Sunday, January 7, 2024

Mark's "Cruder" Style

Scholars often talk about Mark's "cruder" language and style when compared to either Matthew or Luke. Hence, they argue, Mark must have preceded both of those Gospels. As someone who has taught the Gospel of Mark in Greek many times, I can assure you that Mark's Greek is neither simple nor crude. Here's an example from Mark 5, which I was reading in my morning Bible study. 

It's a string of participles found in Mark's account about the woman with the issue of blood (5:25-27): 

This reads, literally (participles in italics):

"And a woman, being with a flow of blood for twelve years, and having suffered many things under many physicians, and having spent all that she had, and having profited nothing, but rather having come to the worse, having heard about Jesus, having come in the multitude behind, TOUCHED his garment." 

Matthew and Luke have greatly simplified the syntax at this point.

The upshot? Be very careful about drawing conclusions about the Synoptic Problem from supposed differences between Mark's style and that of Matthew and Luke. 

(Go here if you're a glutton for punishment and want more.)