When God Asks a Question: An Echo of Eden in Mark 5:25-34

Mark 4:35-5:43 describes four miracles Jesus does which proves his divinity to the reader. He: 1) calms the storm (4:35-41), 2) drives out many demons from a man (5:1-20) 3) heals a woman who has bled for twelve years (5:25-34), and 4) raises a child from the dead (5:21-24,35-43)

Mark 5:25-34 is sandwiched between the broader section of 5:21-43 and portrays the healing of the woman who bled for twelve years by Jesus. Broader studies on this account have focused on her healing by noting the purity laws from Leviticus, her faith to touch the garments of Jesus, and Jesus declaring her faith has made her well. Furthermore, scholars note correctly that Jesus’s ability to heal this woman provides another proof of his divinity and describes one more miracle story from the broader section of Mark 4:35-5:43.

Bound within this brief healing narrative is his question after the woman touches his garments: “Who touched my clothes?” Scholars are varied on how to interpret this question, debating whether or not Jesus knew who did touch his clothes. Intrinsically, though, the omniscient narrative has shown Jesus to have supernatural knowledge prior to this event (cp. Mk 1:22; 2:8), so it is most probable Jesus knew the answer to this question. Yet, the question is left for the reader to determine what did Jesus mean by this question, or why would Mark include it, Matthew omit it in his narrative, and Luke not focus on it at length.

This paper will argue that Jesus’s question is an echo to the Genesis 3:9 and 4:9 where God asks Adam, Eve, and Cain a rhetorical question (Where are you/Where is your brother) and will show that these two narratives in Genesis should determine how Mark 5:35-45 is read. First, the parallel passages will be examined and compared, noting the similarities and differences. Second, the usage of איﬣ in the interrogative rhetorical sense will be examined through Gn 3:9; 4:9; Is 33:18; 36:19; Ps 42:4,11 (MT 42:3,10). Last, these examinations will provide another textual reason to believe that, in fact, Jesus knew who touched his garments and that Mark intends for his reader to view Jesus as God, which accomplishes the overarching miracle narrative within Mark 4:35-5:43.

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