August 1, 2005


Category: Bible - NT - Mark :: Permalink

“Talitha, cumi!” is not the only bit of Mark 5:21-43 that invites further translation. The name of the synagogue ruler is, too. Normally, Mark calls this man “the ruler of the synagogue” because he wants to draw attention to that role. The rulers of the synagogue have been hostile toward Jesus, but this man is a surprising exception (especially surprising if this event took place in Capernaum, where 3:1-6 took place!).

The ruler of the synagogue is named Jairus, a version of the name Jair with which we are familiar from the Old Testament (e.g., Judges 10:3). His name appears to be significant. He comes to Jesus (“Yahweh saves”) asking Jesus to “save” his daughter. But his own name, Jairus, means “Yahweh awakens,” which is what Jesus will do, awakening his daughter from the sleep of death.

Coincidence? If it is, it’s a huge one. But I don’t think it is. And if Mark wants us to see the significance of this name in connection with this narrative, then it seems that he expects us also to think about the significance of the other names and the other non-Greek statements in his Gospel. They aren’t just accidental; they appear to be significant for the stories in which they appear.

Posted by John Barach @ 7:25 pm | Discuss (0)

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