Re: Word Order Signifigance: Mark 3.1

From: Jeffrey B. Gibson (
Date: Sun May 16 1999 - 10:13:51 EDT

George Blaisdell wrote:


> 1) The first word announces something existing, and alerts us that whatever this existent might be, its existence is the main focus of this sentence. It is the beginning of the first sub-unit of thought of this sentence, as well as the first word of the whole sentence. It remains in focus throughout the entire sentence with every word it.


> Contra-Carl, at least in this common little narrative sentence, the importance of the center can be seen in the following way:


Two questions about your continued efforts in what appears to be a good example of someone straining out a gnat to swallow a camel.

First, if the sentence's structure is as important as you say it is in creating the particular effect upon the reader that it is necessary for it to have if the significance of what is being said is ever to be grasped, why then do both Matthew and Luke abandon this structure and change not only the word order of the sentence but its wording? Matt has KAI IDOU ANQRWPOS CHEIRA ECHWN ZHRAN (12:10). Luke has KAI HN ANQRWPOS EKEI KAI hH CHEIR AUTOU hH DEXIA HN ZHRA (6:6). Obviously -- and especially, but not necessarily, if Matt and Luke are using GMark here -- they saw nothing of what *you* see in this sentence. And surely this is curious since these authors, as
(native?) Greek speakers and writers, would have been familiar with what you claim are the esoterica of the language *had it actually worked the way you think it does*. But the fact that they do what they do with Mk 3:1 shows that what you claim lies within and behind the text of Mark is not there.

Second, does the *context* of the sentence you strain at so forcefully justify your claim of this sentence's importance? In other words, within the pericope in which it appears, does the sentence really have the importance and central position you say it does? Form criticism would say no, for the "center" of this pericope is not the statement about the man, but the action of Jesus in healing the man, actions which stand as a proof that Jesus' way of doing things vis a vis the Law is God's way. So the meaning and significance of Mk 3:1 is derived not from how it is phrased, but from what surrounds it.

I think your studies of what the Mk 3:1 means would profit much more if you would focus not on the reputed significance the verse's word order, let alone what word is "central" within it, but of the function the entire verse has as part of the set up for the main point within the pericope of which it is a part.


Jeffrey Gibson

Jeffrey B. Gibson
7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
Chicago, Illinois 60626

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