From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Mar 05 1998 - 19:25:38 EST

At 5:07 PM -0500 3/5/98, Randy LEEDY wrote:
>A friend of mine just called with a question that has intrigued me.
>He was wondering about the use of the ptcp LUONTES in Mk 11:5: TI
>POIEITE LUONTES TON PWLON?. Kind of an odd use by Koine standards,
>but BDF suggests it was more common earlier (414). It seems natural
>to render the question "Why are you untying the colt?", but the exact
>English parallel "What are you doing untying the colt?" also sounds
>natural. As I think about the difference in English between the
>questions "Why..." and "What are you doing...", it seems to me that
>the latter implies a stronger disapproval. The former could actually
>be a request for an explanation, while the latter seems to imply an
>objection to what is being done. If my young son is inserting a metal
>object into an electrical outlet, I'm going to yell "What are you
>doing...", not "Why are you...". Acts 21:13 contains parallel
>phraseology, where at least a little disapproval also fits the
>context, where Paul asks his companions "What are you doing weeping"
>in response to Paul's refusal to heed their advice based on Agabus's
>What think ye? Is this a legitimate reading of the Greek
>construction? Is the idiom a survival from the classical period? If
>so, what bearing does its presence in Mark have upon the nature of
>Mark's language or upon his sources? Or might the idiom also be
>Latinistic, Carl?

No it's not Latinistic (I can't imagine anyone ever saying "Quid facitis polum solventes?" The classical construction would have been, TI BOULOMENOI TON PWLON LUETE? I rather think your way of understanding the construction rings quite valid, Randy.

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