Mark 1:41 (TNIV)

Why did the TNIV folks translate splagxnizomai in Mark 1:41 as “indignant”?  Why would Jesus be indignant at the idea of healing a man with leprosy?   Then, in the Reference Bible, the Topical Ties for 1:41 is Compassion of Jesus.  They do note in the footnotes “Many manuscripts Jesus was filled with compassion.”

This is going to bother me…

Please enlighten me.  

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15 responses to “Mark 1:41 (TNIV)

  1. There’s been a lot of discussion on the textual variant here. I’m not particularly informed on it, so I won’t try and make a decision either way. Here is what Metzger says about the verse:

    σπλαγχνισθείς {B}

    It is difficult to come to a firm decision concerning the original text. On the one hand, it is easy to see why ὀργισθείς (“being angry”) would have prompted over–scrupulous copyists to alter it to σπλαγχνισθείς (“being filled with compassion”), but not easy to account for the opposite change. On the other hand, a majority of the Committee was impressed by the following considerations. The character of the external evidence in support of ὀργισθείς is less impressive than the diversity and character of evidence that supports σπλαγχνισθείς. At least two other passages in Mark, which represent Jesus as angry (3.5) or indignant (10.14), have not prompted over–scrupulous copyists to make corrections. It is possible that the reading ὀργισθείς either was suggested by ἐμβριμησάμενος of ver. 43, or arose from confusion between similar words in Aramaic (compare Syriac ethraḥm, “he had pity,” with ethraÔem, “he was enraged”).

  2. It is important to notice where Jesus was teaching when this healing occurred. Apparently Jesus was in a synagogue (Mark 1:39) where the Jews of the town had gathered to hear God’s Word. If so, this man’s presence could have rendered an entire Jewish community unclean! Although Jesus challenged the traditions that had been added to the Law of Moses, he consistently called his people to live by the laws that God had graciously given them through Moses (see Mark 1:44). According to these laws, the leprous man was supposed to have sequestered himself away from his fellow Jews (Leviticus 13). Instead, he placed an entire Jewish community in danger of ceremonial uncleanness. Is it any wonder that Jesus became angry? And still, Jesus healed him. So was Jesus angry or was he conpassionate? Yes.

    Timonthy Paul Jones, Misquoting Truth (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2007), 73-74.

  3. A quick look at the NET Bible study notes says the following:

    74 tc
    The reading found in almost the entire NT ms tradition is σπλαγχνισθείς (splanchnistheis, “moved with compassion”). Codex Bezae (D), {1358}, and a few Latin MSS (a ff2 r1*) here read ὀργισθείς (orgistheis, “moved with anger”). It is more difficult to account for a change from “moved with compassion” to “moved with anger” than it is for a copyist to soften “moved with anger” to “moved with compassion,” making the decision quite difficult. B. M. Metzger (TCGNT 65) suggests that “moved with anger” could have been prompted by 1:43, “Jesus sent the man away with a very strong warning.” It also could have been prompted by the man’s seeming doubt about Jesus’ desire to heal him (v. 40). As well, it is difficult to explain why scribes would be prone to soften the text here but not in Mark 3:5 or 10:14 (where Jesus is also said to be angry or indignant). Thus, in light of diverse MSS supporting “moved with compassion,” and at least a plausible explanation for ὀργισθείς as arising from the other reading, it is perhaps best to adopt σπλαγχνισθείς as the original reading. Nevertheless, a decision in this case is not easy. For the best arguments for ὀργισθείς, however, see M. A. Proctor, “The ‘Western’ Text of Mark 1:41: A Case for the Angry Jesus” (Ph.D. diss., Baylor University, 1999).

    I’ll look at a few of my commentaries and see if I find anything else that may be of assistance.

    Bryan L

  4. I checked out Joel Marcus’s commentary on Mark 1-8 (which is probably my favorite commentary on Mark) and found the following:

    Marcus says in his translation note:

    41. becoming incensed. Gk orgistheis, a text read by Western witnesses (D, Old Latin, Ephraem), though a much more widely attested reading is splanch-nistheis (“moved with compassion”; א, A, B, C, etc.). The latter, however, is probably a scribal amelioration, though it may also reflect the interchange of the gutturals heth and ‘ayin in the Aramaic words ethra’em (= “he was enraged”) and ethraham (= “he had pity on”; see Stahlin, “Orge,” 5.427 n. 326). It is irrelevant for Metzger (76-77) to object against the amelioration theory that copyists have let Jesus’ anger stand in Mark 3:5 and 10:14; in these passages the anger is easily comprehensible, whereas in 1:41 it is not. If splanchnistheis was the original reading, moreover, Matthew and Luke would probably have included it in their parallels, since they use the term elsewhere of Jesus (Matt 9:36; Luke 7:13), whereas if orgistheis was original, it is easy to understand why scribes and the later Gospels changed it (see Guelich, 72, and Hooker, 79-80). The Scholars Bible accepts orgistheis but translates it concessively (“although Jesus was indignant”), but the related participle embrimesamenos (“growling”) in 1:43 is causal, and in John 11:33, 38, which also use embrimesamenos, Jesus’ indignation at the power of death is the motivation for a miraculous healing (see Brown, 1.425-26).

    And in his comments on the verse he says:

    Jesus responds to the man’s entreaty with a puzzling mixture of emotions: he becomes incensed, yet stretches out his hand and touches the supplicant, accompanying this action with words that highlight his desire to help: “I do want to” (1:41). Scholars have been puzzled by Jesus’ anger and have suggested some unlikely explanations of it: the petitioner is ritually unclean, for example (but why would this make Jesus angry?), or he has doubts about Jesus’ willingness to heal, or he has interrupted Jesus’ preaching mission. All of these explanations read too much into the narrative and fail to account for the duality of Jesus’ response; rather, as Hooker (80) argues, Jesus’ rage is directed not at the man but at the demonic forces responsible for his affliction (cf. b. Ketub. 61b, where scale-disease is ascribed to an evil spirit, and perhaps already 4Q272; see J. Baumgarten, “4Q Zadokite,” 162). This explanation is supported by the usage in 1:43 of exebalen (“threw . . . out”), the term used elsewhere for Jesus’ ejection of demons (1:34, 39, etc.). There are, moreover, especially close parallels between our passage and the exorcism a few verses earlier in 1:21-28: Jesus encounters uncleanness and engages in an angry rebuke, the impurity “comes out” of the man, and the result is the spreading of Jesus’ fame (see Kertelge, Wunder, 72).
    Thus Jesus’ rage at the disease or at the demon that has caused it is mixed with his compassion for the man whom it has attacked, and by his gesture of touching the man he even risks contracting ritual impurity himself. But instead of impurity passing from the man to Jesus, the purity of Jesus’ holiness (cf. 1:24) passes from him to the man, and the latter is cured (1:42; cf. Chrysostom Homily on Matthew 25.2).

    Hope that helps.

    Bryan L

  5. Hadn’t caught that…the textual variant makes sense as to why they would choose to use that word. Then it would not be a poor or wrong translation of σπλαγχνισθεις but the correct translation of the other word (which they would then be advocating as the original). I will have to dig a little deeper on that. Thanks for mentioning it.

  6. AH…. those sneaky textual variants! Thanks for the helps.

    Nick – your quote doesn’t make sense to me since I don’t see in the text that he in a synagouge. Certainly in the previous verse it says he was preaching in their synagogues, but there is no indication he was in a synagogue at the time of the healing. At least it is not clear to me anyways.

    To both Bryan L’s – I have to remember that I have BW7 and it has the NET notes on it too! And I have Metzger too! Silly me. I have David Garland’s NIVAC Mark commentary and he seems to go along the lines of what Marcus is saying (more or less) that Jesus was more angry at the disease than the man himself. Ben Witherington says things along similar lines.

    Thanks again! Looks like the TNIV wins the day! (though it is a bit egnimatic)

  7. There is an old Textual Criticism adage: “The most difficult text is most often the original text” It’s not universal, and of course there is good science behind it, but it is a convenient memorization tool which basically condenses all the good stuff the commentators (above) already said.

  8. I believe that Jesus’ anger is NOT with the man or the disease……it is with the priests who have the POWER to decide who is clean and who is UNCLEAN, and all the ritual power to ostracize from the community. That is why he says GO SHOW YOURSELF TO THE PRIESTS………..I think this indicates that a NEW authority from GOD has arrived on the scene, and indeed it is an authority much more compassionate in its goals.

  9. Manuscripts older then Codex Besae has the word splanchnistheis. So the theory that scribes softened this verse is quite unlikely.

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