Talk:Gospel of Mark (Translated)/Archive 1

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Wow, this is great!!!! Superb start!--Andy Schlafly 23:11, 15 August 2009 (EDT)


This article is now 38 kb long, with only chapters 1-8 up. It will only get longer as I add the rest of Mark, and longer still once translations and analysis are added. Perhaps we should consider breaking this up into three smaller articles? JacobB 12:12, 16 August 2009 (EDT)

Good suggestion. It gets harder to edit as it grows longer.--Andy Schlafly 23:02, 17 August 2009 (EDT)

Holy Spirit

This is a radical discussion to be having on a conservative site. How can you justify changing a term used and debated over centuries and call yourselves conservatives? You sound like a bunch of Unitarians discussing "the ground of all being" or whatever it is they believe. Please tell me this is a joke. Sunrise 07:52, 11 December 2009 (EST)

Doesn't the term "Holy Ghost" not convey the intended meaning? Since ghost conjures up images of haunted houses and stuff like that. If the idea here is to use terminology that accurately conveys the intended meaning to people of today, then "Spirit" is probably a better word. AddisonDM 22:57, 17 August 2009 (EDT)

It's a good debate. "Ghost" connotes a more active force; "spirit" is quite passive in meaning. The real thing is a powerful force. The Greek word connotes a driving wind, not just a stationary "spirit".
Many feel that the switch from "Holy Ghost" to "Holy Spirit" had the false effect of immobilizing it in the minds of Christians. I tend to agree with that assessment, though I have an open mind about it.--Andy Schlafly 23:01, 17 August 2009 (EDT)
Is there a better word than both of these? I've come across the same thing as Addison, that ghost is misconstrued as spectre or phantasm, rather than spirit (interestingly, they're the same word in German, geist, from which I imagine we get the wording). DouglasA 17:53, 18 August 2009 (EDT)
I've also wondered if there isn't a word better than "ghost" and "spirit". Perhaps something like "wind" but without the nature-worship connotation. Or perhaps a word borrowed from an entirely different context, such as physics: "energy" or "force"?--Andy Schlafly 18:01, 18 August 2009 (EDT)
Coincidentally, I also thought of "force," though it seems almost too mathematical and physics-related. "Breath" is like wind, but sounds too animistic, while "presence" seems as passive as "spirit." I also wondered about "hand," though that muddles the separateness of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps force isn't a bad way of looking at it, especially as Christian scientists have seen the work of God in universal forces for centuries. DouglasA 18:06, 18 August 2009 (EDT)
It takes some getting used to, but I like "Holy Force." The term may appeal even more to teenagers. It may also gain traction with the physics-students-headed-for-atheism crowd.--Andy Schlafly 18:14, 18 August 2009 (EDT)
P.S. We don't have to be tied down with the first word "Holy". Perhaps "Divine Force" is better still?--Andy Schlafly 18:16, 18 August 2009 (EDT)
It seems a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of the breadth of the English language, especially synonyms, so long as clarity and accuracy of meaning improved or maintained and not compromised. DouglasA 18:21, 18 August 2009 (EDT)
This is actually very interesting. I like the sound of "Divine Force" but perhaps that undermines the fact that the Holy Spirit is actually a seperate person of the Trinity. "Divine Force" sounds like a Jehovah's Witness or other non-trinitarian way of describing it. Almost something like "Divine Guide" works better, if you're going to completely change the rendering. AddisonDM 19:00, 18 August 2009 (EDT)
"Divine Guide" is very nice! I like it.
Each and every translation of the Bible has introduced new style and new terminology. The KJV surely did. I think some caution in judgment is warranted until more verses and terms are translated here. The NIV has overtaken the KJV in popularity, and there is much to criticize the NIV for. Yet there it is, the best-selling English translation today.
No translation has yet been based on the wiki approach, or the conservative approach. I think this project has great potential. Already I have learned enormously from this, as I'm sure other participants have.--Andy Schlafly 19:55, 18 August 2009 (EDT)
I think that "Divine Guide" may be too liberal sounding; to me it sound too much like a Navajo spirit or something. Remember, we're trying to modernize the bible so that it can be understood in the way that it was originally created, and I don't think that "Divine Guide" fits that description. It's far too nebulous and frankly, new-age. I think perhaps we should stick with a word that is traditionally associated with divine power, like "Providence." Just my opinion. Also, I think that "Divine Force" is very good word choice, but probably not appropriate since it bears cultural connotations/heathenistic concepts presented in George Lucas' Star Wars franchize. User:m9999 09:45, 06 October 2009 (EDT)
I'm with m9999. Divine Guide sounds pretty emasculating to me. Wmarshall 18:50, 6 October 2009 (EDT)

What about using 'Divine Spirit' or 'Divine Presence' (unsigned by BruceR)

Good suggestions. I hadn't thought of "Divine Presence" before. Well done!--Andy Schlafly 08:47, 14 October 2009 (EDT)
Just another opinion here..."Divine Guide" and "Divine Presence" both have overtones of the New Age movement. "Holy Ghost" is definitely too archaic, but "Holy Spirit" would retain the orthodox, conservative, Trinitarian meaning. Even the most liberal translations usually don't mess with "Spirit" (capital S) for the Greek πνευμα.--Cory Howell 11:19, 22 October 2009 (EDT)
I've got to say that I'm really not fond of translating the Greek word "hagios" as "divine." While there are many improper connotations regarding the terms "spirit" and "ghost" to eliminate the Spirit's most active role in the lives of believers is not good. This would greatly downplay the Spirit's role in the sanctification of believers. --Jeff Scroggs 10:35, 7 December 2009 (EDT)

Stylistic standards

I was thinking about how I might modernize the language, and some questions occurred to me.

Firstly, should speech use quotation marks, which came into use long after the KJV? e.g.

  • And a voice came from heaven declaring, You are my beloved Son whom I love dearly.

would become:

  • And a voice came from heaven declaring, "You are my beloved Son whom I love dearly."

Secondly, is it necessary to begin as many verses with "And" as the KJV? Some verses clearly only comprise a portion of a sentence, and it seems to me that "Jesus appeared from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan River" is much more fluid than "And then Jesus appeared from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan River," but loses no meaning. DouglasA 18:18, 18 August 2009 (EDT)

Both of your points are superb. I'm learning myself: I did not realize that quotation marks came into use only after the KJV.
Please make your improvements directly on the content page. Well done!--Andy Schlafly 18:21, 18 August 2009 (EDT)

And: Yes, the use of "and" in the Bible is very frequent in both OT and NT. It may seem boring. However, in Greek when you read the original you see that kai over and over again. Why change God's word just because you don't like the style? If the original is repetitious, so should the translation be.(Thunkful 00:47, 19 June 2010 (EDT))

Elizabethan English

Dost thou forsooth insist on Elizabethan English? I taught a private school for many years and observed that most children (and I also believe adults) do not understand Elizabethan English. If one is going to use it, one has to know it well. For an example, in those days they still had 2 classes of perfect tenses, those that used to be for the auxiliary and those that used have (like German still does). For example, "I am come" for "I have come." "He was become" for "He had become."

Why make the translation obscure? If one wishes to preserve 2nd person singular (thou, thy, thine, thee) vs. plural ye in nominative case only, you in objective case, this can simply be done by marking the plural pronouns with an asterisk. You = singular; You* = plural. (Thunkful 00:47, 19 June 2010 (EDT))

8:14 no bread and one loaf

This verse actually reads, "The disciples had forgotten to bring any bread, and they only had one loaf in the boat with them," which makes no sense, and is intentionally meant to make the reader say, "What in the world is going on here?." The point that Mark is making, particularly in light of the questioning that follows, is that JESUS was the loaf in the boat with them. In fact, the questioning Jesus does immediately following this verse tells us that the two feedings were a parable that Jesus ACTED OUT for the disciples. The bread (Jesus) was first broken for the Jews (the 5000 counted only the men, and twelve baskets were left over) then for the Gentiles (the 4000 counted all those who ate, and seven baskets were left over, showing the completion of God's plan). Jesus was acting out the entire purpose of His life, and how He would be broken and die for both the Jews and the Gentiles, and the gospel would go to both (plus giving them a warning not to corrupt the gospel with secular or religious leaven: i.e. legalism and material worldliness). This verse, and those immediately following, are intended to make the reader stop and think HARD about what just happened, and that is partially lost if the contrast of what the disciples themselves brought into the boat versus what they had in the boat is not retained in the translation. This is a HUGE "aha!" moment in Mark's gospel, and needs to be preserved. Michael Back 6:19, 12 August 2009 (EDT)

Analysis comment at 16:8

The analysis comment at Mark 16:8 needs to be changed, as there is no justification for this statement in the texts at all. It is completely unprofessional to decide that the wording (or lack of wording) found in only TWO Greek manuscripts out of several thousand in existence constitutes the REAL wording, particularly when one of those two has a blank space that just happens to be the right size to include twelve more verses, and there is no blank space after any other NT book. When we also consider that one of the oldest complete bibles in existence actually contains these twelve verses and dates to within 50 years or so of the others, no serious scholar of Biblical texts could possibly justify the comment at that verse. Stating, as though it is a fact, that Mark ended his book at verse 8 is simply inexcusable. Not only is this NOT what the evidence supports, it is certainly NOT a conservative approach to Bible translation. When we only focus on the evidence that supports one view, and completely dismiss or ignore all evidence to the contrary, we are no better than liberals, evolutionists, or atheists. We are better than that.

This statement is completely unjustified by the evidence: "The Gospel According to Mark, strictly speaking, ends here. Mark deliberately left it in an unfinished state. Later copyists added a "closing verse," while others added the remaining verses in this table."

Here are the facts: The oldest copies of mark in existence that contain the ending date from the fourth century (that is almost 300 years after Mark was written, so what this really shows is that we don't have enough early copies of Mark to form a decisive opinion on the ending). There is a second century copy of Mark, but it is damaged, and does not contain the last few leafs. While it is true that these fourth century copies do NOT contain the last 12 verses of Mark, it is also true that they are the ONLY copies of Mark in existence which end this way. THE ONLY ONES! As far as we can tell, no copyists continued the "end at verse 8" tradition found in Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. That is completely unprecedented in the Biblical text (compare this to the "Adulteress story" and how many texts are missing that one), and actually tends to make us think the "end a verse 8" was the improper ending, as not ONE other copyist was willing to use it. The "one extra short ending verse" does not show up until the ninth century (and is found in only 5 texts), while the full twelve verses are found in Alexandrinus, Ephraemi Rescriptus, Bezae Cantabrigiensis, the entire rest of the Alexandrian family, and in virtually ALL Byzantine texts. The bottom line is that we can weigh those two texts heavily, and comment that "two of the three oldest copies of Mark do not contain these last twelve verses," but we CANNOT proclaim, as though we have some kind of superhuman knowledge, that it is an absolutely known fact that Mark ended his book at verse 8. The evidence actually suggests that those two books were the aberration, NOT the originals. Concluding with a statement of absolute certainty based on only two texts is unprofessional, unscholarly, and unjustified by the evidence. Michael Back 3:06, 21 November 2009 (EDT)

Ramifications of 16:9-20

The observation that these passages are not likely to be authentic brings up a troubling conundrum: were other passages that mention the same phenomenon based on the same faulty information, or were the non-authentic passages added based on authentic passages elsewhere in the Bible?

In this case, I'm thinking specifically of speaking in tongues, which is also mentioned in Acts and 1 Corinthians. Was there influence, and if so, in which direction did it run? Is this something that's within the scope of the translation project to address? --Benp 10:42, 26 August 2009 (EDT)

I don't follow your argument. When a passage is completely missing from the earliest manuscripts, then it is likely not authentic. This defect is true for only a handful of passages, each of which can also be questioned on independent grounds.
Acts has only a few minor sentences of questionable historical authenticity, none of which is related to tongues (you don't provide a citation), and 1 Corinthians has no doubtful passages.--Andy Schlafly 11:14, 26 August 2009 (EDT)
The question of the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 has been WAY over blown. The oldest copy of Mark is missing the last few pages, so we don't know if it contains this section or not. It is only missing from TWO Greek copies: Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, but Vaticanus contains an empty space after verse 8 that is large enough to contain 9-20 (no other NT books in Vaticanus contain a blank spot like this), indicating that the copier KNEW he was missing some verses but was working from a damaged copy and had no other copies immediately available, which strongly suggests it is actually only legitimately missing from Sinaiticus. It IS found in almost every other copy of Mark in existence, including all known translations into any language in any era (except most Arminian translations, all of which show evidence of being in the same line, and 1 Latin translation), as well as Alexandrinus (which dates from the same century as Sinaiticus), Ephraemi Rescriptus and Bezae Cantabrigiensis. Further, it is quoted by the second century church fathers Iranaeus and Tertullian (both of whom predate Sinaiticus by more than 150 years). Couple that with the fact that ending with "they were afraid" simply doesn't fit with the tone and purpose of Mark's gospel, that ending a clause with "gar" is unusual (Mark only does that 6 out of 66 times he uses "gar"), and in my opinion, the evidence for the inclusion far outweighs the evidence against. So I strongly disagree with the comment in verse 8 that simply states that Mark ends his gospel there, as though this is a proven fact. The evidence does NOT support that kind of definitive statement. Michael Back 10:35, 12 November 2009 (EST)
Your insights are a real eye-opener, as always. We all have an open mind about this and your arguments are very persuasive. Anyone else have a view?--Andy Schlafly 13:27, 12 November 2009 (EST)

Having Mark end his gospel at 16:8 definitely poses a conundrum. The disciples have fled, so they do not know what the "young man" at the tomb has said. But the women are too frightened to tell anyone. So, how does anyone know what happened? How could the Gospel we have just read have even been written? Far from being "over blown", Mark's ending has concerned readers for a long time. In his book on the Gospel of Mark Let The Reader Understand Robert Fowler writes that "critics also often refuse to accept the last few words of Mark's story". (p. 259) E.S. Malbon, for one, "offers the argument that the women must have reported their experience to someone, because surely someone is presumed to have told it to the narrator" of Mark. "Apparently", Fowler goes on, "Malbon disallows a storyteller the prerogative of narrating a story in which no one ever understands or tells the story of which she is a part." In other words, who says that Mark can't end his gospel at 16:8?

Others besides modern critics apparently didn't like Mark's ending, either, such as Matthew, Luke and John. In Matthew, the women are "afraid yet filled with joy", and run to tell the disciples. (28:8) In Luke, after the women return from the tomb, they told "the Eleven". (24:9) In John, after being told about the tomb by Mary Magdalene, Peter and "the other disciple" run to the tomb to see for themselves. (20:3) Did Mark finally relent, and supply the "appropriate" ending like the others had? The curious thing about "Mark" 16:9 is its description of Mary Magdalene: "out of whom he had driven seven demons". The only story in the New Testament to say this about Mary Magdalene is Luke's - at verse 8:2. So it would seem that it was Luke, or someone inspired by Luke, who added verses 9-20 to Mark's gospel.

Considering that the Conservative Bible Project - like many others - considers the "adulteress story" in John to be a later addition and therefore excludes it, then there should be no problem excluding "Mark" 16:9-20. Which raises the conundrum mentioned above about authentic and inauthentic passages. If Matthew, Luke and John wrote their unMark-like endings to correct or rewrite Mark, then wouldn't their accounts be inauthentic, and shouldn't they therefore be excluded? Fowler mentions how, through the centuries, the "weave" of Mark's gospel has been almost lost in the "weave" of Matthew's, Luke's and John's stories. Reading Mark's gospel, even when we get to the enigmatic verse 16:8, we unconsciously append one of the other three endings, even without reading "Mark" 16:9-20. And when we read Mark's beginning, we unconsciously append one of the birth narratives, or John's Prologue. We might be shocked at Mark's treatment of the disciples, who are continually terrified and hopelessly obtuse. But then we recall that Peter is the rock upon which the church is founded - even though no mention of that is made in Mark, nor would it belong in Mark. So while Fowler is undoubtedly correct about our reading of Mark, I would say, however, that while Mark may be almost lost, he nevertheless forms the basis of the other stories. The other writers may have sought to add to and amend Mark's original "weave", but they could not do without it. Is it even possible that Matthew, Luke and John couldn't have been written without Mark? Mark's is the only gospel which actually calls itself a gospel. Maybe we should consider the other threes' writings as not gospels, but rewritings and amendments to the only gospel actually written. - Danielitld

Actually, comparing it to the adulteress story is an excellent examination of whether we are following what the evidence says, or allowing personal opinion about a book or passage to dictate our choices. The adulteress story is missing in 5 out of 6 of the oldest copies of John in existence (86%), and is missing in 90% of ALL manuscripts dating from the first 800 years of Christianity. So concluding that the adulteress story is probably NOT original is an example of following the evidence. We have no justification for concluding it is original when it is found in almost NO early manuscripts (including being found in Luke in one).
The ending of Mark is almost exactly the opposite. It is missing in only 2 of the 5 oldest copies of Mark in existence (40%, and one of THOSE leaves a blank space at the end for an extended ending, something it does not do for any other NT book - which implies that 80% either included it or knew about it), further, the ending is FOUND in 90% or more of all Greek copies of Mark in the first 800 years of Christianity. Thus, if we follow the evidence as it relates to the ending in Mark, we would conclude that although it is missing from TWO ancient Greek manuscripts, the evidence actually suggests that it IS original. Any other conclusion is a LIBERAL approach to textual criticism that can only be supported by taking the questionable position that Sinaiticus alone determines what is and is not original in the NT, and all other manuscripts don't matter. If we are going to consider the combined testimony of all important ancient witnesses, we are forced to conclude that full force of the textual evidence suggests, despite any internal arguments to the contrary, that is really IS original. --Michael Back 15:14, 9 February 2010 (EST)
Daniel, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I've learned from them. I have an open mind about the ending in Mark. You and Michael Back have two different views. I'm not sure which view about Mark is correct, and I'd like to learn more.
My own view is that Mark was young boy, even younger than John. Mark's mother was a follower of Jesus, but there is no reason to expect she hung around with the Apostles after the Crucifixion. She and Mark were probably terrified for a while; Mark was probably describing himself in the reference to a boy fleeing naked.
So Mark was an eyewitness to Jesus, but perhaps not to His post-Resurrection appearances to the Apostles. I would not be surprised if Mark ends without witnessing the post-Resurrection appearances. Matthew and John were eyewitnesses who more than covered that period.--Andy Schlafly 19:41, 16 November 2009 (EST)

If Mark was the "young man" in chapter 14, v. 51, who fled naked after Jesus was captured, then he was probably the "young man" in the tomb in chapter 16, v. 5, who was most likely there at the fateful moment of the resurrection. Maybe this was the person who critics like Malbon presume to have said something to someone, after everyone else had either fled or were too terrified to speak. Of course, this is just conjecture on our part, since Mark's gospel doesn't tell us. Your reliance on Matthew and John to "cover that period" confirms what Fowler said in his book: Mark's gospel has been buried by the others' writing to the point that people no longer read Mark's narrative but rather Matthew's, Luke's or John's. At the end of his book, Fowler mentions the "Diatessaron" of Tatian, which was written in the second century AD. While only fragments remain, Tatian did in his Diatessaron what most of us do when we read the gospels: He conflated the four, "consciously and explicitly [doing] what most readers of the Gospels have done unconsciously and implicitly for nineteen hundred years". (p. 265) It would be like conflating Steinbeck and Hemingway. We would no longer have either Steinbeck or Hemingway, but something different. Similarly, with our own "diatessarons", we no longer have either Mark, Matthew, Luke or John, but something quite different.

In our discussion about the logos in John, Michael Back stated that it was a matter of communication. Was Jesus really the Logos, or was that John's way of communicating his idea of Jesus to his Greek-speaking audience? That seems to have been the case, and Jesus, as the Logos, does things differently in John than he does in the other three. There is no "agony" in the Garden of Gethsemane in John, because how would that fit the idea of Jesus being the Logos? When Jesus/the Logos enters Jerusalem, he himself procures the donkey instead of having someone else get it for him. And at the crucifixion, Jesus/the Logos carries his own cross, in no need of help from Simon of Cyrene. So when we read Mark, what is Mark communicating to the reader? Is he communicating Matthew's birth narrative? But Mark isn't Matthew. Is he communicating John's Prologue? But Mark isn't John. Is Mark assuming that readers will "fill in the blank" after 16:8 by reading Luke? But Mark isn't Luke. In the story of the fig tree that Mark wrote in chapter 11, v. 12-14, Jesus curses the tree for not bearing fruit even though "it was not the season for figs". But when we read the story in Matthew 21: 18-19, nothing is mentioned about it not being "the season for figs". Was Matthew amazed and perhaps scandalized by the harshness of Jesus in Mark's narrative for cursing the fig tree even though it wasn't the season for figs? Yet by rewriting this story and dropping the "offending" clause, we no longer have Mark, but Matthew, and Mark's intent is lost. Somethings can't be "conflated". By reading the gospels as a diatessaron, what the individual writers attempted to communicate is confused and lost. "Let the reader understand," as Mark wrote in chapter 13, v. 14. - Danielitld

Your insights are fabulous. I was unaware of those key differences between the Gospels, and agree that the approach of the Diatessaron is to be avoided for the reasons you provide.--Andy Schlafly 11:21, 17 November 2009 (EST)
Excellent analysis, and I mostly agree. However, I disagree with the implied position you take that ending at verse 8 actually fits the message of Mark's gospel. Mark is completely unique, and approaches Jesus in a way that is wonderful and breathtaking to behold. From the carefully crafted moments in the first chapter, where He is introduced one layer at a time, such as via the authority He wields (over people, angels, beasts and demons), to the gradual revelation of who He really is in the middle chapters, to the final confrontation of why He came, Mark is as systematic and carefully crafted as any mystery novel. There are two primary mysteries that Mark unfolds for us. The first is "Who is Jesus?" and it culminates in the stunning conversation with Peter in chapter 8 when he says, "you are the Christ." The second half addresses the question, "Why is Jesus here? What is His mission?" That is revealed in layers: first with a simple statement about the resurrection, which starts the second half immediately after Peter's confession, then in repeated illustrations of why it is necessary and what it will accomplish, culminating with the vibrant and breathtaking appearance of Jesus at the end where we not only SEE His resurrection, but where He explicitly informs His disciples that all the authority we saw in Him, that was so carefully unfolded in previous chapters of Mark, are now available to His followers. These include authority over demons, sickness and animals. In other words, these last few verses bring the story full circle back to the Jesus we saw in chapter one, and fit PERFECTLY with the way Jesus is unfolded in Mark. So while it is true that His disciples often were afraid in this gospel, Mark NEVER leaves them hanging there. In fact, Jesus' message in Mark is that they do not NEED to fear, because Jesus has authority over all things, ultimately even death itself - so why fear? If you couple this internal evidence with the external evidence that of the two oldest copies of Mark which contain the full gospel (Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus, both believed to be from the same century), it is found in one and missing in one, and that the other old copy (Vaticanus) which does not contain it has a space large enough to include it (and no other NT book in Vaticanus ends with a space like that), coupled with the clear references to that ending by church fathers hundreds of years before Sinaiticus, then the evidence is overwhelming that 9-20 are completely original. Michael Back 6:30, 19 November 2009 (EST)

I guess Michael and I will have to agree to disagree. Michael is correct when he says that, in Mark, Jesus conveys the message that the disciples do not need to be afraid "because Jesus has authority over all things". Yet the disciples are still afraid, because they never understand that message. In chapter 8, v. 29, when Peter says to Jesus "You are the Christ", for a moment we do believe that Peter has finally seen the light. But when Jesus tells him what exactly that entails, Peter rebukes him, and Jesus rebukes Peter in turn. So does Peter - in Mark - really get it? Let me turn again to Fowler and his book on Mark, concerning the two feeding stories and the two sea stories. In the first feeding story, we, the readers of Mark, are in the same boat - if you will - as the disciples: How will Jesus ever feed that multitude? When we get to the second feeding story, we - the readers - have confidence in Jesus, and know that he will handle things as he did in the first instance. But the disciples are still wondering how Jesus will feed the second throng of people! The same can be said for the sea stories. The disciples' obtuseness is shocking. It finally gets to the point, Fowler says, where we, the readers of Mark, no longer have any confidence whatsoever in the disciples. Their final abandonment of Jesus is thus really no surprise, because its been building throughout Mark's gospel. When the "denouement" of this "novel" arrives, with the disciples scattered and (willfully) ignorant of what has happened and the women too terrified to tell anyone, there is only one person left to tell Mark's story - let the reader understand. The "reconciliation" portrayed in verses 9-20 is thus hardly Markan. - Danielitld

Yes, I think we will. The purpose of this book was NOT to illustrate how inept and obtuse the disciples were, it was to illustrate how Jesus prevails despite their failures to believe or understand. Ending at verse 8 leaves the book focused on the disciples, yet the title of this book, given by Mark in 1:1, is NOT "the stubbornness and lack of faith of the disciples of Jesus," but rather, "The good news of Jesus Christ." Not only does the verse 8 ending NOT fit the author's own title, it justifies those who would change the focus of the book off of the victory of Jesus and onto the many failures of the disciples. I strongly disagree with those, Fowler included, who use the short ending found in just two ancient manuscripts to justify completely refocusing the gospel of Mark off the good news of Jesus and onto the failure, fear and confusion of the disciples. The disciples obviously play a big role in this book, but the book is NOT about them. It is about Jesus. And ending the story of Jesus with a scattered, confused and defeated group of followers does no justice what so ever to the Jesus who is presented within Mark. As I pointed out previously, the disciples are OFTEN full of doubt and fear, yet Mark NEVER leaves them there. In every case, Jesus steps in, corrects their disbelief, chastens their fear, and redirects their focus. So it simply makes no sense whatsoever for Mark to give the actions of the losers the last word, when He repeatedly give Jesus the last word in His book.
Not only has Fowler completely misunderstood the reason that Mark included the feeding of the 4,000 in his book (it was NOT to illustrate the idiocy of the disciples), but he has used that misunderstanding to attempt to largely refocus the Gospel of Mark off of Jesus and onto the disciples. It is no accident that Peter makes his confession shortly after being confronted with the questions about the number of baskets left over in each feeding - he figured something out that Fowler never did: every single thing that Jesus did was about the gospel, the good news, NOT about the disciples, and that is a HUGE message in Mark. Mark, unlike the other gospels, actually gives us the critical information we need to put this message together. When we figure out that the feeding of the 5000 and the 4000 was an acted out parable of the gospel of Jesus going to all the nations through all of history, the message of Mark's book slams home: Jesus will save the entire world, Jesus will defeat fear, Jesus will defeat death - and Jesus knew this from the very beginning! Jesus will always win, despite stupid, prejudiced followers. Mark's gospel is the only one that gives us the crucial information needed to realize that everything Jesus did was pointing to His victory all along. It was Mark's choice to present this crucial bit of information, information not found in Matthew or Luke, and that gives us a HUGE insight into the Jesus that Mark is presenting: He is the victor, the ultimate authority, the savior of the whole world, from beginning to end.
There is NOTHING in the shorter ending that carries this message through. Mark's Jesus is about conquering fear, about beating death, about giving us all hope despite disbelieving dunderheads for disciples. Ending at verse 8 tells us that Mark changed his mind about the message of his book at the last moment and decided to abandon the good news of Jesus in favor of the bad news of disbelief, fear and cowardice. That shorter ending may be very pleasing to Fowler, who wants to make Mark a book about how fear, ignorance and prejudice prevails despite the authority and power of Jesus, but that is NOT the book Mark wrote. Not even a little bit. Michael Back 2:22, 21 November 2009 (EST)

Like I said, we'll have to agree to disagree. As for Robert Fowler, I learned alot from him, both as an author and as a teacher. When I took the New Testament course that he taught, I was very pleased to have a Markan scholar as an instructor. I had always been intrigued by Mark's gospel, and I looked forward to hearing what Fowler had to say about it. That meant peeling away the layers of Matthew, Luke and John so that the class could actually see what Mark had to say. And just about everyone in the class came to wonder how Mark even made it into the New Testament, considering how badly the disciples were depicted by Mark. But perhaps the good news of Jesus and the obtuseness of the disciples are the dual themes of Mark. As far as I'm concerned, 16:8 fits very nicely into the fabric of the gospel. Its not about "Mark changing his mind", which is your opinion. And it seems you don't give enough credence to the reader of Mark, the one "character" who is there from beginning to end - and beyond. You could read Fowler's book and at least hear his argument. After all, there's nothing wrong with reading something you disagree with. - Danielitld

First, I want to tell you that I very much appreciate your tone of professionalism. That is very refreshing in a setting like this.
Second, I don't actually believe that Mark changed his mind. The evidence is so overwhelming that Mark actually ended his gospel in chapter sixteen at verse twenty that I really don't have to worry about that (and only those who believe the witness of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus is so absolute that we need not consult any other manuscript would disagree with that assessment).
Third, let me assure you that I have spent my life reading the works of those who disagree with me, starting with Bultmann and his followers way back in college, and continuing recently when I finally found the time to read Brian McLaren's "New kind of Christian" series. I have read hundreds, maybe thousands of books over the last thirty years by authors with whom I disagree on a very wide range of topics including evolution, origins, science, philosophy, eschatology, higher criticism, politics, finance, church history, textual studies, and so on. In fact, I read far more of those kind of books than I do authors with whom I agree because, as I tell my apologetics class, the defense of Christianity against those who choose to attack it starts by knowing exactly what their arguments and assumptions really are. I'm sure that I will eventually get around to reading Robert Fowler, but if his work is anything like you have described, I can already tell that it will probably end up effecting me much like most of McLaren's writing (that is, I usually just end up extremely frustrated by how completely the author has misunderstood scripture, coupled with, in McLaren's case, an added frustration with his simplistic and poorly thought out assumptions about who God is).
Finally, Since Mark was the very first book in the NT that I ever read in Greek, I have a tremendous love for that book. In fact, when I took my first course in Mark back in college (I was a religious studies major), we were only allowed to cross reference OT sources, as that class also stripped away NT comparisons with the other gospels (mostly because the instructor believed that Mark was the first NT book written, and he wanted us to experience it as the first century readers would). The difference is that our instructor understood the real message of Mark's gospel, so we didn't come out of it shocked that it was in the canon, but far from it, we came out of it with a brand new appreciation for WHO Jesus was, for WHAT Jesus did, and for how carefully and richly Mark had crafted his revelation of Jesus in his book. Yes, we were initially amused, then shocked, and eventually very frustrated by the disciples, but we also understood something that Fowler apparently did not: this book was NOT about the disciples and it was NOT about the reader. Both of those are characters, but they are NOT the main character. This book is about Jesus, beginning, middle and end. It was Jesus' consistent RESPONSE to their prejudice, ignorance and hardhearted refusal to believe that far overshadowed the antics and idiocy of the keystone cops who followed Him. Mark's gospel is NOT about the disciples, it is about Jesus, and only someone who believes the disciples and/or the reader were the main characters could possibly think that the verse 8 ending of Mark's gospel even remotely fits the message of his book. Since my many years of study have only reconfirmed for me that Mark wrote this book first and foremost about JESUS (that is, he was actually telling the truth when he gave it the title, "the Good News of Jesus Christ"), I actually believe the overwhelming physical evidence that the verse 20 ending is the original. --Michael Back 02:15, 22 November 2009 (EST)

I want to thank you for your comment inre: the professionalism of our exchange. There is nothing to be gained by a "nonprofessional" exchange. To tell you the truth, nothing seems to generate learning and insight better than a little disagreement. I learned a lot by delving into the Bible during the discussions I had long ago with a couple of Jehovah's Witnesses. Our discussion has made me reread at least portions of a lot of books gathering dust on my shelves, Fowler among them. Speaking of Fowler, I should state that his book "Let The Reader Understand", is subtitled "Reader-Response Criticism and the Gospel of Mark". On page 1 he writes that "this book is not about the Gospel of Mark. Rather, it is a book about the experience of reading the Gospel of Mark." Before, you described Mark as a "mystery novel", and Fowler details how Mark engages the reader through his writing, right down to the final - or "final" - gar. On page 93, Fowler states that "Interpreters have often commented upon the awkwardness of the gar clauses in Mark's Gospel". But what Fowler wants to do is to see what the gar clauses - Mark's narrative "afterthoughts" many times to his stories - "do to the reader in the reading experience. After all, the violation of logical sequence may have interesting effects on the reading experience". One example is the story of the rich man. We encounter a man who has done everything right, yet he still lacks one thing: He must sell all he has, give it to the poor, and follow Jesus. Only then do we find out that this man is a rich man, "for he had great possessions". I agree with Fowler that usually we get so into the narrative of Mark that discussions about Mark are "about the intentions of the evangelist" - p. 1. Mark has succeeded with his narrative. But "by redirecting our critical focus away from the text per se and toward the reading of the text", we can "gain new sensitivities . . [and] new insights" into the text. It is a fascinating, and insightful, approach. - Danielitld

It seems obvious to me that Mark was a young boy, perhaps only 10, who was never accepted as an equal by the Apostles. His Gospel is that of an outsider, with poignant emphasis on things of significance to a boy, like what happened to the fig tree. It was fitting that Mark was the first translated by a wiki ... here.--Andy Schlafly 21:04, 21 November 2009 (EST)
I believe that the longer ending of Mark is the original. The shorter ending is found in only 2 important ancient mss, and Vaticanus leaves a blank space possibly for it. The last page of a codex could very well have worn off, providing a mechanical explanation of the shorter ending. If a note is to be put it should state that the longer text is only missing from 2 important mss and that Vaticanus leaves a space possibly for it. (I agree that the adulteress story is to be omitted in John.)
As to the concerns with "languages" (confusingly rendered "tongues") and with drinking poison, miraculous signs were to be manifest in the hearers of the apostles, not said to be expected to continue (cf. start of Hebrews).(Thunkful 01:01, 19 June 2010 (EDT))

He, Him etc

I've been capitalizing He and Him when referring to Jesus, as is often the convention. Do others think we should do this? Either way, we should aim to be consistent.--CPalmer 08:31, 23 September 2009 (EDT)

You're right. Capitalization is better, and let's be consistent. Thanks.--Andy Schlafly 09:12, 23 September 2009 (EDT)

What about things like 'Holy Spirit' or 'Heavenly Father'? Capitalized or not? (11:26 for example) Also on 11:26: Should it be 'God your heavenly father' or 'God, your heavenly father'?


I believe the woman's condition was actually heamorrhages - excessive bleeding. Later in the chapter it mentions bleeding, so that would fit. Shall I change it?--CPalmer 07:06, 24 September 2009 (EDT)

Please do change it to hemorrhages. Thanks much.--Andy Schlafly 09:51, 24 September 2009 (EDT)

Questions asked in comments

I just wanted to address some of the questions that were asked in the comments for chapter 6.

Verse 2: Is miracle a non-believer expression? I use "miracle" all the time!

Verse 14: How about this: King Herod heard news of this, as word of Jesus had spread fast and far. King Herod said that Jesus was John the Baptist, risen from the dead, and that miraculous powers were shown in his works.

Verse 21: High Captains might be best described with modern phrasing as "generals / admirals."

Verse 22: Oh, boy. I'm not sure "bimbo" is the best translation of κορασιον, which means "young girl" or "virgin." What is wrong with maiden? "Bimbo" has a ton of implications that are just not there in the Greek.

Verse 25: Why would we use Tetrarch for Herod? Tetrarch is a Greek word, τέτραρχος, and if Mark had meant that he would have used it. Instead, he used βασιλεα, which means prince or king.

Verse 31: I think that's excellent, this word, ερημον, can refer to a solitary place, a desolate place, yes, a desert, but the real gist of this passage is that they are resting.

Anyways, I'll be working on translating some of the smaller NT books to avoid edit conflicts, but this seems to be coming along really well! JacobB 16:03, 1 October 2009 (EDT)

Also, Verse 48: This site ( ) says the earlier Greeks divided the night into three parts, so, previous to the exile, the Israelites also had three watches in a night; subsequently, however, after they became subject to the Romans, they adopted the Roman custom of dividing the night into four watches (shifts for guards). This site: says "The day, as with us, was divided into 12 hours, and lasted from six o'clock in the morning till six in the evening. The night was divided into four watches, each consisting of three hours." So, it would seem that the fourth watch of the night means between 3 AM and 6 AM. I've edited the translation to reflect this. JacobB 18:28, 1 October 2009 (EDT)
Great, thanks for finding this! What would you think of changing the translation to "very early in the morning" or something along those lines? --MarkGall 19:08, 1 October 2009 (EDT)
That's fine, but I think original text must be preserved whenever possible. If the Proposed Conservative Translation reads, " the very early morning, he walked out...," then the Analysis must say, "Greek text has 'fourth watch of the night,' which is here translated as 'very early morning.'"
That way, we have a translation which somebody of our time can read smoothly without referring to footnotes, but we still retain the literal meaning of the text. JacobB 19:18, 1 October 2009 (EDT)

Reply to comments chapter 6

verse 2: "Miracle" is a slightly pejorative word preferred by non-believers. Logically, a "miracle" is merely a "sign" of the underlying truth, and is not a violation of it as the word implies. Hence some translations do not resort to the term "miracle" and I'd suggest we use more direct terms such as sign or healing or whatever the context is. But I'm open-minded about this and welcome further discussion. I've used the term "miracle" too, but also feel the term lacks solid logical justification. There's always a better word to use instead.

verse 22: Translating the reference to the dancer as a "bimbo" (or something similar) seems to fit the context. I wonder if the Greek word ever meant that. This may be a case where the Greek itself is inadequate and there may be richer options in English to choose from. It seems obvious what was meant and thus justified to convey what was meant despite inadequacies in the Greek.--Andy Schlafly 23:31, 3 October 2009 (EDT)

I can understand the issue with miracle. It carries a connotation of something that "shouldn't have happened but did," and your argument makes a lot of sense that that's a very bad implication to give. So - we have "deeds" for now, but in general for miracle, maybe "signs?"
The second of the issues you cover, I admit I still take exception to. This page here has a list of all of the major translations of the Bible for this verse, and all have κορασιω translated as "girl," "young girl," or "Damsel." Additionally, this page explains that κορασιω has only a single meaning, of a young girl. I expect that if κορασιω had ever meant something akin to "bimbo" or "trollop" or something like that, that secondary meaning would be listed here.
You are absolutely right, that it is possible that 1st century Greek lacked the word needed to describe this type of woman, and your argument is bolstered by the fact that the only other time this word is used in the New Testament is describing this same girl, in this same scene, in Matt 14:11, and that in other verses dealing with young girls, such as Mark 5:43, it is not used.
Nevertheless, I can't help but feel uneasy about replacing a word of the original text of the Bible, a word which every source I can find translates as "young girl," with so pejorative a word as "bimbo." I confess taking the translation "κορασιω -> damsel" and replacing it with "κορασιω -> bimbo" makes me uncomfortable. If the meaning of the word is clear from the context, then we may safely leave it to the context to give that impression.
If, however, the project is committed to translating the word so as to incorporate the context given, let us consider all the things which are obvious from the setting of this scene: The girl is young, the girl must be attractive, she uses her appeal to men to get what she wants, and she is a pretty sick individual for wanting the head of a man (any man, let alone John) on a platter. Now let us consider all the things which bimbo implies. For me, the first thing I think of when I hear bimbo is stupid. Stupid, perhaps attractive, but I don't really think "pretty," and I definitely don't think "killer." The idea of using seduction to achieve ones own ends is KIND OF a part of "bimbo," but it's not really the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear the word. The implication of the passage is that she is basically using sex appeal to get what she wants - well, the first word that comes to my mind is "prostitute." (Note, that Mark did not use πορναι in this verse, which he would have if he meant prostitute.)
Anyways, my piece is now said, and I leave the decision up to you, and I will accept it. JacobB 18:41, 4 October 2009 (EDT)
We seem to agree about "miracle" and "sign" is often a good translation.
On the point about translating κορασιω, I think this is a rare case where the Greek itself is inadequate. The dancer, who was likely provocative in an immoral way, is not simply a "girl" and almost certainly not a "young girl" as that term is used today. She was not bright or independent, and she certainly was not moral, as she ran to her mother for instructions on beheading a spiritual man. There's not doubt about the type of person she was, and a purely textual analysis of the Greek word seems to add to potential for error in translation rather than reduce it.
The Gospel of Mark was itself written in simple Greek, and Mark was a simple man. In fact, he was a young boy himself when he witnessed the events or (in this case) witnessed people describe the event. Even today, a young boy may describe a man's provocative female companion as merely a "friend" or "woman", when an adult would use the word "prostitute" or "floozy". Ah ha, maybe "floozy" is the most precise word here!
More generally, I have an open mind about how to handle imprecision in the Greek, as illustrated by this fascinating example. I think it is a mistake to be slavishly bound to imprecise Greek when the real meaning is clear. Note that virtually all modern translations do depart from the word-for-word meaning of the Greek in other contexts, and departure here may be resisted by some due to unjustified discomfort in disparaging this woman.--Andy Schlafly 22:27, 4 October 2009 (EDT)
Oh, yes, yes, I now do agree with you regarding "miracle." Regarding κορασιω, I think a more descriptive word, informed by context (such as "floozy," "temptress," etc.) is good so long as we note in the analysis that the word means "girl" or "damsel," and that the translation is due to obvious context. That way, the goal of producing a clear translation is achieved, and yet nobody can accuse us of altering the meaning. JacobB 23:11, 4 October 2009 (EDT)
Superb suggestion about how to approach this by using the note section. "Temptress" is also a terrific suggestion that has more gravitas than the informal "floozy". I'll update it now. Thanks for your insights, from which I've learned enormously.--Andy Schlafly 23:25, 4 October 2009 (EDT)
Indeed, working on this project is such a pleasure, I only wish I had more time to devote to it. JacobB 00:58, 5 October 2009 (EDT)
I agree. This project really enriches my appreciation and understanding of the Bible, often in unexpected ways. I've learned enormously from your comments.--Andy Schlafly 01:09, 5 October 2009 (EDT)

"Self-Proclaimed Elite"

I made a slight adjustment to Chapter 3. A previous translator tentatively used "intellectuals" as a sub-in for Pharisees. In an effort to capture the flavor for conservatives, I suggest changing Pharisees to "the Self-Proclaimed Elite" or maybe just "the Elite." Given modern culture, I think this is more accessible and has a less benign/neutral connotation than "intellectuals." --PiousMan

Your suggestion is good. Thanks for your insight. Further improvement in translation may be possible.--Andy Schlafly 11:28, 6 October 2009 (EDT)
Thanks Andy! When I looked at it, "self-proclaimed Elite" was a little too clunky so I replaced it with "Elite" and "Elitists." I'll let people take a look at how that flows in Chapter 3 before I change it in any other verses. --PiousMan
"Liberals" seems to fit the bill nicely, in my honest opinion, if we're talking about self-proclaimed elites such as our dear president (though as an American expat not sure if I can say that!) DerickC 12:59, 6 October 2009 (EDT)
I'm not sure I agree. Pharisees and Sadduccess were two major political and religious groups of the day, and when we try to describe them like this, we lose meaning. I've been keeping these two words - if we want to discuss them, well, we can put that discussion in the analysis part, but I don't feel comfortable renaming these groups. That's just me. JacobB 15:43, 7 October 2009 (EDT)
I strongly agree with JacobB's concerns. "Pharisee" isn't being used in that chapter as a metaphor or a figure of speech, but to refer to a specific group of people. Changing this to a generic phrase destroys the meaning. - N 13:41, 8 October 2009 (EDT)
I have removed it previously but DerickC just had to replace. It looks bad in my opinion, it is dubious, sort of like when a frenemy inserts stuff for the lulz of it all. You have my support to remove. --Jpatt 14:02, 8 October 2009 (EDT)


After years of studying the Bible, I personally think that interlinear Bibles, with the Hebrew/English and Greek/English printed side-by-side are far more preferable than English-only translations. When Jews study the Torah, they'll read the Hebrew first, and then the English. That way, they can not only compare the translation with the original, but contemplate whatever nuances the Hebrew may impart. Why don't Christians do the same with the New Testament?

A case in point: In Mark 1:12, you say that the Divine Guide "led" Jesus into the desert. But the Greek word used by Mark is ekballo, which means to throw with violence. The term "led" implies that Jesus was almost taken by the hand and gently ushered into the desert, an image that is contrary to what Mark wrote. Maybe this goes back to whether or not "Divine Guide" is preferable to "Holy Ghost" or "Holy Spirit". Spirit in Greek is pneuma, which comes from pneu, to blow hard. Maybe Jesus was thrown violently into the desert because of a "blast" from the Holy Spirit. It should also be noted that when Jesus casts out the unclean spirits, Mark again uses the term ekballo, which again doesn't conjure up an image of being gently led.

As for the "unclean", changing this to "possessed" may also muddle Mark's intent. In verse 34, it does say that Jesus cast out "many demons". But the man in the synagogue in verse 23 is "in spirit unclean". It might be better to wonder why the man in the synagogue is unclean. Jesus teaches as one "having authority, and not as the scribes", "and immediately" the man "unclean in spirit" accosts him. The leper in verse 40 also asks Jesus to "cleanse" him, not to "cure" him. Using the word "cure" might be seen as modernizing the verse, but it takes away from Mark's intent. (Unisigned comments added by User:Danielitld)

You're right that in a perfect world, Christians would learn koine Greek as Jews learn ancient Hebrew, to read the original text. In such a world, our project here would be unnecessary. But we don't live in a perfect world, which is why I'm glad to have you here, somebody who seems to know a good deal about the language of the Gospels.
Please, feel free to edit the project pages! If you feel you have a more accurate translation of Mark 1:12, then go put it up and other users will debate, critique, or embrace it - that's the beauty of a Wiki project.
Side note: Wikis have a few features you should note. First of all, indenting produces boxes around your text, so on talk pages, it is better to simply spread paragraphs out with a blank line. And second, remember to sign all your talk page comments with 4 tildes at the end. JacobB 08:23, 13 October 2009 (EDT)
Daniel, you make excellent points, which is why Jacob encourages you to make substantive improvements in the translations here.
Logically, there are three sources of error: imprecision in the original language (e.g., Greek), imprecision in the modern language (English), and liberal bias in translating between the two. You understand the Greek well, which makes your insights valuable. But there are still two larger sources of error to deal with even after understanding the Greek.--Andy Schlafly 08:34, 13 October 2009 (EDT)

Jesus and the rich man

In Mark 10:21, Mark uses the term husterei, which means to lack, which is why I changed the phrase to "You lack one thing". I think it is important that the idea of the rich man lacking something not be taken out of this verse. I also think that having Jesus say "How unlikely it is that those who worship riches will enter the kingdom of God" in verse 23 is not a correct rendering of his words. The Greek clearly says that "the ones having riches" shall "hardly" or with difficulty enter the kingdom of God; the word "worship" is not in the text. In verse 25, which is Jesus' famous saying, I think that translating it as "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a man who cares only for money to enter into the kingdom of God" is also incorrect. The word the KJV translates as "rich man" is plousios, which is derived from ploutos or wealth. Our term plutocrat is derived from ploutos. Logically, we could translate this saying as "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a plutocrat to enter into the kingdom of God". But since I think everyone is familiar with the term "rich man" here, it would be best to keep that term.

Chapter 1, Verse 2, Conservative translation

Would it be proper to change '...prepare [Your] way' with 'prepare [your] arrival or entrance? Trying to better clarify 'way' as in presence in humanity. --Jpatt 00:51, 15 October 2009 (EDT)

Brilliant point. Arrival or entrance would be better, but I'm thinking there might be something better still because it is not just the entrance that is being prepared, but also the achievement. Please go ahead and edit as you think best.--Andy Schlafly 08:47, 15 October 2009 (EDT)

Comments on latest revision

The latest revision adds much insight, but seems to be too much of a literal word-for-word translation of the Greek in some places.[1] For example, Mark was a fisherman, and he could easily have used the term "girl" when what was meant was "temptress". It seems doubtful that Herod had a "little girl" dance for his guests, as the current translation states. Your thoughts?--Andy Schlafly 13:28, 16 October 2009 (EDT)

My reply: We can't argue with the actual Greek word used, what it meant in those days, and what it still means. The word at issue is κορασιον (korasion), which translates as a little girl, one not yet having reached the age that we call "adolescent" or "teen-aged." In fact, that's how it reads in the Oxford Pocket Greek-English Dictionary.
True, Mark was a fisherman originally. But after he became involved with the early Church, he probably got an education. He certainly gained access to some account of what went on at that birthday celebration in the court of Herod Antipas, probably by interviewing the personal slave of one of those noblemen, ranking officers, or "first citizens of Galilee" who were there and who were witnesses to the dance, Herod's oath, and the display of the–er–products of execution. That he would never have improved his vocabulary strains credulity, even if you allow that Paul of Tarsus, who used some of the most erudite words in all of New Testament literature, was more highly educated than most, since he was a Pharisee and had studied, one assumes, for the Jewish rabbinate.
So I think we have to take it as given that Herodias' daughter was a little girl, not even an adolescent. So what are we to make of that spectacle? Consider: this person did a dance in front of a bunch of leering men. I think we can all agree that it was a lewd spectacle, and had been meant to be. But was the little girl not yet of an age that would be pleasing? I suggest that that point is moot. Does anyone here remember Jon-Benet Ramsey? I see from using the Preview feature that [[Jon-Benet Ramsey]] generates a red link, so I can see that no one has thought to write the biography of this unfortunate little girl, or perhaps did not consider her story a fit subject for a family-friendly project. Let it suffice here that Jon-Benet Ramsey was a contestant in a type of beauty contest for little girls. We react with shock at such a spectacle, and in general at the spectacle of little girls being "tarted up." As well we might. But have we any right to assume that such things did not take place in such courts as that of Herod Antipas? I think not.
I suggest, then, that this little girl, if she were alive today, is the sort of girl who would get involved in, shall we say, off-color activities. And that she learned, even before puberty, to use her, shall we say, charms as a weapon.
This, then, makes the spectacle even worse than originally assumed. Bad enough if Herodias' daughter (I find no historical warrant for the name Salome given to her in various theatrical and motion picture treatments) had been an adult. But what if–just what if–she were not an adult at all, but a child, and not even a teen-ager at that? That's what the word used to describe her seems to say.
This might or might not be significant, and I'd welcome Bert Schlossberg's comment on this: the Greek word for raven is κοραξ or korax, and the similarity between that word and the word korasion seems too striking to be merely coincidental. Still, we can't get away from the usual sense of that word, and I think we have to reckon with it.--TerryHTalk 16:00, 16 October 2009 (EDT)
This unsavory debate does illustrate aspects of translation that we should address sooner rather than later. Mark was not an historian, but was almost certainly an eyewitness to Jesus's ministry who traveled with the Apostles as a young boy himself.
I think the key question is this: what other words were available to Mark, as a fisherman knowing limited Greek, to describe a dancer? Note that today it is common to refer to provocative dancers as "girls", but greater precision can be used for the reader.
Put another way, can the word κορασιον (korasion) be translated as "temptress"? If it can, then the context indicates that it should. Greek words should not automatically translated as their most common meaning, but as the meaning most likely in the context.--Andy Schlafly 17:34, 16 October 2009 (EDT)
I recognize that this is an unsavory debate about an unsavory subject: child sexual exploitation, which is an ugly thing whether the child is a willing or unwilling participant.
To settle the central question, I approached the problem two ways. First: how might "temptress" translate directly into Greek? I just put the word "temptress" through the Google Translate engine, and got this: ξεμυαλίστρα (xemyalistra). The Oxford Pocket Dictionary didn't help me there, but it did have this verb: χεμυαλιζω (xemyalidzo), which means "I seduce" or "I turn someone's head." Thus a temptress is any girl that girl-watchers watch, if I may borrow a phrase from the 60s and early 70s.
So how does κορασιον translate into English? Well, it doesn't. Google Translate gets stuck for an answer. Incredibly, so does Babelfish. So Newman's Concise Dictionary and the Oxford Pocket Greek/English Dictionary, which I have in print, are all we seem to have available. And neither of them translates κορασιον as a woman who turns men's heads, or makes a "career" doing so. They both translate that word as "girl," and the Oxford Dictionary gets more specfic: as a pre-adolescent girl.
I can try one other source, not on-line, and better than off-line: human. The only reason that I have not yet shared my project with my own church pastor is that he was and still is away from home, visiting his in-laws in a location out-of-range of any cell tower. When he returns, which I expect him to do tomorrow, or by Sunday morning at the latest, I can ask him how he has ever sought to interpret the story of Herod Antipas' fateful birthday celebration, and whether he ever considered the implications of the word translated as "girl" in most English versions.
And what are those implications? Simply these: that parents of little girls today ought to be afraid—be very afraid—of the sexualizing influences from modern culture that act on little girls today, and recognize that not only are they an old evil come back and dressed up to look pretty, but also that in their original form they got a good man killed. How many "Salomes" is our culture making today? I suggest that the Bible once again provides a lesson for modern readers where one least expects to find it. --TerryHTalk 18:26, 16 October 2009 (EDT)
Tremendous analysis of the Greek, Terry! If there was common alternative name for "girl" and Mark chose the less familiar word for "little girl," then that would prove that you're correct.
This yields a potentially powerful principle for our translation based on examination of the alternative words available in common Greek at the time. This approach could be useful in translating "logos" and other Greek terms. Rather than focusing on only the meaning of the word itself, also look at the next closest alternatives. Language is like a lattice (as I recall you're an expert in Chemistry also), and the lattice points in English are offset (and closer together) relative to the lattice points in the common Greek vocabulary familiar to the biblical authors.--Andy Schlafly 19:10, 16 October 2009 (EDT)
Funny you should ask...!
A Google Translate "search" on the simple word "girl" yields three words: κόρη, κοπέλλα (Google misspells this; I searched Oxford for the correct spelling), and κορίτσι. Notice the common root κορ- or κοπ- that they all contain, and share in common with κορασιον. But notice also that κορασιον does not appear. Not because it is incorrect but because it is uncommon.
The presence of the common root militates against these words being "loan words" from many of the languages spoken by the many peoples who sent embassies—or conquering armies—to Greece in the medieval period and beyond. (Example of a "loan word" in modern Greek: ενονω, meaning "I join together" or "I unite," as in Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες της Αμερικής, or United States of America. That word was not present in ancient Greek and is borrowed from Russian.) Thus the common words κορη, κοπελλα, and κοριτσι were probably known to Mark. He chose a very uncommon word for "girl," meaning a preadolescent girl. (The -ασιον part of the word must be another root, but I'm not sure what to make of that.)
This provides further proof that Mark was emphasizing the "tender" age of this little girl doing a most "untender" thing: seducing her step-dad in front of a bunch of grown men, demanding a man's life as her price, and actually handling the...well, you get the idea. In a word: yuck. Or maybe just ουαι (Hebrew אוי or "Oy!"), or in English, "Woe!"
This illustrates something else, something that Colleen McCullough stated in her glossary to The First Man in Rome: Hollywood research is poor. Not a single Hollywood or other motion picture treatment of the "Salome" story has ever gotten it right. We've all assumed that "Salome," if that was her real name, was a teen-ager or a young adult. And we now learn that she was not, and that she was probably not more than ten or eleven years old. Zounds!--TerryHTalk 21:22, 16 October 2009 (EDT)
Terry, you've proven your point. I completely disagreed with you at first, but your linguistic analysis provides overwhelming evidence. Mark went out of his way to pick a word that meant "little girl." In so doing, he could not possibly have meant anything else. Moreover, upon reflection, the pledge by Herod to grant any wish she wanted is a more suitable statement to make to a little girl than to a woman. And the girl's reaction -- to go ask her mother -- again suggests a younger rather than older age.
You've discovered something with linguistic analysis that Hollywood and most modern translations missed. Well done indeed!--Andy Schlafly 21:45, 16 October 2009 (EDT)
TerryH: the root is kora, which is girl. The ending you're referring to is just the declension - in that form the dative singular subject of a sentence IIRC. Cambrian 15:09, 17 October 2009 (EDT)

eye of the needle

In Jesus' saying, it is possible that he was referring to the pedestrian walkway. But then, why didn't he say that it is easier for a camel to go through the needle? Instead, he said the eye of the needle, which, I think, refers to the sewing implement. It emphasizes the extreme difficulty a rich man has in getting into the kingdom of God. If all the rich man in the story had to do was bow a little like a camel going through a narrow portal, then why didn't Jesus simply tell him that? Such an interpretation is at variance with the meaning and impact of the story. Danielitld

Daniel, it would help if you cited the precise verse you're discussing here, and compared our tentative translation with your suggested improvement. My initial reaction is that "rich" should be "idle rich" or "lover of riches" or "obsessively rich."--Andy Schlafly 19:46, 18 October 2009 (EDT)

Jesus' famous saying about the camel and the rich man is in verse 10:25. But before looking at that verse again, I would like to look at verse 4:19, because I think it is important to our understanding of Jesus' saying. Jesus is talking about the fate of seeds, or those that hear the logos. There are some that hear the logos, but like seeds sown among thorns, "the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful". I would like to look at the words in this verse, with the help of Strong's Concordance. The "cares" of the world, in Greek is merimna, which is definded as a share, of this world, but also a distraction. Deceitfulness comes from the Greek word apate, which can also mean delusion. Riches, of course, is plouton in Greek, which I mentioned before. Lusts is epithumia, which, breaking it down into its component parts, epi and thumos, can mean the superimpostion of passions. Its interesting to note that thomus is derived from thuo, which can mean to breathe hard; sacrifice; kill. Before, I noted that pneuma, from Holy Spirit, came from pneu, which also means to breathe hard. But I think that Mark is contrasting the "breath" of the Holy Spirit, with the "breath" of earthly passions. And, of course, Jesus was infused with the breath of the Holy Spirit. Such lusts "enter in". Eisporeuomai is derived from peira, which means a test or piercing; peran means to pierce. The cares/distractions of this world, the delusion of wealth, the lusts/passions/ entering in/testing and piercing, choke the logos. Choke is sumpnigo, which means to strangle completely. What's interesting here, is that pnigo - to wheeze or to choke - comes from pneu. The cares of this world strangle the logos by choking its breath.

Looking at Jesus' saying now, we can see that his use of "the eye of a needle" may be a play on words. A needle is meant for piercing, like the lusts of this world enter into or pierce a person. It is easier for a camel to "go through" the eye of a needle than for a rich man - plousios - pierced with wealth - plouton - to "enter into" - go through/enter into are the same word in Greek - the kingdom of God. To say that Jesus is referring to the "idle rich" changes the meaning of what Jesus meant. A rich man - plousios - is derived from wealth - plouton. He is not derived from the logos, or the breath that brings it. Plouton chokes that breath. If the rich man sells what he has and gives it to the poor, then the breath of the Holy Spirit can blow the logos into him. But the man was sad, because he had many possessions, which pierced him. He failed to see that his wealth was a delusion, and the one thing he lacked, the logos, was far more important. - Danielitld

Your analysis is fascinating. I have an open mind about it. I'd like to ponder it further and hear from other Greek scholars too.--Andy Schlafly 23:45, 18 October 2009 (EDT)

Doctrine or teaching?

I'm wondering if "teaching" might not be a better translation of the Greek διδαχη? "Doctrine" has a nice solid conservative tone, but considering the convention of using "students" instead of "disciples" in the CBP, I'm thinking "teaching" may fit in with the style a little better? Anyone else have any opinion on that?--Cory Howell 11:13, 22 October 2009 (EDT)

Your suggestion sounds great to me. "Doctrine" is a term of art that has an overly rigid connotation. Perhaps some other Greek scholars can comment on this here?--Andy Schlafly 11:18, 22 October 2009 (EDT)
While not much of a Greek scholar, I would certainly agree. 'Doctrine' (δόγμα, I think) carries a slightly different meaning in modern English, and 'teaching', while less specific to religion, will generally carry the original intent better, though I don't rule out the possibility that we may find some places in the text where 'doctrine' would be appropriate. JohnFraiser 11:44, 22 October 2009 (EDT)
I wouldn't call myself a Greek "scholar," either, John! (Enthusiast, maybe.) Anyway, the word in Mark 1:27 that the KJV translates as "doctrine" is διδαχή,which equates much better to "teaching" than "doctrine." I suppose "instruction" would be literally correct, too, but I think teaching works better. Δογμα (dogma) is rendered as "law" or "decree" by Strong's, so as you said, would correspond to doctrine, as far as I can tell.--Cory Howell 13:43, 22 October 2009 (EDT)

καθαριζω: "cure" vs. "make clean"

I would lean toward some version of "make clean" for this verb. The issue here is not just health vs. disease, but also ritually clean vs. ritually unclean, according to Torah. "Cleanse" would be okay, if it weren't for the fact that it smacks of advertising lingo for certain cleaning products. I wonder if "make me pure" would get the point across?--Cory Howell 11:35, 22 October 2009 (EDT)

Re: Gender language in 9:17

I'm surprised that the note on 9:17 says that even the KJV indulged in some gender-neutral verbiage. Almost every version of Scripture in the past (including many more conservative versions) has "one" or "someone" from the crowd addressing Jesus. The Greek pronoun there could mean "a man," but it doesn't necessarily have that meaning. Interestingly, the only two translations I found that used "a man" in that passage were the Holman Christian Standard Bible and the New Living Translation. The HCSB is a pretty conservative version, but the NLT is most certainly not (lots of gender neutral language in the NLT!). I'm not convinced that using "one" here is really necessary. Any thoughts from Greek scholars on this passage?--Cory Howell 14:22, 22 October 2009 (EDT)

A "man" is also used here by the NIV, the TNIV, the New Century Version and even The Message. Why emasculate it? There is no reason to think the person was not a man.--Andy Schlafly 18:17, 22 October 2009 (EDT)
I stand corrected. On further reflection, it makes perfect sense that a father would bring his own son to Jesus to be healed, rather than simply delegating such an important mission to his wife. Culturally speaking, I think "man" makes good sense. It's always strange when the KJV, of all translations, goes with the more gender neutral rendering, isn't it? Thanks for convincing to re-evaluate that passage!--Cory Howell 23:39, 22 October 2009 (EDT)
Thanks for being open-minded about it. By the way, the KJV does something else that we will not do: it uses "that" rather than "who" in referencing people. I think the KJV was simply reflecting English usage of its time, which has since improved to recognize that people are not things.--Andy Schlafly 23:56, 22 October 2009 (EDT)

Wine or grape juice in 2:22

No offense here, but what is the basis for the note at 2:22, telling us that wine was really grape juice? The article on Wine here at Conservapedia specifically says that only a very few scholars really believe that wine was unfermented grape juice. Yes, the Book of Proverbs condemns drunkenness, but not wine per se. I know an awful lot of conservatives who do not have a problem with wine in moderation. Plenty of conservative scholars have made the point that wine was a much safer alternative in the first century. And wine is still an important part in the liturgy of many Christian denominations, many of which are by no means liberal. Besides, here in Mark is the only place I've seen in the CBP that is translating οινος as "grape juice." Could we get an official ruling on this one?--Cory Howell 16:32, 22 October 2009 (EDT)

You raise an interesting point. I've been doing research on this, and apparently οινος meant both unfermented and fermented grape juice. I think grape juice was popular inn Roman times, even more so than today. Would grape juice have been more common than wine? The context of this passage would seem to support the more common usage.
Other comments on this are welcome.--Andy Schlafly 00:43, 23 October 2009 (EDT)

I would leave oinos as wine. However, so far as I know, the ancients did not commonly distinguish grape juice from wine. But since pasteurization had not been invented, any grape juice would have been changing into wine very quickly after the grapes were squeezed. Also it is my understanding that commonly the wine was diluted with water when drunk, unless people set out to get drunk. Interestingly enough, oinos is not used of the drink at the Lord's Supper.(Thunkful 01:12, 19 June 2010 (EDT))


Dear Mr. Schlafly,

This book is finished except for final editting. I really think that we should start polishing it and making it the best it can be so that Conservapedia can publish it somehow! Is there a way to give away PDF copies of articles on a wiki encyclopedia? This would be a real testament to the effort we have put into this project. I've learned a lot and I think if we make a strong effort to make the Gospel of Mark perfect it would be an important translation for Christians all over. Please let me know if I can help. - Cameron Cambrian 01:11, 10 November 2009 (EST)

Cambrian, we welcome suggestions about formatting!--Andy Schlafly 10:18, 17 November 2009 (EST)
We could consider going the route of make the books available in plain text, pdf, and (my favourite) e-book format, which allows you to have smart linking of passages, notes, and indices. DouglasA 10:51, 17 November 2009 (EST)
Sounds great. I'm all for it.--Andy Schlafly 10:58, 17 November 2009 (EST)
I've attempted just a trial formatting and conversion of Mark 1, and here's how it looks on my ebook reader (uploaded to imageshack): [2] DouglasA 11:35, 17 November 2009 (EST)
Oh. Well, thanks! However, it's made me realize that we'll have to figure out how we want to do paragraphs. It had never occurred to me in years of reading the Bible that paragraph & section headers are part of the translation/editorial process. DouglasA 13:03, 17 November 2009 (EST)