Lesson: Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-24
13 God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living.
14 For he created all things so that they might exist; the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them, and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.
15 For righteousness is immortal.
2:23 God created us for incorruption and made us in the image of his own eternity,
24 but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it.
The Book of Wisdom, also known as “The Wisdom of Solomon,” is not part of the “Canon” (accepted books) of the Hebrew Bible. It is, however, included as part of the Hebrew Scriptures in Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church Bibles as “deutero-canonical” – part of a “second” Canon. In Protestant Bibles, Wisdom is not included in the Hebrew Scriptures but is part of the Apocrypha (“hidden books”).
This difference in treatment arises because in the period from 300 to 200 BCE, the existing Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek (the common language of the time). Compilations of these translations were called the “Septuagint.” The Book of Wisdom was included in most versions of the Septuagint, but this book (among others) was not included in the Canon of the Hebrew Bible (the “TaNaKh”) when it was codified around 90 CE by the Pharisees/Rabbis after the Destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.
Jerome included “Wisdom” and the other books that were part of the Septuagint in the Vulgate (the Latin translation of the Hebrew and the Christian Scriptures around 405 CE). Jerome wrote prefaces to some books that were not in the Jewish Canon of the Hebrew Bible. Later compilers overlooked Jerome’s prefaces, and the Council of Trent in 1546 decreed that the Roman Catholic Canon of the Old Testament included the books that were in the Septuagint.
Luther and other Protestants followed the Jewish Canon of the Hebrew Bible and put books from the Septuagint (such as Wisdom) in a separate section called the Apocrypha.
The Wisdom of Solomon purports to be written by Solomon (who reigned in Israel from 965 to 930 BCE). It was actually written in Greek by an anonymous Hellenistic Jew in the late First Century BCE or the early First Century CE. The author’s intent was to show the superiority of Judaism in terms that were relevant to persons familiar with Greek philosophy, and to encourage Jews in the Diaspora during the Greco-Roman Era. For this reason, there is an emphasis on Platonic ideas such as soul, immortality, and the guiding force of Sophia (Wisdom).
Today’s reading (v.14) refers to Hades, the Greek abode of the dead (“Sheol” in Judaism) and affirms that “righteousness” (right relation with God, others, and the world) is immortal.
Epistle: 2 Corinthians 8:7-15
7 As you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you– so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.
8 I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10 And in this matter, I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something – 11 now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. 12 For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has– not according to what one does not have. 13 I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between 14 your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. 15 As it is written,
“The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”
Corinth, a large port city in Greece, was among the early Jesus Follower communities that Paul founded. Its culture was diverse and Hellenistic. Corinthians emphasized reason and secular wisdom. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians was written in the 50’s (CE) and presented his views on many issues that were controversial in this Jesus Follower Community.
Based on internal references in the two remaining letters to the Corinthians, scholars agree that Paul likely wrote at least four letters to the Corinthians. The so-called Second Letter to the Corinthians is composed of fragments of these letters.
Today’s reading contains part of Paul’s exhortation to Jesus Followers in Corinth to give generously to a collection Paul was taking up on behalf of the Jerusalem Jesus Follower community. Chapter 9 repeats much of Chapter 8 and may be from a different letter that made the same appeal for the poor in Jerusalem.
In verse 15, Paul paraphrased Exodus 16:18 which described the amount of manna each Israelite received in the Wilderness – neither too much nor too little.
Gospel: Mark 5:21-43
21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23 and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” 24 So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26 She had endured much under many physicians and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29 Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 He looked all around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.”
35 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this and told them to give her something to eat.
The Gospel According to Mark was the first Gospel that was written and is generally dated to the time around the Destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. Mark’s Gospel is the shortest gospel and forms the core for the Gospels According to Matthew and Luke (both of which were written around 85 CE). Over 50% of the material in those two Gospels is based on Mark. Because these three Gospels follow similar chronologies of Jesus’ life and death, they are called “Synoptic Gospels” for the Greek words meaning “Same Look/View.”
In last week’s reading, Jesus crossed to the east/Gentile side of the Sea of Galilee and calmed the storm. While there, he confronted the Gerasene Demoniac (5:2-13) and caused the evil spirits within the Demoniac to enter 2,000 swine who rushed into the sea and drowned (v.13). Not surprisingly (after this economic disaster), the people begged Jesus to leave them. The man who had been possessed by demons asked Jesus to be allowed to go with him, but Jesus refused and told him to go around the Decapolis proclaiming what had done for him (v.20).
Today’s reading picked up after Jesus returned to the western/Jewish side of the Sea of Galilee. In these verses, the author has “sandwiched” separate healing stories.
At these times, “leaders of the synagogue” (v.22) would not have been religious figures but were prominent persons in the community.
Jewish Law distinguished between a woman having her period, and one suffering from a genital hemorrhage. In either case, this woman was regarded as ritually unclean and in an continuously impure state – which also would have affected the community’s response to her. The healing occurs because of her faith.
The healing of Jairus’ daughter is not unlike Elijah’s raising of the widow’s son (1 Kings 17:22). In both stories, the child was understood by others to be dead. Noting that the girl’s age (12) is the same number of years as the woman suffered from a hemorrhage, some scholars regard the stories as a reference to the renewal of the 12 tribes of Israel. Jairus called the child “little daughter” (v. 23) and Jesus called her “little girl” (v.41) even though she was on the cusp of marriageable age in the First Century.