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Mark 12:18-27

Marriage and the Resurrection

12:18 Sadducees 1  (who say there is no resurrection) 2  also came to him and asked him, 3  12:19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us: ‘If a mans brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, that man 4  must marry 5  the widow and father children 6  for his brother.’ 7  12:20 There were seven brothers. The first one married, 8  and when he died he had no children. 12:21 The second married her and died without any children, and likewise the third. 12:22 None of the seven had children. Finally, the woman died too. 12:23 In the resurrection, when they rise again, 9  whose wife will she be? For all seven had married her.” 10  12:24 Jesus said to them, “Aren’t you deceived 11  for this reason, because you don’t know the scriptures or the power of God? 12:25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels 12  in heaven. 12:26 Now as for the dead being raised, 13  have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, 14  how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the 15  God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 16  12:27 He is not the God of the dead but of the living. 17  You are badly mistaken!”

1 sn The Sadducees controlled the official political structures of Judaism at this time, being the majority members of the Sanhedrin. They were known as extremely strict on law and order issues (Josephus, J. W. 2.8.2 [2.119], 2.8.14 [2.164-166]; Ant. 13.5.9 [13.171-173], 13.10.6 [13.293-298], 18.1.2 [18.11], 18.1.4 [18.16-17], 20.9.1 [20.199]; Life 2 [10-11]). They also did not believe in resurrection or in angels, an important detail in v. 25. See also Matt 3:7, 16:1-12, 22:23-34; Luke 20:27-38; Acts 4:1, 5:17, 23:6-8.

2 sn This remark is best regarded as a parenthetical note by the author.

3 tn Grk “and asked him, saying.” The participle λέγοντες (legontes) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.

4 tn Grk “his brother”; but this would be redundant in English with the same phrase “his brother” at the end of the verse, so most modern translations render this phrase “the man” (so NIV, NRSV).

5 tn The use of ἵνα (Jina) with imperatival force is unusual (BDF §470.1).

6 tn Grk “raise up seed” (an idiom for fathering children).

7 sn A quotation from Deut 25:5. This practice is called levirate marriage (see also Ruth 4:1-12; Mishnah, m. Yevamot; Josephus, Ant. 4.8.23 [4.254-256]). The levirate law is described in Deut 25:5-10. The brother of a man who died without a son had an obligation to marry his brother’s widow. This served several purposes: It provided for the widow in a society where a widow with no children to care for her would be reduced to begging, and it preserved the name of the deceased, who would be regarded as the legal father of the first son produced from that marriage.

8 tn Grk “took a wife” (an idiom for marrying a woman).

9 tc The words “when they rise again” are missing from several important witnesses (א B C D L W Δ Ψ 33 579 892 2427 pc c r1 k syp co). They are included in A Θ Ë1,(13) Ï lat sys,h. The strong external pedigree of the shorter reading gives one pause. Nevertheless, the Alexandrian and other mss most likely dropped the words from the text either to conform the wording to the parallel in Matt 22:28 or because “when they rise again” was redundant. But the inclusion of these words is thoroughly compatible with Mark’s usually pleonastic style (see TCGNT 93), and therefore most probably authentic to Mark’s Gospel.

10 tn Grk “For the seven had her as wife.”

11 tn Or “mistaken” (cf. BDAG 822 s.v. πλανάω 2.c.γ).

12 sn Angels do not die, nor do they eat according to Jewish tradition (1 En. 15:6; 51:4; Wis 5:5; 2 Bar. 51:10; 1QH 3.21-23).

13 tn Grk “Now as for the dead that they are raised.”

14 sn See Exod 3:6. Jesus used a common form of rabbinic citation here to refer to the passage in question.

15 tn Grk “and the,” but καί (kai) has not been translated since English normally uses a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements in a series of three or more.

16 sn A quotation from Exod 3:6.

17 sn He is not God of the dead but of the living. Jesus’ point was that if God could identify himself as God of the three old patriarchs, then they must still be alive when God spoke to Moses; and so they must be raised.

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