Danila via email pointed me to Mk 10:32, specifically asking about the use of ‘apostle’ and of ‘One day’. Thanks Danila!
Anyway, I looked at it and made some changes, specifically:
The OEB currently reads:
One day, when they were on their way, going up to Jerusalem, Jesus was walking in front of the apostles, who were filled with misgivings; while those who were following behind were alarmed.
I see four issues:
Firstly, Danila's question, should we refer to the Twelve as ‘disciples’ or ‘apostles’?
As background, The UBS Translator’s Handbook puts it,
“There is general agreement that the subject of ‘they were going up to Jerusalem’ is ‘Jesus and his disciples’; that the subject of ‘they were amazed’ is ‘the disciples’; and that ‘but those others who were following were afraid’ refers to people other than the disciples.”
Mk 10:32 only has aujtou - NRSV/ESV etc say "Jesus was walking ahead of them”. Like a number of other translations, the OEB specifies the pronoun to give clarity.
Apostle isn’t unheard of as a reference pre ressurection in Mark - see eg Mk 6:30, so I don’t think its use here is invalid, but ‘disciples’ is certainly the more common reference in the gospels, and the most common word used in this verse by other English translations, so let’s go with the herd on this one. :)
Secondly, ‘One Day’
I don’t think that from the structure of Mark that you can assume he means to imply that each described event happens immediately after the previous, and I don’t think our translation (written for an audience familar with modern narrative texts and their unstated implications) should give that impression. Also I wouldn't expect a new narrative chunk to begin with a pronoun. I suspect that’s why translations such as TEV, CEV, CEB start with somethiing like “Jesus and his disciples were on the road”. But I agree that ‘One day’ is probably not necessary, especially since we have a section break just before this start of the paragraph, and I’m not too worried about the unspecified ‘They’ leading the sentence as it becomes clear pretty quickly who is in focus.
Thirdly “were filled with misgivings vs ‘were alarmed’
I don’t think this captures the distinction here. qambe÷w is a strong word, other translations have ‘filled with alarm’, ‘full of wonder’, ‘shocked’, ‘astonished’, ‘filled with awe’ etc. I think we need something which captures the difference between the simple overwhelming fear of the crowd following, and the disciples who are scared, but know enough to realise that something big is happening.
Fourthly, “on their way”
I can see how the 20CNT translators ended up here starting from the KJV/ASV, but rather than moving ‘way’ from the meaning of a road, path into the phrase ‘on your way’ (which nowdays just means going towards your intended destination) the translation has lost the concretness of the meaning. The travellers were literally on the road to Jerusalem (as well as being narratively on the road to the cross)
So in conclusion, I think we should go with:
They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, with Jesus walking in front of them. The disciples were filled with awe, while those who were following behind were overwhelmed with fear.
1. Only a minor point, but the δέ conjunction here is seems to be contrastive, so perhaps "but" or "however" would be a better option instead of "while", i.e.
They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, with Jesus walking in front of them. The disciples were filled with awe, but those who were following behind were overwhelmed with fear.
That said, checking other translations, NET/HCSB do use "but", NIV does use "while", and others (NLT, KJV, ESV) are more than happy to use "and".
2. On a side note, I notice you retain the sense of the participle in "following" rather than following the more traditional practice of conveying the participle as simple past tense, i.e. "followed". Is there a reason for this? (Personally I prefer "following", however I usually avoid this due to the fact the major translations avoid this)
δέ (Hom.+) one of the most common Gk. particles, used to connect one clause to another, either to express contrast or simple continuation. When it is felt that there is some contrast betw. clauses—though the contrast is oft. scarcely discernible—the most common translation is ‘but’. When a simple connective is desired, without contrast being clearly implied, ‘and’ will suffice, and in certain occurrences the marker may be left untranslated (Denniston 162–89; Schwyzer 2, 562; B-D-F §447)
In reply to this post by russellallen
All sounds good, but just some notes on the fourth point:
So, "the Way" is an important theme/recurring phrase/marker in Mark, particularly in this cluster (8:27-10:45, all in between two stories of recovering sight.).
A reference to it opens the book, it's mentioned briefly in the parable of the sower (4:4, 15) and at 6:8, and we return to it (along with other themes from the first chapter) at the midway point of the book in 8:27, and following it at 9:33-34, 10:17, 10:32, 10:46, and to end the cycle, 10:52.
We should probably make sure it's translated consistently here, and I have a slight preference for "the way" since, as in Acts, an early name for Christians was followers of "the Way", and it's referenced a lot in devotionals, commentaries, etc.
Interesting point here about the theme of "the way". In this case the greek seems to being literal not metaphorical:
> Ἦσαν δὲ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ἀναβαίνοντες εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα
> "They were" "and/but" "in/on" the "road/way" "going up" "to/into" "Jerusalem"
That is to say, this phrase seems to me to be describing background information, telling us literally what is going on. I don't see how this verse might continue to a theme of "the way" in Mark? Perhaps you can elaborate for us?
In reply to this post by Israel Rhoden
Thanks for the comments!
I read while in this context as contrastive? How do you read it? Generally I’d like to limit the numbers of ‘buts’ and ‘ands’ for obvious reasons :)
Maybe not particularly convincing reasons, but it is in our original base English translation and I don’t like to change without a good reason, also it seems more natural to me as an English sentence. I can’t see any particular change in meaning which moving to a simple past tense would communicate to the reader.
For what it’s worth, at least the newish CEB is similar: "The disciples were amazed while the others following behind were afraid.”
1. My English grammar really is worse than my greek! I looked it up and indeed "while" is contrastive in English. I had just never thought of it of it as contrastive. Thanks!
2. That explains it. I completely agree that "following" sounds much better in modern English. It frustrates me that modern translations usually translate the participle into past tense.
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