Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

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Thursday, March 11

When does "That" Mean "He"? (Mark 6:2)

Because Greek is an inflected language, words that go together don't have to be next to each other. It can make translation a little challenging, though, when you start reordering words and phrases to make sense in English.

Comments

I would go one step further and insist that Greek has no third person personal pronoun. It just does not exist in the language! αυτος (dative αυτω and neuter-plural ταυτα) just means "same" and it is an English-ism to read a personal pronoun into that. Furthermore, ουτος (dative τουτω and neuter-plural ταυτα) is a contraction of the definite article "the" plus "same," "the-same" (dictionary entry ο+αυτος = ο'υτoς, dative τω+αυτω = τ'αυτω, neuter-plural τα+αυτα=τ'αυτα). So, you've got to go all the way from what is written, "from-whence the-same(s) to-the-same?" to however you want to render that in English, which of course you can't do word-for-word "literally" (so much for "word-for-word literal" translations) while having it understandable to any mind only accustomed to reading English, in this case. This also means that the textual variant, αυτω vs. τουτω, would not "clarify" anything, both because αυτω is not a personal pronoun (it means "same"), and because the masculine and neuter forms of the word have the same spelling! The difference in the textual variant, therefore, would come down to whether the text said "same" or "the-same," a difference that is inconsequential.