Saturday, September 23, 2006

'I will make you fishers of men.'

Have been reading Ched Myers' book, Binding the Strong Man, which is a sort of socio-political reading of Mark's Gospel. This morning was reading Ched's analysis of this bit:

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 'The time has come,' he said. 'The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!'
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 'Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men.' At once they left their nets and followed him.
When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
(Mark 1:14-20)
The only interpretation I'd heard of the 'fishers of men' bit was that it means that Jesus is starting a new religion, and he wants these fishermen to come and help him convert people (catch them).
However, Ched reckons that Jesus is making a reference to passages in the Tanakh (Jewish scriptures) that talk about 'fish' being caught:
Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria,
you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy
and say to your husbands, 'Bring us some drinks!'
The Sovereign LORD has sworn by his holiness:
'The time will surely come
when you will be taken away with hooks,
the last of you with fishhooks.
You will each go straight out
through breaks in the wall,
and you will be cast out toward Harmon,'
declares the LORD.
(Amos 4:1-3)

In the tenth year, in the tenth month on the twelfth day, the word of the LORD came to me: 'Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt and prophesy against him and against all Egypt. Speak to him and say: "This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
'"I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt,
you great monster lying among your streams.
You say, 'The Nile is mine;
I made it for myself.'
But I will put hooks in your jaws
and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales.
I will pull you out from among your streams,
with all the fish sticking to your scales.
I will leave you in the desert,
you and all the fish of your streams.
You will fall on the open field
and not be gathered or picked up.
I will give you as food
to the beasts of the earth and the birds of the air.
Then all who live in Egypt will know that I am the LORD.
'"You have been a staff of reed for the house of Israel. When they grasped you with their hands, you splintered and you tore open their shoulders; when they leaned on you, you broke and their backs were wrenched.
(Ezekiel 29:1-7)
Both passages talk about God catching powerful people like a fisherman catches fish, because they've mistreated those who don't have much power. So Ched reckons that when Jesus says, 'I will make you fishers of men,' he is asking them 'to join him in his struggle to overturn the existing order of power and priviledge.' (p132)

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