Mark 8:12

Steven Lo Vullo doulos at
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:
> "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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