Saturday, December 09, 2006

TNIV - Variant reading in Mark

I was going to give the TNIV a chance, so I began to read in Mark. I got as far as verse 41 of chapter 1 where I read, "Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" So, I consulted my Greek New Testament (published 1994). The authors categorized this textual variant as a {B} meaning that the variant included in the text ("Jesus was moved with compassion..." - which is how nearly every other translation renders the verse) is "almost certain." The texts that support "indignant" were few and didn't seem to be more ancient than those that support the dominant translation.

"Indignant" would seem to be the kind of word that a monk might change to protect Jesus' reputation, but the weight of the textual evidence would seem to lean toward the traditional reading. So, does anyone have a more recent edition of the Nestle-Aland that would clear up why the editors went with this reading? Apparently, since my copy of the Greek New Testament was published, new papyri manuscripts have been included in the text (numbers 98 through 116) [2001 printing].

This is exactly the kind of thing I shouldn't worry about while I'm working on my dissertation...


Blogger R. Mansfield said...

Kletos, I'm writing this from home and only have my UBS 3rd edition Greek text with me here, but they give Mark 1:41 a D reading. Are you looking at the 4th edition, I presume? And it changed all the way from a D to a B?

I looked up the verse in the NET Bible, and the textual comment states this:

The reading found in almost the entire NT ms tradition is σπλαγχνισθείς (splanchnistheis, “moved with compassion”). Codex Bezae (D), {1358}, and a few Latin mss (a ff2 r1*) here read ὀργισθείς (orgistheis, “moved with anger”). It is more difficult to account for a change from “moved with compassion” to “moved with anger” than it is for a copyist to soften “moved with anger” to “moved with compassion,” making the decision quite difficult. B. M. Metzger (TCGNT 65) suggests that “moved with anger” could have been prompted by 1:43, “Jesus sent the man away with a very strong warning.” It also could have been prompted by the man’s seeming doubt about Jesus’ desire to heal him (v. 40). As well, it is difficult to explain why scribes would be prone to soften the text here but not in Mark 3:5 or 10:14 (where Jesus is also said to be angry or indignant). Thus, in light of diverse mss supporting “moved with compassion,” and at least a plausible explanation for ὀργισθείς as arising from the other reading, it is perhaps best to adopt σπλαγχνισθείς as the original reading. Nevertheless, a decision in this case is not easy. For the best arguments for ὀργισθείς, however, see M. A. Proctor, “The ‘Western’ Text of Mark 1:41: A Case for the Angry Jesus” (Ph.D. diss., Baylor University, 1999).

I honestly don't know which reading is correct. It is a difficult passage either way. To me "moved with anger" is the more difficult reading, but that may be because I want Jesus to always be compassionate. Regardless, I don't think one can easily fault the TNIV translators for going with the rendering they produced.

I also noticed that the Revised English Bible used "moved to anger."

11:25 PM  
Blogger aaron said...


I know I said I would not get to this right away, but I had to peek. Since my paper is on Mark, and I am doing some Greek work there, I thought it was pertinent anyway...
I have the USB4 and NA27 in front of me - as well as a NA25 and the text of Westcott-Hort. All of them agree that the reading is σπλαγχνιζω, and the textual evidence is overwhelming - I am surprised they gave as much credence to the variant as they did! having X, A, B, C,L,W,Delta, Theta and others as well as all the papyri and translations there (and Ambrose as well), makes it pretty hard to overturn. It is not just a matter of a synonymous word here either, it really changes the passage. You are right that indignant does not seem to fit in the scheme of the passage. σπλαγχνιζω may have been changed due to the hardness of the reading - only 12 occurances of the word in the NT and none that I can find in any other Greek lit. Readers (and even copyists) may have said "huh?" and changed the word. Now, I do not know the history of the word - the closest word etymologically I find is σπλαγχνεύω (eating the innards of a victim of sacrifice), which doesn't have the same sense at all!
Only being found in the NT (as far as I know) is a problem, because it gives us less reference for meaning. I think that this word is (99%) certainly the right reading, I am just not as certain of its meaning! - I will get back to you on the new Papyri as soon as I get the chance.

8:40 AM  
Anonymous aaron said...

Ok, so I remember the link between the two words - it is that the root splagx has to do with the intestines (which was thought to be the root of compassion and other feelings - we say from the heart, they say from my intestines. So that is the link - Jesus was moved "in his intestines" with pity/compassion. The papyri may take a while...

9:04 AM  
Blogger R. Mansfield said...

This is all very interesting. I did have time today to look at more recent resources than what I had at home and sure enough this variant moved from a D to a B reading between editions of the Greek NT although Metzger doesn't change his wording much in the commentary.

I think I will try to contact the translation committee to see if I can get any insight into their choice of the lesser supported variant.

7:12 PM  
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