Marcan Leitmotifs (was: Mark 2:23b)
Carl W. Conrad
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Wed Jun 17 14:04:26 EDT 1998
At 5:32 PM -0400 6/16/98, Edward Hobbs wrote:
>Carlton Winbery is exactly on target about this strange phrase in Mark.
>We should take note of the fact that "the way" is a motif in Mark. It
>starts in 1:2 with quotations from Malichi and Isaiah that both include
>"the way of the Lord." Use a concordance to find the many "excuses" Mark
>finds to use "the way." Every thing happens while they are on the way.
>Blind Bartimaeus receives his sight and follows him "into the way." The
>disciples were "in the way" arguing about who were the greatest in the
>kingdom. Finally the enemies in Jerusalem, trying to trick him, speak the
>truth when they say, "we know that you truly teach the way of the Lord." I
>think that in 2:23, Mark has found another way (no pun) introduce the word
>hODON into the text again. TILLONTES could also be an instrumental ptc.
>"by plucking the grain" they were making a way . . .
><<<<<<<---------- end of quotation
>I can't improve on what Carlton has written; but let me make a broader
>point about Mark, using this as an example.
>Mark writes with remarkable attention to his wording! He is often accused
>of writing poor Greek, and/or of woodenly reproducing his sources. On the
>contrary, IMHO, he builds theme after theme upon careful choice of words,
>a characteristic which is usually missed. The commonest reason for missing
>it, I believe, is that most readers today know Mark in their own language
>(English or whatever), and then when they read Mark in Greek, are
>constantly "translating" in their minds, missing the distinctive features
>of his Greek text. One aspect of this arises from the fact that few of
>us grow up reading the LXX as our OT--we read it in English, and then
>some of us learn Hebrew and read it in that language, but ignore the OT in
>the language used by Mark. Hence, we seldom catch the frequent-in-Mark
>quotations, allusions, and hints of the OT text, all of which are essential
>to understand his full meaning.
The discussion of hODON POIEIN has been extraordinarily fascinating to me,
the more so since (as I admitted in an earlier posting) I'd always been
somewhat troubled by the strangeness of this phrasing in this particular
pericope. Now let me ask: Has anyone ever noticed, or have ever been any
studies of the Marcan use of ARTOS, "loaf" as a sort of leitmotif (I don't
have to use German spelling, do I?) in Mark?
I first noticed this in the usage of ARTON FAGEIN in Mark 3:20 and 7:2 & 5;
I'm not aware of ARTON ESQIEIN as a distinct idiom, yet many versions seem
to translate it in these passages as simply "eat" or "dine." In 7:2 & 5 the
ARTOUS seem superfluous--unless this really is an idiom, as, for all I
know, it may in fact be in Aramaic, although I don't believe it is in
Greek--nor do I believe there's a distinctive Latinism PANEM EDERE involved
More interesting to me was the discovery that ARTOS seems to be a leitmotif
binding together the entire Marcan sequence beginning with the first
feeding narrative in chapter 6 and continuing down through the second
post-feeding crossing of the lake:
6:37,38,41,44,52;7:2,5,27;8:4,5,6,14,16,17,19. Certainly there is the
deliberate linking of the feeding narratives with the Last Supper by
phrasing 6:41 EULOGHSEN KAI KATEKLASEN TOUS ARTOUS KAI EDIDOU TOIS MAQHTAIS
AUTOU ... But the teaching about "what goes into the body and what comes
out of the heart" in the first pericope of 7 is introduced by the
deliberate phrase ARTOUS ESQIOUSIN. And then there is the bread/crumbs
motif in the pericope of the Syro-Phoenician Woman, and finally in the last
pericope of this sequence, which proves that Mark's telling of TWO
wilderness feedings (Jewish & Gentile--with 12 and 7 baskets of crumbs?) is
quite deliberate, there is the typically Marcan demonstration of disciples'
misunderstanding (if not outright witlessness) in Jesus' questions to them
about the left-over bread fragments.
There's no way that all this can be fortuitous. I'm just wondering if there
have ever been any studies of this ARTON FAGEIN motif as such. It is surely
another piece of evidence of what Edward so utterly rightly calls attention
to: the painstaking care of Mark as a composer of his gospel narrative. And
also, Edward, isn't this a piece of your "Exodus Traditions" in Mark?
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cconrad at yancey.main.nc.us
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