Mark 8:12

Steven Lo Vullo doulos at merr.com
Thu Jan 24 22:10:22 EST 2002


On Thursday, January 24, 2002, at 04:49  AM, Michael Haggett wrote:

> MH: I would like to offer a slightly different view of the
> intended meaning which might make it a little easier to
> understand. Yes, I agree that it is an emphatic negation, but
> the missing apodosis can also (and sometimes better) be
> understood as illustrating the absurdity of the proposition,
> rather than as a self-malediction.  We do the same sort of thing
> in English (at least here in Britain we do):
>
> "If this is a fresh apple pie, I'm a Dutchman!"
> "If he's a musician, I'm the Queen of Sheba!"
>
> Which, with the right tone of voice, can very often be reduced
> to,
>
> "If he's a musician ... "
>
> meaning that the pie is obviously not fresh, and that the
> performer could by no stretch of the imagination be called a
> musician!
>
> Of course, it would be a very uninhibited translator that would
> put this into Jesus' mouth:
>
> AMHN LEGW hUMIN, EI DOQHSETAI TH GENEA TAUTH SHMEION ...
>
> "Yes! and I say to you: If a sign is given to this generation,
> I'm the Queen of Sheba!"
>
> And I certainly wouldn't ... but to my way of thinking it
> captures the tone of Mark 8:12 quite well.

The main problem with this is that it has no parallel in the Hebrew 
Bible or LXX, whereas the self-maledictory oath and the full conditional 
sentence expressing the self-maledictory oath (in LXX) are attested, and 
we must choose the most probable rather then the merely possible. The 
above suggestion seems to be a case of reading modern idiom into an 
ancient text. Besides, in the contexts in which we find this 
construction, the tone is one of extreme gravity, not levity.
==========

Steven Lo Vullo
Madison, WI




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