Sunday Morning Greek Blog

February 21, 2011

How to Calm a Great Storm

Filed under: Biblical Studies,Greek,Mark Gospel of,Matthew Gospel of,New Testament — Scott Stocking @ 4:59 pm

From January 16, 2011

Just few observations on some things I noticed in Matthew 8 earlier in the week.

 The “great storm” (σεισμός μέγας, seismos megas) of vs. 24 becomes a “great calm” (γαλήνη μεγάλη, galēnē megalē) in vs. 26 after Jesus rebukes the wind. The dynamically equivalent TNIV renderings of “furious storm” and “completely calm” for these two phrases are adequate, but they don’t reveal to the English-speaking reader that the same word was used to describe both storm and calm.

 Another thing I found interesting is that the story (pericope for my theologically minded friends) of the calming of the storm at sea is juxtaposed to the healing of the demon-possessed Gadarenes in 8:28-34. In the calming of the sea story, The disciples are afraid, and perhaps rightly so, that their lives are in danger in the storm. But Jesus’ presence should have strengthened them: that’s why he “says” to them (it is significant, I think, that he does not “rebuke” them as he does the storm) that they have “little-faith” (one word in Greek) and are “cowards.”

 Contrast that with the fate of the herd of pigs, who, when possessed by the demons cast out of the Gadarenes, ran off into the sea and drowned. The sea was already a place of superstition, but now the disciples had witnessed a herd of unclean animals drown in the sea. How did this affect them?

 In 9:1, (contrast 8:23), Matthew says that only Jesus got back into the boat and crossed back to Capernaum. There is no mention of the disciples getting in the boat with him this time. Even after witnessing Jesus calm the storm at sea, they were still (evidently) skittish about getting back in the boat with Jesus. In Mark’s version of the story (Mark 5), the healed demoniac does want to get in the boat with Jesus when he crosses over, but there is still no indication that the disciples did, although they had apparently caught up to him by Mark 5:31 (see also Luke 8 where the story follows a similar pattern to Mark’s account).

 How many of us have seen the great works of God yet are still afraid to go forward in faith? I know I’ve been cowardly a time or two (okay, many times), but I pray that each of us would have the strength, faith, and courage to go forward and to share boldly the good news of Jesus with those around us.


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