[B-Greek] EKBALLEI: simple word in strange context (Mk 1:12)?

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Fri Feb 21 08:50:44 EST 2003

My thanks to Iver, Jim, Barry as well as to the others who contacted me
off-list with thought, suggestions and pointers to relevant comments made
by others. I'm not going to engage in any Auseinandersetzung on this forum
about the interpretation of the text, as much of that involves going far
beyond the explicit indications in the almost "skeletal" Marcan Greek
narrative. Just some notes here and there on Iver's research report below.

At 10:13 AM +0300 2/21/03, Iver Larsen wrote:
>> 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
>> expression seems to me to contrast sharply with Matthew's TOTE hO IHSOUS
>> 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.
>No, not violent, but he is depicted as being under an authoritative command,
>not passive, but obedient.

Undoubtedly opinions will differ on this, but I can see no suggestion that
Jesus participates in the process of his "shunting off" into the desert. He
is removed powerfully, whether one wants to call this the unthinking
obedience of the good soldier or, what seems to me more appropriate, the
conveyance by a PNEUMA which is as much a WIND as a divine emanation; I
think more of the mysterious movements of Elijah who pops up now here, now
there "as the spirit moves him." And it would certainly appear that Elijah
is not far from Mark's mind inasmuch as he evidently envisions John the
Baptist as Elijah redivivus.

>> 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 verb here.
>The comparison to Gen 3:24 is misleading. I do not have BDAG, but at this
>point the older BAGD appears to be "softer" than the newer version.
>BAGD offers: "2. without the connotation of force: send out (PRyl. 80, 1 [I
>ad], 1 Macc 12:27) workers Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2 (cf. PMich. 618, 15f [II ad]);
>send away Js 2:25; release Ac 16:37; lead out (...Theophanes, Chron. 388, 28
>de Boor) Mk 1:12 (but see 1 above); bring out of sheep J 10:4 (cf. Hs 6, 2,
>6; Longus 3, 33, 2 ...)"
>Instead of Gen 3:24 which is irrelevant, there are clear and relevant
>parallels to the use of EKBALLEIN in Exodus. The trial period of 40 days
>Jesus had to spend in the wilderness are parallel in many ways to the trial
>period of 40 years the Israelites had to spend in the wilderness. Both were
>faced with lack of food and water and the question about what to do then.
>Trust in God in a difficult setting, give in to various temptations or give
>up and return to "Egypt".

For my part, I don't think that Danker was taking the allusion to Genesis
3:24 very seriously, but was reporting this as one perspective on the
usage; it's certainly not one that I share. And I readily agree that the
allusions to Exodus are both clear and relevant. I appreciate Iver's
marshaling of them and his comments. Finally, although I don't want to get
into questions and discussions that transcend the proper focus of B-Greek,
I have to say that I think Mark's focus and perspective in his telling of
the story of Jesus in the wilderness, for all that it does share features
with the telling by Matthew and Luke, is unique and that Mark's selection
of EKBALLEI, however we are to understand it, is quite deliberate.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/

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