Re: Gospel of Mark and EUQUS

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Jun 08 1997 - 08:18:53 EDT

At 6:50 PM -0400 6/7/97, Eric Weiss wrote:
>In the Gospel of Mark, EUQUS is frequently translated by "immediately"
>or "just then." In some passages "immediately" as English understands
>the term, with its sense of "immediacy" and urgency, seems to me to be
>the wrong meaning, though I'm sure many sermons have been preached on
>how the Spirit "immediately" drove Jesus into the wilderness (1:12),
>I looked up EUQUS in BAGD, and it refers to a scholarly work "on the
>originality of the word - not the form - in Mark," and also cites Mark
>1:21,23,29 as an "inferential use, weakened to 'then, so then'" and
>refers the reader to Moulton-Howard, which I do not have. Louw-Nida
>explains EUQUS as "a point of time immediately subsequent to a previous
>point of time (the actual interval of time differs appreciably,
>depending upon the nature of the events and the manner in which the
>sequence is interpreted by the writer) - 'immediately, right away,
>then.'" These cites support EUQUS as not always meaning "immediately." I
>didn't find much help in other grammars (BDF, Porter and Moule Idiom
>books, Young).
>My "hunch" based on reading the beginning of Mark (I'd only gotten
>through the first chapter when I had these thoughts) was that perhaps
>Mark sometimes uses EUQUS for IDOU - "Behold!", like the Hebrew HiNNeH.
>Abbott-Smith only lists YaSHaR for the Hebrew behind the LXX EUQUS, but
>lists HiNNeH as the LXX translation of IDOU. I looked in my Kohlenberger
>Exhaustive Concordance to the Greek NT and saw that the only usages Mark
>makes of IDOU are in direct speech or, e.g. Mark 1:2, when quoting a
>passage, whereas Matthew and Luke use IDOU in both direct speech and
>narrative sequences. This indicated to me that perhaps Mark was
>deficient(?) in his usage of IDOU, and that perhaps he used another word
>in its place - e.g., EUQUS?
>I would like to ask/suggest that perhaps Mark does use EUQUS as a
>synonym for IDOU in some of his passages, and context would determine
>whether he means "immediately" or just "behold" as kind of a narrative
>attention-grabber or "enlivener," which the demonstrative particle IDOU
>serves as. Where the other synoptics use EUQUS (Mark 1:10; Matt. 3:16)
>or EUQEWS (Mark 1:18; Matt. 4:20) in the parallel passage, Mark's use of
>EUQUS probably means "immediately." Where the synoptics use a less
>urgent "time" word (Mark 1:12; Matt. 4:1 - TOTE), using "immediately" to
>translate Mark's EUQUS might be too strong - it might be better
>translated simply as "then." In Mark 14:43, the author uses EUQUS where
>the parallel Matt. 26:47 uses IDOU - there may be other sets of parallel
>passages like this that seem to show that Mark uses EUQUS for IDOU (I'm
>not suggesting Matthean priority here!) - a few verses later Mark 14:45
>uses EUQUS (with EUQEWS as a textual variant), and Matt. 26:49 uses
>Are there any Marcan scholars/students out there who can
>support/clarify/critique/comment on this suggestion of Mark using EUQUS
>for Greek IDOU and Hebrew HiNNeH? My speculation is NOT based on lengthy
>study, and I'm only a "little Greek."

Edward Hobbs is the real Marcan scholar on this list and can give you a
fully-informed opinion, whether or not you deem it "definitive," and
Stephen Carlson, when not gainfully employed as a patent attorney, seems to
devote most of his energies to the synoptic problem, and he will probably
have a say on this too. Personally I've always spent more time and energy
on Mark's gospel than any other NT text, but I'm not sure that I have
permanent judgments about it, other than it is the most intriguing (to me)
of all NT books. I think it is a standard opinion in Marcan scholarship
that EUQUS is the most distinctive element of Marcan redaction of his
tradition and is a standard transitional adverb for introducing new
pericopae. It's commonly understood (and I would concur) that EUQUS is
indeed intended to sustain a sense of urgency throughout the entire
narrative of this relatively short gospel which is the most intensely
eschatological of all of the NT gospels; the same motivation has often been
cited also for Mark's predilection for the "historical" present--to
intensify, make more vivid the events narrated, to set them before the eyes
of the audience that is listening to this text be read aloud to it. Phillip
Graber has (on this list, within the past two years) raised some
reservations against this judgment on the present tenses of Mark.

I'm a bit intrigued (it is Mark, after all, we're talking about?) by this
suggestion that EUQUS may represent IDOU. Certainly IDOU ceased, even
before the classical era, being a 2nd sg. middle imperative and became a
demonstrative adverb much like French "voilá" or a colloquial "hey lookee!"
And so Mark's EUQUS as a transitional particle could be said to have the
force, "... next thing you know is ..."

Readers who are (if they read Mark's gospel at all) shocked when they turn
from a sonorous KJV or relatively smooth RSV or NRSV translation of Mark to
the Greek of Mark and find a lively, even abrasive style there might do
well to look at Daryl Schmidt's Jesus Seminar translation of Mark (you'll
find it worth looking at regardless of your personal assessment of the
Jesus Seminar). Not everyone will like it, nor will everyone agree that it
captures the quality of Mark's Greek style, but I'm one who thinks it does.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(704) 675-4243

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