Not Sure of which Shore
I’ve been reading and preparing a week of lectures on the gospel of Mark. Among the small rabbit trails that will undoubtedly not make it into class discussion is the issue of where the stories in Mark 5:21-43 take place.
Mark 5:21 states:
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered round him; and he was by the lake (NRSV).
Mark usually uses the phrase “the other side” to mean the Transjordan ( e.g. 5:2; 6:45; cf. Deut among other books in the HB). However, most of the commentaries seem to assume that Mark holds the events in Capernaum.
So what? Well, at least there are at least three implications to seeing Mark 5:21-43 in the Transjordan: 1) It changes the nature of the interaction between the woman with the issue of blood and Jesus. Purity, while important, wouldn’t be quite the taboo as if the woman had been rubbing up against Jews in Palestine. It would keep the focus on faith rather on purity issues. 2) The story would point to interaction between Jesus and Jewish communities outside of Palestine (i.e. Jairus). 3) It would cloud the issue in regards to where Jesus is in Mark 6:1-6. UBS 4 and most commentators want to place Jesus’ rejection in Nazareth (c.f Luke 4). However, Mark has Jesus at home in Capernaum (Mark 2:1; 9:33). If 5:21-43 is in the Transjordan, it makes the case for 6:1-6 in Capernaum stronger.
This is definitely an unpopular interpretation and admittedly a rabbit trail, but I find it fascinating in its possible implications.