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The Text of Mark 6.20

  • David Alan Black
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[1] The account of John's execution in Mark 6. 17–29 prepares the way for the first announcement by Jesus of his own sufferings in 8. 31 and for the more sombre part of the Gospel which is to follow (see Schrenk, W., ‘Gefangenschaft und Tod des Täufers. Erwagungen zur Chronologie und ihren Konsequenzen’, NTS 29 [1983] 453–83). Moreover, Bennett, W. J. has shown that the link between the enemies of Jesus and the enemies of John are the ‘Hρωδıανοί, the ‘Herodians’ (‘The Herodians of Mark's GospelNovT 17 [1975] 914). Hence a correct understanding of the account of John's death is a necessary corollary to a correct understanding of the account of Jesus' execution.

[2] Of the more recent commentators on Mark, only Hiebert, D. E. raises any doubts about ήπόρει (Mark: A Portrait of the Servant [Chicago: Moody, 1974] 150). But see the interesting conjecture of Torrey, C. C., The Four Gospels: A New Translation (London: Hodder and Stoughton, n.d.) 299.

[3] Metzger, Bruce, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London: United Bible Societies, 1971) 89. The editors seem to be unaware of several older studies which have defended έποίει and have offered plausible interpretations of Mark 6. 20 when the word is retained. See Whitney, S. W., The Reviser's Greek Text (Boston: Silver, Burdett & Co., 1892) 198–9;Scrivener, F. H. A., A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament (4th ed.; London: George Bell & Sons, 1894) 2. 335;Webster, C., ‘St. Mark vi. 20’, ET 49 (1937) 93–4;Bonner, C., ‘Note on Mark 6:20’, HTR 37 (1944) 4144;Additions and Corrections, Mark 6:20’, HTR 38 (1944) 336. The present article seeks to develop its own independent line of argumentation and to complement these earlier studies.

[4] With some truth the Alexandrian text has been called the new Textus Receptus, and it is unusual to find an instance in which the editors of the UBS Greek NT confidently depart from a reading supported by Codex B. For criticisms of this excessive reliance upon the ‘best’ manuscripts, see Elliot, J. K., ‘The United Bible Societies' Textual Commentary Evaluated’, NovT 17 (1975) 130–50;The Third Edition of the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament’, NovT 20 (1978) 242–77;An Examination of the Twenty-sixth Edition of Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece’, JTS 32 (1981) 1949;Neirynck, F., ‘The New Nestle-Aland’, ETL 55 (1979) 331–56;Bartsch, H.-W., ‘Zur Problematick eines Monopoltextes des Neuen Testaments’, TLZ 105 (1980) 91–6;Epp, E. J., ‘A Continuing Interlude in New Testament Textual Criticism?’, HTR 73 (1980) 131–51;Ross, J. M., ‘Some Unnoticed Points in the Text of the New Testament’, NovT 25 (1983) 5972; and especially Moir, I. A., ‘Can We Risk Another “Textus Receptus”?’, JBL 100 (1981) 614–18.

[5] Metzger, Textual Commentary, xxviii. For other examples where almost all the ‘good’ manuscripts may be in error, see Black, D. A., ‘The Peculiarities of Ephesians and the Ephesian Address’, GTJ 2 (1981) 5973;The Text of John 3:13’, GTJ 6 (1985) 4966.

[6] Hendricksen, W., The Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1975) 237.

[7] Kilpatrick, G. D., ‘Some Notes on Marcan Usage’, BT 7 (1956) 78.

[8] Both έποίι and κουεν appear to be iterative imperfects.

[9] περίλυπος is the same word used by Mark to describe Jesus' agony in Gethsemane (Mark 14. 34).

[10] The author is grateful to Professor Harry Sturz of Biola University for helpful criticisms of an earlier draft of this paper.

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New Testament Studies
  • ISSN: 0028-6885
  • EISSN: 1469-8145
  • URL: /core/journals/new-testament-studies
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