XXI Pentecost, Year B
Jb 42:1-6,10-17 or * Jer 31:7-9
Ps 34:1-8,(19-22) * Ps 126
Then Job answered the LORD: "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you declare to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends; and the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money and a gold ring. The LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; and he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. He named the first Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. In all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them an inheritance along with their brothers. After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. And Job died, old and full of days.
* (Jeremiah 31:7-9)
For thus says the LORD: Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, "Save, O LORD, your people, the remnant of Israel." See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here. With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble; for I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
Furthermore, the former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests those who are subject to weakness, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.
They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is callingyou." So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man said to him, "My teacher, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Recognizing our need to see is the doorway to our in-sight.
Seeing is also an important metaphor within the world of myth. "Myth," as we understand it in mimetic theory, operates effectively only when it operates invisibly. The desire to see in dear Bartimaeus mimics our own desire to be freed from the cultural blinders that have held us captive "from the foundation of the world." Christ frees us to follow him by exposing the mechanisms of victimage that once held us, and by exposing them, he takes away their power. It is interesting that those around Baritmaeus seek to silence him as he begs to be freed. This is surely our experience as well, as we grow in our understanding of the principalities and powers. Those around us prefer to keep us in our crippled state, because if they witness our being freed, their own secret awareness that there is something imprisoning them becomes less bearable, knowing that it isn’t inescapable.
All through our narrative this Year B we have observed Jesus’ conflict with authorities, his healings and exorcisms and the incomprehension of the disciples. We have seen that when reading either Mark or the Fourth Gospel one can read it from a theological perspective and from an anthropological perspective at the same time when you begin with a theology of the cross, as the canonical Gospels do. We have sought to produce a plethora of evidence that a mimetic theoretical interpretation of the Scriptures both illumines and is illumined by biblical and theological scholarship.
We have connected, over and over again, this theology of the cross to the trinitarian history of God. We have followed Barth, Jungel and Moltmann in this regard. Furthermore we have concluded that the reading of the Scriptures as done by those who engage mimetic theory illumines our anthropology, particularly when it comes to observing desire, mimesis and their negative effects. We have tried to make the case for positive mimesis in the life of Jesus. His desire for God, and God alone, is the true desire that each of us may desire by desiring what he desired, namely his papa’s will. This is the only non-rivalrous desire that exists.
We hope we have made the case that one can utilize the categories of the Nicene Creed in terms of mimetic theory and the end result is an emphasis on what the Peace Church refers to as ‘discipleship.’ There is something very concrete going on here. There is a positive mimetic Christology in the Gospels.
While there are still four weeks to go in Pentecost, in a sense this will be conclusion of our time in Mark together. Jeff and Michael would like to thank you for joining us in our explorations. We believe that there is a real positive direction Christian theology could take, if it was willing to go the way of the cross. (Unfortunately, anything short of that is a theology of glory.)
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Now, like Bartimaeus, Jesus asks the question of you: ‘What do you want me to do for you?” Do you…desire to see?
Lane later comments: “The healing of Bartimeaus displays, without any concealment, the messianic dignity of Jesus and his compassion on those who believe in him…” This sounds strangely ‘American Evangelical." Where does the text say anything about ‘messianic dignity?’ Lane then moves in a strangely anti-Semitic fashion when he continues “…and throws in bold relief the blindness of the leaders of Israel, whose eyes remained closed to his glory.” Lane has missed the entire point that even the closest disciples were blind to Jesus’ person and significance. Since Lane cannot blame the disciples ‘who believed in Jesus’, and who function paradigmatically for the modern ‘believer’, he must excoriate the Jewish leaders, as though the mimetic mechanism hadn’t sucked just about everybody up into its vortex of violence, both Jews and non-Jews alike.
[It is this ‘blame it on the Jews’ rendering of the Passion, by the way, that some are afraid is going to be communicated in Mel Gibson’s upcoming film. We haven’t seen a preview so we cannot say what the film does or does not communicate regarding culpability. However, if Jewish leaders and Jewish disciples, Roman administrators and Temple authorities, along with crowds from all over the Mediterranean are not shown to be mutually uncomprehending, if one group is singled out as ‘good’ there will be the necessary correlate of the scapegoated group, and the point might be made that, unfortunately, Mel Gibson’s The Passion could be interpreted in an anti-Semitic fashion. And that would be sad, both for Mr. Gibson and for Jews.]
The placement of the Bartimaeus story just prior to the entry into Jerusalem is all the more valuable because it is a ‘paradigmatic story’ about the ‘true disciple’, the ‘one who sees and follows Jesus.’ It has all the hallmarks of authenticity, especially when viewed from a mimetic perspective. Either way, it is still expressive of the fact that these great and wonderful apostles and disciples followed Jesus all the way to the gates of Jerusalem in a stupor of incomprehension. And by God, modern Christianity appears to be a pale echo. We have a desperate need to see but we do not know that we are blind.
In our Historical/Cultural section this Year B we have sought to argue several theses about how we understand the development of early Christianity and modern Jesus studies. Through a mimetic reading of Mark and the Fourth Gospel we have seen that there is no need to interpret either document through a (strictly) Hellenistic (often = Platonic) lens. Both documents are Jewish through and through.
Furthermore, we believe that modern Jesus scholarship will end up on the rocks of skepticism every time it fails to take into consideration that there is something going on in the Fourth Gospel that has to do with Jesus. Strauss’ theory regarding Jesus and the Fourth Gospel (Bousset, Bultmann, the Jesus Seminar, etc) is challengeable on every level. It is a theory that has too long held the academy in thrall. But the Church’s rendering of the Fourth Gospel into either Hellenistic (often = dualist) categories or seccessionistic thought has needed deconstruction. The academy has provided that. It is now the time to measure our gains. What have we learned this past one hundred years?
Jesus asks us, “What do you want me to do for you?” What will our answer be?