Historical Presents in Mark
To: GThomas (GPG)
In Response To: Judy Redman
On: Historical Presents in Mark
Judy had noted that it is possible to render a whole story in the historical present. I gave the counterexample of Mark’s story of the Healing of Simon’s Mother-in-Law, where there is only one historical present, and all the other verbs are in the narrative past, as we expect them to be.
JUDY: I would suggest that this is just an aberration in the text.
BRUCE: If so, it is a rather recurrent one. Mark’s historical presents are scattered one, or sometimes a few more, to a pericope which is otherwise in the historical past (some pericopes have no presents at all, and are entirely in the historical past). Check the Greek text, and tell me if you find otherwise.
If not, then my previous comment stands. It seems that we have here no mere literary device, such as an “immediacy” gimmick; we have something else. Something that is too consistent, of its own strange type, to be explained as a local authorial or scribal aberration. What is Mark, the supposed author, doing in these fifty-some places? That is the question, and I would be very glad to see someone besides myself take it on, since I have a lot else to do this week.
Anybody have an idea?
Historical presents can be identified from the very careful ASV translation, available here,
or from the front matter of any good (meaning, any decently early) commentary on Mark.
E Bruce Brooks
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
As for gThos, I have the impression that there are no historical presents in it. Correct?