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The Greek of the Gospel of Mark
John Charles Doudna
Publication Date
May 2006


“At the beginning of the study the question was asked: Can a place be assigned the Greek of Mark’s gospel in the development of the koine? This question was to be answered after two things had been done. First, an inquiry as to the degree and kind of divergence from the Attic standard in the Greek of Mark and that of a body of papyri approximately contemporary with Mark was to be made. Second, there would be an attempt to explain divergences from the Attic standard found in Mark but not paralleled in the papyri. …

In part I Mark and the papyri were found to agree in a number of variations from the Attic standard. Some 60 instances of outstanding divergence in syntax were considered. In all but 21 of these instances the usage of Mark followed that of the papyri.… [Thus,] we may say that most, if not all, are essential rather than incidental agreements, and that, in the main, the Greek of the papyri and that of Mark are phases of the same development. …

[Further,] to account for the Greek of the gospel of Mark, translation [from a Semitic original] is not a necessary hypothesis; in the case of ‘sayings’ passages translation is of course conceded. All passages which show Semitic influence at work may be examples of forms which have ‘silted through the koine’ or are part of the thought forms of one whose mind was stored with the expressions of the Septuagint. However, the crowding of locutions stamped as Semitic in any given ‘stretch’ raises the presumption of translation. The Semitic coloring is uniform enough to give us to suppose that in many cases the whole story with introductory statements was composed in Aramaic and later translated into Greek, the Greek form being the one which came to the hand of the composer of the gospel” (128, 129, 136).