Mark 9:44

where their worm never dies and the fire is never quenched. (Omitted)


omitted in most editions
is the reality
of most people
under other’s thumbs

these worms don’t die
they have just enough
resources to breed
more slaves to Mammon

even though their fire
for an abundant life
never goes out
it is never tended

separated as well as omitted
they miss their intersection
with community
and continue apart


Some manuscripts have the words which we have retained here and in v.46, but the manuscripts are not among the best or the most reliable. The repetition of the saying in v. 46 seems to have found place there by attraction to the word hell at the end of v. 45. Both instances are retained here because some readers might be puzzled by a numerical omission, and by the fact of their being accustomed to English versions which retain the texts.   ~ Mann383

Neither of the excuses to keep a verse hold up. A numerical omission can easily be handled with a footnote. If a reader is accustomed to seeing a line suggests they have read the text more than once. If there is that much interest, it can be expected that they would appreciate more information than a literal reading can give and would eventually feel misled by a decision to maintain a line on the basis of “we’ve always done it that way”.

The line here may simply be a favorite that had to be worked in somewhere and found this place to emphasize the pain of an internal disruption of good news or, as Isaiah has it, “new heaven and new earth”.

Isaiah has given Jesus the language of suffering servant which is extended to death and resurrection. Now Isaiah’s very last word (66:24) has us rejoice in our loyalty to YHWH by casting a glance at those who have divided the community by not attending to ethical living and come to a bad end. We are to go out and look at the dead who have rebelled against G*D. We will see the dead filled with worms that do not die, even in an unquenchable fire. This is a final warning to stay true to tolerance toward outsiders and resolute in intolerance toward insiders who, in Isaiah’s words, “sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following the one in the center, eating the flesh of pigs vermin, and rodents” (66:17).

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