Below is my translation of Mark 1:21-28, a pericope wherein Jesus enters a synagogue in the city of Capernaum and ends up casting out an unclean spirit. This story in some ways sets the tone for the rest of the Gospel because it emphasizes two aspects of Jesus’ messianic ministry: teaching and miracles. As the story begins, Jesus is teaching in the synagogue on the sabbath which causes those hearing him to become “amazed” since he taught “as one having authority and not as the scribes” (1:22). But his teaching is interrupted by a man with an unclean spirit who confronts Jesus and recognizes him for who he truly is: the holy one of God (1:24). Jesus then casts out the unclean spirit telling him to “shut up” (1:25).
This episode ends with a reiteration of how absolutely astounding Jesus’ teaching and authority are – “he commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him!” (1:27) Consequently, Jesus’ fame begins to spread throughout Galilee.
MARK 1:21-28, AEV
21 They came to Capernaum; and then on the sabbath, having entered the synagogue, he was teaching.a 22 And they were amazed at his teaching, for he was teaching themb as one having authority and not as the scribes. 23 Then suddenlyc there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out 24 saying, “What do we have in common, Jesus of Nazareth?d Have you come to destroy us? We know who you are, the holy one of God!” 25 Then Jesus rebukede him saying, “Shut upf and come out of him!” 26 Then the unclean spirit, having convulsed him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they all were astounded such that they discussed among themselves saying, “What is this? New teaching with authority: he commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him!” 28 Then the news about him immediately spread out everywhere into all the surrounding region of Galilee.
a The verb edidasken is sometimes translated as “he began teaching” or “he began to teach” (NIV, NLT, NASB, etc.). But there is no reason to consider the imperfect form here as an inceptive imperfect. As Rodney Decker points out (Mark 1-8: A Handbook on the Greek Text [Baylor University, Press, 2014] 24-25), Mark normally uses the verb archomai when he intends to communicate that something “began” to happen (see 1:45, 4:1, 5:17, etc). Thus translations like the NRSV, ESV, and others translate edidasken as “[he] taught” or “[he] was teaching.”
b “[F]or he was teaching them” is ēn gar didaskōn autous and is an example of the Markan use of periphrastic constructions. Simply stated, periphrasis occurs when an author combines an anathrous participle (i.e. a participle lacking the definite article) and a verb of being like eimi (“I am/I exist”) to express an idea. Mark uses periphrasis over two dozen times, about eight times more than the Gospel of Matthew.
c The word I have translated as “suddenly” is the frequently appearing euthus. Here the sense is that the appearance of this man with an unclean spirit has abruptly shifted the focus away from Jesus’ teaching and onto the demon-possessed man.
d “What do we have in common…?” is ti hēmin kai soi, quite literally, “What to us and to you?” R.T. France notes that the force of the expression is to say, “Go away and leave me alone” (The Gospel of Mark, NIGTC [Eerdmans, 2002], 103). A similar formulation is found in the LXX of 2 Samuel 16:10 where David says to Abishai, “What do we have in common [ti emoi kai humin], sons of Zeruiah?”
e “[R]ebuked” is epetimēsen. At its core, the root verb epitimaó means “to rebuke” or “to warn.” Robert Guelich translates epetimēsen not as “rebuked” but as “subdued.” Drawing from the work of H.C. Kee, he notes that epitimaó is related to the Hebrew verb ga’ar which conveys the sense of a command intended to bring another into submission. For more see Guelich, Mark 1 – 8:26, WBC [Thomas Nelson, 1989], 57-58.
f “Shut up” is phimōthēti, an imperatival form of phimoó. The substantive phimos is the term used for a muzzle (though phimos does not appear in the New Testament).
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