The main purpose of this blog, as I have mentioned before, is not to provide a full commentary on books of the Bible, but to highlight certain aspects of the Bible often overlooked by the average reader (and sometimes the average commentator).  Today’s post is quite short for this reason, but I did want to point out an interesting aspect to yesterday’s reading in the Orthodox Church.  We read Mark 15:43 – 16:8.  Much could be said about this passage, but I will limit myself to an important distinction made between 15:43 and 15:45.  This distinction is entirely lost in every English translation I have found.

In Mark 15:43, Joseph of Arimathea asks for the body (Gr. soma) of Jesus.  In Mark 15:45, English translations unfortunately translate like the NKJV: “[Pilate] granted the body to Joseph.”  This translation misses an important distinction.  The word translated as “body” in vs. 45 is actually the Greek word ptoma.  As you can see, this is an entirely different word than the soma in verse 43.  The Greek word ptoma means body/carcass.  So the translation as body is not entirely wrong, but it misses an important distinction made by Mark’s Gospel.  Someone hearing the Gospel in Greek would hear it similarly to how we would hear the following in English: Joseph asked for the body of Jesus…he was granted the carcass.

I personally believe the biblical writers chose every word carefully, and thus I think it was no accident Mark used two separate words in vss. 43 and 45.  The body (soma) of Christ is used in the New Testament as a reference to the Church.  In Mark 15:43, Joseph asks for the soma, but according to 15:45 he is granted not the soma/body, but the ptoma/carcass.  In other words, Christ’s body, the Church, is not granted to Joseph.  The body of Christ/the Church is directly under God and is not permitted for anyone to hold or control as their own, except God Himself.  To put it simply, we belong to the Church, the Church does not belong to us.

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