Mark 16:8 “And going out, they fled the tomb, for trembling and ecstasy, possessed them, and they said nothing to anyone because they were filled with awe.”
This translation is found in THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK a commentary by Marie Noonan Sabin.
Her translation replaces “bewilderment” with “ecstasy”. She also replaces “they were afraid” with “they were filled with awe.” Easter lessons.
The first replacement is argued (to my mind very effectively) from two passages in Genesis and also from previous passages earlier in Mark’s Gospel. “The word translated “bewilderment” is ekstasis in Greek. Even someone who has never read Greek can see that its English counterpart is “ecstasy.” This word appears at two key moments in the book of Genesis. In 2:21 when God is creating man and woman he casts Adam into a “deep sleep” or “trance” (ekstasis). In 15:12 when God casts Abraham into a “deep sleep” or “trance” (ekstasis) while he is making a covenant with him. Mark uses the word “ecstasy” more than once in his Gospel. In 2:12b it is used to describe the state of the crowd that witnessed the rising up of the paralytic. In 5:42 it is used to describe the changed condition of those who witnessed Jesus’ raising up of Jairus’s daughter. Sabin states: “The word conveys that they are undergoing some shock of transition. They are experiencing a transformation of consciousness….By his choice of words, Mark suggests that they were in a state of shock, undergoing a transforming experience. Their silence is more, not less, than words.” p. 156.
The second replacement is argued thus. Sabin, p. 156 “They are not silent because “they were afraid.” This translation is again conventional but unfortunate. Again, Mark has used the word given here twice before in his Gospel—first, to describe the disciples’ reaction to Jesus’ stilling the storm (4:41), and second to describe their response to the transfiguration of Jesus (9:6). … Both contexts suggest the meaning of awe. The context here of “ecstasy” also supports a translation of “awe”.” (The necessary correction that has taken place for the gift of the spirit “fear of the Lord” to “awe or reverence before the divine mystery illustrates that “fear” is not fright.”) Mark “through his description of the women’s silent, awed, ecstatic trance (16:8), indicates their confrontation with the unexpected, overwhelming power of God to transform death itself into ongoing life.” P.159
Prior to 16:8 Mark quotes the young man in the tomb as saying: “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.” Sabin states: “these words form the heart of his Gospel. …Jesus is both the suffering crucified one and the one whom God’s power has raised up.”
In her final summation of the Gospel Sabin states: “In 16:6 the three women who have been watching learn that Jesus “has been raised,” and transfigured by their new understanding, they are overcome with ecstasy and awe.” P. 160
Jesus Resurrection is clearly a mystery. We are called to undergo a transforming experience. Silence this Sunday is more important than words, we are called to enter into ecstasy and awe.