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Read these selected passages from Mark. Asterisks indicate present tense changed to past tense.

Over the past few days, I have been closely re-reading the Gospel of Mark, searching for anything not visible at first sight which I might have missed the previous times I have read the gospel. I was especially looking for probable Chehov’s guns. I may have found one such gun.

I shall here point out several details in these passages that make it likely that the Bartimaeus of the first of the above-linked-to passages is the “young man” of the second two passages. It is to be remembered that from the time the disciples abandon Jesus in Mark 14, Mark conscripts a small army of minor characters to fill the place of the do-nothing apostles, including
Anonymous Swordbearer (Mark 14:47)
Anonymous Young Man [Bartimaeus?] (Mark 14:51, Mark 16:5)
Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21)
Anonymous person with sponge (Mark 15:36)
The Centurion (Mark 15:39)
Women, among whom are Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome (Mark 15:40, Mark 15:47, Mark 16:1)
Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:43)

Mark 16:7 shows that Mark’s “young man” was certainly aware of Jesus’s statement about Galilee in Mark 14:28 (the only time Jesus speaks of Galilee in all the Gospel of Mark). Thus, Mark’s “young man” was probably overhearing Jesus from the time Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives in Mark 14:26 to the time Jesus was arrested and spoke his last coherent two contiguous sentences in Mark 14:48-9. It is to be remembered that there were “those about him” other than the Twelve to whom was given “the secret of the Kingdom of God” (Mark 4:10). As Bartimaeus was described in Mark 10:52 as beginning to follow Jesus, it is logical that he was one of those shouting Hosanna in Mark 11.

Firstly, to my knowledge, Bartimaeus is the only person healed by Jesus in the whole Gospel of Mark who is described as beginning to follow him. His healing is also the last baptism with the Holy Spirit (i.e., healing miracle) Jesus performs. Secondly, Bartimaeus being the young man in the tomb fits quite well with Jesus’s statement in Mark 10:31 (in the same chapter as the Bartimaeus story), that “many who are first will be last, and the last, first”. It should also be noted that Jesus alludes to his coming passion in Mark 10:33-4 and warns that disciples’ attempts to climb in rank will lead to their ruin, while during Bartimaeus’s healing, there is no complaint (as in Mark 9:17-29) by Jesus. Fourthly, Bartimaeus displays a clear awareness of Jesus’s status as Messiah, and is the first person in the Gospel of Mark not possessed by evil spirits to point out Jesus’s messianic nature outside Jesus and his group of disciples by calling Jesus “Son of David”. Indeed, Bartimaeus is shown to have so much faith in Jesus, that he even rejects the advice of the crowd in Mark 10:48, as the young man of Mark 14 goes against the crowd’s fleeing and desertion of Jesus before they could be subject to any serious risk.

Sixthly, there is the matter of the cloak, linen sheet, and white robe. Bartimaeus throws off (apoballó) his cloak/outer garment (himation) and jumps/rises up, the young man of Mark 14, reminding us of Joseph, leaves behind his linen sheet (sindona; linen undergarment and/or burial cloth as in Mark 15:46), possibly the same linen sheet as that used to bury Jesus, and leaves it behind (kataleipó) and the young man of Mark 16 is found in a white robe (stolen). Jesus’s cloak is turned white during the Transfiguration (Mark 9:3) and is found to heal those who touch it (Mark 5:30). Besides the cloak of Jesus and the cloaks of those shouting Hosanna in Mark 11, there is, to my knowledge, no mention of anyone’s cloak besides that of Bartimaeus. Thus, I suggest a speculative, but plausible reconstruction: Bartimaeus throws off his cloak (representing his life as a beggar) in Mark 10 and continues wearing a linen sheet until Mark 14. He continues to follow Jesus through Jesus’s visits to the Temple and to the Mount of Olives. He may or may not have been at the Last Supper. After the Last Supper and the time he overhears Jesus’s words regarding his coming apparition in Galilee, he continues to follow Jesus to Gethsemane. Though the crowd with swords and clubs tries to seize him, he escapes naked. His linen sheet then is sold to a local store. Jesus’s clothes are then divided up among the Roman soldiers. Joseph of Arimathea then buys the linen sheet (which covered the nakedness of Bartimaeus) to cover the nakedness of the dead Jesus. Sometime very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the stone covering the entrance of the tomb is rolled away and Jesus’s body and the linen sheet ascends to heaven and Jesus receives new white clothes in Heaven for him to be seated at the right hand of God, while Bartimaeus receives new white clothes for him to be seated at the right side of the place where Jesus was once laid. Edit (10:44 PM EST): As this author argues, Jesus leaves behind the young man for the young man to wear heavenly clothing Jesus left behind, while the young man leaves behind Jesus for Jesus to be buried in the clothing the young man left behind.

Seventh, the young man of Mark 16 is found to be “sitting to the right”. This is reminiscent of Jesus’s claim to sit at the right hand of power in the last coherent Greek sentence spoken by him in Mark (alluding to Psalm 110:1, the only place where “sitting at the right hand” is mentioned in the Old Testament). The only discussion of sitting at hands in Mark occurs just before Bartimaeus is healed by Jesus (Mark 10:35-45).

Thus, there are several indications that Bartimaeus is the young man of Mark 14 and 16: clothing, not succumbing to peer pressure, following Jesus, Bartimaeus’s messianic awareness, sitting at the right hand, and the “many who are first will be last, and the last, first” statement of Jesus.

I don’t know for certain whether Mark intended the reader to understand that the “young man” of Mark 14 and 16 is the Bartimaeus of Mark 10, but it sure seems like it.

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