Re: Mark's Greek, was Re: Mark 14:67

Carl W. Conrad (
Mon, 14 Oct 1996 21:58:37 -0500

At 4:40 PM -0500 10/14/96, Stephen C. Carlson wrote:
>At 10:58 10/14/96 -0500, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>>Upon pondering it and looking more closely at the passages I thought really
>>sloppy, I decided to suspend judgment until I could test it more
>>adequately. I am inclined to think, however, that the sections where I find
>>the worst Greek are very likely unaltered pieces of Mark's inherited
>>tradition rather than his own composition. This would be hard to prove to
>>everyone's satisfaction, but it's my new working hypothesis, for what it's
>What's your opinion of the Greek in Mk8:22-26 (Healing a Bethsaida
>Blind Man)? I'm wondering whether this passage should be considered
>redactional in order to frame the tripartite section of passion
>prediction, disciples' error, and teaching on discipleship (8:27-10:45),
>followed by the healing of the blind Bartimaeus (vv46-52).

Interesting question! It is certainly written in a nice Greek narrative
style--hardly a matter of short, choppy sentences! And even if it is not
composed by Mark, Mark has certainly played a role in its placement in its
present position. I have always felt that the evangelist is using the story
of the healing of the deaf and dumb man in 7:31-37 is parallel to the
healing of the blind man at Bethsaida in 8:22-26--this is a section in
which there is a double cycle of feeding of multitudes, crossings of the
Sea of Galilee, and displays of ineptitude and misunderstanding by the
disciples. In view of the Parable of the Sower in Mk 4, the comment on
those who have ears and hear not, those who have eyes and see not, comments
that seem pointed at the disciples, it has seemed to me that ONE of the
points Mark is suggesting in these stories of blind and deaf men healed is
that there may ultimately be hope for these dubious disciples of his (and
for us!), although it may take a miracle or two for that hope to be
realized. But yes, there's the healing of blind Bartimaeus in 10:46-52, and
it does follow immediately upon that third cycle of Messianic lore on
discipleship and suffering servanthood. So perhaps the placement of all
these healings of KWFOI, MOGILALOUNTES, etc. is part of the Marcan
redactional scheme.

That's not to say that Mark composed these healing narratives, but he may
have played a stronger hand in shaping their extant form. A passage that
looks (to me, at least, much more like a purely Marcan composition
(granting that he may depend upon a traditional story even so) is 3:1-6,
the very eloquent (and elegant) climax of the controversy-sequence
beginning at 2:1: on the Sabbath day, when Jesus asks his critics whether
it is right on the Sabbath to promote life or to promote death, his abashed
critics go out of the synagogue and begin to promote Jesus' death. The
irony is exquisite, and the story is nicely written.

>>Yes, it DOES look very much like we're going to have the Cardinals in a
>>World Series with the Yankees. I wouldn't put it beyond the Braves to stage
>>a 3-game comeback, but at least it seems improbable now.
>Well, in my area (Washington D.C.) the O's never got their comeback.

Ah, well--I just watched that miserable game 5 and the Braves' romp over
the Cardinals. The Braves just may come back, they're not going to lie down
and die; but there are two games left to play, so we shall see.

(excuse the chatter, folks, but I thought I was writing the original of
this note to Edgar Krentz, who had written me off-list as a Cardinal fan in
exile about the NLCS); it went to the list, and perhaps it is (Marcan
Greek, not baseball) a matter of list interest)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR