Re: Gospel of Mark and EUQUS

Date: Sun Jun 08 1997 - 12:31:58 EDT


Eric Weiss has written a remarkably well-thought-out and well-stated
question on EUQUS in Mark; and Carl Conrad has written one of his
usual wonderful mini-essays on the subject. Since Carl called attention to
my own specialty in this field, let me apologize for not responding in full
at this time. I'm recovering from a stroke I suffered last Tuesday, and
most of my time has been taken up with all sorts of brain-scans, various
angio- and cardio-grams, and trying to "take it easy" (my neurologist's
order), as well as give a major public lecture on Thursday. My own life-
work on Mark is still unfinished, and this summer's "final push" on it may
have to be slowed down in favor of my health.

Nevertheless, as an interim suggestion, may I refer you to Rod Decker's
excellent study of this very question, which came out a few months ago in
the new journal published by his seminary. I would give you the exact
reference, but it is sitting on my computer-desk in my office, which I
won't visit for a day or two. If Rod himself has not already sent the
reference to the List by then, I'll post the data myself.

Rod's article is, I believe, directly aimed at Eric's question as framed.
And Carl's post gives pretty much the current status quaestionis. My own
interest in this term in Mark is directed less to its lexical meaning there
than to its rhetorical function; but that is a long story. Just as GAR in
Mark means "because" or the like, but in fact has a powerful function in
signalling major clues to the Evangelist's meaning, so EUQUS functions well
beyond its lexical content. As for IDOU, Carl has hit the nail on the head
there. I would only suggest that maybe it is more like the French "voici
than "voila"; but that is probably a matter of the French-speakers I know
as distinct from Carl's speakers. (I HAD to show that I don't simply
accept EVERYTHING Carl writes--usually a hard thing to show!)

Sorry I can't afford the energy for more just now. Look for Rod's essay--
it is really thorough.

Edward Hobbs

Carl wrote:

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 "voil=E1" 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 Conrad

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