralytic (Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven, or to say, Get up, take up your bed and walk? , 2:9) that Matthew and Luke pick up on. Only Luke uses this comparative adjective in another context: It is easier for heaven and earth to pass than for one small line of the Law to be dropped, 16: 17).

    kamēlon (camel)
    We encounter kamēlos infrequently in the gospels (Mt = 3; Mk = 2; Lk =1; Jn = 0). Mark introduced it with the mention of John the Baptist's clothing, made of camel skin (1:6), before referring to it as a means of transportation in the image of our scene. Matthew takes up these two references (3:4; 19:24) and adds a third in Jesus' invective to the scribes and Pharisees (Blind guides, who stop the mosquito in the filter and swallow the camel, 23:24). As for Luke, he only takes up Mark's scene about the rich man (18: 25).

    [tēs] trymalias [tēs] rhaphidos (the eye of the needle)
    The words trymalia (eye, chasm, crevice of rock) (Mt = 0; Mk = 1; Lk =0; Jn = 0) and rhaphis (needle, spike, spur) (Mt = 1; Mk = 1; Lk =0; Jn = 0) are unique to Mark's account, with only Matthew picking up on Mark's rhaphis in the parallel scene. There has been much debate about the meaning of this difficult image. Some have proposed the idea that the needle was a small back door giving access to the city of Jerusalem, and thus required the camel to be unloaded of its load before entering the door, but such a door could never be confirmed. Others turned to the needle of a rocky spur, and thus expressed the difficulty for a camel to fit into this hole in the rock. All these efforts are aimed at correcting the absurdity of the image. But knowing that the camel was considered the biggest animal, and the hole of a needle as the smallest thing, is it not better to accept the image as it is and to see in it a quite oriental way of caricaturing reality and of affirming with a bit of exaggeration the quasi impossibility of a thing?

    dielthein (to go through)
    Dierchomai (to go through, to cross, to pass through the middle, to traverse), while very common in Luke (Mt = 2; Mk = 2; Lk = 10; Jn = 2 Acts = 20), is very little used in the other evangelists. The two uses in Matthew, for example, come from Mark, in the parallel to our story, and from the Q Document when he speaks of the spirit wandering the dry places in search of rest (12:43). What does this mean? We do not have Mark's familiar vocabulary here, and so we can assume that the whole image comes from an ancient source.

    plousion (rich)
    Only Luke uses the word plousios frequently (Mt = 2; Mk = 2; Lk =11; Jn = 0). As we have noted, Mark does not make the issue of wealth a theme of his gospel: the only other use appears when Jesus is in the temple and observes the rich putting money into the temple treasury. On the other hand, we have pointed out that the expression "to enter the domain/kingdom of God" may come from Mark's pen.

    Adjective plousios in the Gospels-Acts
    v. 26 These were extremely flabbergasted saying to each other: "But who can be saved?"

    Literally: Then, them they were exceedingly (perissōs) amazed (exeplēssonto) saying to one another, "And who is able to be saved (sōthēnai)?"

    perissōs exeplēssonto (they were exceedingly)
    The words perissōs (excessively, abundantly, violently) (Mt = 1; Mk = 2; Lk = 0; Jn = 0) and ekplēssō (to be struck down, to be astonished) (Mt = 4; Mk = 5; Lk = 3; Jn = 0), though infrequent, seem to belong well to Mark's vocabulary. Apart from our account, perissōs appears later in Jesus' trial before Pilate when the crowd shouts with more violence (perissōs) to crucify him, a scene taken up by Matthew 27:23. The same observation can be made for ekplēssō which Mark uses in various scenes:
    • He teaches with authority, i.e. a teaching of his own that surprises, and does not content himself with repeating or commenting as the scribes do (1: 22 || Mt 7: 28 | Lk 4: 32)
    • He shows great wisdom and performs marvelous healings even though he is a man like everyone else (6: 2 || Mt 13: 54 || Lk 4: 22)
    • He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak, which is quite unique (7: 37 || Lk 9: 43)
    • His teaching is also unique and radical, like what he says about rich people" (10: 26 || Mt 19: 25)
    • His teaching captivates the crowds with his teaching (11: 18 || Mt 22: 33)

    It will have been noticed that all references to ekplēssō in the gospels outside of Mark can be traced back to one or another passage in Mark, with the exception of a passage in the infancy narrative in Luke when Jesus' parents are upset upon finding their twelve-year-old child in the temple. We are in Mark's world.

    sōthēnai (to be saved)
    The verb sōzō is widespread in the Gospels (Mt = 15; Mk = 15; Lk = 17; Jn = 6). It takes the Hebrew word yasha‛ which means: to save, deliver, rescue. When we look at the fifteen uses of the verb in Mark, we can group them into two broad categories:

    1. First, there is the sense of a physical intervention, a release from illness or physical disability (5: 23.28.34; 6: 56), or a situation leading to death (13, 20; 15, 30.31)

    2. Then there is the sense of access to life beyond death (8:35; 10:26; 13:13). It is a liberation from the grip of death and access to a life given by God. Mark does not specify what this life is. Note that Mark 16:16 should also be placed in this category, with the idea of escape from condemnation, but it does not come from the pen of the author of the whole gospel according to Mark.

    Just about all of Mark's scenes were taken up either by Matthew (Mt 9:21; 14:36; 24:22; 27:40,41) or by Luke (Lk 6:9; 18:42), or by both (Mt 9:22 || Lk 8:48; Mt 16:25 || Lk 9:24; Mt 19:25 || Lk 18:26; Mt 10:22 || Mt 24:13). The word sōzō precedes the writing of the gospels.

    In John, we move to another level, for life beyond death has already begun. For faith is the acceptance of Jesus' word (5:34), and thus the acceptance of God's initiative, and allows one to escape condemnation (3:17; 12:47) in this immense trial between God and the world. Faith gives access to life without end (10:9).

    The disciples' question expresses a great surprise in the context of Judaism where wealth is seen as a sign of God's blessing. It is a reversal of the vision of things. It is enough to destabilize the disciples.

    Mark gives us little clue about the problem of riches, except that they can become a prison preventing us from following Jesus on a path where we must walk lightly.

    Verb sōzō in the New Testament
    v. 27 After staring at them, Jesus said, "For men it is impossible (adynaton), but not for God. Because for God everything is possible".

    Literally: Having looked at (emblepsas) them, the Jesus says, "With men (it is) impossible, but not with God; for all things (are) possible (dynata) with God."

    emblepsas (Having looked at)
    We have already analyzed this expression above and concluded that it is not typical of Mark. Jesus had previously set his eyes the man to invite him to follow him, but now he stared at his disciples. Important words will follow.

    adynaton... dynata (impossible... possible)
    This is the only instance of the word adynatos (impotent, weak, impossible) in the gospels (Mt = 1; Mk = 1; Lk = 1; Jn = 0), Matthew and Luke merely using the word in their parallel scene. As for dynatos (powerful, capable, possible), it is hardly more frequent (Mt = 3; Mk = 4; Lk = 4; Jn = 0). In Mark, apart from our scene, it occurs in the apocalyptic discourse (13:22), which Mark probably received from tradition, and in Gethsemane (14:35,36) where, according to Raymond E. Brown, Mark put a known Hellenistic Christian prayer formula on Jesus' lips. In short, this whole phrase does not seem to be a creation of Mark. All of Matthew's references (19:26; 24:24; 26:39) to this word are a borrowing from Mark. As for Luke, apart from its parallel to our scene (18:27), it appears in passages of his own (1:49; 14:31; 24:19).

    One would look in vain in Mark for a development on the conditions for entering the kingdom of God. The passages that refer to this in some way concern the need to accept the kingdom of God as a little child (10: 15), i.e. this kingdom is a gift from God that we can only accept by abandoning ourselves to this gift.

    v. 28 Peter began to say to him, "Behold, we have left everything to follow you."

    Literally: He began (Ērxato) to say the Peter to him, "Behold (idou), we, we have left (aphēkamen) all and have followed (ēkolouthēkamen) you."

    Ērxato (he began)
    With archō (to command, to begin, to set about), we fall here into the vocabulary frequently used by Mark (Mt = 13; Mk = 27; Lk = 31; Jn = 2). The verb is used in the past continuous tense tense, signifying a dialogue that continues over time.

    Verbe archō dans le Nouveau Testament
    idou (behold)
    Mark does not use the expression as much as the others (Mt = 62; Mk = 7; Lk = 57; Jn = 4), but it seems to be part of his vocabulary.

    Expression idou in the Gospels-Acts
    aphēkamen panta kai ēkolouthēkamen soi (we have left all and have followed you)
    Both terms, aphiēmi (take out, send away, dismiss, leave out, neglect, omit, hand over, let, leave, forsake) (Mt = 48; Mk = 34; Lk = 36; Jn = 15) and akolutheō (follow, to be a disciple of) (Mt = 25; Mk = 18; Lk = 17; Jn = 19) fall within Mark's colloquial vocabulary.

    It is easy to see that Peter's question no longer belongs to the original story. For, as far as we know, the disciples do not belong to the group of the rich and have not sold anything to join Jesus. Noting his usual vocabulary here, we can say that we are dealing with a redactional work in which Mark attaches to the story of the rich man a similar theme, that of the disciple who must leave his world to follow Jesus. And as he does a number of times, Mark makes Peter play the role of representative of the disciples as a whole (it is Peter who expresses the faith of the disciples in Jesus, and at the same time opposes in the name of all of them his destiny of suffering, 8:29-32; it is he who, in the name of James and John, proposes to build three tents to stay at the place of the transfiguration, 9:5; It is he who commits himself never to abandon Jesus in the name of the other disciples, 14: 29; at the same time, Jesus addresses Peter as the representative of the disciples when he reproaches him for refusing his tragic destiny, :, 33; in Gethsemane, it is by addressing him that Jesus reproaches the disciples for sleeping, 14: 37.)

    v. 29 Jesus said, "Truly, I assure you, no one will have left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields because of me and because of the Gospel,

    Literally: He was declaring the Jesus, "Amen, I say to you (amēn legō hymin), no one he is who has left house (oikian) or brothers (adelphous) or sisters (adelphas) or mother (mētera) or father (patera) or children (tekna) or lands (agrous) for the sake of (heneken) me and the sake of the gospel (euangeliou)

    amēn legō hymin (Amen, I say to you)
    The word amēn is the transliteration of the Hebrew word: ʾāmēn, which means: it is solid, it is true. It is found frequently in the mouth of Jesus throughout the gospels (Mt = 31; Mk = 13; Lk = 5; Jn = 50). The word lends a certain solemnity to what is asserted. The expression amēn legō hymin (literally, amen I say to you, which we have translated as: truly, I assure you) appears eight times in Mark's pen.

    • After feeding a crowd of four thousand people, while the Pharisees still ask for a sign, Jesus says (probably to his disciples) that he will not give a sign to this generation (8: 12)
    • He affirms that some in this listening crowd will not die before they see the kingdom of God come with power (9: 1)
    • He told his disciples that whoever gives them a drink because they belong to Christ will not lose his reward (9: 41)
    • He insists on telling his disciples that they must accept the kingdom of God like little children (10: 15)
    • He tells his disciples that they will not leave their parents, families, or possessions without receiving a hundredfold (10: 29)
    • He tells his disciples that the poor woman who gave to the temple the little she had to give more than all the others (12: 43)
    • He reveals to his disciples at the last supper that one of them will betray him (14: 18)
    • Finally, he tells his disciples that he will not drink any more wine until he enters the kingdom of God (14: 25)

    Jesus seems to address above all his disciples, or those who welcome him in faith, to make them discover a dimension of life that is not obvious: there can be no sign for those who do not believe, the kingdom is close at hand and some will soon have access to it, any action to follow Jesus will have its reward, the kingdom is welcomed in the manner of a little child, the gift is not evaluated only by the amount of money, someone close to Jesus will betray him.

    oikian adelphous adelphas mētera patera tekna agrous (house brothers sisters mother father children lands)
    This is plainly Markan vocabulary:
    • oikia (Mt = 25; Mk = 18; Lk = 24; Jn = 5)
    • adelphos (Mt = 39; Mk = 20; Lc = 24; Jn = 14)
    • adelphē (Mt = 3; Mk = 5; Lc = 6; Jn = 6)
    • mētēr (Mt = 26; Mk = 17; Lc = 17; Jn = 11)
    • patēr (Mt = 62; Mk = 18; Lc = 50; Jn = 129)
    • teknon (Mt = 14; Mk = 9; Lc = 14; Jn = 0)
    • agros (Mt = 17; Mk = 9; Lc = 9; Jn = 0)
    • heneken (Mt = 6; Mk = 5; Lc = 3; Jn = 0)
    • euangelion (Mt = 4; Mk = 8; Lc = 0; Jn = 0)

    Of course, the terms home, brother, sister, mother, father, child, land are part of everyone's usual vocabulary.

    Nouns oikia and oikos in Mark

    Noun teknon in the New Testament

    heneken (for the sake of)
    Note that the expression heneken (for the sake of), with the exception of two verses in Matthew's Beatitudes (5:10-11), is unique to Mark, since in their parallel passages Matthew and Luke only repeat Mark.
    • Mark 8:35: Whoever indeed wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel will save it || Mt 16:25 || Lk 9:24
    • Mark 10:29: Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, no one will leave home, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or fields for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel || Mt 19:29 || Lk 18:29
    • Mark 13:9: "Be on your guard. You will be handed over to the Sanhedrin, and you will be scourged in the synagogues, and you will appear before governors and kings, for my sake, to give testimony before them || Mt 10:18 || Lk 21:12

    euangeliou (Gospel)
    Finally, the word eu (good) angelion (news) or gospel is from Mark's pen. His work begins with the phrase: "Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God" 1:1). The gospel becomes a reality in itself, along with the person of Jesus, so that he can speak equivalently of giving one's life for Jesus or for the gospel. Elsewhere in the gospel accounts, only Matthew uses the word euangelion, but not as a reality in itself, but simply as a qualifier for the kingdom (good news of the kingdom, 4:23; 9:35; 24:14); his only use of the word as a reality in itself is a reprise of Mark (Mt 26:13).

    Whatever the vocabulary, Mark intends in this verse to name everything that belongs to a person's world, his field and his house, as well as his family. To give it up means: to give up everything.

    v. 30 that he will not receive a hundred more times now as homes, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions, and for the coming period, a life without end."

    Literally: if he would not receive (labē) a hundred times (hekatontaplasiona) now in this time (nyn en tō kairō) houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands with persecutions (diōgmōn), and in the age which is coming (en tō aiōni tō erchomenō) eternal life (zōēn aiōnion)."

    labē (he would receive)
    The word lambanō (to take, to receive, to welcome) is prevalent in all four gospels (Mt = 53; Mk = 20; Lk = 21; Jn = 46).

    Verb lambanō in Mark
    hekatontaplasiona (hundred times)
    On the other hand, hekatontaplasiōn (multiplied by a hundred, a hundredfold) appears only here, taken up by Matthew (19:29) in the parallel passage, and in Luke (8:8) where he takes up a parallel passage from Mark about the seed in the ground, but prefers hekatontaplasiōn to Mark's hekaton (Mt = 1; Mk = 1; Lk = 1; Jn = 0).

    nyn en tō kairō (now in this time)
    Finally, the expression nyn en tō kairō (Literally: now at this time) is unique, although the individual words nyn (now, at present, henceforth) is more common (Mt = 4; Mk = 3; Lk = 13; Jn = 28) as well as kairos (time, instant, moment, epoch) (Mt = 4; Mk = 5; Lk = 13; Jn = 3). In Mark kairos refers to two types of time: 1) that which God intended with creation and which is about to end with the approach of God's reign, and make way for a new era (The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand, 1:15; watch, for you do not know when it will be time/time (the coming of the son of man), 13: 33); 2) that of the seasons of nature (for it was not the season of figs, 11: 13; he sent a servant to the vinedressers when the time was right, 12: 2). The word nyn (now) also has two meanings: 1) the present time that began with creation (For in those days there shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of creation which God created until now, 13: 19); 2) "at once" (Let Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, 15: 32).

    What to conclude? The promise of an overflowing reward with expressions like "hundredfold" and "present time" does not seem to me to be part of Mark's familiar vocabulary and could come from an ancient source. Of course, it is impossible to reconstruct the historical words of Jesus, but this promise seems consistent with what we can guess about the one who announced the coming of God's reign, for whom the present time was unique, and who invited people to follow him, with the promise that they would enter a new world.

    diōgmōn (persecutions)
    This is an insertion from Mark. How can we say that? The word diōgmos (pursuit, persecution) is very rare (Mt = 1; Mk = 2; Lk = 0; Jn = 0), appearing only 7 times elsewhere in the New Testament (Acts 8:1; 13:50; 2 Thess 1:4; Rom 8:35; 2 Cor 12:10; 2 Tim 3:11), primarily in reference to the persecutions that Paul of Tarsus suffered. But we believe that the word was added here by Mark to the received tradition for the following reasons.

    1. The word persecution interrupts the sequence of rewards for the one who has left everything; it is strange to add a bad news in a string of good news that aims at motivating the disciple
    2. The framework of persecution for the disciples does not belong to the time of Jesus, but appears with the existence of the first Christian communities, and the missionary activity of Paul.
    3. In the gospels the word diōgmos is peculiar to Mark, since the only reference in Matthew (13:21) is a reprise of a passage from Mark (4:17) which explains the parable of the sower. Now, if Jesus seems to be the author of the parables, the situation is quite different in the second part, where an attempt is made to bring the parable up to date "at home" (in the church), where each element of the parable refers to an aspect of current events, in short, where the parable is allegorized. It is at this point in Mark's story that the persecutions appear when he tries to explain the seed that fell on rocky ground: the disciples who had received Jesus' word with joy abandon their conviction because of the persecutions.
    4. The theme of the difficulty of being a disciple is a common thread throughout Mark's gospel, with the constant reminder of the sufferings and the cross, the anguish of Jesus in Gethsemane and the abandonment of the disciples.

    en tō aiōni tō erchomenō (in the age which is coming)
    The expression en tō aiōni tō erchomenō is unique to Mark and found only here, and which Luke (18:30) picks up in his parallel passage. Yet the verb erchomai (to come, to arrive, to go, to appear) is very common in the gospels (Mt = 113; Mk = 85; Lk = 99; Jn = 156), but it is aiōn (century, epoch, time, era) that is uncommon (Mt = 7; Mk = 4; Lk = 7; Jn = 10). In some ways, aiōn is synonymous with kairos. But the emphasis is different. Kairos refers more to the time that the clock refers to and the present moment. Aiōn refers to a larger cycle: there are past centuries, there is the present century, and there is the century of the world to come. In any case, kairos and aiōn form a symmetrical structure, introduced by the preposition en (in, in) in both cases: -nyn en tō kairō toutō (now in this time)
    -      en tō aiōni tō erchomenō (in the age which is coming)

    Such a structure with en is unique in the gospels and suggests that it comes from a tradition older than Mark's gospel itself and is not part of Mark's vocabulary.

    zōēn aiōnion (eternal life)
    The expression zōēn aiōnion is prevalent throughout the New Testament (Mt = 3; Mk = 2; Lk 3; Jn = 17; Acts = 2; Pauline Epistles = 9; 1 Jn = 6; Jude = 1). In Paul, it appeared in his letter to the Galatians: whoever sows in the flesh will reap corruption from the flesh; whoever sows in the spirit will reap eternal life from the spirit (6:8). The expression is not the work of the evangelists. It appears in Mark only here, in this account of the man who sought the path to eternal life, and is really not part of his vocabulary. It was John who made it one of the great themes of his gospel, a theme taken up by the Johannine epistles. It is safe to say that the expression goes back to an ancient tradition, and perhaps even to Jesus himself. Yet Jesus did not create this expression, which seems to have been born with the conviction from the 2nd century BC onward of the existence of life after death, and thus of a general resurrection. We have two texts:
    • Daniel 12:2: "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to reproach and everlasting shame. "
    • 2 Maccabees 7:9: "And when he was at his last breath, he (one of the seven Maccabean brothers) said, 'You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws.'"

    It is probable that we are faced here with one of the convictions of Jesus which he shared with a part of the Judaism of his time which affirmed the existence beyond death of a resurrection of the dead operated by God. But this resurrection followed God's judgment on human existence, and was offered to those who had followed a path of justice. This is the framework within which the question of man that begins this story must be situated.

    To conclude this verse-by-verse analysis in which we have tried to identify what Mark received from an earlier tradition and what he added to that tradition, let us try to identify the content of that tradition which might look like this

    Someone came to him and knelt down and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit life without end? 18 But Jesus answered him, "Why do you say that I am good? No one is good except God. 19 You know the commandments: do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not commit fraud, treat your father and mother with honor." 20 But he pointed out to Jesus, "Teacher, all these things I have observed from my youth." 21 Then Jesus, after looking at him, began to love him and said to him, "One thing you lack; go, sell all these things you possess, give them to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; come here and follow me." 22 But he became sad at these words and went away all miserable. For he had many possessions. 23 Jesus said to his disciples, "How difficult it will be for those who have possessions to enter the kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." The disciples said to one another, "But who can be saved? "27 After looking at them, Jesus said, "For men it is impossible, but not for God. For with God everything is possible."

    For the rest of his account, Mark probably incorporated another ancient story from the context of Jesus' promise to those who followed him:

    Jesus said to those who had followed him: 29 "Truly, I assure you, no one who has followed me without 30 receiving a hundred times as much now in this time and for the time to come a life without end.

    Expression zōē aiōnios in the Gospels-Acts
    1. Analysis of the narrative's structure

      To take into account the results of our previous analysis, we have put in blue what we believe to be from a pre-Marcan tradition, and in red what is from Mark's pen.

      Introduction v. 17a

      • Characters: Jesus and an ordinary man
      • Location: somewhere on the road
      • Attitude: intense desire of the man and great respect for Jesus

      1. Dialogue between man and Jesus v. 17b - 22

        1. Man's question: to obtain eternal life v. 17b
          • Good teacher, what should I do?

        2. Jesus' answer v. 18-19
          1. Do not call a human "good", because God alone is good
          2. You know the commandments (6) of relations with others

        3. Man's response: I have always kept the commandments v. 20

        4. Jesus' reaction: he loves him and asks her to follow him v. 21
          • Jesus looks at the man and begins to love him
          • One thing you lack, sell what you have, give it to the poor, follow me

        5. The man's answer and conclusion: he walks away sad, being rich v. 22

      2. Dialogue between Jesus and his disciples v. 23 – 30

        1. Commentary of the scene by Jesus v. 23
          • Jesus turns to look at his disciples
          • how difficult it is for those who have goods
          • to enter the kingdom of God

        2. Reaction of the disciples: they are stunned v. 24a

        3. Jesus' insistence on his comment v. 24b – 25
          • My children
          • How difficult it is
          • To enter the kingdom of God
          • Comparison of the camel and the needle hole
          • To enter the kingdom of God

        4. Reaction of the disciples: who can be saved? v. 26

        5. Jesus' answer v. 27
          • Jesus looks at them
          • Impossible for men, possible for God

        6. Question from Peter: we left everything to follow you v. 28

        7. Jesus' answer v 29-30
          • Really, I assure you
          • No one will have left his possessions and his family because of the gospel
          • that he does not receive a hundred times more now
          • as property and family
          • with persecutions
          • and for the period to come, a life without end

    2. Context Analysis

      We have a geographical marker to delineate the context that precedes our narrative: "Starting from there (Capernaum), Jesus goes into the territory of Judea, beyond the Jordan (Perea). Again the crowds gather around him and he taught them once more according to his custom" (10:1).

      Another geographical marker signals the end of our section: "They were on their way and went up to Jerusalem" (10:32). Moreover, 10:31 has the trappings of a conclusion: "Many of the first will be last and the last will be first."

      Within this setting of chapter 10, we can identify this structure.

      Introduction: Jesus is in the territory of Judea and teaches.

      1. Dispute on Divorce v. 2 - 12
        1. Discussion with the Pharisees v. 2 - 9
          • Question: Is it permissible for a man to divorce his wife?
          • Jesus' question: what does Moses say?
          • Answer of the Pharisees: according to Moses one can divorce with a certificate
          • Jesus' answer:
            • The rule of Moses is to mark out the hardness of your heart
            • God wanted man and woman to be one flesh that must not be separated
        2. Discussion with the disciples (at home): update v. 10 - 12
          • The disciples ask Jesus
          • Jesus: to divorce one's spouse is an act of adultery

      2. Dispute on Children v. 13 - 16
        1. Subject of the dispute: people bring children to Jesus, but the disciples object
        2. Jesus' position
          • Let them come
          • They are a model of how to welcome the kingdom of God
          • Conclusion: Jesus embraces the children by laying his hands on them

      3. Dispute on Wealth v. 17 - 30
        1. Dialogue of the rich man with Jesus v. 17 – 22
          • Man's question about access to eternal life
          • Jesus' response linked to the observance of the commandments, then to the call to follow him
          • Denouement: the rich man declines Jesus' call
        2. Dialogue of the disciples with Jesus v. 23 - 30
          • Difficulty for the rich to access the kingdom of God
          • The disciples ask the question: who can be saved?
          • Jesus' answer: impossible for men, possible with God's help
          • Peter's question about the fate of the disciples who followed him
          • Jesus' answer: a hundredfold now, eternal life later

      Conclusion: Many of the first will be last and the last will be first

      • When we look at the whole, it is difficult to see a common thread: the three sub-chapters we have identified appear as disparate elements that Mark has tried to link together in some way. The conclusion of v. 31 seems to suggest a theme: the reversal of our view of things. According to Judaism, a man can divorce his wife at will; a child has no social value; wealth is a sign of God's favor. But Jesus says: let not man separate what God has joined together; children are the model to follow in order to enter the kingdom of God; wealth is an obstacle to enter the kingdom of God. This is a complete reversal.

      • As is often the case with the gospel writers, there are a few key words that bind together this string of stories. First, there is the reference to the Old Testament. In his answer to the Pharisees on divorce (10:2), Jesus refers his audience to Genesis where Yahweh explains how the man will leave his father and mother to cleave to his wife and become one flesh with his wife. It is again the reference to the Old Testament that comes up in Jesus' response to the rich man where he quotes Exodus or Deuteronomy on the commandments of God. Then there is the reference to the kingdom of God when Jesus says that it is to be welcomed as a child (10:15), and then declares that it is not easily accessible to someone who is rich (10:23). Finally, the whole context is sprinkled with key words like man, woman, husband, wife and children. This is the glue that holds together stories that would otherwise appear disparate.

    3. Parallels

      What follows is a literal translation of parallel texts of Mark, Matthiew and Luke. We have underlined words from Mark that also appear in the other evangelists, and we have colored in blue words in Luke and Matthew that are similar. Partially colored or underlined words indicate the same word, but in a different tense or form.

      Marc 10Matthieu 19Luc 18
      17 And when him going forth toward road, having run up one and having knelt down to him he was asking him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do in order that I might inherit eternal life?"16 And behold, one having come to him, he said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do in order that I might have eternal life?"18 And asked him a certain ruler saying, "Good Teacher, what having done I might inherit eternal life?"
      18 Then the Jesus said to him, "Why you say to me good? No one (is) good if not one the God.17a Then him said to him, "Why do you question me about the good; one is the good.19a Then the Jesus said to him, "Why you say to me good? No one (is) good if not one the God.
      19a The commandments you know: 17b Then if you want to enter into the life, keep the commandments." 18a He says to him, "Which?" Then the Jesus said,19b The commandments you know.
      19b you should not murder, you should not commit adultery, you should not steal, you should not bear false witness, you should not defraud,18b "The you will not murder, you will not commit adultery, you will not steal, you will not bear false witness,20a you should not murder, you should not commit adultery, you should not steal, you should not bear false witness,
      19c honor your father and mother."19 honor your father and mother, and you will love your neighbor as yourself."20b honor your father and mother."
      20 Then, him he was declaring to him, "Teacher, all these things I have kept myself from my youth."20 The young man says to him, "All these things I have kept, what still lack I?"21 Then, him he said, "All these things I have kept from youth.
      21 Then, the Jesus having looked at him, loved him and said to him, "On thing is lacking to you, go, as much as you have sell and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven and come, follow me."21 The Jesus was declaring to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your properties and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heavens, and come, follow me."22 Then, having heard, the Jesus said to him, "Still one (thing) falls short, all as much as you have sell and give out to poor, and you will have treasure in the heavens, and come, follow me."
      22 Then, him having been sad upon the word, he went away grieving; for he was having many possessions.22 Then, having heard the word, the young man, he went away grieving; for he was having many possessions.Then, him having heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.
      23 And having looked around the Jesus says to his disciples, "How with difficulty those having riches will enter into the kingdom of God."23 Then, the Jesus said to his disciples, "Amen I say to you that rich with difficulty will enter into the kingdom of heavens.24 Then, seeing him the Jesus [having become very sad] said, "How with difficulty those having riches will come into the kingdom of God."
      24 Then, the disciples were astonished upon his words. Then, the Jesus answering again he says to them, "Children, how difficult it is to enter into the kingdom of God those who had trusted upon the riches.24a Then, again I say to you, 
      25 It is easier a camel to go through [the] eye of [the] needle than a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."24b "It is easier a camel to go through eye of needle than a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."25 For it is easier a camel to enter eye of an arrow than a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
      26 Then, them they were exceedingly amazed saying to one another, "And who is able to be saved?"25 Then having heard the disciples were extremely amazed saying, "so who is able to be saved?"26 Then, having heard they said, "And who is able to be saved?"
      27 Having looked at them, the Jesus says, "With men (it is) impossible, but not with God; for all things (are) possible with God."26 Then, having looked, the Jesus said to them, "With men this is impossible, then with God all things (are) possible."27 Then, him he said, "the impossible things with men, with God is possible."
      28 He began to say the Peter to him, "Behold, we, we have left all and have followed you."27 Thereupon answering the Peter said to him, "Behold, we, we have left all and have followed you. So what will be for us?"28 Then, the Peter said, "Behold, we, having left our owns we have followed you."
      29a The Jesus was declaring, "Amen, I say to you,28a Then, the Jesus said to them, "Amen I say to you that29a Then, the Jesus said to them, "Amen I say to you that
       28b you having followed me in the renewal, when the son of man should sit down on his throne of glory, you, you will sit down also on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 
      29b no one he is who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for the sake of me and the sake of the gospel29a and everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name,29b no one he is who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God,
      30 if he should not receive a hundred times now in this time houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands with persecutions, and in the age which is coming eternal life."29b He will receive a hundred times and he will inherit eternal life."30 this one should he not receive a hundred times in this time and in the age which is coming eternal life?"

      We can make a number of observations based on a certain consensus in exegesis where Mark is the first gospel, and both Matthew and Luke had it in front of them when writing their gospel.

      1. Luke felt the need to specify who this man was otherwise identified as "someone" in Mark: he would be a ruler (18:18: archōn, meaning: ruler, prince, authority); one can imagine that being wealthy, Luke concluded that he must have been among the elite and must have had some form of prestige and authority. As for Matthew, we learn later that he is a "young man" (19:20: neaniskos, youth); it is possible that we have a case of slippage from the phrase "youth" (neotētos) in Mark's phrase "all this I have kept from my youth" (10:20) to the man's own identity. Thus an ordinary man in Mark becomes a young man in Matthew and a ruler in Luke.

      2. If Matthew and Luke borrowed their account from Mark, one wonders why they did not see fit to repeat the description of the man's eagerness to run to Jesus and kneel before him. It must be admitted that there is something shocking in the contrast between the man's initial eagerness and his abject failure to follow Jesus. Luke, who very often rounds off the edges and avoids shocking things, seems to imply that he is simply a ruler who comes to inquire, and since he has much to lose in Jesus' proposal, walks away quietly. Matthew has replaced the whole description of eagerness with one of his favorite words: proserchomai, to draw near (Mt = 51; Mk = 5; Lk = 9; Jn = 1), which simply means to enter into dialogue. And the very fact of making him a young man or an adolescent thereafter tends to provide an explanation for the failure: he is still too young, he is not mature. Only Mark insists on keeping the contrast between the eagerness to disciple and the failure of most to follow through. This is part of one of his major themes in his message to his persecuted community: you don't realize how difficult it is to be a disciple of Jesus. It is this same difficulty of discipleship that will be expressed in Gethsemane through the disciples who flee from danger and the young man whose sheet is taken as clothing and who runs away naked.

      3. The expression "good teacher" was not retained by Matthew for a reason that is easy to guess, because it leads to a remark by Jesus that the title "good" is inappropriate for him, which is a bit of a shock for a Matthew who insists on the sovereignty of Jesus. He turns the discussion to the question of what is good (what good will I do?). This is not a problem for Mark, whose portrait of Jesus often resembles the thaumaturgists circulating in Palestine.

      4. Another transformation brought about by Matthew concerns eternal life, which is no longer something future, promised beyond death and the final judgment. Indeed, Mark uses the verb "to inherit" which refers to something that will happen later. Luke understood this well who, in his concern for precision, was careful to put the verb in the future tense: shall I inherit eternal life (18:18). On the contrary, for Matthew eternal life is something present, which one can "possess" (echō, have). This is what he will later clarify when Jesus says, If you want to enter life (19:17); life is something one enters, and therefore inhabits, insofar as one keeps the commandments.

      5. "You know the commandments" (Mark 10:19). Mark's phrase presupposes that the commandments of Judaism are summed up in the six requirements that follow. So Matthew, addressing a Jewish audience who knows that there are many commandments (the Talmud speaks of 613 commandments), cannot allow such a simplistic statement to pass. He puts the question in the rich man's mouth: which ones, and thus forces Jesus to name the most important among the multitude of commandments.

      6. Matthew and Luke's treatment of Mark's list of six commandments is interesting. Let's start with Matthew. Introducing this list with to (the), a neuter definite article, in the sense of: "the group of", seems to refer to a known set of commandments that were usually quoted all together. In fact, it will be noticed that they all refer to relationships with others and were meant to cover everything related to this subject. One will also have noticed that Matthew eliminates Mark's "you should not defraud (apostereō, rob, defraud, swindle)". One can imagine that after the calls not to kill, not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to bear false witness, the call not to defraud was redundant and added nothing. But to keep the number six and keep the orientation towards others, he went to the book of Leviticus 19:18 to find a commandment: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself", which is one of the commandments that summarizes the whole Law according to Jesus. Finally, Matthew has returned to the original verb tense found in the Old Testament for these commandments, i.e. the future tense, rather than keeping the subjunctive of Mark. Luke, like Matthew, saw the redundancy of "do no harm" and simply eliminated it without replacing it.

      7. "Jesus looked at him and loved him. This phrase from Mark 10:21 clearly makes Matthew and Luke uncomfortable, since both do not retain it. Although both retain the essence of Jesus' statement that follows, they modify the vocabulary to include themes that are dear to them. Matthew refers to the ideal of perfection that he introduced in his Sermon on the Mount: "You therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" (5:48). For him, there seem to be degrees in the Christian life. So he recognizes the value of the achievement of the young man who kept the commandments. But he cleverly introduces the idea that one can go even further, by placing in the young man's mouth the question: "What do I still lack? Luke, for his part, seizes the opportunity to integrate his leitmotif of concern for the poorest, which he champions among all the evangelists. Thus his Jesus points to "all that you have," an extremely radical demand, and asks to "give out" (diadidōmi)" to the poor. We are swimming in vocabulary that has a Lucan note (for diadidōmi, to give out, to share, to distribute: Mt = 0; Mk = 0; Lk = 2; Jn = 1; Acts = 1), as it is used to describe the sharing that took place in the early Christian communities.

      8. Twice in Mark (10:23-24) Jesus emphasizes the difficulty for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. We know that this emphasis is consistent with Mark's theme of the difficulty of discipleship. But Matthew and Luke found it redundant and eliminated the second mention. On the other hand, they probably found that Mark missed a chance to have a nice parallelism between going through the eye of a needle and entering the kingdom by using different verbs; they tightened the image by using the same verb: "entering" the eye of a needle and "entering" the kingdom. And as usual, Luke eliminates anything that tarnishes the image of the disciples, and thus removes Mark's mentions that the disciples were astonished (24) or amazed (26).

      9. On Peter's intervention there is little to say except that Matthew improves on Mark's account: he certainly finds it awkward that Peter puts forward the fact that the disciples have left everything, without actually asking Jesus a question; so he adds an explicit question: "What then shall we have? Luke, on the other hand, makes it clear that it was their possessions that the disciples left, not their family ties; as we know, Peter was married and, in his missionary work in the early days of the Christian community, his wife accompanied him.

      10. Jesus' response to Peter (29-30) has been reworked in Matthew and Luke. First of all, Matthew feels the need to add a text on the enthronement of the disciples to judge the twelve tribes of Israel, which he takes from the Q Document and which we find in Luke at Jesus' last supper: "You are, you who have abided constantly with me in my trials; and I have the Kingdom for you, as my Father has had it for me: you shall eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom, and you shall sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (22:28-30). This insertion is appropriate when it concerns the fate of those who will have followed him to the end. Of course, this will only happen in the hereafter, and therefore must accept the expression "inherit eternal life" with a future time, which he had denied himself earlier with the young man. Otherwise, we can not minor changes, like houses in the plural, or lightening the whole text by avoiding Mark's redundancy concerning what is left and what will be returned. Of course, he uses the more biblical formula "for the sake of my name", especially since his Jesus is a true Lord, rather than Mark's familiar "for my sake". For his part, Luke also follows the path of Matthew's simplification, and like him eliminates the allusion to persecution which does not fit the situation of his Christian community, and the mention of the gospel which is an anachronism (the word "gospel" will not appear until the time of the primitive Church), which he replaces with "kingdom of God" more in keeping with Jesus' preaching. Not surprisingly, Luke adds "woman" to the list of people, as he makes women play an important role (see the scenes around Mary, mother of Jesus, Martha and Mary, the women who support Jesus with their goods all the way to Jerusalem, etc.).

      What can we learn from this study of parallels? When we compare Mark to Matthew and Luke, we note his sharp, contrasting and abrupt style. He is not afraid to call things as they are: a cat is a cat. Yes, the man who wanted to follow Jesus was full of enthusiasm and had the best will in the world. No, he was not able to respond to Jesus' call and left pitifully. He probably got this story from tradition, and he doesn't mind reproducing it almost exactly as it is, even if some passages may be disturbing, such as Jesus' refusal to be labeled "good" or the fact that he began to love the man. Mark uses this story to express to his community the challenge and difficulty of following Jesus. That is why this scene begins with Jesus setting out on his journey and a man catching up with him on the way. That is also why he is not afraid to be redundant when he portrays the disciples to whom Jesus repeats twice the difficulty of entering the kingdom of God, and whose astonishment Mark remarks twice. Compared to Matthew and Luke, his style is heavier, but it expresses the complexity of life and its dark sides.

    4. Intention of the author when writng this passage

      To understand the intention of an author, we must place ourselves in his or her context. For an evangelist, it is above all a question of his primary audience, i.e. the Christian community in which he was first integrated. For a gospel is a catechesis that is addressed first to the catechumens and then to the whole community in order to support it in its faith. Among biblical scholars, there is a consensus that this setting for Mark is in Rome, before year 70 AD. However, the Roman community had experienced violent persecution, especially under the reign of Nero, who made it the scapegoat for the burning of the city that began on July 18, 64 and lasted six days. The Christians were very frightened, some of them did not survive. And above all, the question was asked: If Jesus is risen and reigns with God, why doesn't he do anything for his followers? Basically, Mark's answer is to say: but didn't Jesus warn us that the way to the resurrection is through suffering and death, as was his case? So don't have any illusions about discipleship: it's hard.

      The story of the rich man is part of this great catechesis. It is difficult to know all of Mark's sources. Clearly, he did not create this story from scratch, as we have seen from the analysis of the vocabulary, where many unique words appear that are not part of his usual vocabulary. But he did give it a framework, that of discipleship, by introducing it while he is on the move, and above all by extending it with a discussion with his disciples, in his usual style (for example, the teaching in parable is followed by a private discussion with the disciples which allows the meaning to be deepened).

      This story, which comes from oral or written tradition, is probably an echo of events dating back to Jesus himself. There are no Christological connotations, on the contrary, it is a very human Jesus who is at the center of a scene where he is refused. The gospels give little space to this type of rejection, but it is easy to imagine that Jesus must have been rejected. The advice he gives to the man is quite Jewish, that of keeping the commandments concerning relations with one's neighbor, and has nothing to do with the Christian faith. Jesus' attitude is even the opposite of the portrait that will be drawn later on: he refuses the label of "good" that he reserves for God; because, in fact, goodness is like justice, a reality that we pursue unceasingly without ever attaining it, because to be totally good we would have to know everything, and therefore be equal to God. We are condemned to be in search of it and to keep on walking. The other unique feature of the story is the mention of Jesus' love for this man. The fourth gospel will also mention Jesus' love for certain people, Lazarus, Martha and Mary, and the one he calls: the beloved disciple. Jesus is a man who loved. The story ends on a sad note: the man is unable to give up his possessions to follow Jesus as a traveling preacher. All of this draws a cry from Jesus' heart: how difficult it is for the one who has wealth to be totally available to the coming of God's reign and to enter this offered world. Like any good oriental, he resorts to contrasting images to express this difficulty, that of the needle hole and the camel.

      This story offered Mark a very clear case of the difficulty of discipleship. So he extends it with a dialogue with the disciples. First of all, the effect of the conclusion of the story throws them into a stupor. It is then that Jesus introduces supporting words evoking certain passages of Scripture on the power of God (see Zechariah 8:6; Genesis 18:14; Job 42:2). This is a first word to strengthen the courage of all those who want to become disciples. Then he adds this request from Peter concerning all those who have accepted to put themselves at the service of the Gospel. Jesus' answer emphasizes the superabundance of rewards both in the present time and in the next life. Although Mark's hand is very much in evidence in this dialogue with the disciples, he did not make it all up; rather, he gathered together scattered words of Jesus about his faith in eternal life. On the other hand, it is he who goes into detail about the house, the brothers, the mother, the children and the fields, an allusion to the situation of the Christian community where one shares one's possessions and where all are brothers and sisters of one another. And it is he who lucidly mentions that the persecutions will not disappear.

      What Mark wants is for his community to identify with Peter and his disciples. It is normal to be amazed at the condition of the disciple. It is better to know now what awaits us. But we can count on God's power, and his promise that it will be given to us beyond our expectations.

    5. Current situations or events in which we could read this text

      1. Suggestions from the different symbols in the story

        • The endless life represents in a way the holy grail that many seek. What is behind the figure of endless life? As experience shows, there are many levels of life, from biological life to that life which extends into the afterlife. Some are more alive than others. For a Christian, life is identified with Jesus of Nazareth. What is life in fullness for us? And how do we attain it?

        • I remember my father's naive remark: "If people knew God's commandments better, we wouldn't have all these problems. What is the role of these commandments? Are they sufficient? What is missing?

        • Like most human beings, Jesus loved. Love is a major driving force in our individual and collective history. What role does it play in our personal journey and in our religious faith? How does it transform us?

        • Wealth refers to many different realities: material possessions, intellectual abilities, a rich education, a mad talent in particular fields, a great spiritual depth, an amazing psychological maturity. Is this wealth an obstacle or a springboard? Does it create a barrier or does it open us to others?

        • Whether we like it or not, life forces us to let things go. Our youth fades away, loved ones leave, physical abilities diminish, incidents or accidents leave scars. How do we deal with this? How should we live it? What could inspire us to live these moments well?

      2. Current situations or events in which we could read this text

        The challenge here is to consider how an evangelical passage can shed light on events such as these:

        • The migrant or refugee crisis that is knocking on the doors of European borders is a challenge to us all. Some see it as a call for compassion. Others see it as a threat to their world. What light can the Gospel of today shed?

        • A huge landslide in Guatemala has killed about three hundred people. This is a national disaster. There will be many wounds to heal. What will be the aftermath on people, like the four year old who lost his mother and sister? Can the Gospel help us to live through such events?

        • I have just said goodbye to a five-year-old girl who is a little depressed: she is returning with her mom to the new town where she has taken up residence because of work, two hundred kilometers away. During her short stay here, she was able to see her dad whose mother is divorced. Life is not easy. Can we find a source of hope in today's gospel.

        • I recently returned from visiting my mother in her long-term care home. She will soon be 92 years old. The onset of Alzheimer's is evident in the fact that she expects to be visited soon by her own parents, whom she believes are still alive. Loving this life with its rough edges is a challenge. Can a little light come from the gospel?

        • As the Vatican prepares for another session on the family, Pope Francis has warned the faithful that a mechanical observance of the law is insufficient to define the true Christian. Yet many cardinals define themselves as watchdogs of the Church's rules and doctrine. What might today's gospel teach them?

     

    -André Gilbert, Gatineau, October 2015