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Mark 10:36 Τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

Posted: June 7th, 2011, 10:36 pm
by Stephen Carlson
I'm having trouble understanding the bracketed text of Mark 10:36b: Τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

Usually, it's translated as "What do you me to do for you?" but this could simply be translational inertia, reflecting either the grammatically smooth Textus Receptus Τί θέλετε ποιῆσαί με ὑμῖν; or the somewhat rougher Hort's Τί θέλετε ποιήσω ὑμῖν; (I would prefer a ἵνα, though).

Turner, JTS 28 (1927): 357, seems to think the text is corrupt:
The extraordinary reading of אc B Ψ in x 36 τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν; is relegated to the margin of W-H, and must presumably be a conflation between two readings ποιήσω and με ποιῆσαι.
So does Higgins, Exp Times 52 (1941): 317-318, who proposes an emendation.

Metzger et al. (1994:91), however, keep the pronoun με as the reading that explains the emergence of the others. But the harder reading can be too hard, and I can't figure out for the life of me what that pronoun is supposed to be doing grammatically or syntactically in the text. Neither verb θέλετε nor ποιήσω makes any sense to me with an accusative first-person pronoun object.

I'm not asking for a resolution of the text critical issue, just an understanding of the attested text Τί θέλετέ με ποιήσω ὑμῖν; Any ideas?

Stephen

P.S. Mike Aubrey has some comments about this verse in his post, Pronominal Clitics Attaching to Verbs with Focal Constituents.

Re: Mark 10:36 Τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

Posted: June 8th, 2011, 12:59 am
by MAubrey
I can only say: What a horrible sentence.

I should probably revise that section of that post though--were it an infinitive instead of an , the με still could be pulled forward to the interrogative pronoun. I also didn't want to touch on the question of whether or not the NA27 text could be translated "literally" as "What do you want me to do for you." Just as you say it could be translational inertia, it isn't entirely clear to me that such a subjunctive could not in fact be accurately rendered that way anyway. BDAG lists a number of other examples:
BDAG, 448. wrote:Foll. by aor. subj. (deliberative subj.; s. Kühner-G. I 221f; B-D-F §366, 3; 465, 2; Rob. 935; Epict. 3, 2, 14 θέλεις σοι εἴπω;=‘do you wish me to tell you?’; Mitt-Wilck. I/2, 14 III, 6 καὶ σοὶ [=σὺ] λέγε τίνος θέλεις κατηγορήσω) θέλεις συλλέξωμεν αὐτά; do you want us to gather them? Mt 13:28; θέλις χαλκέα ἄγωμεν; do you want us to bring a smith? AcPl Ha 3, 5. τί θέλετε ποιήσω ὑμῖν; what do you want me to do for you? Mt 20:32 (cp. Plautus, Merc. 1, 2, 49 [ln. 159]: quid vis faciam?); cp. 26:17; 27:17, 21; Mk 10:36 (CTurner, JTS 28, 1927, 357; AHiggins, ET 52, ’41, 317f), 51; 14:12; 15:9, 12 v.l.; Lk 9:54; 18:41; 22:9.
This is the only one with the goofy accusative object pronoun though...which is the whole problem.

As the textual question and understanding the sentence. It's also entirely possible that the author simple miswrote a subjunctive for the infinitive or perhaps started to say one thing: Τί θέλετέ με ποιησαι ὑμῖν; and half way through switched to Hort's Τί θέλετε ποιήσω ὑμῖν, resulting in a conflation: Τί θέλετέ με ποιήσω ὑμῖν; But I don't know even about TC or scribal habits to say whether or not that's possible. I know I do it when typing some times and even when I'm writing by hand...whether a 1st century amanuensis might do such a thing, I have no idea.

Re: Mark 10:36 Τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

Posted: June 8th, 2011, 6:48 am
by cwconrad
There's a consensus, I think, that the bracketed enclitic με is the problem, not the construction τί θέλετε ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

There's a good deal of talk (I've done my share) about Mark's "oddball" Greek; nobody talks about solecisms, so far as I know,
but there are several passages that are similar to this one in that they are perfectly intelligible Greek -- there's really no missing or added meaning, I think we'd agree -- but they don't conform to recognized syntactic patterns of the era in which we encounter them. I am only speculating here, but what I'm thinking is that this is an instance of a halfway-house construction between a standard older usage of an accusative pronoun and infinitive (τί θέλετέ με ποιῆσαι ὑμῖν) and a newer usage of what I was once taught to call "volitive substantive clauses of result" in Latin but perfectly well exemplified in the Greek τί θέλετε ἵνα ποιήσω ὑμῖν. Modern Greek uses the subjunctive in lieu of the infinitive with να, with the oddity (from and English-speaker's perspective) that the verb in the subjunctive is conjugated. I think that this με is a relic in the process of a shift in usage from the accusative-infinitive object clause to the ἵνα + subjunctive (with the ἵνα often omitted) following a verb like θέλω, λέγω, κελεύω. ἐπιτάσσω, etc. I repeat, this is nothing more than speculation, but it's the kind of thing I find fascinating about what I have been repeatedly calling "NT Greek as a language in flux."

Re: Mark 10:36 Τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

Posted: June 8th, 2011, 9:58 am
by Stephen Carlson
Thanks for your comments, indicating that the με makes little, if any, syntactic sense here. I would argue that it makes little, if any, prosodic sense here too.

I've carefully reading David Goldstein's 2010 Berkeley dissertation on the placement of clausal clitics in 5th cen Greek and comparing the patterns he's found to Koine Greek. So far, they seem to hold up, even after 5 centuries, but the text of Mark 10:36 is a major exception.

If I understand Goldstein correctly, the clitic ought to be hosted by the first prosodic word in the clause or intonation unit (the classic Wackernagel position), as if: τί με θέλετε ποιήσω ὑμῖν; This placement suggests that the first word here is in weak (informational) focus, which is appropriate for interrogatives. But this isn't the text of any manuscript.

Rather under Goldstein's theory, the placement of the clitic με after θέλετε implies that some sort of intonation break belong before the θέλετε. I can sort-of get that by assuming that θέλετέ με is some sort of parenthesis, as if: Τί--θέλετέ με--ποιήσω ὑμῖν; "What--you want me--should I do?" But, though apparently more syntactically and prosodically acceptable (IMHO), this sentence in context and construction still seems bizarre to me: why would (Mark have) Jesus tell the sons of Zebedee "you want me"?

I would have been absolutely thrilled if this could be evidence some sort of Latin interference, but, alas, the Old Latin translations don't know what to make of it either. Old Latin a and b simply omit the offending θέλετέ με and put quid faciam vobis. None of these and other Latin witnesses have anything corresponding to the με.

This bizarre reading is found in only three related MSS. Even though they (often) preserve good readings against the rest of the world, they still have corruptions of their own. If I had to bet, I would say that their reading Τί θέλετέ με ποιήσω ὑμῖν is simply a local corruption in one branch in the transmission of Mark's text. Corruptions happen all the time, but we shouldn't print them in our critical text, especially without any indication.

Stephen

Re: Mark 10:36 Τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

Posted: June 8th, 2011, 10:18 am
by Vasile Stancu
How about με just emphasizing something? Not necessarily 'me' as opposed to 'anyone other than me', but other, more subtle things? For instance, this construction may induce the idea of reservation regarding the things asked for, or the ability/appropriateness of the person being asked, to accomplish the request. Just imagine the way a shop keeper says 'What can I do for you' almost automatically when a person enters the respective shop, as opposed to the virtual 'And what is that you think I am able to do for you' when a strange stranger is approaching you while sitting on a bench in the park, asking you to do something for him. Other possibilities may be there...

Re: Mark 10:36 Τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

Posted: June 8th, 2011, 11:02 am
by Stephen Carlson
Vasile Stancu wrote:How about με just emphasizing something?
I could see such an emphasis if the text had ἐγώ instead of με. But I can't see your point with με. Attested examples of the construction you have in mind would be very helpful.

Stephen

Re: Mark 10:36 Τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

Posted: June 8th, 2011, 1:25 pm
by Barry Hofstetter
I just wanted to point out that although the construction is strange, there is still no doubt what the text means. Non-native speakers of our primary language often do terrible things to it, but just as often we understand what they mean (while weighing the pros and cons of correcting the speaker). If someone were to say "What do you want I to do for you" we'd recognize a mistake, but we would also understand the meaning of the sentence. Whatever gave rise to this reading (and I think most native Greek speakers of the period would see it as a solecism), it's still understandable.

Ain't language wunnerful, y'all? :lol:

Re: Mark 10:36 Τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

Posted: June 8th, 2011, 7:15 pm
by RDecker
Might this be understood as a double accusative with με as the object complement of θέλετε and Τί … ποιήσω ὑμῖν as a clause functioning as the accusative complement?

Re: Mark 10:36 Τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

Posted: June 8th, 2011, 11:12 pm
by MAubrey
Barry Hofstetter wrote: Whatever gave rise to this reading ... it's still understandable.
If the reading is original, I doubt anyone would doubt that. Language users make production errors all the time.
RDecker wrote:Might this be understood as a double accusative with με as the object complement of θέλετε and Τί … ποιήσω ὑμῖν as a clause functioning as the accusative complement?
That would be my best guess too. I'm just not sure if such a construction is felicitous when θέλω takes a subjunctive, especially without an ἵνα present. Anyone have time to do some morphological searching?

Re: Mark 10:36 Τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

Posted: June 9th, 2011, 12:04 am
by Stephen Carlson
RDecker wrote:Might this be understood as a double accusative with με as the object complement of θέλετε and Τί … ποιήσω ὑμῖν as a clause functioning as the accusative complement?
I'm not too familiar with a double accusative construction with θέλω. How would it work?

One guess is: "Do you want me [to be] what I should do for you?" That can't be right, can it?

Stephen