Meaning of ἐπιβαλὼν in Mk. 14:72

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Meaning of ἐπιβαλὼν in Mk. 14:72

Postby Jeremy Spencer » March 21st, 2013, 4:24 pm

I was wondering about the meaning of the aorist participle ἐπιβαλὼν in Mark 14:72. In context, Peter has just heard a rooster crow a second time. The relevant text is:

καὶ ἀνεμνήσθη ὁ Πέτρος τὸ ῥῆμα ὡς εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι Πρὶν ἀλέκτορα φωνῆσαι δὶς τρίς με ἀπαρνήσῃ· καὶ ἐπιβαλὼν ἔκλαιεν.

My question has to do with how B-Greek folks might understand the meaning of ἐπιβαλὼν here. Lexical resources at my disposal are divided on this point. Souter and House (Compact Greek-English Lexicon, p. 67) have "he set to and wept." So Peter started to cry. Moulton and Milligan (The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament, p. 235) also suggest "set to" for the participle, but their example from a papyrus text, namely, "[he] set to and damned up the part of the water-course in question" sounds more like throwing oneself into a project than what Peter does here in Mark 14:72. The second possible meaning, according to my lexical resources, has to do with Peter's thinking or pondering on Jesus' words. So Mounce (Analytical Lexicon, p. 203) has "ponder, reflect" for the meaning here, and the BAGD (2nd ed.) acknowledges the difficulty and the first possible meaning and then suggests "when he reflected upon it" (p. 290). Before that, the venerable Thayer suggested something like when he "considered" it (p. 236). If this is the meaning, then is the intent to reinforce the anguished remembering [ἀνεμνήσθη] that Peter has been doing? Newman suggests "he broke down" and cried (Greek English Dictionary, p. 68).

I am wondering what meaning might be suggested in the 3rd edition of BAGD; if someone has it and can check--I don't have a copy--I'd be appreciative.
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Re: Meaning of ἐπιβαλὼν in Mk. 14:72

Postby Louis L Sorenson » March 21st, 2013, 8:50 pm

ⓑ The mng. of καὶ ἐπιβαλὼν ἔκλαιεν Mk 14:72 is in doubt. Theophylact. offers a choice betw. ἐπικαλυψάμενος τ. κεφαλήν (so ASchlatter, Zürcher Bibel ’31; Field, Notes 41–43; but in that case τὸ ἱμάτιον could scarcely be omitted) and ἀρξάμενος, which latter sense is supported by the v.l. ἤρξατο κλαίειν and can mean begin (PTebt 50, 12 [112/111 B.C.] ἐπιβαλὼν συνέχωσεν=‘he set to and dammed up’ [Mlt. 131f]; Diogen. Cyn. in Diog. L. 6, 27 ἐπέβαλε τερετίζειν). The transl. would then be and he began to weep (EKlostermann; OHoltzmann; JSchniewind; CCD; s. also B-D-F §308). Others (BWeiss; HHoltzmann; 20th Cent.; Weymouth; L-S-J-M) proceed fr. the expressions ἐ. τὸν νοῦν or τὴν διάνοιαν (Diod S 20, 43, 6) and fr. the fact that ἐ. by itself, used w. the dat., can mean think of (M. Ant. 10, 30; Plut., Cic. 862 [4, 4]; Ath. 7, 1 ‘deal with a problem’), to the mng. and he thought of it, or when he reflected on it., viz. Jesus’ prophecy. Wlh. ad loc. has urged against this view that it is made unnecessary by the preceding ἀνεμνήσθη κτλ. Least probable of all is the equation of ἐπιβαλών with ἀποκριθείς (HEwald) on the basis of Polyb. 1, 80, 1; 22, 3, 8; Diod S 13, 28, 5 ἐπιβαλὼν ἔφη. Both REB (‘he burst into tears’) and NRSV (‘he broke down and wept’) capture the sense. Prob. Mk intends the reader to understand a wild gesture connected with lamentation (s. EdeMartino, Morte e pianto rituale nel mondo antico, ’58, esp. 195–235).

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.) (367–368). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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Re: Meaning of ἐπιβαλὼν in Mk. 14:72

Postby Louis L Sorenson » March 21st, 2013, 9:01 pm

ⓑ The mng. of καὶ ἐπιβαλὼν ἔκλαιεν Mk 14:72 is in doubt. Theophylact. offers a choice betw. ἐπικαλυψάμενος τ. κεφαλήν (so ASchlatter, Zürcher Bibel ’31; Field, Notes 41–43; but in that case τὸ ἱμάτιον could scarcely be omitted) and ἀρξάμενος, which latter sense is supported by the v.l. ἤρξατο κλαίειν and can mean begin (PTebt 50, 12 [112/111 B.C.] ἐπιβαλὼν συνέχωσεν=‘he set to and dammed up’ [Mlt. 131f]; Diogen. Cyn. in Diog. L. 6, 27 ἐπέβαλε τερετίζειν). The transl. would then be and he began to weep (EKlostermann; OHoltzmann; JSchniewind; CCD; s. also B-D-F §308). Others (BWeiss; HHoltzmann; 20th Cent.; Weymouth; L-S-J-M) proceed fr. the expressions ἐ. τὸν νοῦν or τὴν διάνοιαν (Diod S 20, 43, 6) and fr. the fact that ἐ. by itself, used w. the dat., can mean think of (M. Ant. 10, 30; Plut., Cic. 862 [4, 4]; Ath. 7, 1 ‘deal with a problem’), to the mng. and he thought of it, or when he reflected on it., viz. Jesus’ prophecy. Wlh. ad loc. has urged against this view that it is made unnecessary by the preceding ἀνεμνήσθη κτλ. Least probable of all is the equation of ἐπιβαλών with ἀποκριθείς (HEwald) on the basis of Polyb. 1, 80, 1; 22, 3, 8; Diod S 13, 28, 5 ἐπιβαλὼν ἔφη. Both REB (‘he burst into tears’) and NRSV (‘he broke down and wept’) capture the sense. Prob. Mk intends the reader to understand a wild gesture connected with lamentation (s. EdeMartino, Morte e pianto rituale nel mondo antico, ’58, esp. 195–235).


Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.) (367–368). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

cf. Debrunner §308. Cranfield in his commentary on Mark says
"many different interpretations have been suggested: 'when he thought thereon'; 'covering his head'; 'drawing his cloak about his face'; 'dashing out'; 'throwing himself on the ground'; 'set to and'; The last which is Moulton's suggestion is perhaps the most probable and is accepted by DeBrunner.
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Re: Meaning of ἐπιβαλὼν in Mk. 14:72

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 22nd, 2013, 7:02 am

The Vulgate also takes the phrase as inceptive, Et cœpit flere. My sense is that ἐπιβαλών is a somewhat more expressive and perhaps colloquial way of saying ἀρξάμενος. "And he burst out bawling" would be a nice translation that gives the inceptive feel.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
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Re: Meaning of ἐπιβαλὼν in Mk. 14:72

Postby Jeremy Spencer » March 22nd, 2013, 11:10 am

Thanks for your responses; they're all helpful. I've been reflecting further on the inceptive sense as given in papyrus cited by Moulton & Milligan, namely the phrase, ἐπιβαλὼν συνέχωσεν, and it seems to me that the sense would have been that of "throwing oneself into" a project--you know, with the enthusiastic energy one often has at the beginning of a new effort. Applied to Mark 14:72, the participle ἐπιβαλὼν in ἐπιβαλὼν ἔκλαιεν would give us the sense that Peter, in anguish, "threw himself into" the crying, which then went on for some time.
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