[B-Greek] Mark 1:41

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Fri Apr 9 05:53:45 EDT 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <RRedden604 at aol.com>
To: <sarasotapt at comcast.net>; <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 9. april 2010 02:20
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Mark 1:41

> Ron,
> A.T. Robertson has a fine discourse on the historical present (866f).
> Mark and John seem to be more fond of its use than the other NT  writers.  He
> claims Luke in most parallels changes the  historical present since it was
> not to his liking.  However, in Lk. 5:13,  the parallel to Mk. 1:41 he uses
> the present part.  It seems to me, as  Mark L. points out, to be Mark's
> proclivity rather than something  significant.
> I, too, would like to hear the B-Gk scholars respond.
> Rob Redden

The use of the historical present is significant and not specific to Mark. It is
true that of the gospel writers Luke does not use it much, probably because he
is a more detached, objective historian, while the others are much more
emotionally involved, especially John. The historical present is common  in 
Matthew, Mark and John.

It is especially common in speech introducers as we have in this verse. Since
the present tense is marked for the imperfective aspect as opposed to the
aorist, it is basic to its meaning that it signifies something considered
incomplete. The effect of using the present tense in a past-tense narrative is
to create suspense. The idea of creating suspense is similar to the traditional
idea of adding vividness.

Let me quote form an article by Boos, D. 1984. "The Historical Present in John's
Gospel." Selected Technical Articles Relating to Translation 11:17-24:
"the primary function of the historical present is to "highlight those episodes
which build suspense towards a climax in the plot structure and directly relate
to the author's purpose" (p. 20). A second function is "a cataphoric reference
to a following important event".

> In a message dated 4/8/2010 1:14:42 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
> sarasotapt at comcast.net writes:
> Is there  anything specific regarding the timing that we can glean from
> the events  in Mark 1:41, describing the healing of the leper. The first
> two verbs are  aorist, while the verb for speaking is found in the
> present tense. Does it  make sense to understand that Jesus was speaking
> at the same time He was  extending His hand, which culminated in the
> physical contact with the  leper? Or, should one read the present tense
> as occurring after the  contact?
> kai. splagchnisqei evkteinas he cheira autou hpsato kai legei  autw
καὶ σπλαγχνισθεὶς ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ ἥψατο καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ, Θέλω,

The touching occurs after the stretching out of the/his hand which occurs after
the feeling of compassion. However, the saying and touching are at the same
time. It is better (less Semitic) Greek to express this with a present
participle as Matthew and Luke do (Mat 8:3, Luke 5:13):
καὶ ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα ἥψατο αὐτοῦ λέγων, Θέλω, καθαρίσθητι

Iver Larsen

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