the markan-Homer connection
Carl W. Conrad
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Sat Jan 27 08:46:44 EST 2001
> Larry Swain wrote:
> > My question regarding the Homer-Mark thesis is if Mark is truly aware
> > and has read Homer, how do we account for Mark's largely abyssmal Greek
> > style?
> Mark's poor style is an easy target. Certainly, his style is less polished
> than Luke as well as some of the other NT writers. Yet, Mark's
> story-telling ability is what has captured - and held - NT scholars'
> attention. Does his ability to tell a provocative and poignant story match
> up to Homer?
I've been subscribing to this forum by index since I have more than I can
read in discussion groups but want to see what's going on. I've checked
the site to follow this discussion of the MacDonald book out of great
curiosity because of my own experience with it (about which a bit more
The main point I'd like to make here is to second the above response to my
friend Larry Swain; I've told students for decades that Mark would not
pass a first-year Greek composition course, and it is true that there is
some (dare I say it?) God-awful Greek in Mark's gospel, but Edward Hobbs
persuaded me to take a good close second look, and I've come to the view
now that where Mark (or AMk, if that's the appropriate parlance) is adding
his redactor's commentary or seems to be scripting his own part of a
story, the Greek is really pretty good; my impression is that he's very
conservative about changing the formulation of what he probably found in
his Greek source (and I would assume that he DID have a Greek source).
That is to say, I rather think that the "abysmal Greek" that we find in
Mark's gospel is not Mark's Greek but more likely the Greek of sources
used by Mark, sources/persons much less competent in literary Greek than
Admittedly that is all very speculative, and it all depends upon one's
source-critical hypotheses and biases. My own view is that Mark's probably
IS the earliest gospel but that even he is in the business of redacting
traditional materials, stories, etc., some of which were available to him
in written form even if many of them were strictly oral traditions. And
I'm assuming, along with what I guess is still a majority of the "guild"
(although I'm not a member of it) that the date of composition of Mark's
gospel must be sometime near 70, probably after.
I might add that I ordered and skimmed through MacDonald's book last
summer, quickly drawing the conclusion (perhaps over-hastily but
nonetheless decidedly) that this is a work which will seem very persuasive
to a lot of gullible people because it seems SOOOO solid in its evidence
when there's really nothing in that evidence but notation of similarities.
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