Rhetorical Analysis

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Excerpts from The Gospel of Mark
New Revised Standard Version translation

The Gospel of Mark is the second gospel in the New Testament, but probably the earliest

gospel in terms of the date of its composition. Scholars came to the conclusion that the Gospel of

Mark was written in the early 70s of the first century (about 40 years after Jesus’s death), and

that the authors of the gospels of Matthew and Luke actually used it when they wrote their

gospels. None of the authors of the gospels actually knew Jesus (who lived approximately

between 4 BCE and 33 CE) personally. What they wrote was based on stories that circulated

among disciples of Jesus decades later. The gospels (like the rest of the books in the New

Testament) were written in Greek.

The word gospel is a translation of the Greek word evangelion which means “good news.” The

gospels were meant to spread the “good news” of Jesus’s arrival and the salvation he made

available for humankind to as many people and possible. The Gospel of Mark, and likewise the

gospels of Matthew and Luke, are essentially biographies of Jesus: they describe his activities

while alive (preaching, healing, performing miracles, assembling disciples), his trial and death

by crucifixion, and his appearance to his disciples after his death (=his resurrection). The Gospel

of Mark is the shortest gospel, and you will notice that we are not told anything about Jesus’s

family origins or birth in this gospel. Jesus’s first appearance is as an adult who is baptized by a

mysterious prophet-like person named John the Baptizer (or Baptist).

The Gospel of Mark is unique because it has three different endings. In the earliest manuscript

of the New Testament the gospel ends with the women seeing Jesus’s tomb empty (Mark 16:8),

and this was probably the original ending. Later on, two alternative endings were composed,

one short and one long, and different Bibles have different versions.

The events described in the gospels all take place in Judea, a Roman province on the eastern

shore of the Mediterranean (modern day Israel/Palestine), whose population was mostly Jewish

(including Jesus himself and all his disciples). Most of Jesus’s activity took place in the Galilee

(the northern part of the country, see map), but his trial and death took place in Jerusalem, the

capital city in which the Jewish temple was located.



Mark 1

The Proclamation of John the Baptist

1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,

“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,

who will prepare your way;
3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:

‘Prepare the way of the Lord,

make his paths straight,’”
4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the

forgiveness of sins. 5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of

Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their

sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate

locusts and wild honey. 7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after

me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you

with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The Baptism of Jesus
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the

Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the

Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the

Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

The Temptation of Jesus
12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness

forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and

saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the

good news.”

Jesus Calls the First Disciples
16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net

into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make

you fish for people.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a

little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat

mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat

with the hired men, and followed him.

The Man with an Unclean Spirit


21 They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and

taught. 22 They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and

not as the scribes. 23 Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24 and

he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I

know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and

come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came

out of him. 27 They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new

teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 At

once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

Jesus Heals Many at Simon’s House
29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James

and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at

once. 31 He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she

began to serve


32 That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with

demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34 And he cured many who were

sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to

speak, because they knew him.

A Preaching Tour in Galilee
35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and

there he prayed. 36 And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37 When they found him,

they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38 He answered, “Let us go on to the

neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to

do.” 39 And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and

casting out demons.

Jesus Cleanses a Leper
40 A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make

me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I

do choose. Be made clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 After

sternly warning him he sent him away at once, 44 saying to him, “See that you say nothing to

anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses

commanded, as a testimony to them.” 45 But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to

spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the

country; and people came to him from every quarter.

Mark 2

Jesus Heals a Paralytic

When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 So

many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door;


and he was speaking the word to them. 3 Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed

man, carried by four of them. 4 And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the

crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the

mat on which the paralytic lay. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your

sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their

hearts, 7 “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but

God alone?” 8 At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions

among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your

hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and

take your mat and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on

earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go

to your home.” 12 And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of

them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything

like this!”

Jesus Calls Levi
13 Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught

them. 14 As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he

said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.
15 And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with

Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him. 16 When the scribes of the

Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples,

“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 When Jesus heard this, he said to them,

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not

the righteous but sinners.”

The Question about Fasting
18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why

do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not

fast?” 19 Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them,

can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will

come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.
21 “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from

it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old

wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins;

but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”

Pronouncement about the Sabbath
23 One sabbath he was going through the grain fields; and as they made their way his disciples

began to pluck heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is

not lawful on the sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when

he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? 26 He entered the house of God, when

Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but


the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” 27 Then he said to them, “The sabbath

was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; 28 so the Son of Man is lord even

of the sabbath.”

Mark 3

The Man with a Withered Hand

3 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 They

watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse

him. 3 And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” 4 Then he said to

them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they

were silent. 5 He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart

and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was

restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him,

how to destroy him.

A Multitude at the Seaside
7 Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed

him; 8 hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem,

Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. 9 He told his disciples to

have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; 10 for he had

cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. 11 Whenever the

unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of

God!” 12 But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.

Jesus Appoints the Twelve
13 He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to

him. 14 And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent

out to proclaim the message, 15 and to have authority to cast out demons. 16 So he appointed the

twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James son of Zebedee and John the brother

of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 and Andrew, and

Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and

Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Jesus and Beelzebul

Then he went home; 20 and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even

eat. 21 When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has

gone out of his mind.” 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has

Beelzebul (=a name for the devil) in him, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out

demons.” 23 And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out

Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is

divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against

himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27 But no one can enter a strong


man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the

house can be plundered.
28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they

utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is

guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

The True Kindred of Jesus
31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called

him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers

and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my

brothers?” 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my

brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”


Mark 7

The Tradition of the Elders

Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered

around him, 2 they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is,

without washing them. 3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly

wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and they do not eat anything from

the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the

washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles. 5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do

your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 He

said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,

‘This people honors me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,

teaching human precepts as doctrines.’
8 You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
9 Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to

keep your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever

speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say that if anyone tells father or

mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Korban’ (that is, an offering to

God)— 12 then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, 13 thus making void

the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like

14 Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and

understand: 15 there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that

come out are what defile.”
17 When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the

parable. 18 He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever


goes into a person from outside cannot defile, 19 since it enters, not the heart but the stomach,

and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “It is what

comes out of a person that defiles. 21 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil

intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit,

licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they

defile a person.”

The Phoenician Woman’s Faith
24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not

want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25 but a woman whose little

daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down

at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile (=non-Jew), of Phoenician origin. She begged him to

cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not

fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Sir, even the

dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he said to her, “For saying that, you

may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 30 So she went home, found the child lying on the

bed, and the demon gone.

Jesus Cures a Deaf Man
31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of

Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an

impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in

private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his

tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be

opened.” 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke

plainly. 36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more

zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done

everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

Mark 8

Feeding the Four Thousand

In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his

disciples and said to them, 2 “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me

now for three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them away hungry to their homes, they

will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” 4 His disciples

replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” 5 He asked them, “How

many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the

ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to

his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. 7 They had also a few small

fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. 8 They ate and

were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 Now there were


about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10 And immediately he got into the boat

with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

The Demand for a Sign
11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test

him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign?

Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, and getting into

the boat again, he went across to the other side.

The Yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod
14 Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in

the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees

and the yeast of Herod.”[c] 16 They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.” 17 And

becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you

still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes, and fail to see?

Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves

for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to

him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces

did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 Then he said to them, “Do you not yet


Jesus Cures a Blind Man at Bethsaida
22 They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch

him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put

saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” 24 And the

man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid

his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw

everything clearly. 26 Then he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even go into the


Peter’s Declaration about Jesus
27 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked

his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and

others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 He asked them, “But who do you say that

I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” 30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell

anyone about him.

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection
31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be

rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise

again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But

turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you

are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”



34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my

followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who

want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of

the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their

life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of

my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be

ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”


Mark 10

Teaching about Divorce

He left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again

gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them.
2 Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his

wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a

man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of

your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of

creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and

mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer

two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
10 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 He said to them,

“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she

divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Jesus Blesses Little Children
13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the

disciples spoke sternly to them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them,

“Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom

of God belongs. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child

will never enter it.” 16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed


The Rich Man
17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good

Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good?

No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You

shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not

defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since

my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you

own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow


me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many

23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have

wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But

Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for

a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of

God.” 26 They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be

saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God

all things are possible.”
28 Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said,

“Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or

children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30 who will not receive a

hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields,

with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and

the last will be first.”

A Third Time Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection
32 They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they

were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to

tell them what was to happen to him, 33 saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son

of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to

death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; 34 they will mock him, and spit upon him,

and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”

The Request of James and John
35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we

want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me

to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your

left, in your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you

able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized

with?” 39 They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will

drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my

right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them

and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their

rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you;

but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to

be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve,

and to give his life a ransom for many.”

The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus
46 They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho,

Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47 When he heard that it


was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on

me!” 48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David,

have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man,

saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50 So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up

and came to Jesus. 51 Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind

man said to him, “My teacher,[g] let me see again.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made

you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

Mark 11

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

11 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of

Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and

immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it

and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it

and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 They went away and found a colt tied near a door,

outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5 some of the bystanders said to them, “What are

you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to

take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8 Many

people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the

fields. 9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,


Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!

Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at

everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree
12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance

a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to

it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 He said to it, “May no one

ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

Jesus Cleanses the Temple
15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who

were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the

money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; 16 and he would not allow anyone to

carry anything through the temple. 17 He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,

‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?

But you have made it a den of robbers.”



18 And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for

they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. 19 And when

evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

The Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree
20 In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 Then

Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has

withered.” 22 Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly I tell you, if you say to this

mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but

believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. 24 So I tell you, whatever

you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
25 “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your

Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

Jesus’ Authority Is Questioned
27 Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes,

and the elders came to him 28 and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who

gave you this authority to do them?” 29 Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer

me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 Did the baptism of John come from

heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.” 31 They argued with one another, “If we say,

‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 32 But shall we say, ‘Of human

origin’?”—they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. 33 So they

answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what

authority I am doing these things.”


Mark 14

The Plot to Kill Jesus

It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and

the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; 2 for they said, “Not

during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”

The Anointing at Bethany
3 While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came

with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the

ointment on his head. 4 But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the

ointment wasted in this way? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three

hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Let

her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. 7 For you always

have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will

not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for


its burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she

has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus
10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray

him to them. 11 When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money.

So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

The Passover with the Disciples
12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said

to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the

Passover?” 13 So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man

carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, 14 and wherever he enters, say to the owner of

the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my

disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations

for us there.” 16 So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told

them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
17 When it was evening, he came with the twelve. 18 And when they had taken their places and

were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with

me.” 19 They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?” 20 He

said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. 21 For the

Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is

betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”

The Institution of the Lord’s Supper
22 While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to

them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it

to them, and all of them drank from it. 24 He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant,

which is poured out for many. 25 Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine

until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

Peter’s Denial Foretold
26 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 And Jesus said to

them, “You will all become deserters; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd,

and the sheep will be scattered.’
28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though all

become deserters, I will not.” 30 Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this day, this very night,

before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said vehemently, “Even

though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And all of them said the same.

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I

pray.” 33 He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and


agitated. 34 And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep

awake.” 35 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were

possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible;

remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” 37 He came and found them

sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one

hour? 38 Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is

willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same

words. 40 And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and

they did not know what to say to him. 41 He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still

sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the

hands of sinners. 42 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
43 Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him

there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the

elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest

him and lead him away under guard.” 45 So when he came, he went up to him at once and said,

“Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. 47 But one of those

who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his

ear. 48 Then Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as

though I were a bandit? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not

arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 All of them deserted him and fled.
51 A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold

of him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.

Jesus before the Council
53 They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were

assembled. 54 Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest;

and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the

whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found

none. 56 For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. 57 Some

stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this

temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with

hands.’” 59 But even on this point their testimony did not agree. 60 Then the high priest stood up

before them and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against

you?” 61 But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the

Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 Jesus said, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man

seated at the right hand of the Power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’”
63 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? 64 You have

heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?” All of them condemned him as deserving

death. 65 Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him,

“Prophesy!” The guards also took him over and beat him.


Peter Denies Jesus
66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came

by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, “You also were with

Jesus, the man from Nazareth.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I do not know or understand what

you are talking about.” And he went out into the forecourt. Then the cock crowed. 69 And the

servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of

them.” 70 But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter,

“Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to curse, and he swore

an oath, “I do not know this man you are talking about.” 72 At that moment the cock crowed for

the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows

twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

Mark 15

Jesus before Pilate

15 As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes

and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate [=the

Roman governor]. 2 Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You

say so.” 3 Then the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 Pilate asked him again, “Have

you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further

reply, so that Pilate was amazed.

Pilate Hands Jesus over to Be Crucified
6 Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. 7 Now

a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the

insurrection. 8 So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his

custom. 9 Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the

Jews?” 10 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him

over. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them

instead. 12 Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call

the King of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14 Pilate asked them, “Why, what

evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy

the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be


The Soldiers Mock Jesus
16 Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s

headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. 17 And they clothed him in a purple

cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. 18 And they began

saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and

knelt down in homage to him. 20 After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and

put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.


The Crucifixion of Jesus
21 They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was

Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22 Then they brought Jesus to the place

called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23 And they offered him wine mixed with

myrrh; but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them,

casting lots to decide what each should take.
25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The inscription of the charge

against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his

right and one on his left. 29 Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying,

“Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come

down from the cross!” 31 In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also

mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the

Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.”

Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.

The Death of Jesus
33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 At three

o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God,

my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said,

“Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” 36 And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a

stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him

down.” 37 Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was

torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in

this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”
40 There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and

Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 These used to follow him

and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had

come up with him to Jerusalem.

The Burial of Jesus
42 When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the

sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself

waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of

Jesus. 44 Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked

him whether he had been dead for some time. 45 When he learned from the centurion that he

was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down

the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock.

He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of

Joses saw where the body was laid.

Mark 16

The Resurrection of Jesus


16 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome

bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the

week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another,

“Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 When they looked up,

they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5 As they entered

the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they

were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth,

who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid

him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will

see him, just as he told you.” 8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and

amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.


[[And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And

afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable

proclamation of eternal salvation.]]

9 [[Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene,

from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went out and told those who had been with

him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had

been seen by her, they would not believe it.
12 After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the

country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
14 Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided

them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him

after he had risen.[c] 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good

news[d] to the whole creation. 16 The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one

who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe:

by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick

up snakes in their hands,[e] and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will

lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down

at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere,

while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied






Selections from Mouzi’s Disposing of Error
From Sources of Chinese Tradition, compiled by Wm. Theodore de Bary and Irene Bloom, 2nd ed., vol. 1

(New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 421-426. © 1999 Columbia University Press.



The Indian religion of Buddhism began to enter China via trade routes during the later years of

the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 CE). The teachings and practices of Buddhism were quite

different from those of Chinese civilization and contrasted with the teachings of the Confucian

and Daoist philosophers whom the Chinese held in high regard. Nonetheless, Buddhism

appealed to enough people to pose a challenge to those who disapproved of or had doubts

about the new religion. Those doubts are addressed in this essay, constructed as a conversation

between Mouzi and a critic of Buddhism. Mouzi Lihuo Lun, who may have been the author of

this essay, was originally a Confucian scholar and official. Disturbed by the chaotic atmosphere

of the later years of the Eastern Han, Mouzi retreated to his home in the southwestern Guangxi

province to study Buddhism and Daoism. In this essay, he responds to the critics of Buddhism.

Selections from Mouzi’s Disposing of Error (Lihuo Lun)

Why Is Buddhism Not Mentioned in the Chinese Classics?

The questioner said, “If the way of the Buddha is the greatest and most venerable of ways, why

did Yao, Shun, the Duke of Zhou, and Confucius not practice it? In the Seven Classics1 one sees

no mention of it. You, sir, are fond of the Classic of Odes and Classic of Documents, and you take

pleasure in the Rites and “Music.” Why, then, do you love the way of the Buddha and rejoice in

outlandish arts? Can they exceed the Classics and commentaries and beautify the

accomplishments of the sages? Permit me the liberty, sir, of advising you to reject them.”

Mouzi said, “All written works need not necessarily be the words of Confucius, and all

medicine does not necessarily consist of the formulae of Bian Que.2 What accords with

rightness is to be followed, what heals the sick is good. The gentleman‑scholar draws widely on

all forms of good and thereby benefits his character. Zigong3 said, ‘Did the Master have a

permanent teacher?’4 Yao served Yin Shou; Shun served Wucheng; the Duke of Zhou learned

from Lü Wang; and Confucius learned from Laozi. And none of these teachers is mentioned in

the Seven Classics. Although these four teachers were sages, to compare them to the Buddha

would be like comparing a white deer to a unicorn,5 or a swallow to a phoenix. Yao, Shun, the

1 There are several different lists of the Seven Classics. One found in the History of the Latter Han includes

the Odes, Documents, Rites, “Music,” Changes, Spring and Autumn Annals, and the Analects of Confucius.
2 he most famous physician of antiquity.
3 A prominent disciple of Confucius.
4 Analects 19:22.
5 Qilin, a mythical beast like the unicorn, but not actually one‑horned.



Duke of Zhou, and Confucius learned even from such teachers as these. How much less, then,

may one reject the Buddha, whose distinguishing marks are extraordinary and whose

superhuman powers know no bounds! How may one reject him and refuse to learn from him?

The records and teachings of the Five Classics do not contain everything. Even if the Buddha is

not mentioned in them, what occasion is there for suspicion?”

Why Do Buddhist Monks Do Injury to Their Bodies?

*One of the greatest obstacles confronting early Chinese Buddhism was the aversion of Chinese

society to the shaving of the head, which was required of all members of the Buddhist clergy. The

Confucians held that the body is the gift of one’s parents and that to harm it is to be disrespectful toward


The questioner said, “The Classic of Filiality says, ‘Our body, limbs, hair, and skin are all

received from our fathers and mothers. We dare not injure them.’ When Zengzi was about to

die, he bared his hands and feet.6 But now the monks shave their heads. How this violates the

sayings of the sages and is out of keeping with the way of the filial!” …

Mouzi said. . . “Confucius has said, ‘There are those with whom one can pursue the Way … but

with whom one cannot weigh [decisions].’7 This is what is meant by doing what is best at the

time. Furthermore, the Classic of Filiality says, ‘The early kings ruled by surpassing virtue and

the essential Way.’ Taibo cut his hair short and tattooed his body, thus following of his own

accord the customs of Wu and Yue and going against the spirit of the ‘body, limbs, hair, and

skin’ passage.8 And yet Confucius praised him, saying that his might well be called the

ultimate virtue.”9

Why Do Monks Not Marry?

*Another of the great obstacles confronting the early Chinese Buddhist church was clerical

celibacy. One of the most important features of indigenous Chinese religion is devotion to ancestors. If

there are no descendants to make the offerings, then there will be no sacrifices. To this is added the natural

desire for progeny. Traditionally, there could be no greater calamity for a Chinese than childlessness.

The questioner said, “Now of felicities there is none greater than the continuation of one’s line,

of unfilial conduct there is none worse than childlessness. The monks forsake wife and children,

reject property and wealth. Some do not marry all their lives. How opposed this conduct is to

felicity and filiality!” …

6 To show he had preserved them intact from all harm. Analects 8:3.
7 Analects 9:29. The full quotation is “There are those with whom one can learn but with whom one

cannot pursue the Way; there are those with whom one can pursue the Way but with whom one cannot

take one’s stand; there are those with whom one can take one’s stand but with whom one cannot weigh

8 Uncle of King Wen of Zhou who retired to the barbarian land of Wu and cut his hair and tattooed his

body in barbarian fashion, thus yielding his claim to the throne to King Wen.
9 Analects 8:1.


Mouzi said … “Wives, children, and property are the luxuries of the world, but simple living

and doing nothing (wuwei) are the wonders of the Way. Laozi has said, ‘Of reputation and life,

which is dearer? Of life and property, which is worth more?’10 … Xu You and Chaofu dwelt in a

tree. Boyi and Shuqi starved in Shouyang, but Confucius praised their worth, saying, ‘They

sought to act in accordance with humanity and they succeeded in acting so.’11 One does not hear

of their being ill‑spoken of because they were childless and propertyless. The monk practices

the Way and substitutes that for the pleasures of disporting himself in the world. He

accumulates goodness and wisdom in exchange for the joys of wife and children.”

Death and Rebirth

*Chinese ancestor worship was premised on the belief that the souls of the deceased, if not fed,

would suffer. Rationalistic Confucianism, while taking over and canonizing much of Chinese tradition,

including the ancestral sacrifices, was skeptical about the existence of spirits and an afterlife apart from

the continuance of family life. The Buddhists, though denying the existence of an immortal soul, accepted

transmigration, and the early Chinese understood this to imply a belief in an individual soul that passed

from one body to another until the attainment of enlightenment. The following passage must be understood

in light of these conflicting and confusing interpretations.

The questioner said, “The Buddhists say that after a man dies he will be reborn. I do not believe

in the truth of these words. …”

Mouzi said … ‘The spirit never perishes. Only the body decays. The body is like the roots and

leaves of the five grains. When the roots and leaves come forth they inevitably die. But do the

seeds and kernels perish? Only the body of one who has achieved the Way perishes.” …

The questioner said, “If one follows the Way one dies. If one does not follow the Way one dies.

What difference is there?”

Mouzi said, “You are the sort of person who, having had not a single day of goodness, yet seeks

a lifetime of fame. If one has the Way, even if one dies, one’s soul goes to an abode of happiness.

If one does not have the Way, when one is dead one’s soul suffers misfortune.”

Why Should a Chinese Allow Himself to Be Influenced by Indian Ways?

The questioner said, “Confucius said, ‘The barbarians with a ruler are not so good as the

Chinese without one.’12 Mencius criticized Chen Xiang for rejecting his own education to adopt

the ways of [the foreign teacher] Xu Xing, saying, ‘I have heard of using what is Chinese to

change what is barbarian, but I have never heard of using what is barbarian to change what is

Chinese.’13 You, sir, at the age of twenty learned the Way of Yao, Shun, Confucius, and the Duke

10 Daodejing 44.
11 Analects 7:14.
12 Analects 3:5.
13 Mencius 3A:4.


of Zhou. But now you have rejected them and instead have taken up the arts of the barbarians.

Is this not a great error?”

Mouzi said … “What Confucius said was meant to rectify the way of the world, and what

Mencius said was meant to deplore one‑sidedness. Of old, when Confucius was thinking of

taking residence among the nine barbarian nations, he said, ‘If a noble person dwells in their

midst, what rudeness can there be among them?’14 … The commentary says, ‘The north polar

star is in the center of Heaven and to the north of man.’15 From this one can see that the land of

China is not necessarily situated under the center of Heaven. According to the Buddhist

scriptures, above, below, and all around, all beings containing blood belong to the Buddha‑clan.

Therefore I revere and study these scriptures. Why should I reject the Way of Yao, Shun,

Confucius, and the Duke of Zhou? Gold and jade do not harm each other, crystal and amber do

not cheapen each other. You say that another is in error when it is you yourself who err.”

Does Buddhism Have No Recipe for Immortality?

*Within the movement broadly known as Daoism there were several tendencies, one the quest for

immortality, another an attitude of superiority to questions of life and death. The first Chinese who took

to Buddhism did so out of a desire to achieve superhuman qualities, among them immortality. The

questioner is disappointed to learn that Buddhism does not provide this after all. Mouzi counters by

saying that even in Daoism, if properly understood, there is no seeking after immortality.

The questioner said, “The Daoists say that Yao, Shun, the Duke of Zhou, and Confucius and his

seventy‑two disciples did not die, but became immortals. The Buddhists say that men must all

die, and that none can escape. What does this mean?”

Mouzi said, “Talk of immortality is superstitious and unfounded; it is not the word of the sages.

Laozi said, ‘Even Heaven and Earth cannot last forever. How much less can human beings!’16

Confucius said, ‘The wise man leaves the world, but humaneness and filial piety last forever.’ I

have looked into the six arts and examined the commentaries and records. According to them,

Yao died; Shun had his [place of burial at] Mount Cangwu; Yu has his tomb on Kuaiji; Boyi and

Shuqi have their grave in Shouyang. King Wen died before he could chastise [the tyrant] Zhou;

King Wu died without waiting for [his son] King Cheng to grow up … And, of Yan Yuan, the

Master said, ‘Unfortunately, he was short‑lived,’17 likening him to a bud that never bloomed.18

All of these things are clearly recorded in the Classics: they are the absolute words of the sages.

I make the Classics and the commentaries my authority and find my proof in the world of men.

To speak of immortality, is this not a great error?”

14 Analects 9:13.
15 It is not clear what commentary is quoted here.
16 Daedejing 23.
17 Analects 11:6.
18 Analects 9:21.

Note: Do not use sources outside of the course for this assignment. Assigned
readings are okay to use and must be cited, but the primary focus is your analysis of
the assigned text and the textual context within which you create a conversation.
The final draft of the essay will need to include the following elements:

• An introduction that does the following:
• States what conversation/issue/situation the above assigned text for your

track is entering,
• Introduces both texts and very briefly summarizes them,
• Shows how the two texts provides context for each other,
• States a thesis that makes an argument about the significance of the way the

2 texts address the issue and what that reveals about the conversation in
which they operated.

• Body paragraphs that analyze the texts in conversation, organized by themes
or patterns with evidence cited from the text. Include topic sentences that tie
each paragraph to your thesis.

• A conclusion that non-repetitively and briefly restates your thesis and
discusses the significance of your analysis.

• 1000-1100 words + Works Cited + Dear Reader Letter
• Dear Reader Letter due with your final draft (in the same file after the

Works Cited): What worked and didn’t work for you with this
assignment? What help did you seek out? What would you do differently if
you had the opportunity? If you were to enter the conversation between
these two texts, what would you say?

• MLA format, 12-point Arial or Times New Roman font.

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