The Puritan Exegesis Project: William Fenner on Mark 14:72

Meditation is the first step toward conversion. The depraved heart, says Fenner, does not reflect on original sin or evaluate the true nature of God’s grace. This is the only difference: everyone complains of their guilt and depression but not all go to God for forgiveness. Fenner’s solution for removing guilt and its spiritual paralysis is to aggravate sin by reflecting on its circumstances. It is possible, says Fenner, to realize the full extent and character of sin in ourselves when we examine the circumstances of any given sin. Fenner takes his biblical example from a notoriously sticky passage.

The AV renders Mark 14:72, When he thought thereon, he wept. A brief glance at Metzger’s TC and the NA27s apparatus demonstrates that rendering kai epibalon eklaien is fairly difficult; some manuscripts trade the aorist epiobalon with hezato to harmonize ‘bitter weeping’ with the other Gospels. In short, Mark’s idiomatic phrase does not express ‘burst into tears’ as Luke and Matthew render it plainly. Fenner’s paraphrase he cast all these things one upon another agrees with one very good possibility: when he set his mind to think on the matter, he wept (ALGNT. cf. BDAG). Fenner takes the idiom and works from the immediate paragraph to cast Peter’s uncontrollable weeping into a moving soliloquy:

Wretch that I was, [says Peter,] Christ was my master, and yet I denyed him; such a good master, that he called me before any of my fellow-Apostles, and yet I denyed him; I was ready to sink once, he denyed not me: I was to be damned once, he denyed not my soul, and yet I denyed him; he told me of this sin before hand, that I might take heed of it, and yet I denyed him. I said, I will not commit, nor forsake him, and yet I denyed him: yea, this very night, no longer ago, did I say and say again, I would not deny him, and yet I denyed him; yea, I said, though all others denyed him, yet would not I; and yet worse than all others, I denyed him with a witness before a maid, before a damsel … nay more, all this evill did I, not above five or six strides from my Lord and Saviour: nay more, even then, when if ever I should have stood for him, I should have done it then, when all the world did forsake him. O wretch that I was, I denyed him! [Peter] cast up all these circumstances together, and meditating on them, he went out and wept bitterly. (Fenner, 1657, 21)

2 Responses

  1. Looking up the original and I see what you mean by the difficulty. Literally “And Having cast upon he was weeping.” Young’s (YLT) does a good job here: “And having cast upon [it] [fig., having thought seriously about it], he began weeping. [cp. Mark 14:30] ”

    ESV does not see it this way: “And he broke down and wept. ” Fenner’s comment is really good and convicting.

    Good Post.

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