Re: Mark 7:8 & Ellipsis

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Mar 17 1999 - 09:10:18 EST

At 8:33 AM -0600 3/17/99, Jay Adkins wrote:
>Please help me again,
>As a ╬little Greek' I try and read the postings here to learn and not be
>too bothersome with every question I have. I have submitted a couple of
>questions and your responses have been very helpful. One was a basic
>oversight on my part, the other gave confirmation that on at least one
>verse I really did know what I was talking about. Pointing out my error
>was helpful in preventing the same type of mistake again and the
>confirmation was very uplifting. So Thank you very much for allowing a
>╬little Greek' such as me to participate. I have no where else to go for
>help as I am disabled and on a fixed (rather broken) income. The Lord has
>renewed my interest in translating His Word so as to be a better teacher
>and good student. My formal education in Greek was only two years at
>seminary twenty years ago so in addition to joining b-greek I have
>purchased several new volumes of resource material. The only problem with
>the resource material I have is a lack of feedback, so please allow me to
>ask the b-greek another question I hope is not too basic.

I would hope that posters would feel confident and unabashed in putting
questions about any GNT text or about the Greek of the GNT. That's the
authentic focus of B-Greek.

>The NEB translates Mark 7:8, "You neglect the commandment of God, in order
>to maintain the tradition of men."
>Mark 7:8 (NASU) "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the
>tradition of men."
>Mark 7:8 (NIV) You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to
>the traditions of men."

Before going on to your next questions, let me say something about these
(a) Of the three NASV is almost literal, but it fails to reflect the
probable implication of the fact that the participle AFENTES is aorist,
which, more often than not, means that we should understand a
serial/chronological relationship between the two actions: 'you did X and
(now) you are doing Y';
(b) NIV presents the text in accordance with the rule-of-thumb I've just
cited, and I'd say that of the three it is (in this instance, at least) the
most precise English equivalent of the Greek (but the relationship of the
ptc to the main verb COULD be understood differently, if one's willing to
argue for an alternative; I just wouldn't in this instance argue any
(c) My opinion of the NEB version is that it represents the sense inferred
rather than explicitly stated in the Greek. To anticipate what follows in
your next paragraph, I'd say there isn't any ellipsis here at all; rather
there is an interpretation of the meaning of AFENTES and KRATEITE that is
quite reasonable, since AFIHMI suggests "wilful abandonment," while
KRATEITE suggests "insistent and determined observance": clearly it is the
PARADOSIS TWN ANQRWPWN that is first and foremost for those being addressed
by Jesus here, while the ENTOLH TOU QEOU has been tossed aside; i.e. so
insistent are the addresses upon the human tradition that they HAVE
abandoned God's commandment. The translation of NEB, then, while not
literally reproducing the sense of the Greek, nevertheless does appear to
interpret and reproduce its intention correctly. Whether it behooves a
translator to do just that is a matter over which there are probably
different opinions among our list-members; I will say no more than that I
don't believe the NEB translators have ADDED anything to the MEANING of the
Greek that wasn't already IMPLICIT in it--but I wouldn't call this a case
of ellipsis in terms of standard rules of ellipsis (such as omission of a
verb in a second or third clause that is understood to be the same as that
in the first clause).

>Is it correct to add ╬in order to' between ╬God,' & ╬you' as the NEB has
>done. When I first read this and translated it, I had inserted ╬in order
>to', then removed it after further consideration, now I am unsure which is
>best. Bullinger does not address the verse in his book "Figures of Speech
>Used in the Bible" and I am not sure what the rules of ellipsis are, even
>after reading most of what he has to say about it. Did I just miss it,
>then need to go back and reread it?
>Many translations add the word ╬and' at this same location: NIV; NRSV; RSV;
>AMP; & TCNT. Some add nothing at all: NASB; KJV; BBE; YLT. In at least a
>few of these translations where nothing is added, 'in order to' seems
>almost implied.
>The next verse uses ╬INA', (╬in order that') in the same context of not
>holding to God's law ╬in order that' man's traditions can be kept.
>Repetition is certainly a Hebraism and that could be what was intended
>here. Even if we assume Mark was writing to Gentiles, there seems no
>reason to assume that he would not simply repeat some of Jesus' own
>Hebraistic phrasing when trying to record His sayings.
>The fact of the matter is, I do not know the rules of the game well enough
>to play at this point. Please help!

As I've said above, I don't think this is ellipsis--and I don't think it's
a figure of speech either. There is no hINA or hOPWS in the Greek
introducing the second verb and that second verb is an indicative,
KRATEITE, not a subjunctive, KRATHTE, such as would be required in a
purpose clause. I think the translator's inference of a deliberate intent
to maintain human tradition as underlying the abandonment of the divine
commandment is a logical inference rather than a grammatical insight.

I hope that helps rather than confuses matters for you. There may well be
alternative views here, but I'm not aware of any alternative manuscript
reading that would justify reading a purpose clause here.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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