Re: Aorist Imperative form of Mark 1:3

Carl W. Conrad (
Wed, 4 Sep 1996 22:11:53 -0700

At 6:22 PM -0500 9/4/96, Edward Hobbs wrote:
><Thank you. Well, yes, there are some very nice things in Mark, to be sure,
><although I don't usually think in terms of his Greek constructions! Do you
><think he wrote this one himself? Or might it be part of the Greek tradition
><of dominical sayings already?
>I'm as form-critical as anyone, I suppose, but a few minutes with a Greek
>Synopsis will show that Matthew and Luke didn't hesitate to work on the
>Greek of the "Jesus" they read in Mark; so we can scarcely attribute every
>nice piece of Greek to the unknown translator(s) of the tradition, and
>blame all the poor Greek on Mark.

That's a fair point, although I think a number of the dominical sayings must have been in oral tradition before Mark adopted and shaped them to his own narrative purposes. I suppose it's also fair to say that the questionable Greek found in Mark may itself have been in oral tradition too. We can't know. I guess that in the last analysis I'd probably say that Mark's Greek is more vivid and more _interesting_ than John's, and I'd certainly agree that if there are real solecisms anywhere in the NT, they are to be found in Revelation. Come to think of it, that isolated PLHRHS XARITOS KAI ALHQEIAS at the end of Jn 1:14 is pretty bad!

>I know you admire Mark as an interesting and imaginative writer; but you
>often speak of Mark's Greek as if he had written the Apocalypse. But maybe
>we are just thinking of different passages as typical. (I recall your
>saying that Josephus wrote superb Greek; and I used to give passages from
>him on Greek exams as examples of some of the most crabbed Greek you could
>find! He had some wonderful editors, or "assistants", who polished lots of
>his work very handsomely; but he obviously lacked the talent himself,
>unless you follow the theory of his gradual progress toward elegance (of
>which one of my teachers, Ralph Marcus, used to say nasty words).
>Anyway, I hoped you might move Mark up from the bottom of your list a bit,
>at least above the Johannine Apocalypse, and above the Gospel and Epistles
>of John. I guess I'd probably stop the elevator about there.

Yes: Apocalypse is the worst; the gospel of John seems primarily pedestrian rather than grammatically or stylistically offensive. And the first letter of John really is pretty bad. However, if you want to get me going about bad Greek, I don't think there's any passage in the NT I find more offensive (stylistically) than the opening of Ephesians.

I guess that I'd want to say that I really don't think Greek was Mark's native language. Just my own hunch that I can't prove. Ornery, I guess.

Regards, c