Mark 15:22

They brought Jesus to the place which was known as Golgotha – a name which means ‘place of a Skull.’

just to be sure
death is death
we take it to the bone

the way of all flesh
death is death
even before flesh is gone

skeletons are more final
death is death
than wind-blown ashes

life is pirated away
death is death
signed by a naked skull

all transfigured beloveds
death is death
journey under this sign

Mark’s appreciation of ambiguity shows here with his continued pattern of explaining Aramaic words. We don’t know, though, whether this is a description of the topography or the function of hanging people on a cross until they are picked clean by birds or dogs.

Those interested in etymologies will appreciate LaVerdiere2290 tracking,

Golgotha is a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic name Gulgulta’, meaning Skull. In Hebrew, the name would be Gulgulit. As Mark indicates, the place of Golgotha (Golgotha topos) can be translated as “Place of the Skull” (Kraniou Topos). In the Latin Vulgate, the Greek Kranious Toposis translated as Calvariae locus, from which our English name “Calvary” is derived.

Of more interest to others is a comparison of images from the beginning of Mark with those from the end. In 1:10 a dove descends onto or into Jesus, presumably involving his head. Here we see that life stripped away, leaving only a skull. Readers need to wonder what has happened that good news has so devolved into bad news. It should be noted that this bad news cannot be fully redeemed by some appeal to any good that can come out of a mean and nasty situation—harm done is harm done.

Of interest here is the legend that Golgotha was the burial place of Adam’s skull. Sabin2143 reflects on this, “…even as he shows Jesus being led to his death, Mark calls attention to the fact that Jesus is a second Adam. Mark thus suggests the cosmic irony of his death.”

Swanson349translates the title “Son of Man” as “son of adam” (lower case to connect with creation and earth) as a form of self-reference. This keeps a connection with such a legend and a key parable—between a seed sown (Adam) and a harvest of thirty-, sixty-, or a hundredfold (Jesus). As we interact with this nearly 2,000-year-old story, an active imagination is a gift that opens new entry points.

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