Mark 2:15

I would understand Mark 2:15 as "for many were also following him"; albeit the πολλοὶ καί does seem rather redundant.

I see that Matt just didn't bother repeating the same in Matt 9:9, nor did Luke in 5:29.

Statistics: Posted by S Walch — February 6th, 2017, 3:34 am



I don't agree with Lenski's first objection (sounds like a word study fallacy unless proven with extrabiblical literature), but agree with the second one ("the γάρ clause would be rather meaningless if it stated only that there were many publicans and sinners present, for the fact that they were numerous has already been stated.")

I would read it as "For there were many, and they were following him (=were his followers?). I.e. many publicans and sinners were following him wherever he went, which was the reason for there being many of them eating there. A clumsy way to say in Greek (maybe not surprisingly clumsy for Mark) to say "for many of his followers were publicans and sinners". If it's clumsy at all.

And you know Mark had a bunch of extra καιs which he had to get rid of somehow, so he spread them on the beginning of his ευαγγελιον.

Statistics: Posted by Eeli Kaikkonen — February 5th, 2017, 7:33 pm



Mark 2:15-16 Punctuation
With the puncutation shown below, I don’t know what to do with the καί (bolded).

    15 Καὶ γίνεται κατακεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ,
    καὶ πολλοὶ τελῶναι καὶ ἁμαρτωλοὶ συνανέκειντο τῷ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ·
    ἦσαν γὰρ πολλοὶ καί ἠκολούθουν αὐτῷ.
    16 καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς τῶν Φαρισαίων ἰδόντες ὅτι ἐσθίει μετὰ τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν…
    (NA27)


    He was having dinner in his (Levi’s) house.
    Many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Jesus and his disciples
    for there were many [και] following him.
    And the Pharisee’s scribes, seeing that he was eating with sinners…

This puncuation makes the καί seem natural.

    15 καὶ γίνεται κατακεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ,
    καὶ πολλοὶ τελῶναι καὶ ἁμαρτωλοὶ συνανέκειντο τῷ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ: ἦσαν γὰρ πολλοὶ,
    καὶ ἠκολούθουν αὐτῷ 16 καὶ γραμματεῖς τῶν Φαρισαίων.
    καὶ ἰδόντες ὅτι ἤσθιεν μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν...
    (Tischendorf)

    He was having dinner in his (Levi’s) house.
    Many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many,
    and the Pharisee’s scribes were even following him.
    Seeing that he was eating with sinners…

Lenski objectiion to Tischendorf’s punctuation does not seem convincing to me: "The trouble with this reading is that the verb ἠκολούθων (some have the aorist) is always used with reference to faithfull following (compare for instance v. 14), not hostile to spy upon Jesus. In addition, the γάρ clause would be rather meaningless if it stated only that there were many publicans and sinners present, for the fact that they were numerous has already been stated. The presence of so many at Levi's feast is due to the fact that so many kept following Jesus and were thus glad to be invited to dine with him" (pg. 72-73).

Decker does deal with the καί in question, but suggests a solution that seems more complicated than Tischendorf's. Decker writes that the problematic καί is “functioning Semitically (= waw) and best translated here with a relative pronoun (so most standard English translations” (pg. 57).

Whether the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament prefers one way or the other, I can't tell. Maybe it's not intended to show a preference or maybe I just don't understand their mark-up. Whether the Lexham Syntactic GNT makes a choice, I also can't tell. It puts the καί in question in the γάρ clause, "Contained in: Explanatory Clause... The word καί modifies ἦσαν (verb) in Mk 2:15." The way I read that note, it could fit either NA27's or Tischendorf's punctuation.

What are your thoughts?


    Decker. (2014). Mark 1-8 A Handbook on the Greek Text. Baylor.
    Lenksi. (1934). The Interpretation of St. Mark’s and St. Luke’s Gospels. Lutheran Book Concern.
    Lukaszewski, A. L., & Dubis, M. (2009). The Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament: Expansions and Annotations. Logos Bible Software.
    NA27 Nestle, E., et al. (1993). The Greek New Testament (27th ed)
    Runge. (2008–2014). The Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament . Lexham Press.
    Tischendorf, C., et al. (1869–1894). Novum Testamentum graece.

Statistics: Posted by Paul-Nitz — February 5th, 2017, 1:20 pm



I would say Lenski's first objection is not well formulated, but is on the right track. The verb ἀκολουθεῖν is certainly used mostly in the gospels in the sense of following a leader and especially of discipleship. Even generally in Greek it seems to me the verb usually implies you are going with someone superior and the relationship is positive. If, however, the subject here is the scribes and the verb is taken in a simple neutral sense of following someone to see what he was going to do, it seems inappropriate since Jesus is not said to be going anywhere, he is in someone's house having a meal. Regarding how to take καί according to the NA27 punctuation, here are a couple of other quotes which may help: Kermit Titrud discusses the clause-conjoining function of καί in a 1992 article. He notes that very rarely καί links clauses that are not logically coordinate but one is subordinate to the other, such as Matt 26.45 and others. He continues:
Titrud wrote: When this skewing between discourse and logical structure occurs, it is the result of the author's strategy—it is deliberate and significant ... By syntactically elevating what is logically subordinate, the author is placing more prominence (emphasis) on the clause than it would have had if introduced by a subordinating conjunction ...
K. Titrud 'The Function of καί in the Greek New Testament and an application to 2 Peter' in Linguistics and New Testament Interpretation ed. David Alan Black, Broadman Press 1992. Titrud doesn't mention Mark 2.15 in this connection, and the skewing here is not the kind he is thinking of, but if the approach can be applied to it, it would suggest Mark is deliberately emphasising the action of following because it was unexpected that tax collectors and sinners would do that. Also Gundry states on the verse in question:
Gundry wrote: To take the “and” before “they were following him” as Semitic parataxis for “who” (producing “for there were many who were following him”) tends to miss the distribution of emphasis between the large number and the following (and see M. Reiser, Syntax und Stil 128-30, against treating the construction necessarily as a Semitism).
Robert H. Gundry MARK: A Commentary on His Apology for the Cross Eerdmans 1993. Regarding the punctuation of Tischendorf it should be taken into account that he followed manuscripts that read an extra καί before ἰδόντες in verse 16. Without that extra καί Tischendorf's punctuation doesn't seem to work so well. Statistics: Posted by Tony Pope — February 7th, 2017, 3:44 pm

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2 thoughts on “Mark 2:15

  1. Troy Day says:

    I always lean toward Tischendorf being more primary and original but then again this is just me and my personal preference. Mark of course carries his own primary and even primitive proto-Gospel characteristics

  2. Troy Day Troy Day says:

    I always lean toward Tischendorf being more primary and original but then again this is just me and my personal preference. Mark of course carries his own primary and even primitive proto-Gospel characteristics

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