Mark 10:36 Τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

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MAubrey
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Re: Mark 10:36 Τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

Post by MAubrey » October 6th, 2011, 1:14 am

jonathan.borland wrote:Dear Fellow B-Greekers,

I've read this thread with interest, and also Mike Aubrey's insightful blog posts, but still don't remember seeing any good examples that would negate Güting's statement, that "με ist in den Varianten, die ποιησω haben, ungrammatisch" (Heinrich Greeven, Textkritik des Markusevangeliums [ed. Eberhard W. Güting; Münster: LIT Verlag, 2005], 521). Are we saying (or surmising) that με is an ungrammatical slang that Mark chose to use? It's interesting to see so many conjectures on what the με means in this construction, especially if με ποιησω is, as Greeven reasoned (520), merely a halfhearted correction that betrays that the scribe knew the reading με ποιησαι.

Jonathan C. Borland
Hi Jonathan,

I was originally convinced that Mark 10:36 as represented by the NA27 *was* ungrammatical. However, I have thoroughly changed my mind on the issue. The point of what I've written on my blog was precisely to determine whether or not the construction is acceptable. The fact is that we are dealing with a construction (V+Vsubjunctive) that is incredibly rare in literary texts and probably relatively common place in spoken Greek. The result of this situation is (as I've said in the comments of my most recent blog post on the verse "Textual History and Mark 10:36") where there are probably less than 300 instances of the construction across the literary history of the language. My own searches have been limited to all of the texts available in Perseus' digital library, Philo, the Apostolic Fathers, the LXX, and the Greek OT Pseudepigrapha and I have found less than 50 instances of the V+Vsubjunctive construction with or without an intervening pronoun of any kind. I doubt there are more than a couple hundred instances total in available texts. We do know, however, that θέλω with its modal meaning can take as an object what would normally be the subject of the second clause from other examples. Between Stephen Carlson and myself, we've found some nice parallels from other types of (equally rare) complementation:

Mine:
4 Baruch 3.13 καὶ οὐ θέλω αὐτὸν ἵνα ἴδῃ τὸν ἀφανισμὸν τῆς πόλεως ταύτης
Matthew 27:43 ῥυσάσθω νῦν εἰ θέλει αὐτόν

Stephen's:
Dorotheus of Gaza, Doctrinae 14.155: θέλει ἡμᾶς ἵνα θλίβωμεν αὐτὸν.
Dorotheus, Doctrinae 7.87: ᾔδει γὰρ ὅτι εἰ ἤθελεν αὐτὸν ὁ Θεὸς ἵνα μέλι φάγῃ, καὶ τὸ ὀζόμενον ἔλαιον μετέτρεπεν εἰς μέλι.

The majority of those don't even use θέλω, but instead βούλομαι. The fact that the construction is so rare in literary Greek, combined with the reality that modern scholars have no access to actual speakers is precisely the reason why scholars (even those who know the language quite well) consistently treat it as ungrammatical. They only really know literary Greek and not spoken Greek.

All of that to say, I would consider Greeven's proposal to be a quite good one, *if* it were not for the fact that he assume the appearance of the pronoun is ungrammatical from the get-go. But the με is grammatical. And once we recognize that, there's no reason why the με cannot be original. In that way, the με does the exact opposite of what Greeven suggests: the με is precisely what caused the impetus from the change to the infinitive (which is the more acceptable literary/written form anyway that a scribe would likely want to change it to).

In terms of textual criticism, the problem with this case is that there are too many plausible possibilities. It is entirely possible that Greeven is right--I'm sure when Holmes did the text for the SBLGNT he followed a similar train of thought. But once you recognize that the με is grammatical (and it is), then there's really no way to choosing between Greeven's proposal and the text of the NA27.
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Re: Mark 10:36 Τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

Post by jonathan.borland » October 6th, 2011, 3:24 am

Dear Mike (and Stephen),

Thanks for your research on this. Still what is the syntax of the interrogative pronoun τι, if με is taken as the object of θελετε?

Jonathan C. Borland
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Re: Mark 10:36 Τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

Post by jonathan.borland » October 6th, 2011, 8:22 am

Dear Mike,

Please disregard my last question, since it is really irrelevant to the current problem. Considering the examples you've uncovered, I do think it is no longer reasonable to call the expression in Mark 10:36 as printed in NA27 "ungrammatical," since it appears to have been an acceptable way of communication.
In terms of textual criticism, the problem with this case is that there are too many plausible possibilities.
I agree. At the risk of breaking the board rules against discussion of textual criticism, although this one does involve a matter of grammar and syntax, one ironic result of your findings, however, is that the reading of NA27, if now considered grammatically correct, is actually now not quite as difficult a reading as originally imagined. It might simply be accounted for as the idiomatic preference of an isolated scribe here or there. The expression is certainly not as common, which, all things being equal, would cause it to be preferred. Yet the reading of 30+ manuscripts, τι θελετε ποιησαι υμιν ("What do you want to do for you(rselves)"), which only could have arisen from the accidental dropping of the με from the common reading, is also quite difficult. One way to correct such a reading would be either (1) to reinsert the με before or after ποιησαι (explaining the variation of the placement of με in the manuscript tradition) or (2) to alter the non-finite ποιησαι into a finite 1st person singular verb. The only way to ensure future misconstrual of the expression would be to choose option #2. In such a scenario, preference for the reading of most manuscripts, τι θελετε ποιησαι με υμιν, is increased.

Jonathan C. Borland
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Re: Mark 10:36 Τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

Post by MAubrey » October 6th, 2011, 2:46 pm

jonathan.borland wrote:Thanks for your research on this. Still what is the syntax of the interrogative pronoun τι, if με is taken as the object of θελετε?
It's just a double object construction. Normally the first accusative is then taken as the primary object and the second, the secondary object. Most of the time, such constructions need to be translated with a prepositional phrase for the second one.
jonathan.borland wrote:I agree. At the risk of breaking the board rules against discussion of textual criticism, although this one does involve a matter of grammar and syntax, one ironic result of your findings, however, is that the reading of NA27, if now considered grammatically correct, is actually now not quite as difficult a reading as originally imagined. It might simply be accounted for as the idiomatic preference of an isolated scribe here or there. The expression is certainly not as common, which, all things being equal, would cause it to be preferred. Yet the reading of 30+ manuscripts, τι θελετε ποιησαι υμιν ("What do you want to do for you(rselves)"), which only could have arisen from the accidental dropping of the με from the common reading, is also quite difficult. One way to correct such a reading would be either (1) to reinsert the με before or after ποιησαι (explaining the variation of the placement of με in the manuscript tradition) or (2) to alter the non-finite ποιησαι into a finite 1st person singular verb. The only way to ensure future misconstrual of the expression would be to choose option #2. In such a scenario, preference for the reading of most manuscripts, τι θελετε ποιησαι με υμιν, is increased.
I'm not sure if things are as simple as that--and don't worry, I can bring things back to syntax in my response. One of the problems is that when we're talking about the grammaticality of the construction, there's a definite shift in the numbers from the Hellenistic-Roman period to the early Byzantine period. While the raising of the subject into the main clause continues to be acceptable (as we see with the ἵνα examples) the bare V+Vsubjunctive construction disappears and eventually θέλω and ἵνα replace the infinitive entirely and are reduced to θα in Late Medieval and Modern Greek. The question is: When did V+Vsubjunctive become ungrammatical and where did that happen first? All language change happens at different rates in different areas, so there are always going to be some places where V+Vsubjunctive became unacceptable sooner than other places. In Egypt we know it didn't start to happen until around the fourth and fifth centuries (according to Markopoulos' book that I refer to my blog post). If any copies of the text were completed in areas where the change had already occurred, then the reading immediately becomes the most difficult reading because now the text *is* ungrammatical for the scribe doing the copying and they would view the με as suggesting that an infinitive is what the author meant.

But again, I really don't have any idea of what the original text should be. I don't see a good way of choosing one option over against another. My point is that the grammaticality of με doesn't really change the situation simply because the language was in flux (as all language is all the time) and even if it was grammatical in the 1st century, there is no way of knowing when it became ungrammatical in the following centuries--just that it did become ungrammatical at some point. And then even if that change was slower than the evidence suggests, there is also the issue of a scribe potentially "improving" the text because both V+Vsubjunctive combined with the με is quite clearly a lower register construction to begin with.

There's just too much going on to decide.
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Re: Mark 10:36 Τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν;

Post by Stephen Carlson » July 4th, 2019, 8:17 pm

For the V + V.subj construction, I would like to add Mark 14:12 ποῦ θέλεις ἀπελθόντες ἑτοιμάσωμεν ἵνα φάγῃς τὸ πάσχα;
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