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Re: [Synoptic-L] Mark Used CG in 15:42-16:8, Pt. 2-Fatigue in 16:6

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  • Stephen C. Carlson
    ... I m not surprised. Translations usually render Mark s 3d person impersonals with English 3d person they even though an English passive better captures
    Message 1 of 4 , Feb 2, 2002
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      At 12:35 AM 2/1/02 -0600, Ted Weeden wrote:
      >Stephen Carlson wrote on Thursday, January 31, 2002:
      >> My take on the plural verb in Mark 16:6 is that it is an instance of
      >> using a 3d person plural in an impersonal or indefinite construction.
      >> [Citations to BDF and Turner snipped]
      >You are quite correct that EQHKAN could serve in 16:6 to refer to "one" and that
      >it is possible plurality with respect to subject is not intended here. But I
      >find it quite curious that no English translation that I am aware of, incuding
      >those in reputable scholarly commentaries, translate EQHKAN other than as third
      >person plural with unspecified subject, namely, "they laid.".

      I'm not surprised. Translations usually render Mark's 3d
      person impersonals with English 3d person "they" even though
      an English passive better captures the sense. This is
      particularly true because (1) the "formal equivalence"
      principle adopted by many translators would dictate the
      rendering "they laid"; (2) the passive voice is deprecated
      in good English narrative style, so it is unlikely translators
      would introduce a passive even if the sense is a slight
      improvement; and (3) the English 3d person "they" in many
      contexts also functions impersonally.

      Furthermore, translation is not exegesis. Many translations
      are made without a detailed exegesis, particularly when, as
      is the case here in Mark 16:6, that there is no critical or
      important issue at stake. Therefore, the appeal to the
      authority of English translators on this question is at best
      *obiter dictum*.

      What is important, however, is the view of an exegete who
      has taken the trouble to interpret the sense of EQHKAN in
      Mark 16:6. After looking at my commentaries and monographs
      on Mark, including Tayler, Hooker, and, yes, even your
      TRADITIONS IN CONFLICT, the issue of the plural subject
      of EQHKAN is neglected in favor of making the point that
      Jesus's body is no longer there.

      Gundry is one of the few commentators, however, who did
      address it:

      >For example, I quote Gundry_Mark_ (992): "'Look, the place where they put him!'
      >underscores Jesus' not being here, i.e underscores that the fullfilment of his
      >prediction in 14:28 has already started. The exclamatory use of 'look' (N.B.
      >that IDE is singular though the women are plural, and is not followed by an
      >accusative of direct object) and of 'the place where they put him' (N.B. that
      >the nominative hO TOPOS has no verb) and the asyndeton which introduces both
      >'look' and 'the place where they put him' intensify the emphasis. 'Here' and
      >'where they put him' hark back to the two Marys' 'observing where he was put'
      >(15:47). Mark likes indefinite third person plural verbs. Here, 'they'
      >betrays his hand; for though Joseph of Arimathea doubtless had help, 15:46
      >mentions only Joseph as putting Jesus in the tomb (15:46)."
      >Now, several things I observe in Gundry's exposition on the grammatical and
      >stylistic character of Mark's rhetoric in 16:6. He notes the fact, as you note
      >also below, that Mark has used IDE (singular) when the young man is addressing
      >women (plural). He notes that hO TOPOS (nominative) lacks a verb, and that
      >Mark uses an asynedetic construction. He notes, further, that Mark has a liking
      >for verbs in the third person plural, of which EQHKAN is one. However, he
      >does not make any mention of the possibility that EQHKAN is to be understood as
      >refering to singular unspecified subject, namely, 'one.' In fact, Gundry
      >repeatedly through the paragraph cited translates EQHKAN as a referencing a
      >plural but unspecified subject, namely, "they." Moreover, he goes on to say
      >that Mark in using EQHKAN, meaning "'they' laid him," "*betrays* his hand"
      >because, if I am understanding him correctly, Mark in 15:46 referenced a
      >singular subject, Joseph, when he penned the third person singular EQHKEN, even
      >though "doubtless" Joseph must have had help (putting, thereby, a collective
      >spin on the meaning of EQHKEN) in bury Jesus.

      Gundry's analysis on this point is somewhat incoherent. Gundry
      correctly recognized that "Mark likes *indefinite* third person
      plural verb" (emphasis added), but then he failed to realize that
      indefinite verbs, regardless of the actual grammatical number,
      also comprehend a singular subject or at the very least render
      the actual subject irrelevant.

      [Mark 15:46 states that Joseph rolled (PROSEKULISEN, singular)
      the stone. The sheer physics of the operation, as recognized
      by Mark's audience, implies that Joseph had help.]

      >Thus, in Gundry's mind, if I am understanding him correctly, and all English
      >translators that I know of take Mark literally in his use of EQHKAN. Third
      >person plural means third person plural: "EQHKAN ("'They' laid").

      Given Mark's proclivity for 3d person indefinite verbs, its
      grammatically plural number does not bear the semantic weight
      you are placing on it.

      >I agree that Mark's Greek is not sophisticated Greek and that Matthew and Luke
      >try to raise the level of Mark's Greek in appropriating his texts for their
      >compositions. I do not, however, think it is clear in this case that
      >dissatisfaction with Mark's pedestrian Greek is the primary reason for doing
      >surgery on Mark's use of EQHKAN in 16:6. Given some interesting correspondence
      >between the use of EQHKAN in the texts of CG as I have noted, I think Mark may
      >have inadvertently and under the influence of the CG text, penned EQHKAN when he
      >meant EQHKEN. And Matthew and Luke caught the error and, in the case of
      >Matthew, corrected it along with the other Markan stylistic weaknesses.

      Your position would be stronger if Matthew and Luke surgically
      corrected EQHKAN by a simple letter change, but Matthew and Luke's
      redaction was much more radical: Matthew rewrote the sentence,
      and Luke omitted it. This suggests the fault is elsewhere and
      the change of EQHKEN to a different verb EKEITO in Matthew and
      its omission in Luke is merely collateral damage. Furthermore,
      the fact that no scribe copying Mark changed EQHKAN to EQHKEN
      shows that, whatever narrative difficulty there was, it was not
      perceived before modern times.

      >My argument for my theory that Mark may well have used CG as a source for
      >composing his burial and empty-tomb stories is a cumulative one. I am not
      >placing all "my eggs" in the basket of a Markan error in 16:6. I am suggesting
      >it is plausible to see Mk. 16:6 as an error, and Gundry, for one, appears to
      >view it that way. CG offers an explanation for the error, and if additional
      >examples from CG account for other "odd" features of the Markan empty-tomb
      >story, in particular, then that gives more weight to the plausibility that 16:6
      >is an instance of Markan editorial fatigue.

      I've gone back over both your argument and the Gospel
      of Peter, and I just cannot see how the argument can
      be made to work.

      The plural EQHKAN, as you noted, occurs in two places.
      The first is GPt 6:21 KAI EQHKAN AUTON EPI THS GHS,
      where, after pulling nails from Jesus's hand, "they
      put him on the ground" and an earthquake ensued. There
      is no clear antecedent for "they" in 6:21, but it would
      have to be the the Jews (hOI IOUDAIOI) in 6:23, who
      rejoice and give the body to Joseph. After the body
      is turned over Joseph, the Gospel of Peter, like Mark,
      relates the events in the singular, including that
      Joseph brought the body to his own tomb (EISHGAGEN
      [sing.] EIS IDION TAFON). Mark does not relate anyone's
      putting Jesus on the ground, the earthquake, the rejoicing
      Jews, or any intermediary for Joseph. Matthew, however,
      does mention an earthquake.

      The second occurrence of the plural form EQHKAN is
      at 8:32 where the centurions and soldiers put a large
      stone at the entrance of the tomb (EQHKAN EPI THi QURAi
      TOU MNHMATOS). This instance of EQHKAN is not used of
      Jesus's body. Mark, of course, does not mention the
      guarding of the tomb, a detail present in Matthew.

      Furthermore, in the place where Mark does use the
      grammatically plural EQHKAN, i.e. 16:6, the Gospel
      of Peter follows Matthew instead: "KAI IDETE TON
      GPt agrees with Matthew against Mark in: (1) the
      plural IDETE versus Mark's sing. IDE, (2) the
      accusative TON TOPON versus Mark's nominative
      hO TOPOS, and (3) replacement of Mark's EQHKAN
      AUTO with EKEITO. Both the additional ENQA and
      hOTI OUK ESTIN look like explanatory glosses
      on a Matthean base.

      The fatigue argument cannot stand up. If Mark
      were fatigued and lapsed into the wording of
      his source at 16:6, there is no EQHKAN in the
      corresponding place in the Cross Gospel (as
      known via GPt) to use. In fact, the parallel
      to Mark 16:6 is virtually identical to Matthew's
      text at 28:6. So, Mark would have to have
      rewritten a literary sentence in more colloquial
      terms. While not impossible, it is important
      to realize that the Mark 16:6 // Matthew 28:6
      parallel is viewed as one of the strongest
      indications of Mark's priority over Matthew!
      (e.g., Stein, SYNOPTIC PROBLEM, p. 53)

      Neither occurrence of EQHKAN in the Gospel of
      Peter relates to putting Jesus's body in the
      tomb. The first occurrence involves putting
      Jesus's body on the ground near the cross,
      and the second pertains to the rock over the
      entrance to the tomb. The closest GPt gets
      to relating the act of putting Jesus's body
      in the tomb is that Joseph "brought" (sing.
      EISHGAGEN at 6:23) it there.

      Furthermore, there is considerable doubt in
      my mind whether either instance of EQHKAN
      should belong in the Cross Gospel in the
      first place. The first occurrence of EQHKAN
      in GPt is in a passage that includes Matthean
      redaction (the earthquake) and an anti-Semitic
      polemic. Both these elements are later than
      Mark. The second occurrence of EQHKAN also
      occurs in the material that Matthew added to
      Mark, viz. the guarding of the tomb, which
      also includes an anti-Semitic bias. Since
      both occurrences of EQHKAN parallel Matthew's
      redaction of Mark and caught up in an anti-
      Semitic polemic, their presence in one of
      Mark's sources is difficult to fathom.

      The most relevant parallels to Mark 16:6
      lack the plural EQHKAN. Although more
      remote passages of GPt do include the plural
      EQHKAN, the demonstratably late elements
      in these passages (Matthean redaction and
      increased anti-Semiticism) refutes the idea
      that Mark could be dependent on such passages.
      If such secondary passages were to be factored
      out of the GPt in reconstructing the Cross
      Gospel, there would nothing left to base a
      case of Markan dependence upon.

      Stephen Carlson

      Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
      Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
      "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35

      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
      List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
    • Ted Weeden
      ... The assumption is then that Mark would have had in mind that the burial was communal and that his hearers/readers would have known that to be the case.
      Message 2 of 4 , Feb 10, 2002
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        John Lupia wrote on Friday, February 01, 2002:

        > Stephen Carlson has aptly pointed out that the 3rd person plural
        > can be construed to not signify plurality. If this were indeed the
        > case then the continuity maintaining the emphasis of Joseph of
        > Arimathea's role as the principle character would be in keeping
        > with appropriate cultural custom of honoring Joseph of
        > Arimathea for his generosity for the various expenses of the
        > burial, which I pointed out in my original response to you.
        > Furthermore, the fact that he was a prominent member of the
        > "BOULEUTHS" was very important and had a persuasive impact
        > since it showed that not all of the Jewish élite were opposed to
        > Jesus, but rather, that even among the cognoscenti key men
        > recognized Jesus as the Messiah and were his disciples. This
        > was an artful manner to balance out the picture as a whole
        > showing that Jews from all classes were drawn to him, not just
        > simple folk that might not have known better and were easily
        > duped. This would be true even if EQHKAN did not convey
        > singularity but plurality. Therefore, I would like to examine this in
        > the other direction of plurality. For even when "synecdoche of the
        > part" is employed reversion to the plural is often used. Again, an
        > example: "Germanicus conquered the Gauls, and "they"
        > slaughtered 30,000.
        > But, your question to me here still begs the question regarding
        > (1) the high improbability of Joseph of Arimathea accomplishing
        > all of these things in such a brief period of time singlehanded,
        > as Lane, whom you cited has made as a valid point. (2)
        > summarily dismissing out of hand the use of "synecdoche of the
        > part" and reading the text anachronistically without giving ancient
        > literary forms any consideration. (3) summarily dismissing out of
        > hand that Jewish burial was always understood as a communal
        > responsibility, not that of a single individual, since you make no
        > reply in any of these regards.

        The assumption is then that Mark would have had in mind that the burial was
        communal and that his hearers/readers would have known that to be the case. Yet
        Mark has to explain Judean cultic practices to his hearers/readers (Mk. 7:3-4).
        How can you be sure, if they did not know these Judean cultic practices and
        regulations, that they would have known about Judean or even Jewish communal
        burials? You, in my judgment, presume information on the part of the
        hearers/readers for which we have no way of verifying.
        > Ted Weeden wrote:
        > And following the logic of your argument, it would be expected
        > that Matthew and Luke, contemporaries of Mark, would have
        > recognized that when Mark wrote EQHKEN AUTON he was
        > referring to a collective burial.
        > To this I must say that it is evident you have assumed Marcan
        > priority without giving any solid evidence to support this claim.
        > Even if proponents of this assumption could somehow muster
        > one shred of evidence to support it the answer would be "yes"
        > they would have recognized that Mark was referring to a collective
        > burial.

        John, you and I have very different views about the chronological ordering and
        the question of dependency of one gospel on another. I accept the arguments
        for the priority of Mark. If you do not, I do not know how to resolve the
        conflict in our position, and I cannot give time now to do so. I am sorry, but
        I cannot.

        > A second underlying assumption of your question is that neither
        > Matthew nor Luke had any knowledge about these events nor the
        > details of the circumstances other than what they had learned
        > from Mark, an assumption that has absolutely no evidence to
        > support it.

        That is my reading of the evidence, which is guided by my methodological
        presuppositions which I have posted.

        > Ted Weeden wrote:
        > If that be the case, why did Matthew avoid rendering Mark's
        > EQHKAN AUTON in his version of Mk.16:6 and replace the
        > Markan EQHKAN AUTON with EKEITO (Mt. 28:6)?
        > Now you have taken your assumptions of Markan priority to the
        > point of risibility, asserting them dogmatically, again without the
        > slightest shred of evidence. Once more, even if this could be
        > proved to be true, I am not a psychiatrist nor a mind reader as to
        > why any author adapts their material the way they do from the
        > genius of their artistic creative individuality. "Ludwig Richter
        > together with three other oil painters while at Tivoli set out to
        > paint a landscape where each resolved not to deviate a
        > hair's-breadth from nature but render it in verisimilitude; and
        > although the subject was the same, each creditably reproducing
        > what their eyes have seen, the result was four totally different
        > pictures." (see Heinrich Wölfflin, Principles of Art History, any
        > edition, taken from the opening paragraph.). How striking this is
        > to the four Gospels!

        That is certainly the possibility, I draw my conclusions upon the characteristic
        ways Matthew and Luke treat the Markan texts as they appropriate it via their
        own respective patterns of redaction.


        > However, your question regarding EKEITO I fail to grasp.
        > EKEITO is the imperfect of CEIMAI, used as the perfect passive
        > of TIQHMI, where "he was laid" (see Max Zerwick, SJ, A
        > Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament, 5th ed.
        > (Rome, 1996):98). I cannot see what it is you are asking. I can
        > only assume that you might be thinking about translations that
        > read: "where they laid him",

        No, I am not thinking of translations.

        > but this is not the import of EKEITO,
        > since it only points to "place" and does not involve any of the
        > details as to how he got to lay there, which is what I think you are
        > driving at.

        That is precisely the import of EKEITO which is central to my point. Matthew
        avoids, from my point of view, Mark's compositional error by rewriting the
        Markan focus on the act of laying Jesus in the tomb by the undesignated "they,"
        whose antecedent is to be found in 15:46. Matthew avoids Mark's error by
        shifting the attention from the act of Jesus being buried to the place where
        Jesus once lay.

        Ted Weeden

        Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
        List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
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