New Testament • Mark 9:20 – Who’s doing what

Mark 9:20

That's a very good question, Stirling. Will have to get back to you on that. Reading Mark 5:1-7, if we can take a look at v8-13 as well: 8 ἔλεγεν γὰρ αὐτῷ· Ἔξελθε τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἀκάθαρτον ἐκ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. 9 καὶ ἐπηρώτα αὐτόν· Τί ὄνομά σοι; καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· Λεγιὼν ὄνομά μοι, ὅτι πολλοί ἐσμεν· 10 καὶ παρεκάλει αὐτὸν πολλὰ ἵνα μὴ αὐτὰ ἀποστείλῃ ἔξω τῆς χώρας. 11 ἦν δὲ ἐκεῖ πρὸς τῷ ὄρει ἀγέλη χοίρων μεγάλη βοσκομένη· 12 καὶ παρεκάλεσαν αὐτὸν λέγοντες· Πέμψον ἡμᾶς εἰς τοὺς χοίρους, ἵνα εἰς αὐτοὺς εἰσέλθωμεν. 13 καὶ ἐπέτρεψεν αὐτοῖς. καὶ ἐξελθόντα τὰ πνεύματα τὰ ἀκάθαρτα εἰσῆλθον εἰς τοὺς χοίρους, καὶ ὥρμησεν ἡ ἀγέλη κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν, ὡς δισχίλιοι, καὶ ἐπνίγοντο ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ. I can see that any physical action that the man does (demon influenced or not), all the pronouns and participles agree with him in number/gender. Even in v9, when Jesus is asking the spirits' name, He addresses the man (αυτον), as even though the words are the demons, the physical act of speaking is done by the man. When we get to v10, the actions of the demon come into focus, we get our neuter pronoun and participle (αυτα ... εξελθοντα), so the physical acts either being performed on the demons or by the demons (ἵνα μὴ αὐτὰ ἀποστείλῃ ... καὶ ἐξελθόντα τὰ πνεύματα τὰ ἀκάθαρτα εἰσῆλθον εἰς τοὺς χοίρους) agree with their subject explicitly. When we go back to Mark 1:23-26, we see something similar: 23 καὶ εὐθὺς ἦν ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ αὐτῶν ἄνθρωπος ἐν πνεύματι ἀκαθάρτῳ καὶ ἀνέκραξεν 24 λέγων· Τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί, Ἰησοῦ Ναζαρηνέ; ἦλθες ἀπολέσαι ἡμᾶς; οἶδά σε τίς εἶ, ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ. 25 καὶ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων· Φιμώθητι καὶ ἔξελθε ἐξ αὐτοῦ. 26 καὶ σπαράξαν αὐτὸν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἀκάθαρτον καὶ φωνῆσαν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ ἐξῆλθεν ἐξ αὐτοῦ. When the man is the subject focus, the participle λέγων agrees with him in gender - but as soon as the subject changes to the πνευμα, the participles agree with it in gender, even if one supposes that it's the man that does the physical φωνῆσαν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ (even though, I guess it could be argued that perhaps the man didn't physically cry out, but the spirit did so separately). So whilst I will agree that we probably shouldn't be dividing the demon and the demoniac, it seems that the GoM at least conforms the participles and pronouns to the subjects gender, and not a different one. Statistics: Posted by S Walch — February 20th, 2017, 5:07 pm
In the NT do we ever see δαιμόνια as agents of verbs of visual perception without a human host? I wasn’t able to find any clear examples. We run into some difficulty when we attempt to divide human agency from demonic agency in a demoniac scenario. The Gerasene Demoniac: Mark 5:1 Καὶ ἦλθον εἰς τὸ πέραν τῆς θαλάσσης εἰς τὴν χώραν τῶν Γερασηνῶν. 2 καὶ ἐξελθόντος αὐτοῦ ἐκ τοῦ πλοίου εὐθὺς ὑπήντησεν αὐτῷ ἐκ τῶν μνημείων ἄνθρωπος ἐν πνεύματι ἀκαθάρτῳ, 3 ὃς τὴν κατοίκησιν εἶχεν ἐν τοῖς μνήμασιν, καὶ οὐδὲ ἁλύσει οὐκέτι οὐδεὶς ἐδύνατο αὐτὸν δῆσαι 4 διὰ τὸ αὐτὸν πολλάκις πέδαις καὶ ἁλύσεσιν δεδέσθαι καὶ διεσπάσθαι ὑπ᾿ αὐτοῦ τὰς ἁλύσεις καὶ τὰς πέδας συντετρῖφθαι, καὶ οὐδεὶς ἴσχυεν αὐτὸν δαμάσαι· 5 καὶ διὰ παντὸς νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας ἐν τοῖς μνήμασιν καὶ ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσιν ἦν κράζων καὶ κατακόπτων ἑαυτὸν λίθοις. 6 καὶ ἰδὼν τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἀπὸ μακρόθεν ἔδραμεν καὶ προσεκύνησεν αὐτῷ 7 καὶ κράξας φωνῇ μεγάλῃ λέγει· τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, Ἰησοῦ υἱὲ τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ὑψίστου; ὁρκίζω σε τὸν θεόν, μή με βασανίσῃς. In Mk 5:2 we see no explicit reference to visual perception but some sort of “occult knowledge” or “second sight”[1] is perhaps suggested with the demoniac ἐξελθόντος αὐτοῦ ἐκ τοῦ πλοίου εὐθὺς ὑπήντησεν αὐτῷ. In Mk 5:6-7 we have καὶ ἰδὼν τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἀπὸ μακρόθεν where the man is easily taken as the grammatical subject of ἰδὼν because he appears to be the subject of the previous participles κράζων καὶ κατακόπτων ἑαυτὸν λίθοις. However in the next verse the man’s voice is employed in a speech act by the demonic agency without any grammatical clues to indicate a change of agent. I suggest this illustrates the problem of trying to divide agency in demonic scenarios. The demoniac isn’t acting on his own behalf in verse five κράζων καὶ κατακόπτων ἑαυτὸν λίθοις so why should he be seen as acting on his own behalf in verse 6 καὶ ἰδὼν τὸν Ἰησοῦν? [1] It is hard to imagine that Jesus arrival in the boat created a such striking spectacle it grabbed the mans attention from a distance. Something else is going on here. The encounter is presented as an event that is going to happen. Not a chance meeting between Jesus and the Gerasene Demoniac. Statistics: Posted by Stirling Bartholomew — February 20th, 2017, 4:18 pm
Ta for the replies, gents.
RButh wrote: After ιδων αυτον describing the boy seeing Jesus, add a comma or dash --, then again after the intervening sentence add a comma or dash, moving into the sentence describing the boy.
This is how I originally read it, however reading around commentaries et. al., it appeared that reading it this way was a minority view. Whilst a majority having one preferred way of reading a text doesn't make it right, definitely makes you think you're wrong somehow! As Stirling pointed towards H. B. Swete (always a good way to go), he too sees it the opposite to how I read it, and says it's a case of CAS:
Ἰδὼν αὐτὸν τὸ πνεῦμα—not, as Winer (WM., p. 710) and Blass (Gr. p. 283), an anacoluthon (ἰδὼν αὐτὸν [ὁ παῖς], τὸ πν. κτλ., cf. Syr.sin.), but a constructio ad sensum—the gender of the noun is overlooked in view of the personal action of the spirit; cf. Jo. 16:13 f. ἐκεῖνος τὸ πνεῦμα ... ἐκεῖνος, where if the masc. pronoun is suggested by ὁ παράκλητος (v. 7), its repetition would be impossible but for the personal life implied in τὸ πνεῦμα.
But he doesn't really argue his case, just says it's not an ancoluthon, but a case of CAS, and then points to GoJ as evidence. This doesn't really prove his point. If GoM did this somewhere else, then we would have evidence that GoM imputes a 'persona' to πνευμα; the evidence however is to the contrary. I'm certainly no scholar or commentator, but surely linguistically, looking at how an author uses words in his own writing should be above looking for an answer in another's? As such, I don't know if there's a grammatical way to decide between the two. No one has offered one, as of yet. This brings us to 9:26, where again, most seem to read the masculine participles as actions of the πνευμα on the παις, supplying the object 'him' in discussions of it, but based on, as H.B. Swete states:
For the masc. participles cf. v. 20 ἰδὼν ... τὸ πνεῦμα.
Though if ιδων in v20 is to do with the boy and not the spirit, is there anything that stops the participles in v26 as actions done by the boy, rather than to him by the πνευμα? As I translated above: And after he (the boy) cried out and convulsed violently, it departed, and he became as a corpse, with the result that most of them said that he was dead. Checking through the GoM and his usage of the participle (only looked at nominative participles), in all 416 other occurrences, I couldn't find any other place where the participle directly affected an unnamed object (though I could've missed one, obviously) - If the participle directly affects an object, then GoM specifically states said object, rather than leaving it up to the reader to decide from context. There are several places that come close - Mark 2:17; 3:21; 6:16, 29; 15:35 - though the participle in all of these is from ακουω (ἀκούσας/ἀκούσαντες), and they don't describe an action of the subject on an object (they don't cause the implicit object to hear :)). Has anyone done a study on the usage of the participle in specific texts, or is this something for future studies? :)
PNitz wrote: I was about to disagree with Randall (κίνδυνον ἐστίν!), but thought better of it. His punctuation is better. I suppose we wouldn't normally name the subject with the participle (unless it were a Genitive Absolute).
Oh I'm sure disagreeing with Randall is fine from time to time ;) Statistics: Posted by S Walch — February 20th, 2017, 3:30 pm
 
ὁ Μέγας Διδάσκαλος Buth wrote: After ιδων αυτον describing the boy seeing Jesus, add a comma or dash
I read this story a million times (I memorized it once) but I had always taken that phrase in this way: καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτὸν τὸ πνεῦμα -- εὐθὺς συνεσπάραξεν αὐτόν. [After the spirit saw him, he shook him violently] I was about to disagree with Randall (κίνδυνον ἐστίν!), but thought better of it. His punctuation is better. I suppose we wouldn't normally name the subject with the participle (unless it were a Genitive Absolute). I imagine here Mark getting caught up in the excitement as he wrote - thus the many pronouns. I think we all do the same in speech. In rushing ahead to the climax we dispense with the delay of names and use more pronouns. It is a fun story to read out loud with much gesticulation! Statistics: Posted by Paul-Nitz — February 20th, 2017, 11:28 am
A little punctuation might help. After ιδων αυτον describing the boy seeing Jesus, add a comma or dash --, then again after the intervening sentence add a comma or dash, moving into the sentence describing the boy. Do authors break up sentences? Sometimes. Consider Mark 2:10-11 ἵνα δὲ εἰδῆτε ὅτι ἐξουσίαν ἔχει ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς -- λέγει τῷ παραλυτικῷ· σοὶ λέγω, ἔγειρε ἆρον τὸν κράβαττόν σου καὶ ὕπαγε εἰς τὸν οἶκόν σου. Of course, one could have pronounced ιδον and written ιδων. They sound the same. At least they did in the first century outside of seminaries. But the Majority text maintains ιδων, so I would accept it as the most probably original reading and the sentence about the evil spirit as a parenthetical comment/intrusion. Statistics: Posted by RandallButh — February 20th, 2017, 7:01 am
 
Stirling Bartholomew wrote: constructio ad sensum BDF 134(3). See also H. B. Swete and H. Alford comment on Mark 9:20. In my humble opinion the term constructio ad sensum should be given a decent burial. It is about as useless as emphasis. These are terms which explain nothing and in the case of the former cause confusion.
Whilst I would love to see the back of CAS, unfortunately that seems to be the 'go-to' explanation for verb/participle/pronoun that doesn't agree with what people perceive as its subject. Here we seem to have no exception, bar a few whom describe ιδων as an anacoluthon. But looking through the GoM, nowhere else does he have a case of CAS when it comes to πνευμα. Everywhere else, everything agrees in gender and number with πνευμα, whether it's one spirit (1:10, 26) or multiple (3:11; 5:13). The GoM actually seems to be quite devoid of CAS*, so seems to be rather out of ordinary for the GoM to use not just one, but three participles demonstrating CAS for something he doesn't usually do. So much so it seems, that due to the non-conformity of gender, the Majority texts amend the masculine participles to neuter ones. The GoM does however seem to like having an implicit, rather than explicit, subject (and object!), and leaving it up to the reader to determine such from context. Perhaps the gender of the participles is supposed to give a bigger clue? * Swete only points out 4 occurrences - Mark 5:41; 9:20, 26; 13:14 - granted, these may be just ones of major note. BDF has the above, plus two more: Mark 5:23 and 6:28. Statistics: Posted by S Walch — February 19th, 2017, 4:43 pm
constructio ad sensum BDF 134(3). See also H. B. Swete and H. Alford comment on Mark 9:20. In my humble opinion the term constructio ad sensum should be given a decent burial. It is about as useless as emphasis. These are terms which explain nothing and in the case of the former cause confusion. Statistics: Posted by Stirling Bartholomew — February 19th, 2017, 2:27 pm
(Man, you really don't have long to be able to edit your post! Anyway.) Just to look at this again:
since it makes the spirit into a "him" rather than an "it".
Yes it would. Yet in 9:18, the spirit is referred to as αὐτὸ/it. All other words to do with the spirit as also neuter in gender. If we go back to a parallel type of event in Mark 1:26, all participles that describe actions of the spirit are neuter as well: καὶ σπαράξαν αὐτὸν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἀκάθαρτον καὶ φωνῆσαν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ ἐξῆλθεν ἐξ αὐτοῦ. The other times πνευμα is used in Mark, nowhere else has he personified it into a him (even when it's the Holy Spirit). Mark 9:20 and 9:26 would be the only exceptions. Statistics: Posted by S Walch — February 19th, 2017, 11:50 am
 
Robert Emil Berge wrote: First, I find it interesting to find masculine participles with neutral nouns, but after googling I found that this isn't unusual, and it makes sense, since it makes the spirit into a "him" rather than an "it".
Yes - this is known as constructio ad sensum/construction according to sense, which I put down in my post as CAS for short (because really, who wants to type 'constructio ad sensum' all the time?) :) There are several manuscripts of the GNT transpose the masculine participle ιδων to the neuter participle ιδον to make it agree explicitly - 238, 873, 1084, 1160, 1243, 1302.
As for who is doing the seeing here, I think it must be the spirit (but through the boy's eyes naturally), since the spirit is stated as the subject so explicitly. To assume that the nominative participle and the main verb have different subjects, I find a bit too counter-intuitive. The καί starts a new sentence with a change of subject to the boy, as the previous καί also changed the subject.
One of the striking things that I hadn't registered before, when reading this story Mark 9:14-29, is that though there are participles and verbs that clearly have the boy as the subject (πεσὼν .. ἐκυλίετο ἀφρίζων v20 ; ἐγένετο v26), not once is the boy actually mentioned as the subject - that he is the subject is gleaned entirely from context. The boy is only referred to in passing, or as the object (τὸν υἱόν ... αυτον .... αυτου ... του παιδου). There are a few times when we have a change of subject without it being mentioned explicitly,* so that we may have a change from ιδων from the boy to then the spirit immediately after each other I don't think is too far a stretch. * Take a look at v 16, v19, and v21 - Jesus is clearly the subject, yet He is only finally mentioned by name at v23 and then again in v25. Plus if we look back at v20, the two objects of αυτον are different as well. Mark leaves quite a bit of meaning to just pure context. Contrast this to Luke and Matt, they're more explicit with mentioning the subjects and objects during this story. Statistics: Posted by S Walch — February 19th, 2017, 10:59 am
First, I find it interesting to find masculine participles with neutral nouns, but after googling I found that this isn't unusual, and it makes sense, since it makes the spirit into a "him" rather than an "it". As for who is doing the seeing here, I think it must be the spirit (but through the boy's eyes naturally), since the spirit is stated as the subject so explicitly. To assume that the nominative participle and the main verb have different subjects, I find a bit too counter-intuitive. The καί starts a new sentence with a change of subject to the boy, as the previous καί also changed the subject. Statistics: Posted by Robert Emil Berge — February 19th, 2017, 9:55 am
SBL: καὶ ἤνεγκαν αὐτὸν πρὸς αὐτόν. καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτὸν τὸ πνεῦμα εὐθὺς συνεσπάραξεν αὐτόν, καὶ πεσὼν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἐκυλίετο ἀφρίζων. I can see two ways of reading this - either the boy is the one who ἰδὼν Jesus, or the spirit within him (so masc. part. is CAS). Looking at the other participles in the verse, they clearly describe physical actions that the boy is doing (πεσὼν ... ἀφρίζων), so my initial instinct is to read ἰδὼν as referring to the boy, and not the spirit. Would then account for the mention of τὸ πνεῦμα as giving a separate subject for the action of the verb συνεσπάραξεν. A third option would be to not think of the two as separate entities, and so it's not a case of "either/or" but "both", as they're rather intertwined at this moment. I see a similar thing in Mark 9:26 - καὶ κράξας καὶ πολλὰ σπαράξας ἐξῆλθεν - the participles describe the physical actions of the boy, and the verb is the action that the spirit does ('And after crying out and convulsing violently, it departed'). Thoughts? Statistics: Posted by S Walch — February 18th, 2017, 8:30 pm