F The Healing of the Blind

As with the question about David's son (┬ž15.3b). it is impossible to ignore the episode narrated in Mark 10.46-52 pars. The key element for us is that the blind beggar (Bartimaeus. according to Mark) repeatedly called on Jesus as 'son of David' (Mark 10.47-48 pars.).

Matt. 20.29-34

Mark 10.46-52

Luke 18.35-43

29 As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed

46 They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho.

35 As he approached Jeri a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard a crowd going by. he asked what was happening. 37 They told him. 'Jesus of Nazareth is passing by'. 38 Then he called out. 'Jesus. Son of David, have mercv on me!1

him. 30 There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by.

they shouted. 'Lord. have mercy on us. Son of David!' 31

Bartimaeus son of Timaeus. a blind beggar. was sitting by the roadside. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth. he began to shout and say. 'Jesus. Son of David, have mercv on me!' 48

The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted all the more. 'Lord. have mercy on us. Son of David!' 32 Jesus stood

Many sternly ordered him to be but he shouted even more loudlv. 'Son of David, have mercy on me!' 49 Jesus

39 Those who were in front sternlv ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudlv, Son of David, have mercy on me!' 40 Jesus stood

and called them.

saying.

stood and said. 'Call him here'. And they called the blind man. saying to him. 'Take heart; get up. he is calling you'. 50 So

still and ordered the man to be brought to him;

135. The point is stressed by Harvey, Jesus 121-29.

136. See also Tan, Zion Traditions 138-48. C. A. Evans, 'Jesus and Zechariah's Messianic Hope', in Chilton and Evans, Authenticating the Activities of Jesus 373-88, draws attention to the number of allusions to Zechariah in Jesus' final week in Jerusalem (particularly Zech. 9.9; 13.7; 14.20-21; see also below, chapter 17 n. 73) and suggests that 'the theology of the prophet Zechariah may have informed Jesus' understanding of his mission to Jerusalem' (386).

33 They said to him,

'Lord, let our eyes be opened'.

34 Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately thev regained their sight and followed him.

throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 Then Jesus said to him, 'What do vou want me to do for you?' The blind man said to him, 'Rabbouni. let me see again'. 52 Jesus said to him, 'Go;

your faith has saved you.' Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

and when he came near, he asked him, 41 'What do vou want me to do for vou?' He said,

'Lord, let me see again'. 42 Jesus said to him, 'Receive your sight; vour faith has saved you.' 43 At once he regained his sight and followed him. glorifying God.

As to the historical value of the detail we should note the following. (1) Here again the episode is located: on the outskirts of Jericho.137 (2) It is more likely that the name 'Bartimaeus' (Aramaic bar timai)138 was omitted in the retellings of the story than that Mark gratuitously added it. (3) The term 'Son of David' is hardly characteristic of the miracle stories in the Jesus tradition (though Matthew adds in a number).139 (4) The Aramaic 'Rabbouni' (rabboni or mbbuni),uoap-pearing only here (10.51) and John 20.16 in the NT, is surely a sign of primitive formulation. (5) The variation in the silence motif (10.48) is unique in Mark, and the absence of a final command to silence is somewhat at odds with Mark's 'secrecy' motif.141 (6) The concluding note ('he followed him') indicates that Bartimaeus became a disciple, and suggests that within the disciple circles it may well have been Bartimaeus's own testimony which provided the initial and enduring form of the tradition.142

The point then, is that the very early Jesus tradition recalled an occasion when Jesus was addressed as 'son of David'. This certainly suggests that Jesus' reputation had given rise to popular speculation about his messiahship. That a beggar's boldness should give voice to and attempt to trade on the speculation would be hardly surprising.

137. Meier, Marginal Jew 2.688. See also H.-J. Eckstein, 'Markus 10,46-52 als Schl├╝sseltext des Markusevangeliums', ZAW87 (1996) 33-50.

138. Str-B 2.25; Meier, Marginal Jew 2.687-88; Kollmann, Jesus 238-39.

139. Meier, Marginal Jew 2.688-89 and 738 n. 50. In the historical situation, its use presupposes (a) that Jesus' Davidic descent was well enough known, and (b) that his reputation as a healer was sufficient to evoke the popular(?) expectation of a Davidide with healing power (see below, 15.7a) (similarly Funk, Acts of Jesus 118).

141. Only 'somewhat', since there are several other stories in Mark which do not fit within that motif (1.29-31; 2.1-12; 3.1-6; 5.25-34; 7.24-30; 9.14-27).

142. P. J. Achtemeier, '"And He Followed Him": Miracles and Discipleship in Mark 10:46-52', in R. W. Funk, ed., Early Christian Miracle Stories, Semeia 11 (Missoula: Scholars, 1978) 115-45.

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