Word Order Puzzle in Mark 6

Stephen Carlson
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Word Order Puzzle in Mark 6

Post by Stephen Carlson » March 21st, 2016, 5:18 pm

There are two sentences in Mark 6 that differ over the placement of a personal pronoun.
Mark 6:7 wrote:και ἤρξατο αύτοὺς ἀποστέλλειν δύο δύο
Mark 6:34 wrote:και ἤρξατο διδάσκειν αύτοὺς πολλά
For those of you who have a theory of Greek word order, what do you think accounts for the differing placements of αὐτούς relative to the ἤρξατο + infinitive construction?
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Re: Word Order Puzzle in Mark 6

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » March 21st, 2016, 7:29 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:There are two sentences in Mark 6 that differ over the placement of a personal pronoun.
Mark 6:7 wrote:και ἤρξατο αύτοὺς ἀποστέλλειν δύο δύο
Mark 6:34 wrote:και ἤρξατο διδάσκειν αύτοὺς πολλά
For those of you who have a theory of Greek word order, what do you think accounts for the differing placements of αὐτούς relative to the ἤρξατο + infinitive construction?
I suspect that everyone who has read a fair amount of Greek has a theory of word order, whether articulated or not. It is hard to keep the brain from assembling some theory about oft-seen patterns.

In Mark 6:7 it feels (sic) to me that the who and especially the how of sending are being set forth for notice. Separating αύτοὺς and δύο δύο with the infinitive, and placing the object in front of the infinitive causes me to take note of the HOW especially.

For Mark 6:34, αύτοὺς πολλά is in the minor key. διδάσκειν is the thing.
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Re: Word Order Puzzle in Mark 6

Post by Stephen Carlson » March 21st, 2016, 7:32 pm

I should add that Mark usually places the pronoun after the infinitive in this construction, so it is Mark 6:7 that has the unusual usage.
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Re: Word Order Puzzle in Mark 6

Post by MAubrey » March 22nd, 2016, 12:07 am

Sentence accent position: on the indicative verb vs. on the infinitive verb.

(also: what's normal vs. what's unusual shouldn't necessarily be based on statistics)
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Re: Word Order Puzzle in Mark 6

Post by Stephen Carlson » March 22nd, 2016, 1:49 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:There are two sentences in Mark 6 that differ over the placement of a personal pronoun.
Mark 6:7 wrote:και ἤρξατο αύτοὺς ἀποστέλλειν δύο δύο
Mark 6:34 wrote:και ἤρξατο διδάσκειν αύτοὺς πολλά
For those of you who have a theory of Greek word order, what do you think accounts for the differing placements of αὐτούς relative to the ἤρξατο + infinitive construction?
MAubrey wrote:Sentence accent position: on the indicative verb vs. on the infinitive verb.
Ok, let's elaborate this. What would it mean for the sentence accent to be on ἤρξατο for Mark 6:7 in context? Heck, it's hard to see why Mark said ἤρξατο in the first place, much less that it would bear the sentence accent over the more obvious (?) ἀποστέλλειν.
MAubrey wrote:(also: what's normal vs. what's unusual shouldn't necessarily be based on statistics)
That's exactly why I didn't say "normal" (or "default" or "unmarked"). (I'm not aware of a non-frequentist meaning of "usual," however.)
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Re: Word Order Puzzle in Mark 6

Post by Stephen Carlson » March 22nd, 2016, 1:55 am

Thomas Dolhanty wrote:I suspect that everyone who has read a fair amount of Greek has a theory of word order, whether articulated or not. It is hard to keep the brain from assembling some theory about oft-seen patterns.
Right-o.
Thomas Dolhanty wrote:In Mark 6:7 it feels (sic) to me that the who and especially the how of sending are being set forth for notice. Separating αύτοὺς and δύο δύο with the infinitive, and placing the object in front of the infinitive causes me to take note of the HOW especially.
I considered emphasis on the δύο δύο, but if this fact was particularly important, it's odd that the following context doesn't do much of anything with it. This is the sending out of the twelve; wouldn't ἀποστέλλειν be the most important? I guess I should check my commentaries.
Thomas Dolhanty wrote:For Mark 6:34, αύτοὺς πολλά is in the minor key. διδάσκειν is the thing.
Right. Mark doesn't give the content of the many things that Jesus taught. It just seems to characterize his act of teaching.
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Re: Word Order Puzzle in Mark 6

Post by Stephen Carlson » March 22nd, 2016, 2:21 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:I guess I should check my commentaries.
Well, Robert Gundry, who likes expounding this kind of detail, completely ignores the ἤρξατο in 6:7 and talks about the significance of ἀποστέλλειν and δύο δύο instead. That's a little disappointing.

Joel Marcus, on the other hand, distinguishes 6:7 from the 25 other instances of Mark's beloved construction with ἄρχομαι + inf., on the grounds that
Markus 1999:383 wrote:there is a sense in which it describes the 'beginning' of an activity that will continue after the resurrection ... In favor of this interpretation is the verbal link between 6:7 and 3:14-15, where the Twelve were chosen to preach and cast out demons but did not yet take up these offices. Now, however, the moment has arrived for them to begin doing so (cf. Reploh, Lehrer, 54).
So Marcus actually has a reading where it is plausible for the emphasis in 6:7 to be on ἤρξατο.
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Re: Word Order Puzzle in Mark 6

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » March 22nd, 2016, 10:46 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:I considered emphasis on the δύο δύο, but if this fact was particularly important, it's odd that the following context doesn't do much of anything with it. This is the sending out of the twelve; wouldn't ἀποστέλλειν be the most important? I guess I should check my commentaries.
Perhaps the answer lies in the freight that δύο δύο carries in the Greek Bible. This distinctive term carries its own context in LXX/GNT. Wouldn't many in Mark's audience, on hearing this phrase, make the connection between the 'gathering' of Genesis and the 'sending' here? If that's the case, then highlighting δύο δύο does, in fact, mark ἀποστέλλειν also.
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Re: Word Order Puzzle in Mark 6

Post by Stephen Hughes » March 22nd, 2016, 2:58 pm

Stephen Carlson wrote:There are two sentences in Mark 6 that differ over the placement of a personal pronoun.
Mark 6:7 wrote:και ἤρξατο αύτοὺς ἀποστέλλειν δύο δύο
Mark 6:34 wrote:και ἤρξατο διδάσκειν αύτοὺς πολλά
For those of you who have a theory of Greek word order, what do you think accounts for the differing placements of αὐτούς relative to the ἤρξατο + infinitive construction?
Perhaps it's because in the first case αύτοὺς has something to relate to, and the second it is alone. "It began that (he) sent them in two", with the αύτοὺς and the δύο δύο relate to each other and are balanced over the verb, vs. "It began that (he) taught them many things", where they is the odd man out serving as the balance and διδάσκειν relates to the πολλά. The subject "he" in both cases arising from the misconstruing of the impersonal, so therefore not felt needed to be stated.
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Re: Word Order Puzzle in Mark 6

Post by Stephen Carlson » March 23rd, 2016, 1:21 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:There are two sentences in Mark 6 that differ over the placement of a personal pronoun.
Mark 6:7 wrote:και ἤρξατο αύτοὺς ἀποστέλλειν δύο δύο
Mark 6:34 wrote:και ἤρξατο διδάσκειν αύτοὺς πολλά
For those of you who have a theory of Greek word order, what do you think accounts for the differing placements of αὐτούς relative to the ἤρξατο + infinitive construction?
Perhaps it's because in the first case αύτοὺς has something to relate to, and the second it is alone. "It began that (he) sent them in two", with the αύτοὺς and the δύο δύο relate to each other and are balanced over the verb, vs. "It began that (he) taught them many things", where they is the odd man out serving as the balance and διδάσκειν relates to the πολλά. The subject "he" in both cases arising from the misconstruing of the impersonal, so therefore not felt needed to be stated.
I dunno. If αὐτούς relates to δύο δύο, why should it be separated?
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