[B-Greek] EKBALLEI: simple word in strange context (Mk 1:12)?
Carl W. Conrad
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Thu Feb 20 14:35:11 EST 2003
Having begun to work on a short commentary on Mark's gospel I'm noticing
"obvious" things I've never paid any attention to before. As a first
instance, Mark's very brief temptation narrative 1:12-13 begins with the
sentence (1:12): KAI EUQUS TO PNEUMA AUTON EKBALLEI EIS THN ERHMON. The
expression seems to me to contrast sharply with Matthew's TOTE hO IHSOUS
ANHCQH EIS THN ERHMON hUPO TOU PNEUMATOS Mt 4:1) and Luke's IHSOUS DE
PLHRHS PNEUMATOS hAGIOU hUPESTREYEN APO TOU IORDANOU KAI HGETO EN TWi
PNEUMATI EN THi ERHMWi (Lk 4:1).
My question is not a source-critical one (I make no assumption of Marcan
priority) here but strictly a question of perspective implied by the choice
of a verb. While Matthew and Luke both use passive forms of AGW or the
compound ANAGW to indicate a spiritual "guidance" Jesus "into" (Mt) or "in"
(Lk) the wilderness, Mark's Spirit seems to "jolt" Jesus suddenly into the
wilderness from the Jordan where he has just been baptized. EKBALLW is a
verb which elsewhere in Mark is used predominantly of exorcism of demons,
otherwise of exorcism of Satan (3:23), of expulsion (of everybody in the
house of the chief of the synagogue, 5:40 and of moneychangers from the
temple, 11:15), of the eye that SKANDALIZEI (9:47), and of the murdered
beloved son of the owner of the vineyard (12:8). EKBALLEI in Mk 1:12 is
active and seems violent; it would appear that Jesus is being represented
here almost as a victim, as the passive object of a violent thrusting that
is external to himself.
BDAG offers: "2. to cause to go or remove from a position (without force),
send out/away, release, bring out" but under 1 "1. force to leave, drive
out, expel " and says "Mk 1:12 is perh. to be understood in this sense, cp.
Gen 3:24" The comparison of the expulsion of Adam & Eve from the garden is
interesting, but there is evidently no clear consensus on the usage of this
Although I've never read this narrative snippet before without a nagging
curiosity (one tends to think how insignificant Mark's version is in
comparison with those of Matthew and Luke and therefore doesn't ask the
question: why does MARK describe the temptation this way, and what did HE
understand it to mean?), I've never raised the question directly before and
I don't recall seeing it discussed by any commentator. I would welcome any
thoughts or Hinweise to relevant literature.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad at mcsinternet.net
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