Re: Mark 3.1

From: George Blaisdell (
Date: Tue May 11 1999 - 13:03:25 EDT


>From: "Moon-Ryul Jung"

>I am puzzled by Mark 3.1:
>Most translations render it as
>There was a man who had a withered hand. (a)

Moon ~

I am always amazed at the importance of word order in the Greek. The center
of this sentence is EXHRAMMENHN, which would seem to be its focus ~ Not the
hand, or the man, or the having of his hand, or the place of the man with
the hand, but the fact that withering had occurred is what the sentence
turns on...

If the context indicated a lot of folks who had various body parts withered,
but they finally came across one with his HAND withered, then I would expect
to find CEIRA in the center.

Literally [and woodenly!]

"There was * in that place * a man * having been
withered * possessing * the * hand."

English would put the word order differently:


Resulting in:

"There was in that place a man possessing the withered hand."
[Sounds like the opening line of a night-time camp fire ghost story!!]

More freely:

"There was a man with a withered hand."

Hence a] seems pretty good, yes?

>It indicates that the participle EXHRAMMENHN is taken to be
>attributive, and the article THN is taken to refer to a particular
>kind of hand, "THE withered hand".

I don't think so ~ Carl would be much better on this point ~ I would think
that the article makes ostensive *which* hand ~ e.g. the hand belonging to
the man already indicated. So I would take it as possesive in English,
though demonstrative in Greek.

On the other hand [no pun intended!], the article can also be seen as
generic of hands that are withered, as hO KALOS, an article plus adjective,
is translated as 'beauty', rather than 'the beautiful', though I prefer the
latter. So your idea that it is a 'kind' of hand makes sense as well.
Maybe a lot of sense!

The participle is attributive, as you say ~ Clearly so, I believe.

>I sort of remember that someone
>on the list said Greek article does not necessarily refer to a
>definite object, but it can refer to a particular kind (which is
>not so common in English, I guess). Is rendering (a) good enough in
>terms of Greek grammar?
>What about the literal rendering as follows?
>Was there a man having the (ie., his) hand withered. (b)

The English word order 'Was there' normally indicates a question...

>I would have no problem with this rendering, especially because
>Carl taught me to consider participles without article "predicative"
>without clear evidence to the contrary.

>"There was a man possessing the (his) hand withered" (d).
>(d) does not make sense to me. Any comments?

Well, that IS a nuance of the Greek ~ For the 'possessing' that we have of a
withered hand is an item that needs healing, and our 'having' it would seem
to be as important to heal as is its withered condition. It is the hand,
after all, that symbolizes our reaching out to others, which is so uselessly
withered, yes? And our possessiveness of our withered hand might then be
seen as what needs healing... But I am just speculating here.

The Greek clearly does indicate that the man possesses a withered hand!!


George Blaisdell
Roslyn, WA

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