DAVID I: The KJV is only 'highly literary' in comparison with modern
usage - at the time it was just as 'modern' as the 'modern'
commented on, and was itself an attempt to 'popularize' the bible (i.e.
using old English), and avoid the literary (i.e. Latin, or Greek)
that preceded it. Typically, each 're-writing' of the bible (or biblical
stories) tends to be done in the language of the region and time in
is created. So, in my opinion, before we can say that the Greek of Mt
'corrects' the Greek of Mk, we need to know that the 'lousy Markan
really is 'lousy,' and not just a result of chronological or regional
variation. Has this been conclusively shown to be the case?
LEONARD: You raise an interesting point here about the KJV, David,
though I am not sure it is correct. Certainly, if one limits oneself to
a discussion of 20th century English Bible translations, there is a
distinction between those that aim at some level of literary elegance
and those that aim at popular appeal. And it would be difficult to
relatively date these versions on the basis of a comparison of the
language they use, thus confirming my point.
Your final question is even more interesting (has it conclusively been
shown that Mark's Greek is bad in ways that are unrelated to chronology
or regional variation?). I'm not sure it has. But I would offer one
other theoretical possibility that should be entertained, beyond my own
theory (and it is only an hypothesis) that Mark is self-consciously
aimed at a non-literary, popular audience. (I should perhaps say "in
addition" to my own theory -- which attempts to salvage, if not to
demonstrate a late Mark in view of the linguistic evidence.) It is also
possible that Mark speaks his own Greek, as it were, when he is writing
his Gospel, and that he did not know Greek well, did not have proper
Greek usage at his disposal, likely because it was not his first
language. These two theories are obviously compatible with each other,
and are also compatible with Markan priority, of course. The point I
would urge is that even these two theories together are likewise
compatible with a late Mark. It can not be assumed that just because
Mark would have had "better" Greek before him in the texts of Matthew
and Luke, that he would never have altered their Greek to produce what
some 21st-century analysts would describe as "lousy' Greek. He was
undoubtedly more interested in absorbing, appropriating, and
communicating the Gospel message to a particular audience than he was
in preserving a high level of Greek in its expression. Or at least it
is a reasonable hypothesis to assume that he was..