Matthew 21.3; Mark 11.3

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thomas.hagen
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Joined: August 14th, 2012, 4:22 pm
Location: Livorno, Italy

Matthew 21.3; Mark 11.3

Post by thomas.hagen » March 30th, 2016, 6:23 am

I would like to ask a question about Matthew 21.3:
καὶ ἐάν τις ὑμῖν εἴπῃ τι, ἐρεῖτε ὅτι Ὁ κύριος αὐτῶν χρείαν ἔχει· εὐθὺς δὲ ἀποστελεῖ αὐτούς.

and Mark 11.3:
καὶ ἐάν τις ὑμῖν εἴπῃ Τί ποιεῖτε τοῦτο; εἴπατε Ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ χρείαν ἔχει, καὶ εὐθὺς αὐτὸν ἀποστέλλει πάλιν ὧδε.

I am particulary interested in the second part of the verses:
Mattew: εὐθὺς δὲ ἀποστελεῖ αὐτούς
Mark: καὶ εὐθὺς αὐτὸν ἀποστέλλει πάλιν ὧδε

These verses are translated variously in today’s modern versions. Most translations render Matthew in such a way that the words are directed to the two disciples to assure them that they will have no difficulty in getting the colt and bringing it to Jesus.

The words in Mark, however, are rendered by a number of translations in such a way that they are addressed to the bystanders to assure them that the colt will be returned without much delay. Other translations of Mark leave the wording rather vague so it could go either way.

Finally, there are a few translations in which the words in both Matthew and Mark are clearly addressed either to the disciples or to the bystanders.

Are the texts so ambiguous or are there elements which would justify making the distinction which many translations seem to make: in Matthew the words are addressed to the disciples and in Mark to the bystanders? (For example, the presence in Mark of “πάλιν” and “ὧδε” might seem to favor this distinction or indicate that this was the original meaning. [It is clear that Matthew has altered at least some of the facts – two animals – to suit his purpose.])

Thank you for any clarification you can give me –
Thomas Hagen
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cwconrad
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Re: Matthew 21.3; Mark 11.3

Post by cwconrad » March 30th, 2016, 9:04 am

thomas.hagen wrote:I would like to ask a question about Matthew 21.3:
καὶ ἐάν τις ὑμῖν εἴπῃ τι, ἐρεῖτε ὅτι Ὁ κύριος αὐτῶν χρείαν ἔχει· εὐθὺς δὲ ἀποστελεῖ αὐτούς.

and Mark 11.3:
καὶ ἐάν τις ὑμῖν εἴπῃ Τί ποιεῖτε τοῦτο; εἴπατε Ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ χρείαν ἔχει, καὶ εὐθὺς αὐτὸν ἀποστέλλει πάλιν ὧδε.

I am particulary interested in the second part of the verses:
Mattew: εὐθὺς δὲ ἀποστελεῖ αὐτούς
Mark: καὶ εὐθὺς αὐτὸν ἀποστέλλει πάλιν ὧδε

These verses are translated variously in today’s modern versions. Most translations render Matthew in such a way that the words are directed to the two disciples to assure them that they will have no difficulty in getting the colt and bringing it to Jesus.

The words in Mark, however, are rendered by a number of translations in such a way that they are addressed to the bystanders to assure them that the colt will be returned without much delay. Other translations of Mark leave the wording rather vague so it could go either way.

Finally, there are a few translations in which the words in both Matthew and Mark are clearly addressed either to the disciples or to the bystanders.

Are the texts so ambiguous or are there elements which would justify making the distinction which many translations seem to make: in Matthew the words are addressed to the disciples and in Mark to the bystanders? (For example, the presence in Mark of “πάλιν” and “ὧδε” might seem to favor this distinction or indicate that this was the original meaning. [It is clear that Matthew has altered at least some of the facts – two animals – to suit his purpose.])

Thank you for any clarification you can give me –
Thomas Hagen
Let me reiterate the question:
Are the texts so ambiguous or are there elements which would justify making the distinction which many translations seem to make: in Matthew the words are addressed to the disciples and in Mark to the bystanders?
My answer is a strong "Yes!" I might add a note here: sometimes people are told that they should learn Greek in order to get a clearer idea of what the original Greek (or Hebrew) text is saying. The fact is, however, that the ambiguity that you note in the versions more often than not results not from the ignorance or linguistic inadequacy of the translators but from the ambiguity resident in the original text. The translator commonly feels obliged to dispose of the ambiguity of the originality in the version, but that's a dangerous process; the more honest translators who recognize the ambiguity, will indicate the ambiguity in a footnote (NET does this very nicely).

In this instance we're not really told whether the clauses headed by εὐθύς are addressed to the two errand-boys or to the whole group; the translators have taken their choice of else have left the ambiguity of the Greek text in their English version. The future tense of Matthew's ἀποστελεῖ doesn't mean that Mark's ἀποστέλλει wasn't intended to imply futurity, since the present tense can be used idiomatically that way.

In sum, it seems to me that both translators and readers are somewhat disgruntled when the text isn't clear about the author's intent. It's not really a matter of the translators wanting to "improve" on the original; what they want to do is indicate what they -- the translators -- think that the original author really intended. It should not surprise us that the translators frequently come to different conclusions about the author's original intention.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Wes Wood
Posts: 692
Joined: September 20th, 2013, 8:18 pm

Re: Matthew 21.3; Mark 11.3

Post by Wes Wood » March 30th, 2016, 9:13 am

One thing that I would to Carl's post is that it appears that the NET bible doesn't footnote this issue. This happens so infrequently that each time it does I am a little surprised by it.
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Ἀσπάζομαι μὲν καὶ φιλῶ, πείσομαι δὲ μᾶλλον τῷ θεῷ ἢ ὑμῖν.-Ἀπολογία Σωκράτους 29δ

Stirling Bartholomew
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Joined: August 9th, 2012, 4:19 pm

Re: Matthew 21.3; Mark 11.3

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » March 30th, 2016, 4:09 pm

Agree with almost everything Carl said. Matthew and Mark are generally lucid enough, but they were working with sources and sometimes the sources were not clear or the incorporation of the source into the gospel left some roughness at the edges. Paul on the other hand is full of exegetical difficulties. Been working in 2Cor for several months with lots of recent exegetical tomes from various univ. libraries. Went back to the gospels for "holy week" what a relief after 2Cor.

There are different translation goals for different projects. This is somewhat related to target audience and intended use. The NASB 1970 vintage was an exegetical bible used in seminary biblical literature classes. You could see a lot of the exegetical problems in the english version. The New Living bible had different goals and a different intended audience. I was surprised to discover how good a translation the New Living was since I thought it was something like old Living. Iver Larson set me straight on this issue.
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C. Stirling Bartholomew

thomas.hagen
Posts: 24
Joined: August 14th, 2012, 4:22 pm
Location: Livorno, Italy

Re: Matthew 21.3; Mark 11.3

Post by thomas.hagen » April 2nd, 2016, 3:11 am

Thank you all very much for your comments. You have made it clear that doctrinal castles cannot be built on the presence or absence of a comma or on whether "kai" is translated "and" or "but"!

Thomas Hagen
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