The Earliest Gospel by Frederick C. Grant
Frederick C. Grant was Edwin Robinson Professor Emeritus of Biblical Theology at Union Theological Seminary, New York, and President of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, Evanstaon Ill. He was a member of the Revision Committee for the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Published by Abingdon Press, New York and Nashville, 1943. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.
Chapter 5: Was Mark Written in Aramaic?
There can be little doubt, at present, that the Gospel tradition arose in a Semitic milieu. Jesus himself spoke Aramaic; his Bible was the Hebrew scriptures, our Old Testament, whether he read it -- or heard it read -- in Hebrew or in a running translation later known as the Targum; his teaching presupposed a familiarity with the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, with the current synagogue liturgy, based very largely on scripture, and also with the traditional interpretation of scripture set forth by the scribes; he always took for granted the religion of his people, Judaism, the highest religion in the world of his time. Moreover, Jesus’ disciples were all Aramaic-speaking Jews, and the tradition as they and others handed it down was doubtless in that tongue -- as we have noted, the various surviving tags of Aramaic, such as Abba, effathá, talithá kumi, clearly indicate this. The gospel tradition was originally Aramaic, though translated from time to time, and probably from a fairly early date, into Greek. As we have also seen, some of the parallel sayings in the Gospels presuppose a common Greek original, suggesting a single translation, while others presuppose an original farther back, suggesting diversity of translation and transmission.
At first glance it might seem most probable that the Gospels themselves were composed or compiled in Aramaic, and then later turned into Greek either by one or by more than one translator. This would account for the outstanding phenomenon of interrelation between the Synoptics -- namely their peculiar combination of agreement and divergence -- especially if the translator of a later Gospel, say Matthew or Luke, glanced occasionally either at "Aramaic Mark" or "Greek Mark" as he proceeded. There are surely enough variables in this theory to account for almost any amount of divergence or agreement! But it is a very complicated theory -- and the ancient rule of logic still holds good. "Hypotheses are not to be multiplied beyond what is necessary."(The rule of "economy": Hypotheses non multiplicandi praeter necessitatem ) A much simpler explanation of the Aramaic element in the Gospels, and of their combined agreement and disagreement, lies ready at hand, namely that the oral tradition which circulated for some time in Aramaic was translated piecemeal and "as anyone was able," to use Papias’ phrase, and finally came to be gathered together in the Greek writings which we know as Gospels. We owe a great debt to Professor Torrey and other "Aramaicists" for emphasizing and, to some degree, reconstructing the Aramaic original of these traditions; but I think the theory of Aramaic Gospels goes much too far.
Some of the evidence adduced for the existence of Aramaic Gospels is very questionable. For example, a passage in Tosephta Yadaim has been interpreted as evidence of the existence of Christian Gospels in Aramaic before the fall of Jerusalem, before AD. 70. The passage reads: "The rolls [if this is what ha-gilyônim means] and books of the Minim do not defile the hands." As explained by the "Aramaicists." the term gillayôn was derived from cuaggelion, and clearly refers to the Christian Gospels; and the term Minim ("apostates") means the Christians.(Charles C. Torrey, Documents of the Primitive Church (1942), chap. iii, "Aramaic Gospels in the Synagogue." ) But, to begin with, it is most strange that a term which was not used in Greek to describe our Gospels until towards the middle of the second century (See Justin Martyr, Apol. I, 66 -- written c, 150, and implying that the name was already known and used.) should have been borrowed from the Greek, given a Semitic transliteration -- not a very close transliteration! -- and been commonly used in the fifties or sixties of the first century in Palestine! True, there are references to the Christian Gospels in the later rabbinic tradition, after the Greek Gospels had come to be known by that name, and as a result of contact and conflict between church and synagogue in the second, third, and fourth centuries -- for example in Bab. Sabbath 116a. But this is not the same thing as gilyônim in the passage in the Tosephta. The term used is a derisive pun, ‘Awen-gillayôn or ‘Awon-gillayôn -- a worthless book margin (?) or a book margin(?) of iniquity. In fact, the passage in Tosephta probably does not refer to Gospels at all, or even to books, but means simply this: "The gilyônim," that is, the margins, end pages, or blank columns, "in the sacred rolls belonging to the heretics do not defile the hands," that is, are not sacred -- even though they contain sacred texts. Only the inspired text itself is sacred. If gillayôn had meant "gospel" -- that is, a Christian book -- I cannot see how there could have been any possibility of the later play on words in ‘Awen- or ‘Awon-gillayôn.(See R. Travers Herford, Christianity in Talmud and Midrash (1903), p.155. The singular is of course gillayôn, as in the Old Testament; gilyôn means a turbani Meanwhile, the word for roll, or scroll, is megillah, also as in biblical Hebrew.)
The full passage of Tosephta Yadaim 2:13 reads, "The book margins and the books of the Minim [apostates] do not defile the hands. The books of Ben Sira [our Ecclesiasticus], and all the books which were written from that time on, do not defile the hands." It would be most extraordinary if, in this statement, the Christian Gospels were first described as excluded from the canon, and then the exclusion of Sirach and the Apocrypha were added! Whatever "the book margins of the Minim" may mean, here and in the similar passage m Tosephta Sabbath 13:5 where the phrase occurs, it simply cannot mean the Christian Gospels. Nor does "Minim" mean Christians, I believe, either here or in the Shemoneh Esreh or elsewhere in ancient Jewish literature or tradition where the term is used.(See Israel Abrahams, Companion to the Authorized Daily Prayer Book (rev. ed., 1922), pp. lxiv-lxv, and refs. given there.) Can anyone suppose that the Minim of the Talmud, with their wrongly patterned and wrongly worn tephillin, their strange speculations about the "two powers," and their peculiar formulas of greeting (Hermann L. Strack, Jesus, die Hãretiker, und die Christen (1910), pp. 48*, 63*. Cf. Ber. 9:5 (the name of God used in greeting), R. ha-Sh. 2:1-2 (new moon observed at the wrong date), Meg. 4:8 (tephillin worn the wrong way), Sanh. 4:5 (the two "powers"), etc.) were Jewish Christians? Surely these were not the peculiar or -- from the orthodox Jewish point of view -- the dangerous features of Christianity! Nor can the denial of the resurrection and of the inspiration of the Old Testament (Sanh. 10:1) be attributed to Christianity! The "Minim" were more probably Jewish Gnostics.
The passage in Tosephta Yadaim should certainly be taken in connection with the corresponding statements in Mishnah Yadaim, which it supplements. We read there:
3:4 The blank spaces in a scroll [of the scriptures] (gillayôn shebasêpher) that are above [the writing] and that are below, and that are at the beginning and at the end, render the hands unclean.
3:5 All the Holy Scriptures render the hands unclean. The Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes render the hands unclean.
4:5 The [Aramaic] version that is in Ezra and Daniel B renders the hands unclean. . . . [The Holy Scriptures] render the hands unclean only if they are written in the Assyrian character, on leather, and in ink.(Tr. Canon Danby, pp. 2:4-6:28.
It is obvious that the references in the Tosephta to "book margins and books of the apostates" and to the writings of Ben Sira and those who came later supplement what the Mishnah had to say about "book margins" in copies of the sacred scriptures, about Canticles and Koheleth and the Aramaic sections of Ezra and Daniel. Would anyone suggest translating Mishnah Yadaim to read: "The Gospel in a scroll, above and below, at beginning and end, renders the hands unclean," that is, is sacred? This seems to me the very reductio ad absurdum of the hypothesis that gillayôn means "Gospel"!
Nevertheless, I would not be counted among those who entirely reject the views or the evidence adduced by the Aramaic school. Torrey’s views, for example, are frequently condemned -- or approved! -- en bloc, without a careful weighing of the evidence. If anyone will take the time to go through his notes in detail, he will be richly rewarded.(The Four Gospels (1933), Notes on the New Readings, pp. 289 ff.; Our Translated Gospels (1936). They are the best thing of this kind we have had since Dalman, Merx, and Wellhausen. Unfortunately, the Greek text from which Torrey sets out is almost always that of Westcott and Hort, that is, the manuscripts Aleph and B. On the other hand, Wellhausen always kept his eye on "Cantabrigiensis," that is, Codex D, and the Western text generally. There is little doubt, nowadays, that Westcott and Hort held too tenaciously to their hypothesis of a "Neutral" text. As Professor Lake pointed out in his essay in the Bacon-Porter memorial volume, Studies in Early Christianity (1928), it is the growing conviction of New Testament textual critics that the Western text deserves far more consideration than Westcott and Hort accorded it. For the plain truth is, the canons of textual criticism are not so few or so simple as they have sometimes been represented: "Prefer the shorter reading -- since copyists always expand a text"; "Prefer the harder reading -- their tendency is to smooth out and make easier the text they read"; "In parallel passages and in quotations, prefer the independent or divergent reading -- since copyists tend to harmonize." All these rules are good within proper limits, but they must be applied with great care. Copyists do not always expand their texts, nor do they always harmonize, assimilate, or complete, nor do they always smooth out or simplify the hard readings. The tendency to do so was probably more general after the third century than it was before. Moreover, in the case of Mark, which was a less popular Gospel than Matthew, and probably had fewer copies made during its first century of existence than either Matthew or Luke, we must be constantly on the watch for variant readings that escaped the later process of stereotyping. At the same time, other tests are applicable, chiefly one which has never been adequately recognized, namely that of author’s style. It may be thought that form criticism puts an end to such a test, the separate units in the tradition having been translated by different persons, each of them writing-or speaking -- in a different style. But this is not a full account of the situation. For after all the compilers or editors of the Gospels do have each a distinctive style, which has been impressed upon the tradition; anyone can see this for himself by consulting a Greek harmony or synopsis, or by examining Hawkins’ tables in Horae Synopticae.(Second Edition, 1909.) And if the choice lies among three variants, say, of which one is demonstrably in the style of the evangelist whose text is under consideration, there can be little doubt that this is the one to be preferred. Finally, in a group of variants, that reading must be preferred which explains the others -- whatever manuscript contains it, and whichever bough of the genealogical tree supports it. All our manuscripts have "mixed" texts; and a good early reading may, and often does, survive in a "late" manuscript or family; for the copyist, in this case, may quite conceivably have made use -- either visually or by memory-of a very early exemplar.(See my "Studies in the Text of St. Mark," Anglican Theological Review, 20:103 ff.)
I have thought it necessary to mention these principles of textual criticism, in discussing the re-translation of the Gospels into Aramaic, for the reason that many of the difficulties with the present Greek text can be solved -- and should be solved -- on the basis of existing manuscript evidence, and even, in some cases, of warrantable conjecture, as to the original Greek readings, before appeal is taken to a purely hypothetical Aramaic original. Only when the case appears hopeless, on the Greek basis, should change of venue to another court be sought. Some -- indeed many -- of the re-translations into Aramaic are unnecessary, if the variant readings in the Greek manuscripts and in the early versions are taken into account. The text of Westcott and Hort is now more than sixty years old. Several ancient and most important manuscripts have turned up during this interval -- the Washington, the Koridethi, the Sinaitic Syriac, the Michigan-Chester Beatty and other papyri -- and new editions of texts have appeared, such as those of the Old Latin and the Egyptian versions, or Sanday and Turner’s reconstruction of the New Testament text of Irenaeus, also new editions of the Greek, Latin, and Syriac church fathers -- all this has taken place since 1881. We now recognize, for example, that a combination of Codex D, the Itala, and the Sinaitic Syriac is in some passages equally deserving of consideration along with Aleph and B. Professor Torrey’s hypothesis that D etc. reflect the influence of a corrective Aramaic tradition -- a view that would have attracted Bishop Chase! (See Frederic Henry Chase, The Old Syriac Element in the Text of Codex Bezae (1893), The Syro-Latin Text of the Gospels (1895). -- is probably unnecessary except upon the assumption of the existence of a "Neutral" text. Instead of D etc. being influenced by Aramaic, they are nearer, at some points, to the Aramaic of the original tradition just because they are nearer to the readings of the autographs, beneath which at many points lay this Aramaic oral tradition. At the same time, Aramaic re-translation of doubtful readings may quite conceivably be of real help in choosing which is the more probable original reading.
Nevertheless, after all due consideration has been given to the apparatus of variant readings in our Greek Testament, it still remains true that the chief content of the Gospels is not Greek in origin, but Semitic. In spite of the exaggerations of earlier scholars, who spoke of biblical Greek as "the language of the Holy Ghost," a peculiar Jewish-Greek tongue not known outside the Bible, and in spite of the reaction against this absurd exaggeration, it is becoming generally recognized today that there is really something unique about the language of the New Testament, and especially of the Synoptic Gospels -- something not to be explained wholly by the parallels found in the Egyptian papyri.
The New Testament documents were, no doubt, written in a language intelligible to the generality of Greek-speaking people; yet to suppose that they emerged from the background of Greek thought and experience would be to misunderstand them completely. There is a strange and awkward element in the language which not only affects the meanings of words, not only disturbs the grammar and syntax, but lurks everywhere in a maze of literary allusions which no ordinary Greek man or woman could conceivably have understood or even detected. The truth is that behind these writings there lies an intractable Hebraic, Aramaic, Palestinian material. It is this foreign matter that complicates New Testament Greek.
So Hoskyns and Davey, in The Riddle of the New Testament.("Second ed., 1936, p. 24.) And Fiebig, in the Preface to his Erzählungsstil der Evangelien, (Leipzig, 1925) may be quoted to the same effect:
The Hebrew-Aramaic shines through the Greek How anyone can hope to understand the New Testament, and especially the Gospels, scientifically, without study or knowledge of Hebrew-Aramaic, is to me quite incomprehensible. . . . . Anyone who, like Luther, has once caught a glimpse of the beauty of the Hebrew, and has come to recognize how it opens up a fundamentally important perspective for the interpretation of the Gospels, cannot help but inquire, again and again, about the Hebrew-Aramaic original of the traditions they contain.
It is this inquiry into the Hebrew-Aramaic original of the tradition that leads students to turn eagerly to Dr. Torrey’s illuminating notes, and to follow step by step, as far as it is possible to follow, his evidence for the underlying Aramaic. If we do not go all the way with him, we do not cease to be grateful for the light he has given us upon many an obscure passage. Let us consider first his proposed emendations of the Greek -- many of them shared by others, upon other considerations than that of Aramaic translation. I shall take up, at this point, only his proposals concerning the text of Mark.
I. Emendations Of The Greek
1:2b The quotation from Mal. 3:1 may very well be viewed as a gloss, on the basis of the parallels in Matthew 11:10 and Luke 7:27.16 It is easier to assume a gloss here in the text of Mark than to assume that Matthew and Luke chanced to agree in omitting the verse in order to use it later in their Gospels!
4:31 "A grain of mustard seed, which is the smallest of all the seeds on earth." It is not impossible that the redundant õ was copied by dittography from the preceding . But it is also not impossible to translate the neuter participle here; and I should think either the first or the second occurrence of "when it is sown," a more probable example of redundance -- a redundance that strongly supports Lohmeyer’s hypothesis that two variant forms of the parable have been combined by Mark. One read: "To what will we compare the Kingdom of God? To a mustard seed which, when it is sown upon the ground, grows up and puts out great branches [and becomes a tree], so that ‘under its shadow the birds of heaven can build their nests.’" The other read: "In what parable will we set it forth? It is like [a mustard seed]; though it is the smallest of all seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows larger than all herbs, so that ‘under its shadow the birds of heaven can build their nests.’"
6:22 Torrey thinks the is redundant; so perhaps did the copyist of the ancestor manuscript of the Lake group -- though it may be due to a form of dittography, in a series of feminine genitive endings. On the other hand, many readers, both Jewish and Gentile, would think it strange that a princess -- in 6:14 Herod is a "king" -- would so demean herself, and the word reflects this feeling: "Herodias’ own daughter came in and danced before the banqueters!"
6:49 "They thought it was a demon" -- rather than a "ghost" (R.V.). But "phantasm" is the same as , which the Sinaitic Syriac apparently read here. This is no doubt an improvement in translation.
7:7 Torrey supposes the word to be "a very ancient interpolation" from the LXX of Isa. 29:13. It would certainly ease the translation to shift it from the text to the footnotes!
8:10 Torrey’s solution of the riddle of "Dalmanutha" is one of the most probable ever offered. ("The conjecture was Dalman’s and is to be found even in the 1894 edition of his Grammar of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic, p. 133 n. He assumed that the word came from "Magdaloth" (Hebrew, ‘towers"), that " was substituted for y, and that then the first and second syllables got reversed. The inversion is not impossible, but it is a good deal more difficult to imagine a substitution of N for r in an uncial manuscript than when the letters are written lower case! The expression ‘Migdaloth Chinnerim" occurs in Meg. 70a.) The word "Magdaloth" was no doubt easily confused, in a tradition -- or by writers -- unfamiliar with Palestinian topography, and especially with Galilee.( See the series of articles by C. C. McCown, ‘Studies of Palestinian Geography in the Gospels," Journal of Biblical Literature, 50:107-29; 57:51-56; 59:113-31; 60:1-25.) The queer variants in B N W 28 sy5 p45 D* and the Itala manuscripts may be seen in Nestle or Legg; they were all guesses! Somewhat the same variety in readings may be found in Matthew 15:39. But, after all, more than half of the variants come down for something beginning with "Mag" -- for example "Mageda," "Magedan," "Magdala," "Magedam," "Magadan," "Magdalan"; and one thinks of the LXX, which got "Magada" out of "Migdol" in Josh. 15:37. And let us not forget that the Caesarean text ( ) had "Magdala" all the time, both here and in the parallel verse of Matthew!
9:13 This is one of the most difficult verses in the Gospel, as Lohmeyer and other commentators recognize. Turner proposed a rearrangement of the order, inserting vs. 12b after vs. 10.(The Study of the New Testament, 1883 and 1920 [3rd ed., 1926] p. 61.) Another possible arrangement is vss. 10, 11, 12a, 13c, 13ab, 12b. Torrey proposes the restoration of a sentence, following Matthew. Lohmeyer views vs. 12b as a gloss. The sense of the whole paragraph, which many scholars suppose to be derived from later debate over the significance of John, is that Jesus, like John, must suffer many things. (Luke significantly omits the section, while the Fourth Gospel flatly denies the identification of John with Elijah, 1:21.) Torrey’s conjecture is surely in line with the most probable meaning of the passage.
10:19 "Do not defraud" is omitted by Torrey, as due to dittography after This is not unlikely, and is, I think, more probable than Lohmeyer’s conjecture, deriving it from a hypothetical "Christian Galilean" form of the decalogue.(Galilaa und Jerusalem, pp.72f.) But note that B* W sys and many other MSS omitted it -- perhaps not simply out of regard for the wording of the Ten Commandments; that is, they either omitted it or, possibly, had never heard of it! The command may even seem to be Pauline -- cf. I Cor. 6:7, 8; 7:5; and also I Tim. 6:5. But in reality it was good ordinary Jewish and Old Testament teaching. Its omission by both parallels here strongly suggests that it is a later gloss, like some others -- from the Pauline viewpoint -- in the Gospels.
12:4 "Again he sent to them another servant, and him they covered with blows," instead of "wounded in the head." Torrey builds upon Burkitt’s conjecture, ; his translation is that of Swete, who took the Greek as it stands. Probably exegesis had something to do with textual transmission at this point: "wounded in the head" was taken to be a reference to John the Baptist, as in the Old Latin (k) decollaverunt, modified later to in capite vulneraverun:.
12:30 Torrey omits "and with all thy mind" -- as do Codex D and the Itala. But it could readily be omitted by homocoteleuton, or because of its omission in vs. 33. Both parallels have it, and so has Deut. 6:5 LXX B~. Why must it be viewed as "a very early interpolation from the LXX"?
13:15 Torrey omits the words "go down, nor" and reads: "Let him who is on the housetop not go in . - " The omitted words are ascribed to a careless recollection of Matt. 24:17. But it is difficult to see why the words are "quite impossible" here, and not in the passage in Matthew! Would the verb "enter in," taken alone, presuppose a western or Egyptian house with an inside stair, whereas the Palestinian stair was outside? I confess I feel as much difficulty without the words that Torrey omits as I do with them. Perhaps the reading of D etc. would help:
"Do not go down into the house." If only we could read "and" or instead of "neither" ( )! At any rate, the is certainly suspect, and the present text of Mark looks like a conflate of Matthew’s with Mark’s . Luke is no help, for he alters to fit the situation of the siege of Jerusalem. Luke 17:31 reads ; but there the point is the suddenness of the Parousia, like the destruction of Sodom, and the futility of going down to gather up one’s goods. Here the command is to flee to the hills -- and no one could do that without first going down from the roof. I agree with Torrey that the words are a Matthean gloss and should come out -- I have had them bracketed in my copy for several years!
13:27 Torrey adopts Blass’s conjecture that "heaven" at the end of the verse is an accidental accretion, easily suggested by the parallel in Matthew. The resulting translation is certainly smoother: "from one end of the earth to the other." (Cf. Wellhausen, Skizzen, vi, 190 n., who has this translation.)But there is evidence in Jewish literature not only for this expression (Deut. 13:7; Jer. 12:12) but also for "from one corner of heaven to the other" (Deut. 30:4; Ps. 18:7; etc.). Lohmeyer suggests that Mark has mixed the two idioms, and thinks of an ascension of the elect from the center of the earth to the height of heaven. The idea reminds one of the ascent of Israel to the stars in the Assumption of Moses (10:8 f.), and Paul’s conception of the ascension of Christians (I Thess. 4:17). Perhaps if we had more of the Little Apocalypse than the two or three fragments embedded in Mark 13, we could solve the problem.
14:72 Torrey is not alone in omitting "the second time" and reading simply: "Thereupon a cock crew." Aleph and c have omitted the phrase for a long time! But we might go further; the textual evidence in vss. 30 and 68, and the parallels, seem to warrant but one cockcrow. I cannot see the deep significance in the double cockcrow that Lohmeyer does.(Commentary, p. 313.) Probably some proverbial expression lies back of the words, the point of which is merely "by cockcrow," that is, before dawn; cocks usually crow several times at dawn! Or, possibly, "Before the cock can crow twice, you will deny me three times over!" Torrey’s explanation of the origin of the gloss is very convincing. It is the location of the numeral in the sentence that gave rise to all the trouble: "Before the cock crows thrice you will deny me." Of course the sentence demands a comma -- but where are you placing it, before "thrice" or after it?
15:34 Torrey has a very good note on the cry of desolation, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" But it is doubtless the tradition in Greek that accounts for the wide divergence in spelling. Crude as it is, the Gospel of Peter seems to stand closer to the Semitic original than do our canonical Gospels -- even in mistaking the word "God" for the word "strength" or "power." Codex D seems to be influenced by the Hebrew of Psalm 22, not by Aramaic; while Codex B seems to suggest no knowledge of either Semitic tongue -- or if B interprets it to mean, "Why hast thou sacrificed me?" the interpretation is clearly wrong.
II. Emendations Involving Aramaic
1:43 The Greek participle , "being very angry," has caused commentators no end of trouble. It should be taken in connection with the reading of D a ff2 r in vs. 41, , and both with 3:5 "Charging sternly" is much too toned-down a translation, both in R.V. and in Torrey’s version. I should not wonder at all if r ‘gaz lay at the heart of the expression, and that the Greek translators took it in too strong a sense. At the same time, what Lohmeyer says on 3:5 is important: "Wherever in the evangelic tradition we come upon words describing Jesus’ emotions, they have nothing whatever to do with the ‘genuinely human’ traits of the man Jesus [as the exegesis of forty years ago maintained!], but with the genuinely divine reactions of the [supernatural] Son of Man, as most notably in the Fourth Gospel. Every word points to his ‘anger and grief’ or his ‘anger and compassion’ -- both are characteristic of the divine Figure sojourning upon earth, who came hither for man’s sake and by sinful man was met with hatred." (Ibid., p. 69.) That doubtless goes too far in the other direction. But there was probably in Jesus -- and in Mark’s conception of him -- something strange, overpowering, and awe-inspiring, and on occasion even terrifying; he was no genial, ordinary man, this one who commanded the demons and they obeyed him, and who quieted the thunders and raging storms at sea with a word; and we must expect to find traces of this conception in other passages than those in which he beards the roaring elements and calms the witless maniacs. It is of interest that Lohmeyer thinks the story of the healing of the leper in 1:40-45 has come down in two forms, one in which Jesus reprimands him, the other in which he pities him -- and in both heals him. Lohmeyer accounts for the divergence, and the variants, as due to local oral tradition, which by no means died out at once after the Gospels were written.
3:17 "Sons of the thunderstorm" for "sons of thunder," as the byname of James and John. This is an interesting conjecture-though the real significance of the epithet is still as obscure as ever. Regesh is of course a familiar Hebrew word for "a noisy crowd"; so is rogez, "tumult." Some Greek MSS have p, which the Syriac clearly presupposes.
3:31 f. "They sent to call him, for a throng was seated about him." Mark’s Greek can almost be phrased as Torrey supposes the Aramaic to have read. Mark’s , and his on are sometimes picked up by mistake and then laid down -- like a carpenter reaching for a chisel and instead picking up a gouge, and then quickly laying it down for the proper tool!
4:4, 15 "Some seed fell upon the highway" -- instead of "by" or "beside." Torrey insists that Mark’s is "flat mistranslation" of ‘al. But Mark has some peculiar uses of -- see 3:21; 5:26
-- and Lohmeyer translates "on the road" without appeal to Aramaic I
4:8, 20 "Thirtyfold" etc., reading v, "one each time. So do D and the Latin version. Of course the earliest MSS did not distinguish EN with a breathing from EN without one! Torrey would not have had to clear up so much debris if textual study had not come to a halt, in many quarters, with Westcott and Hort -- or if English and American students had studied not only Westcott and Hort’s text but also their notes! (But on the question as a whole see Wellhausen, Skizzen vi, 193, who takes EN as a preposition (with B), not a numeral.)
4:12 This is, for exegesis, probably the most important correction of Mark.
"The parables are for those who are outside;
Torrey explains Mark’s îv as a translation of "the frequently ambiguous di," which was here only a relative pronoun, not the conjunction "in order that This is a very simple explanation, and let us hope it can be maintained; but it is also true that Matthew used in his parallel, and also -- in spite of the views of Wernle, Windisch, and others -- that Koine Greek had weakened the word iva, so that it sometimes bore the meaning of "that" rather than "in order that."(See W. D. Chamberlain, An Exegetical Grammar of the Greek New Testament (1941). pp. 182 ff. Although it remains true, as Robertson maintained (A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, 3rd ed., 1919, p. 985). with all the wide extension of Iva in Western Hellenistic, at the heart of it there is the pure telic idiom," still a glance at the lexicons even Thayer’s, will show the weakening of the purposive meaning and its wide variety of use in colloquial Greek. See also Robertson’s article in the Bacon-Porter volume, Studies in Early Christianity, ed. S. J. Case (1928) pp. 51-57. Cf. H. Windisch, "Causal Iva in Later Koine," ZNTW, 26:203; C. H. Turner, "Notes on Marcan Usage," x (4), Journal of Theological Studies, 29:356-59.) How much has been read into this verse, into this single particle! Johannes Weiss was sure that it reflected the Verstockungsgericht or "judgment of stubbornness" which Mark believed to have overtaken the Jewish people. That theory may still belong to Mark, but, as Lohmeyer maintains, it can find no support in the conjunction iva. Of course there is some support for the word, and more for the idea, in Isa. 6:9-10, though it does not harmonize with the rest of the Book of Isaiah.
4:13 "Any parable." This is hardly necessary if 4:10 is corrected: "They asked him about the parable" -- a reading which I believe is the right one (see 7:17). The whole point of vs. 13 is that the disciples inquire about this parable, not parables in general, or Jesus’ parables as a whole. It is generally recognized that vss. 11-12 are an editorial insertion into the pericope -- which is secondary to vss. 3-8, in any event. But even without bracketing the editorial insertion, the singular is required in vs. 10. The plural probably crept in from vs. 2 or vs. 13. As it stands, vs. 13 undoubtedly has reference to the whole little collection of parables that is to follow in chap. 4.
5:1 The reading "Gadarenes" is of course perfectly respectable in Greek, without support from Aramaic. If Mark wrote "Gerasenes -- and he may well have done so; his Palestinian geography is not first-class -- then Matthew probably corrected it in his parallel, and the corrections got back into the text of Mark sometime later. Origen’s "Gergesenes" may be only a guess, (Perhaps based on the O.T., e.g., Gen. 16:16.) though there are good scholars who support it -- as also do sys bo.
5:21 "While he was still at the lakeside, . . . ." Here an appeal to Aramaic is unnecessary. Mark’s Greek can be pointed with a period after, and a free translation would give what Torrey requires (cf. 3:31 f.). It is to be noted that the editorial "frames" of the tradition -- introductions and conclusions of pericopes -- are the least fixed of the gospel materials, even in translation!
6:3 Torrey’s note is sound, though he has not emended his translation. Lohmeyer seems to overlook Luke’s agreement with Matthew against Mark. I believe that what Mark wrote was something like this: "the son of the carpenter, the brother of James and Joses . . . ." -- a reading to which I believe a large number of textual critics would now be inclined to subscribe.
6:8 f. "Take . . . . no staff." (Our Translated Gospels, pp. 143, 144 ff.) Torrey’s discussion of the text of Mark at this point, as compared with that of Matthew and Luke, is most illuminating. I do not doubt that the difference between Mark and the parallels may be explained by recourse to the probable Aramaic form of the saying, either as Wellhausen proposed, illâ for lâ, or as Torrey proposes, the aleph carried over from the preceding word, arkhâ. That there was a common underlying tradition at this point in all three Synoptics seems undeniable, and is now generally recognized. Mark himself is dependent upon this common tradition, more fully given in Matthew and Luke.( I once argued that this common element was from Q -- "The Mission of the Disciples," Journal of Biblical Literature, 35 (1916): 293 ff.) But the variation may quite conceivably have taken place in Greek, by inserting before and then spinning out of the preceding or its second syllable. If one were given to dreaming, he might even guess that came from a lost olvo’, or even "no wine, no bread," or "no staff, no ass"! But it is surely not dreaming to recognize other factors at work here than the Aramaic original. One is the difference in conception -- a brief journey during Jesus’ lifetime in Mark, the continuous later Christian mission in Palestine in Matthew, both the Jewish and the Gentile missions in Luke. Another is the influence of the Old Testament, especially the Passover regulation in Exod. 12:11: "Thus shall ye eat it: with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste." The early Christian, and even Jewish, interpretation of the Passover in an eschatological sense -- the final Passover to introduce the consummation, the final redemption of Israel, the "latter days" to be like the "former days" with a repeated exodus from "Egypt," that is, from present bondage -- this idea might also influence the tradition of Jesus’ commands regarding the mission of his disciples and their constant state of preparedness for the coming of the end.
6:14 "He said, John the Baptist has risen from the dead." In spite of Torrey and the R. V., I am sure we should read , "they said," with B (D) it etc. That was the point of the popular rumor. And it makes better sense in view of the verses that follow, especially vs. 16. On the clause, "therefore these powers work in him" -- which, by the way, Johannes Weiss proposed to insert at the end of vs. 16 -- Torrey is surely right. "Powers," in Mark’s use of the word, do not "work" but "are wrought," by God, by Jesus, or by the Spirit. I think we may recognize that Torrey’s brilliant conjecture -- see his note on Matt. 14:2 -- is the most probable solution of the problem: the Aramaic passive verb, not being vocalized, was misunderstood as an active verb. The error must have occurred in reading a written copy -- though not necessarily a gospel. On the other hand, it should be noted that it is a superstitious, half-heathen "king" who is speaking, and Mark -- or the tradition -- may have represented him as speaking in proper character. He scarcely shared the theological viewpoint of the Jews or Christians in his territory! (On the whole conception of the Baptist redivivus see Carl Kraeling’s article, Journal of Biblical Literature, 59 (June, 1940): 147-57.)
6:15 Torrey’s suggestion has weight, of course, only if we are sure that belongs in the text of Mark. It seems impossible that Mark could have written and we are not surprised that the Western text omits the . One cannot help suspecting that Mark’s true text at this point is preserved, under modification, in Luke -- as sometimes happens! -- and that he wrote rpoø ; also that an early variant, perhaps an alternative translation from oral tradition, was -- See Mark 8:28. The expression , though it would be good idiom in English, "like one," in Greek suggests "about," "nearly," "approximately" -- with a numeral, as in 5:13; but cf. Judg. 16:7, 11 LXX, Lohmeyer. In rabbinic usage k’akhadh may mean "at once," "at the same time"; but in the O.T. it is often, and properly, translated by . Wellhausen took it for a Semitism, "one prophet like another." Semitism it doubtless is -- perhaps mediated by the LXX -- as Blass-Debrunner hold;(Grammar, §306.5.5.) but its meaning is surely "like one." As it stands, the reading in Mark is extremely crude -- even for Mark! -- and fits the context miserably: "But others said, It is Elias. But others said, It is a prophet, perhaps [k’] one of the prophets" -- or, with the LXX, "like one of the prophets." Only familiarity induces us to acquiesce in such literary crudity as the R.V., "It is a prophet, even as one of the prophets." One might even suspect that 15 and 15b are doublets, and that both  and are two early glosses to "Elias," added earlier than Luke’s use of Mark. The then naturally got repeated. Such explanatory glosses would of course not be required in a Christian -- or a Jewish -- .community, but were here intended only for non-Christian Gentile readers. With such a complicated text of Mark before us, the true sense of the passage, and the wording as well, must be recovered from Luke: "Some said John was risen from the dead, some that Elias had appeared, and others that one of the prophets of old had risen" -- Elijah was expected to appear at the end of the age, but an ancient prophet arising from the grave was something else. Heretical as it sounds, I believe it might even be argued that Mark originally read -- with 61 bo geo2 33, late as they are! This would explain the reading of Luke, who added and , quite correctly, and it would also explain the present text of Mark. The omission by D Itala took place after the text had been corrupted into its present form, that is, fairly early, when o (or ) looked like a variant for . One final possibility ought to be considered -- that is itself a corruption of EI. Torrey’s solution may be the best, in the end; but it should be noted that it is one among several competing solutions, and that we do not have an unquestionable Greek text to work from.
6:20 "Herod feared John, whom he knew to be a just and holy man; and he treasured up many things which he had heard from him, for he heard him gladly." Something like this may certainly have been Mark’s original, though the present text is not impossible: Herod feared John, knowing he was a saint, and was fascinated by him, but was much perplexed, both by what the prophet said and by the problem on his own hands, namely what to do with a prophet who was also a popular leader, one whom he must keep in custody and could neither release nor put to death without risk of a public revolt. Schmiedel conjectured, on the basis of Luke 9:7, that the "perplexing" clause in vs. 20 should go back to vs. 16, and be translated: "And when Herod heard it he was much perplexed and said, The one I beheaded, John, that one has risen from the dead !"
6:51 Surely this looks like a conflated text! The expression found here only in the N. T., though Mark 14:31 has , also unique. Some MSS omit ; others omit c-- and they look like real omissions, not "non-interpolations." Torrey gives us good ground for keeping the double expression, which is not unlike Mark’s style elsewhere -- 1:32, 35, etc.
6:53 "When they came to land on the other side, at Gennesaret, they moored to the shore." The present text is not impossible, though the phrase is strange.(Grinfield, Novum Testamentum Graccum, Editio Hellenistica, I (1843), 226, notes a similar usage in Isa. 23:2 LXX.) (Where does Lohmeyer get ? It must be an oversight.) Of course Mark’s geography is obscure, especially in these chapters (6-8); and yet the general sense is clear. If we take "to land" with the verb "came" -- as Torrey does, and as anyone may do, reading the Greek just as it is -- we obtain a sensible translation; so also if we take "came" with "Gennesaret": "And when they had crossed over to the land [from the middle of the lake, vs. 47], they came to Gennesaret and moored." It may be reading in too much of a meaning to suppose that Mark always supposed meant the eastern shore -- as Lohmeyer seems to think.(Commentary, p. 100 n.)
7:3 "Wash with the fist" is certainly, as Torrey observes, "curious and impossible." ("The rule in the Mishnah is similarly obscure: "The hands are susceptible of uncleanness, and they are rendered clean [by the pouring over them of water] up to the wrist" (? adh happarek, which means either "up to the wrist," or perhaps "to the second joint of the fingers," or "to the knuckle"; the term is variously interpreted). It is interesting to note that Franz Delitzsch used the phrase in his Hebrew New Testament, ad loc). The Sinaitic Syriac, the Sahidic, and some Greek MSS omit the word -- perhaps as meaningless. Most of the variants are mere guesses, though one of them, found in the Old Latin, is so intrinsically probable that one might almost suppose that it underlies Torrey’s translation: primo, found in d.(Where the Greek has the curious (sic). Can this be the clue we are looking for? Does the final merely repeat the preceding one, while the intervening letters, and space, are all that is left of some glossator’s note based on adh happarek? The Greek can of course be read without the word.) Lohmeyer accepts Torrey’s conjecture, "do not eat at all," though it presupposes an Aramaic Gospel, and these two verses (3 and 4) are very difficult to imagine as part of an Aramaic book -- readers of Palestinian Aramaic would scarcely need to be informed of Jewish customs, and might indeed take exception to the statement as applying to "all the Jews"!
7:11 f. The "korban" saying is surely one of the "oldest" -- that is, in form -- and most unquestionable sayings in the evangelic tradition. Torrey’s argument for an Aramaic basis is most convincing.
7:19 "Which purifies all foods," instead of the R.V., "This he said, making all meats clean." Editors and commentators have wrestled with this clause for centuries! I still think, with Rawlinson and others, that the clause is a gloss, and is best translated somewhat as the R.V. does. What is the sense of the words, "the bowel, which purifies all foods"? Treated thus as a subordinate clause, it seems to take for granted a common view which the reader will not question. But where is there any evidence for such a theory of the function of the intestinal tract? (See Loisy, ad loc., and Lagrange.)Moreover, it gives the argument of vss. 18-19 a most banal and pedestrian conclusion: the secondary verse, 19, must have struck some ancient readers as it does some modern, as vulgar and prosaic. Viewed as a gloss, the final clause reflects the view of the Hellenists, as against that of strict observance of the Jewish food regulations.
7:26 "The woman was a foreigner, a Phoenician by birth." There are certainly variants enough to choose from at this point! "Hellene" is undoubtedly used in the sense of "foreigner," "Gentile," here as often elsewhere in the N. T. -- not "a Greek" but one who spoke the Greek language. Torrey’s translation presupposes the reading of B etc., "a Syrian, a Phoenician," whereas the majority of MSS, including now p45’ read "a Syrophoenician" -- that is, presumably, a Phoenician Syrian, a coastal Syrian, by birth (or race).
7:34 "Ethpatha!" The correction of the Aramaic is interesting -- but it is not surprising that Greek MSS should have altered the form of a word in a tongue unknown to their transcribers.
8:24 "I see the men, whom I see as trees walking." Here again we are faced with a complicated textual problem, where the original text is probably buried among the mass of variant readings. The same is true of vs. 26. Torrey’s translation can easily be got out of the Greek -- even the modern editions, without recourse either to textual criticism or to a reconstruction of Aramaic. As already noted, Mark’s use of ó is rather free, and may well reflect either the Aramaic di or the nonliterary Koine usage.
8:33 "Away with you, Satan!" literally, "get behind yourself" -- as the Sinaitic Syriac reads in Matt. 4:10 and as Blass conjectured here and in Matt. 16:23 on the basis of that reading. Torrey’s reconstruction and translation support this reading. That it was a difficult expression is clear from the efforts of translators and commentators, for example Epiphanius: Some have proposed to omit "Satan," and view it simply as a command to obedience. If the oo was original, it would easily be conformed to the other cases of in the Gospels.(On the usual meaning of the phrase see Kendrick Grobel, "He That Cometh After Me," Journal of Biblical Literature, 60:397-401. On the reading in the Sinaitic Syriac, see A. S. Lewis, The Old Syriac Gospels (1910), p. xvii.) The proposal seems a probable one, and the testimony of the Sinaitic Syriac is strengthened by its clear presupposition of , in Matt. 4:19 and elsewhere.
8:34 "Take up his yoke," instead of "cross." This is an interesting conjecture. But it sounds like patristic exposition, and rather homiletical at that. And how was it possible to lose one’s life (vss. 35 ff.) in bearing a yoke?
9:10 Why is the phrase "among themselves" superfluous? Only if it is taken with the preceding finite verb, rather than -- as Mark’s style certainly allows! -- with the following participle. In fact it is needed, as the motivation of vs. 11. Cf. vss. 33 ff., for both order and motivation.
9:12 "Is indeed Elijah, coming first, to set everything in order? How then is it written of the Son of Man that he must suffer many things and be despised?" This certainly makes sense of the passage, in its present order, as the common interpretation, taking 12a as a statement, does not. But many commentators and some editors -- for example, von Soden, in Matt. 17:11 -- so take the Greek; and so did D 565 etc., who read d before Elias. (This El might easily be lost before HIA -- or HEIA.) If it were not for the identification of John with Elijah in vs. 13 and in Matt. 11:14; 17:12 f.; and elsewhere-contrast the tradition reflected in John 1:21 -- the sentence would probably always have been taken as a question. Torrey’s solution seems to me definitely superior to that of Lohmeyer, who brackets 1 2b as an intrusion, a gloss that has got into the text. It may be a gloss, either upon Mark or upon the tradition; the sequence of 12a-13, omitting 12b, seems clear, and the phrase "as it is written concerning him" reflects no prophecy but only the stormy career of the Tishbite as related in the Old Testament. Torrey’s bracketed insertion in vs. 13 I think unnecessary. Contrast 9:13 above.
9:15 "In excitement," rather than, "were greatly amazed." But Mark is the only writer in the New Testament to use this verb, and he uses it four times; Acts uses the noun, just once. I wonder if Exod. 34:30 has not influenced the tradition -- in spite of vss. 8-9, which Lohmeyer cites against this view. The Old Testament background of the Transfiguration narrative is strongly evident. Unlike the Israelites at Sinai, the people did not fear to approach Jesus!
9:23 "If you are able!" This is good translation, and the Greek warrants it, without reference to Aramaic. D and other MSS omit the , and so now does p45, a very respectable group. The article may in fact be only an introduction to Jesus’ quotation of the man’s words -- as Old Latin a took it, "quid est si quid," and as do various modern editors and commentators. I only suggest that not "you" but "able" should be in italics -- Jesus is the one who has the necessary faith!
9:29 "Not even by prayer," rather than "save by prayer." But could Mark have meant what Torrey makes him say? Contrast 11:22-24, not to mention vs. 23 just above and the anticlimax the new translation provides!
9:42 "One of the least," not "these least." In this series of masculine genitive plurals -- five successive endings in or -- might be more reasonably suspected of being a product of dittography, if it is thought superfluous. But text and context alike require it, and the parallels strongly support it -- Luke with a flying buttress anchored at the end of the next verse, twenty-seven words distant!
9:49 f. "Whatever would spoil, is salted." Torrey’s conjecture is again a brilliant one, and throws real light upon this utterly obscure verse. Moreover, an antecedent is now supplied to in verse 50, which otherwise is left dangling, and inexplicably so. Perhaps the was suggested -- at least to some copyist-by the preceding , vs. 48. The final clause in vs. 50 looks very much like an editorial addition, referring back to the pericope with which the section opened, vss. 33-37, the contending of the disciples.
9:50b "Have salt in yourselves, and pass it on to your fellows." One may suspect that this was perhaps originally a play upon words, occasioned by the similarity of malakh, "to salt," and malak, "to rule" or "to counsel"; so that the original meaning was simply, "Control yourselves" -- or "take counsel among yourselves" -- "and be at peace one with another." I suppose the verb would be an Ithpeel imperative, perhaps ithmalak(h)ûn. The command "Be at peace" referred back, as I have suggested, to vss. 33 ff. Then the words "Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its savour, what will you do for seasoning?" -- or, "Wherewith will you salt" . . - - anything that requires salt ? -- give another saying introduced here editorially; while "Every sacrifice is salted" is only a gloss (from Lev. 2:13) and "salted with fire" is a gloss upon a gloss, the idea being derived from the preceding pericope! I wonder, therefore, if the original was not simply, "Take counsel among yourselves [as in the Syriac of Matt. 26:4, Acts 4:26, where the Ethpael of malak is used], and be at peace with one another." ("On the close association of "rule" and "take counsel" see A. Merx, Chrestomathia Targumica (1888), pp. 230 f.)
10:6 The current text reads simply "he made them," and this presupposes mention of the Creator -- or would, in Aramaic. But does it not do so equally in Greek? Moreover, there is strong textual evidence for . It is much easier to suppose it was lost after ( -- O -- ) than that it was supplied from the LXX by some copyist, for in the LXX the noun comes much later in the verse (Gen. 1:27). In fact, the verse in Mark would cause no difficulty for an early Christian reader, familiar with the LXX -- his Bible! -- since the words are quoted literally and "God" was most certainly understood. The difficulty requires no appeal to Aramaic -- indeed there is, and was, no difficulty!
10:12 Although it is often said, as here by Torrey, that at that time the Jewish woman could not divorce her husband, still there were ways of getting around the situation -- for example by the wife’s family’s compelling the husband to divorce her. In addition to the reference to Josephus which Torrey gives, Ant. 15. 7. 10, there are others, for example War 1. 25. 5; Ant. 18. 5. 4; 20. 7. 2-3. Moreover, most commentators take this verse as a Roman corollary to vs. 11 -- a view which Torrey comes near to sharing in his rendering, "if she . . . . marries another." A Roman woman could "marry"; a Jewish woman "was married to" her husband -- a distinction still recognized in the Anglican Prayer Book: "Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?" And how can we be sure that the subject of is "he"? Why not read "she commits adultery" ? -- except that in Jewish idiom adultery was the act of the man, and that the sentence may be taken in strict parallelism to vs. 11. As for the original form of the saying, Luke 16:18 may well be a better rendering than Mark 10:11 f.
10:30 Torrey brackets vs. 30b. This may easily be either a gloss or a textual duplication -- in the latter case the phrase "with persecutions" has been added as a gloss!
10:32 "Jesus . . . . was in deep distress." Turner came to the same conclusion without reference to Aramaic.(The Study of the New Testament, p. 62.) It is another of Mark’s "psychological" touches. The omission by D etc. was probably occasioned by homoeoteleuton -- after the preceding verb had become a plural.
11:1 Torrey brackets "and Bethany," I think rightly. It was an easy addition, in view of vs. 11.
11:9 f. Torrey’s conjecture, "God save him!" for the obscure "Hosannah," and "God in heaven save him!" is a brilliant solution of a vexatious problem. See his note on Matt. 21:9. It is a question if Mark, who was not familiar with Hebrew, I feel certain, understood what was meant by the cry "Hosannah" any more than he understood "korban" in chap. 7. (The word of course means "gift," but here in the sense of "offering," that is, to God.)
11:14 "Not (yet) the time for figs." This addition is surely justified, as understood in the text.
11:19 The "every evening" is too literal -- see other instances of , 2:20; 4:29; 8:38; 9:9; 12:23; 13:4; etc. This is worth noting, as the R.V. margin is quite misleading. See Souter’s Lexicon.
13:19 "Such" tribulation. Torrey suggests that the equivalent of had already been inserted into the free rendering of Dan. 12:1. It could easily get inserted from such a passage as Exod. 9:18, and the sense of the passage certainly requires it. Even in Greek it could get inserted by a careless or tired copyist from the line above:
Appeal to a Semitic original of Mark is scarcely necessary. 14:3 "Jar-merchant" for "leper" is an interesting conjecture. If he was a "leper," it must have meant one who had been already "cleansed" of his leprosy.
14:33 Jesus was "deeply agitated and distressed." This strengthens the conjecture in 10:32 -- but in the area of Greek textual transmission, not of Aramaic MSS or tradition.
14:36 "Abba (Father)." But Mark regularly translates the Aramaic terms he gives -- though not always! cf. "Hosannah," 11:9 f.
14:37 "One brief space," instead of "one hour." Is this necessary? We need not debate the length of time Jesus’ prayer continued. "Hour" is a flexible measure of time in the Bible-including Mark! See vs. 41.
14:38 "Not to fail in the (approaching) trial." Torrey’s note (on Matt. 6:13) is interesting and valuable. The phrasing of the verse -- the punctuation is not certain; see R.V. margin -- may be influenced by the Lord’s Prayer, which was probably as well known by Christians of the first century as it is now, and the most familiar passage in the Gospels. The contrast of and is especially suggestive of later formulation. Torrey’s translation "the (approaching) trial" is pure interpretation-perhaps influenced by Schweitzer’s? Mark reads simply "into trial," or "into temptation." Even so, Torrey’s main contention here is most attractive: "pray not to fail."
14:41 "Will you sleep now, and take your rest? Already the time has come....." This is a decided improvement! As for () o -- several MSS omit the article, but even with it the adverbial sense is obvious -- the word has probably too often been translated, here and elsewhere in the N.T., without regard to its history; in modern Greek it means "now," "then," "well," or "therefore," and is a useful connective in discourse. Though the modern editions of the Greek N. T. do not take 41b as a question, it surely ought to be so taken -- as Torrey does, with the R.V. margin. But it is the strange and bewildering &lre’xet that is the field of Torrey’s real triumph here -- so strange that the latest commentator, Lohmeyer, gives up trying to translate or interpret it! According to Torrey, it renders kaddû, which in Palestinian Aramaic means, not "enough" but "now or "already." ("The usual translation, "It is enough." is supported by Field. Notes on the Translation of the New Testament (new ed., 1899) and also by Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament, Pt. I (1914). But see Alexander Pallis, Notes on St. Mark and St. Matthew (new ed. 1932). pp. 47 ff. Pallis’ notes are always stimulating and sometimes richly rewarding; he approaches the study of New Testament from the vantage point of modern Greek, both literary and colloquial.) If so, it looks like another double adverb -- like 6:51. Though the reading of D it and syr : is suspected of conflation with Luke 22:37, it may need to be taken into fuller consideration before a final solution of the riddle is found -- and it would not be impossible in combination with Torrey’s interpretation of the verb: "The end has come already!" "The hour" in vs. 41 must have some relation to "the hour" in vs. 35. Perhaps this is Jesus’ acknowledgment that his prayer has not been answered -- that is, it has been heard, but not answered as he had hoped.
14:55 "But (at first) they found none." This is of course interpretation, perhaps justifiable in view of the present context. But it may not be implied in the oldest form of the passion narrative, which, as many scholars suppose, did not contain vss. 61b-64.
14:68 "I am neither an acquaintance . . . . nor do I know him at all." Torrey’s conjecture seems very involved. If there is any difficulty here, that is, with the Greek as it stands and as it is printed in most modern editions, Hort’s proposal is certainly a simple enough solution! Translate: "I don’t know nor understand! What is it you are saying?" As part of the story, this seems not improbable.
14:72 "As he thought upon it, he wept." Many are the conjectures that have been hazarded to account for ! But the papyri now make it clear that the R.V. margin -- not the R.V. text, which Torrey follows -- gives an adequate translation: "And he began to weep." This was the reading, in fact, of D 565 it syr sah arm!
15:21 "Simon the farm labourer" instead of "the Cyrenian" is an interesting conjecture which can neither be proved nor disproved. It is like Simon the Cananaean, or "trader," as some conjecture!
15:42 "Late in the day." This too is an interesting and not improbable conjecture, like Blass’s ; but after chap. 7 we are not so sure that Mark -- "Greek Mark," as Torrey calls him -- knew Jewish customs thoroughly well, nor can we be sure that he meant a time after sundown (see 1:32). Perhaps he thought it was about sundown.
16:2-4 The text is complicated, but it is a question if the fault is mistranslation from Aramaic. The first and the final columns of MSS are notoriously full of variants, for obvious reasons, such as wear and tear, fading, breaking off of ends of rolls, or first and last pages of codices, and then the attempts of copyists to restore what was either obliterated or missing. A glance at Nestle or Legg or Tischendorf will show the abundance of variants at the end of Mark. Torrey’s repunctuation helps -- but it leaves him with the necessity of treating 2b-3a as a participial clause plus a finite verb: "When the sun had risen, and they were saying to one another . . . ." This is a heavy strain even on Mark’s style! And it is doubtful if the sense of the passage is any clearer. Would they wait until sunrise to ask their question? or to discover that the stone was already rolled away? Turner conjectured that the opening sentence of the pericope repeats from 15:47, perhaps as the beginning of an Easter lection;(The study of the New Testament, p. 60.) and it is not impossible that vs. 3 is an editorial insertion, not so much to give continuity with 15:46 as to motivate vs. 4, if vss. 1.8 formed an independent lection. Both parallels omit the verse. The reading of D etc. at the end of vs. 2 may be something more than the result of an effort to ease the reading; on the other hand, at the beginning seems to be definitely in Mark’s style (cf. 1:35 etc.); so is the double dating (cf. 1:32 etc.). If vs. 3 is editorial, as I suspect, the original may have run: "And very early on the first day of the week they came to the tomb. [Period, as in Torrey!] When the sun had risen they looked and saw that the stone was rolled back" -- two participles, as often in Mark, for example five verses back, in 15:46. We should say, "When the sun had risen, and they could see, they discovered that. . . . ." But Mark wrote in his own style, not in ours!
I have taken the time -- and now the space -- to examine Dr. Torrey’s evidence in detail, believing that if his case is proved for Mark it will carry the whole "Aramaic Gospels" hypothesis with it. The full evidence seems to me to fall somewhat short of demonstrating the existence -- or even the probability -- of an Aramaic Gospel, but it is by no means without value or significance. To begin with, (1) there are some passages that, so far as I can see, are in no need of "retranslation," but are perfectly acceptable as they stand. In the next place, (2) there are obscurities in the present text of Mark, and the obscurities persist even after retranslation into Aramaic -- for example Mark 7:3; 8:34; 9:29. (3) A great many of the obscurities and other difficulties in the present Greek text of Mark are due to careless copying, and that they still survive in modern printed editions is largely due to the fact that the task of textual criticism has not been completed. In the English-speaking world, textual criticism more or less came to a halt with the publication of Westcott and Hort’s Greek Testament. The main lines of their solution are of course sound, but a great deal of work still remains to be done. Many of the obscurities in the present text of Mark can be explained and cleared up from the present textual apparatus of variant readings -- in both manuscripts and versions -- without recourse to translation into Aramaic. (4) Some of the "retranslations" lack that quality of intrinsic probability which, taken alone, might be their sufficient support; they do not "click" in the way which Torrey himself has led us to expect, with many of his conjectural emendations of Old Testament passages. For all this, (5) there are a number of passages which Dr. Torrey has effectively cleared up -- for the first time in the whole long history of exegesis. Some of these passages are found in the Gospel of Mark, others in the other Gospels. As a rule, (6) those "retranslations" which are most thoroughly self-authenticating are found within the body of the pericope under consideration or have to do with one of Jesus’ sayings. In other words, the retranslation of the material which ex hypothesi was originally in Aramaic naturally throws most light upon the present text; as Professor Sherman Johnson has pointed out, "Where Dr. Torrey’s conjectures ring truest and most naturally, the passages in question belong either to Q or L or to the oldest pericopes in Mark -- in almost no case to the editorial framework." ("Anglican Theological Review, 19:223. In the Journal of Biblical Literature, 48 (1929): 117-23, Professor Millar Burrows has argued that Mark’s transitions are quite as "Aramaic" as the content of his pericopes. But (a) some of the pericopes were already linked together, or provided with settings, in the oral tradition; and (b) the style of the tradition may have influenced its editor -- as we may observe in the other Gospels, and even outside the New Testament.) (7) Even though retranslation clears up a large number of passages, it does not follow that the theory of original Aramaic Gospels is sound; nor, finally, (8) does it follow that the early dating of the Gospels is sound. In fact, the best solution of the problem of the gospel tradition is not the early dating of the Gospels, on the theory of their composition in Aramaic and their later translation into Greek, but the form-critical one of stereotyped oral tradition, of course in Aramaic as well as in Greek -- originally no doubt in Aramaic and then translated sooner or later into Greek-the translation being carried out by different persons at different times, "each one translating as best he was able," as Papias said of Matthew’s logia in the "Hebrew dialect." Some of these pericopes and sayings may even have been written down in Aramaic before translation into Greek. But it looks as if Q was a Greek document or cycle; the Aramaic must have lain some distance behind it.
This attempted evaluation of a small section of Dr. Torrey’s work must not close without a final word of acknowledgment and of deep gratitude to him for the stimulus and suggestion which his studies have given the whole world of modern New Testament scholarship. Even though many students of the New Testament are not able to go the full way with him and accept his theory of Aramaic Gospels, this does not in the least minimize the debt which we all owe him.