[B-Greek] Mark 12:38-40
stancu at mail.dnttm.ro
Sat Jan 3 02:15:37 EST 2009
What the listeners then and the readers today may understand from the text could be a matter of debate; however, what Jesus meant by those words should not be debateable. Could anyone imagine that the message was something like, "Beware some of the scribes - I mean, those who do such and such... (I am not referring, of course, to those like the one I just told that he was not far from the kingdon of heaven; such ones you may trust...)"? I believe it could not be so. I cannot imagine any "freelance" scribe who had his personal agenda, different from what the scribes were supposed to teach, do, etc. Perhaps by "scribes" we should understand the "institution" of scribes, rather than individuals who may perform their duty one way or another.
From: b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Tom Moore
Sent: Saturday, January 03, 2009 4:12 AM
To: Carl W. Conrad; Paul O'Rear
Cc: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Mark 12:38-40
I was thinking about how I would (in English) caution against certain people. Likely I wouldn't say "beware the politicians who...." In some contexts I might say "Beware those preachers who...." Usually, I would probably just leave off the article: "Beware people who...."
In Greek, does the presence of the article (that it says APO TWN GRAMMATEWN TWN QELONTWN instead of APO GRAMMATEWN QELONTWN) make any difference to deciding whether to understand this passage as a rhetorical generalization ("beware the scribes, who...") vs. a specific subclass ("beware scribes who...")?
> -------Original Message-------
> From: Carl W. Conrad <cwconrad2 at mac.com>
> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Mark 12:38-40
> Sent: Dec 31 '08 12:40
> On Wednesday, December 31, 2008, at 05:25AM, "Paul O'Rear" <paorear at microsoft.com> wrote:
> >Greetings B-Greekers and Happy New Year!
> >38 Καὶ ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ ἔλεγεν, Βλέπετε ἀπὸ τῶν γραμματέων τῶν θελόντων ἐν στολαῖς περιπατεῖν καὶ ἀσπασμοὺς ἐν ταῖς ἀγοραῖς 39 καὶ πρωτοκαθεδρίας ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ πρωτοκλισίας ἐν τοῖς δείπνοις, 40 οἱ κατεσθίοντες τὰς οἰκίας τῶν χηρῶν καὶ προφάσει μακρὰ προσευχόμενοι· οὗτοι λήμψονται περισσότερον κρίμα.
> >38 KAI EN TH DIDACH AUTOU ELEGEN, BLEPETE APO TWN GRAMMATEWN TWN QELONTWN EN STOLAIS PERIPATEIN KAI ASPASMOUS EN TAIS AGORAIS 39 KAI PRWTOKAQEDRIAS EN TAIS SUNAGWGAIS KAI PRWTOKLISIAS EN TOIS DEIPNOIS 40 hOI KATESQIONTES TAS OIKIAS TWN CHRWN KAI PROFASEI MAKRA PROSEUCOMENOI; hOUTOI LHMYONTAI PERISSOTERON KRIMA.
> >Problem statement:
> >TWN GRAMMATEWN TWN QELONTWN…
> >Most translations appear to translate this passage as a round condemnation against all scribes, but from what I can tell the grammar doesn’t really support it.
> >For example,
> >NIV: As he taught, Jesus said, "Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely."
> >NASB: In His teaching He was saying: "Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places, 39 and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, 40 who devour widows' houses, and for appearance's sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation."
> >RSV: And in his teaching he said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and to have salutations in the market places 39 and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 40 who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation."
> >KJV: And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, 39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: 40 Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.
> >In all of these readings, the way the English comes off (at least to this native speaker) is as if all scribes are guilty of these accusations.
> >In addition, R.T. France’s NIGTC for The Gospel of Mark doesn’t even consider that there may be an issue here, but merely describes the passage as a “blanket attack on scribes as a class” and “while very much shorter than the extended diatribe against scribes and Pharisees in Mt. 23 …, it is no less violent and indiscriminate.” (p.489).
> >However, from my reading of the Greek syntax, TWN GRAMMATEWN TWN QELONTWN … would essentially be a restrictive attributive participle use. The challenge is that there are many qualifiers tied to QELONTWN which make it then a bit awkward to translate.
> >The actual sense of the verse seems like it would read more like:
> >Watch out for the [class of] scribes desiring [or, “that desire”]:
> >to walk around in robes, and
> >greetings in the market place, and
> >important seats in the synagogues, and
> >places of honor at banquets
> >Implying a ‘sub-class’ of scribes rather than all scribes, followed by another pair of attributive participles functioning like relative clauses, taking these types of scribes as the reference – hOI KATESQIONTES and PROSEUXOMENOI:
> >The ones devouring widows’ houses and praying long prayers for show
> > or
> >who devour widows’ houses, and pray long prayers for show.
> >While it’s possible that those bad set of characteristics may have applied to most scribes at that time, I’m not sure that assumption is specifically warranted from this text.
> >In addition, this passage is set in a larger setting where Jesus had just had an interaction with a scribe where they are both essentially in agreement (Mark 12:28-34) and Jesus states,
> >Οὐ μακρὰν εἶ ἀπὸ τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ θεοῦ.
> >OU MAKRAN EI APO THS BASILEIAS TOU QEOU.
> >“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
> >It seems to me that Mark 12:38-40 may have been more intended as contrastive with 12:28-34 rather than as a “blanket attack on scribes as a class.” In my pseudo-translation above, I’m using ‘class’ to mean ‘sub-class’.
> >Am I missing something?
> >Paul O’Rear
> While I think you may well be right (I'm inclined to think so) that Mk 12:28-34 is contrastive to the characterization of scribes in Mark 12:38.40, I don't think that grammatical considerations are sufficient to limit the broadness of the "blanket condemnation" of scribes. Between these two passages in verses 35-37 is Jesus' claim that the scribes wrongly claim that the Messiah is a/the "Son of David"-- the condemnatory statement follows upon this one. I don't think there's anything necessarily restrictive in the TWN QELONTWN ... participial clause, such that we ought to read it "those of the scribes who want ... " I think rather it's "Beware of the scribes, who ... " I think it's a rhetorically generalizing characterization of scribes, not a denunciation of one and all. There may be exceptions to a generalizing characterization, and I think that Mk 12:28-34 shows that there is at least one such exception. But I would not fault the translations in this instance as miscasting what the Greek text actually indicates.
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics, Washington University (ret)
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