Markan Stereotypes and Pick-Ups
Hebrew scholar Robert Lindsey believed Mark is a highly edited derivative of Luke’s Gospel. He came to this notion due to words exhibited in Mark that were difficult to translate back into Hebrew. Such words and phrases appeared with an unusually high frequency in Mark as compared to the other Synoptic Gospels. These non-Hebraic words Lindsey referred to as “Markan stereotypes. A principal example is the word εὐθύς (“immediately”) which occurs 41 times in Mark but only once in Luke. Because Matthew exhibited this same word only where it is paralleled with Mark (but not with Luke), this gave Lindsey the indication that Matthew was clearly influenced by Mark. This also demonstrates that Luke exhibits independence from Mark and produces a more Hebraic text than both Mark and Matthew.
Also, the observation that Mark employed certain words and phrases that do not appear in the parallels of Luke but do occur in other places in Luke or Acts gave Lindsey the indication that they are foreign to the pre-synoptic tradition. The evidence of Mark’s use of Lukan vocabulary in places where Luke’s parallel lacks the Lukan terminology strongly suggested to Lindsey that the best explanation is that the author of Mark used Luke-Acts as the primary source for his gospel. Lindsey observed the clear motivation of the Markan pick-ups was to echo the experiences of Jesus’ later followers in the stories Mark told about Jesus. In addition to identifying Markan pick-ups from Luke-Acts, Lindsey also observed that Mark incorporated words and phrases from other sources including the Epistles of Paul and the Epistle of James.
Notable Examples of Markan Stereotypes
Mark’s version of the Gospel story is dramatic, exaggerated, creative and exciting, just like the creative interpretations of Scripture found in aggadic midrash and the targumim. Mark resembles a modern graphic novel, as it has features that are similar to comic book stories. Like a comic book, the Gospel of Mark uses bold lines and vivid colors that attract a reader’s attention. A Markan stereotype pertains to these unique alternative words and phrases incorporated in Mark that exhibit a pattern of use. Below are some well-known examples of Markan Stereotypes.
The word “much” (πολλά) occurs twelve times in Mark (Mark 1:45, Mark 3:12, Mark 5:10, 23, 38, 43, Mark 6:20, 34, Mark 8:31, Mark 9:12, 26, and Mark 15:3). Only in one instance in Luke 9:22 does Luke validate Mark’s use of the word for “much.” Clearly, the adverbial use of “much” is a Markan stereotype added in many places for embellishment.
Mark has 28 instances of the word for “again,” while Luke only has three. There is only one example where Luke 23:20 supports Mark’s use of πάλιν in parallel with Mark 15:12. The fact that Luke and Matthew fail to validate the widespread Markan use of “again” and Mark’s use of the word so prolifically is a clear indication that the word is largely redactional as used in Mark.
“At his teaching”
The Gospel of Luke contains only one instance of the noun διδαχή, “teaching” in Luke 4:32. The parallels to this story in Mark and Matthew are in agreement with Luke’s statement that the audience was amazed “at his teaching” (Matt 7:28, Mark 1:22). Although Mark contains little of Jesus’ teaching, it makes several more references to his teaching in Mark 1:27, Mark 4:2, Mark 11:18, and Mark 12:38. Matthew adds only one of these additional references to Jesus’ teaching in Matt 22:33 vs. Mark 11:18.
Luke and Matthew twice agree against Mark’s use of the word for teaching:
- Luke 8:4 and Matt 13:3 compared to Mark 4:2
- Luke 20:45 and Matt 23:1 compared to Mark 11:18
This fits the profile of a Markan stereotype.
“upon the earth”
Lindsey identified ἐπί + ἡ γῆ in Mark as a Markan stereotype due to the numerous instances (5 times) in which Luke and Matthew agree against Mark’s use of this construction.
The high frequency of ἐπί + ἡ γῆ in Mark is probably due to the author of Mark’s “homogenization” of the three seed parables in that chapter by incorporating some of the vocabulary taken from one parable into one or both of the others.
“he was saying”
Exhibited in Mark is the high frequency of ἔλεγεν (“he was saying”) and ἔλεγον (“they were saying”). Instances of ἔλεγεν/ἔλεγον occur 23 times in Luke compared to 50 times in Mark’s, a much shorter gospel.
- ἔλεγεν occurs in Mark 2:27; 3:23; 4:2, 9, 11, 21, 24, 26, 30; 5:8, 28, 30; 6:4, 10, 16, 18; 7:9, 14, 20, 27; 8:21, 24; 9:1, 24, 31; 11:17; 12:35, 38; 14:36; 15:12, 14.
- ἔλεγον occurs in Mark 2:16, 24; 3:21, 22, 30; 4:41; 5:31; 6:14, 15 (2x), 35; 11:5, 28; 14:2, 31, 70; 15:31, 35; 16:3
On account of the unusually high frequency in Mark compared to Luke and Matthew, The use of ἔλεγεν/ἔλεγον in the Gospel of Mark is clearly a Markan stereotype.
The synoptic gospels do not agree at all to use the interjection ἴδε (“Look!” “See!” “Behold!”). The interjection never occurs in Luke or Acts. It appears 8 times in Mark (Mark 2:24; 3:34; 11:21; 13:1, 21; 15:4, 35; 16:6) and 4 times in Matthew (Matt. 25:20, 22, 25; 26:75). There are three Lukan-Matthean agreements against Mark’s use of ἴδε. This strongly indicates that ἴδε was a redactional addition by the author of Mark. Accordingly, ἴδε is another Markan stereotype. This pattern also fits the theory of Lukan priority followed by Markan additions and according to Matthean Posteriority, Matthew dials back on excessive use of ἴδε in Mark.
The Greek word “to look around” (περιβλέπειν) occurs 7 times in NT. Six times in Mark (Mark 3:5, 34; 5:32; 9:8; 10:23; 11:11 and once in Luke (Luke 6:10). Mark 3:5 is parallel with Luke 6:10. For this reason, Mark likely picked up περιβλέπειν from Luke 6:10 and then multiplied its use in subsequent chapters of his Gospel. Accordingly, περιβλέπειν is another Markan stereotype.
The use of “the Twelve” (οἱ δώδεκα) for the apostles occurs 10 times in Mark (Mark 3:16; 4:10; 6:7; 9:35; 10:32; 11:11; 14:10, 1720, 43). At least half of these were likely added by the author of Mark, and one example occurs in a verse unique to Mark (Mark 3:16). Only four instances of Mark’s use of “the Twelve” are supported in Luke.
“Verily, I say to you”
The Gospel of Mark has fourteen occurrences of the word amen (ἀµήν), always as part of the phrase “Amen I say to you.” These are Mark 3:28; 8:12; 9:1, 41; 10:15, 29; 11:23; 12:43; 13:30; 14:9, 18, 25, 30; 16:8. Only three of these are supported by Luke. Accordingly, the remaining instances of ἀµήν in Mark should be attributed to Markan redaction. Apparently, the author of Mark treated ἀµήν as an adverb equivalent to ἀληθῶς (“truly”) contrary to Hebrew usage. The redactional proliferation in Mark qualifies this phrase as a Markan stereotype.
“He began to teach”
The phrase “he began to teach” (ἤρξατο διδάσκειν) appears 4 times in Mark (Mark 4:1; 6:2, 34; 8:31). The combination does not occur in Matthew or Luke. It appears that Mark picked up “began to teach” from Acts 1:1, the only other place in NT where we find ἤρξατο + διδάσκειν.
In Luke, the verb σκανδαλίζειν (“to trip,” “to ensnare”) occurs 2 times, once in a DT pericope (Luke 7:23 // Matt. 11:6) and once in a TT pericope (Luke 17:2 // Matt. 18:6 // Mark 9:42). In Mark σκανδαλίζειν occurs 8 times (Mark 4:17; 6:3; 9:42, 43, 45, 47; 14:27, 29). All but one of Mark’s uses of σκανδαλίζειν in TT lack support from Luke. The author of Matthew accepted all of Mark’s uses of σκανδαλίζειν. This data suggests that the author of Mark was responsible for the proliferation of the verb σκανδαλίζειν in both Mark and Mathew.
“The other side”
Mark has four occurrences of “the other side” (τό πέραν) typically used without any further qualifier. By contrast, the phrase only occurs once in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 8:22), and never without a qualifier. Mark’s increased unqualified use of τό πέραν qualifies it as a Markan stereotype.
εἷς + genitive
Eleven times, the author of Mark used the formula εἷς + genitive to designate an individual belonging to a particular group. Eight times, the Gospels of Luke and Matthew agree together against Mark’s use of this formula. Despite the overwhelming Lukan-Matthean agreement against Mark’s εἷς + genitive formula, neither author was against this construction in principle. Luke has it 3 times without Mark’s support and it appears once in Acts. The high frequency in Mark, combined with the almost total lack of agreement with Luke despite Luke’s willingness to use the formula elsewhere, indicates that it is a Markan stereotype inspired by the use of the formula in differing contexts in Luke-Acts.
The phrase “by themselves” (κατ᾿ ἰδίαν) is an example of a Markan stereotype, given that it occurs seven times in Mark and only twice in Luke. This indicates that the author of Mark latched on to the idea that Jesus spoke privately to his disciples and embellished the frequency of instances that this occurred. He therefore repeatedly worked this theme into his Gospel. The six occurrences in the Gospel of Matthew suggest that Matthew inherited the theme of privacy from Mark.
Extensive Catalog of Markan Pickups
In the article LOY Excursus: Catalog of Markan Stereotypes and Possible Markan Pick-ups, published on the Jerusalem Perspective website and updated periodically, the authors David Bivin and Joshua Tilton describe their work to identify and collect certain redactional words and phrases characteristic of the editorial style of the author of Mark’s Gospel. In reference to the extensive catalog, they state the following:
As already mentioned, this catalog is a work in progress and is therefore not exhaustive. We will continue to add to the catalog as further Markan pick-ups and Markan stereotypes are identified in the course of our research… We also hasten to add that the catalog is not intended to be definitive: the catalog includes possible examples of Markan pick-ups for which there undoubtedly are alternative explanations. The purpose of the catalog is to collect in one place all the examples that might qualify as Markan pick-ups so that the cumulative effect of the phenomenon can be measured… While it may be easy to dismiss any one example as random, or inconclusive, or explicable on other grounds, the cumulative evidence becomes more impressive. Thus, the catalog is not intended to prove that the author of Mark picked up words and phrases from Acts, the Pauline Epistles and the Epistle of James. The catalog’s purpose is rather to collect the raw data that supports Lindsey’s hypothesis so that the cumulative evidence can be considered and scholars can evaluate whether or not Lindsey’s hypothesis is convincing. (David Bivin, LOY Excursus: Catalog of Markan Stereotypes and Possible Markan Pick-ups, Jerusalem Perspective)
The above is just a summary of the article LOY Excursus: Catalog of Markan Stereotypes and Possible Markan Pick-ups. See the article for more details. The button below is a link to the Catalog list provided by Jerusalem Perspective.com. The PDF file contains a table with extensive examples and notes.