Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.Chap. 14:1, 2.] Conspiracy of the Jewish authorities against Jesus. Matthew 26:1-5.Luk 22:1Luk 22:1, Luke 22:2. The account of the events preceding the passion in our Gospel takes a middle rank between those of Matt. and Luke. It contains very few words which are not to be found in one or other of them; but at the same time the variations from both are so frequent and irregular, as in my opinion wholly to preclude the idea that Mark had ever seen either. The minute analysis of any passage in the three will, I think, convince an unprejudiced examiner of this.
On the chronological difficulties which beset this part of the Gospel history, see note on Matthew 26:17.
1.] τὸ πάσχα καὶ τὰ ἄζ., classed together, because the time of eating the Passover was actually the commencement of the feast of unleavened bread. The announcement by our Lord of his approaching death (Matthew 26:2) is omitted by Mark and Luke.
2.] μήποτε ἔσται indicates a certain expectation of that which is deprecated. See Winer, § 56. 2. b. Notice also ἔσται, not γενήσεται: “ne, quod suspicamur, tumultus futurus sit,” h. e. “erit alioquin (neque enim oriendi notio inculcatur), ut suspicamur, tumultus.” C. F. Fritzsche, in Fritzschiorum Opuscula, p. 285.
3-9.] The anointing at Bethany. 3John 1:1-83Jn_1:1-83Jn_1:1-8. (On Luke 7:36-50, see note there.) The whole narrative has remarkable points of similarity with that of John,—and is used by Professor Bleek (Beiträge zur Evangelienkritik, p. 83) as one of the indications that Mark had knowledge of and used the Gospel of John. My own view, as explained in the general Prolegomena, leads me to a different conclusion.
I have already remarked (note on Matthew 26:3), that while Matt. seems to have preserved trace of the parenthetic nature of this narrative, by his τοῦ δὲ Ἰ. γενομένου (ver. 6), and τότε πορευθείς (ver. 14),—such trace altogether fails in our account. It proceeds as if continuous.
3. νάρδου πιστικῆς] It seems impossible to assign any certain, or even probable meaning, to πιστικῆς (a word found here and in John’s narrative only). The Vulg. and the lat. mss. c ff2 q render it “spicati.” The ancient Commentators give us nothing but conjecture. Euthymius and Theophylact interpret it “genuine:” καταπεπιστευμένην εἰς καθαρότητα, Euth.; ἄδολον καὶ μετὰ πίστεως κατασκευασθεῖσαν, Theophyl.; ‘veram et absque dolo,’ Jerome. Augustine supposes it to refer to some place from which the nard came. Origen’s comment on the passage is lost. The expression no where occurs in the classics, nor in Clement of Alex., who gives a long account (Pædagog. ii. 8, pp. 76-79 ) of ointments. The word can therefore hardly signify any particular kind of ointment technically so called.
The modern interpretations of the word are principally of two kinds: the first, agreeing with Euth. and Theophyl., ‘genuine,’ ‘unadulterated;’ which sense however of the word does not any where else occur. It is used transitively for πειστικός, ‘persuasive,’ by Aristotle (Rhet. i. 2), and in some later writers for πιστός, as ὁ πιστικώτατος τῶν θεραπόντων, Cedrenus, Annal., cited by Lücke on John 12:3. Euseb. also uses the word (Demonstr. Evang. ix. vol. iv. p. 684, ed. Migne), but in the sense of ‘pertaining to the faith,’ as his Latin translator renders it, or, as Lücke thinks, perhaps ‘potable,’ as a derivative of πιστός (from πίνω).
This brings us to the second modern interpretation, which makes πιστικός ‘liquid,’ ‘potable,’ and derives it as above. There certainly was a kind of ointment which they drank; for Athenæus (xv. 39, p. 689) quotes from Hicesius, τῶν μύρων ἃ μέν ἐστι χρίματα, ἃ δʼ ἀλείμματα. καὶ ῥόδινον μὲν πρὸς πότον ἐπιτήδειον, ἔτι δὲ μύρσινον, μήλινον· τοῦτο δέ ἐστι καὶ εὐστόμαχον καὶ ληθαργικοῖς χρήσιμον … καὶ ἡ στακτὴ δʼ ἐπιτήδειος πρὸς πότον, ἔτι δὲ νάρδος. The only objection to this interpretation is, that the word is no where found—which however is not so decisive as in the last case, for, as πιστικός from πιστός, ‘faithful,’ so there might be πιστικός from πιστός, ‘potable’—and from being a term confined to dealers in ointments, it might have escaped notice elsewhere.
Lücke (from whom the substance of this note is derived) seems to incline to Augustine’s conjecture (see above): but then surely the name would be more common, as ‘balm of Gilead,’ &c.
The uncertainty being so great, the best rendering would be to leave the word untranslated, as Jer. Taylor does in his “Life of Christ” (sect. 15): ‘Nard Pistick.’ Bp. Wordsw. sees in the word the mystical sense, that “offerings to Christ should be … the fruits of a lively and loving πίστις, or faith, in Him.”
συντρ. τὴν ἀλάβ. can hardly mean only having broken the resin with which the cork was sealed. In ch. 5:4: John 19:36: Revelation 2:27, the word is used of breaking, properly so called: and I see no objection to supposing that the ἀλάβαστρον was crushed in the hand, and the ointment thus poured over His head. The feet would then (John 12:3) be anointed with what remained on the hands of Mary, or in the broken vase (see note on Luke 7:38).
4, 5. τινες] See notes on Matt. The δην. τριακοσ. is common to our narrative and that of John.
ἐπάνω does not govern τρ. δην.: the genitive is one of price.
6.] ἄφετε αὐτ., also common to John, but as addressed to Judas.
7.] The agreement verbatim here of Matt. and John, whereas our narrative inserts the additional clause καὶ ὅταν θέλητε δύνασθε αὐτοὺς εὖ ποιῆσαι, is decisive against the idea that Mark compiled his account from the other two. In these words there appears to be a reproach conveyed to Judas, and perhaps an allusion to the office of giving to the poor being his.
8.] We have here again a striking addition peculiar to Mark—ὃ ἔσχεν ἐποίησεν—she did what she could: a similar praise to that given to the poor widow, ch. 12:44—πάντα ὅσα εἶχεν ἔβαλεν. We have also the expression προέλαβεν μυρίσαι, shewing, as I have observed on Matt., that the act was one of prospective love, grounded on the deepest apprehension of the reality of our Lord’s announcement of His approaching death.
9.] See notes on Matt. ver. 13.
10, 11.] Compact of Judas with the chief priests to betray Him. Matthew 26:14-16. Luke 22:3-6. The only matters requiring notice are,—the elliptical ἀκούσαντες,—‘hearing the proposal,’—and ἐπηγγείλαντο, implying, as does συνέθεντο in Luke, that the money was not paid now, either as full wages or as earnest-money,—but promised; and paid (most probably) when the Lord was brought before the Sanhedrim, which was what Judas undertook to do. The ὁ before εἷς untranslatable in English: ‘that one of the twelve’ is too strongly demonstrative: and yet ὁ is demonstrative, and expresses much.
12.] ὅτε τὸ π. ἔθυον, like Luke’s expression ᾗ ἔδει θύεσθαι τὸ π., denotes the ordinary day, when they (i.e. the Jews) sacrificed the Passover;—for that the Lord ate His Passover on that day, and at the usual time, is the impression conveyed by the testimony of the three Evangelists: see notes on Matt. ver. 17, and Luke ver. 7.
We may notice that if this Gospel, as traditionally reported, was drawn up under the superintendence of Peter, we could hardly have failed to have the names of the two disciples given;—nor again would our narrator have missed (and the omission is an important one) the fact that the Lord first gave the command, to go and prepare the Passover—which Luke only relates.
It becomes a duty to warn students of the sacred word against fanciful interpretations. A respected Commentator of our own day explains the pitcher of water, which led the way to the room where the last Supper was celebrated, to mean “the baptismal grace” which we have “in earthen vessels,” which “leads on to other graces, even to the Communion of Christ’s Body and Blood.”
15.] In the midst of a verbal accordance with Luke we have here inserted ἕτοιμον, indicating that the guest-chamber was already prepared for the celebration of the Passover, as would indeed be probable at this time in Jerusalem. The disciples had therefore only to get ready the Passover itself.
The account of Luke (ver. 16) supplies the important saying of our Lord respecting the fulfilment of the two parts of the Passover feast—see notes there. After our ver. 17, comes in the washing of the disciples’ feet by the Lord, as related in John 13:1-20.
18.] The words ὁ ἐσθίων μετʼ ἐμοῦ are peculiar to Mark, and, as we have seen before, bear a relation to John’s account, where our Lord had just before cited ὁ τρώγων κ.τ.λ., ver. 18. They do not designate any particular person, but give pathos to the contrast which follows.
19.] εἷς κατά (or καθʼ) εἷς, a later Greek phrase in which the preposition serves merely as an adverb of distribution, is treated by Winer, § 37. 3. The ἄλλος following is used as if not εἷς κατὰ εἷς but only εἷς had been used. Meyer remarks that such broken construction is suitable to the graphic tendency of our Evangelist.
20.] This description of the traitor here again does not seem to designate one especially, nor to describe an action at that moment proceeding, but, as before, pathetically to describe the near relation of the betrayer to the Betrayed. Now however the relation pointed out is still closer than before—it is that of one dipping in the same dish—one of those nearest and most trusted.
26-31.] Declaration that all should forsake Him. Confidence of Peter. Matthew 26:30-35. (See Luke 22:31-34, and notes there.) Our account is almost verbatim the same as that in Matt., where see notes. The few differences are there commented on.
29.] εἰ καὶ πάντες—if even all: καὶ εἰ πάντες—‘even if all.’ The καί before εἰ intensifies the whole hypothesis: the και after εἰ intensifies only that word which it introduces in the hypothesis. See Klotz on Devar. p. 519 f.: where however the account is not quite as clear as might be desired. ἀλλά has here its full adversative exceptional force—notwithstanding: cf. Il. θ. 153, 154, εἴπερ γάρ σʼ Ἕκτωρ γε κακὸν καὶ ἀνάλκιδα φήσει, ἀλλʼ οὐ πείσονται Τρῶες καὶ Δαρδανίωνες: and Klotz on Devar. p. 93.
30.] Notice the climax: σήμερον, but not only this—ταύτῃ τῇ νυκτί, the part of it now present: nor only so, but πρὶν ἢ δὶς ἀλέκτορα φωνῆσαι, before a cock crow twice, i.e. long before the night is over.
31.] ἐκπερισσῶς ἐλάλει, went on repeating superabundantly: the ἐλάλει giving Peter’s continued and excessive iteration, the ἔλεγον following expressing merely the one, or, at all events, less frequent saying of the same by the rest. The reading ἔλεγεν has apparently been a correction, λαλεῖν signifying to speak and not to say, and its peculiar fitness here being missed.
οὐ μή with fut. indic. makes the certainty of the assertion doubly sure. The E. V. attempts to represent this by adding “in any wise.” We sometimes give the same effect by substituting the objective future for the subjective, “I never shall deny thee.”
33.] Notice the graphic ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι, and see note on ch. 9:15. St. Matt. has λυπεῖσθαι.
36.] ἀββᾶ = אַבָּא, an Aramaic form, and after Mark’s manner inserted, as ‘Ephphatha,’ ch. 7:34,—‘Talitha cum,’ ch. 5:41.
ὁ πατήρ is not the interpretation of ἀββᾶ, but came to be attached to it in one phrase, as a form of address: see reff. Meyer rightly supplies the ellipsis after ἀλλʼ: nevertheless, the question is not …: not οὐ γινέσθω, which would not come into construction with τί … τί.
39.] τὸν αὐτὸν λόγον, not verbatim, but in substance: see Matt.
41. ἀπέχει] Scil. your γρηγορεῖν μετʼ ἐμοῦ. The Lord had no need of it any more, now that the hour had come: not, as Bengel, Kuinoel, ., ‘Satis somnorum est:’ this, as Meyer observes, is refuted by the καθεύδετε λοιπόν. This meaning of ἀπέχει, sufficit, is found in very few and late, but those quite sufficient examples. Meyer mentions Pseud.-Anacreon, Od. xxviii. 33, ἀπέχει, βλέπω γὰρ αὐτήν: and Cyril on Haggai 2:9, ἐμὸν φησὶ τὸ ἀργύριον καὶ ἐμὸν τὸ χρυσίον· τουτέστιν ἀπέχει, καὶ πεπλήρωμαι, καὶ δεδέημαι τῶν τοιούτων οὐδενός.
44.] On the pluperfect without the augment, see Winer, § 12. 9.
σύσσημον is a word belonging to later Greek. We have in Diod. Sic. xx. 42, ἦρε τὸ συγκείμενον πρὸς μάχην σύσσημον, ἀσπίδα κεχρυσωμένην. See other examples in Kypke.
ἀπάγετε ἀσφαλῶς] It does not quite appear whether ἀσφαλῶς is to be subjectively taken, ‘with confidence;’ or objectively, ‘safely.’ Some suppose that it has an ironical meaning—q. d. ‘He will know how to rescue himself—take care that you keep Him safe.’ This of course depends upon the view taken of the whole character and purpose of Judas, on which see notes at Matthew 26:14 and 27:3.
45.] ῥαββεί appears to have been the usual form in which Judas addressed our Lord—see Matthew 26:25. But we must not conclude from this with Bengel, that he never seems to have called Him Lord: see Matthew 7:21, Matthew 7:22.
51.] It is impossible to determine, and therefore idle to enquire, who this was. Epiphanius, Hær. lxxviii. 13, vol. i. (ii., Migne) p. 1045, in recounting the traditional austerities of James the brother of the Lord, says, ὃς χιτώνιον δεύτερον οὐκ ἐνεδύσατο ὃς τριβωνίῳ ἐκέχρητο λίνῳ μονωτἀτῳ, καθάπερ ἐν εὐαγγελίῳ φησὶν Ἔφυγεν ὁ νεανίας καὶ ἀφῆκε τὴν σινδόνα ἣν ἦν περιβεβλημένος. Chrys. al. supposed it to have been St. John: alii aliter. It seems to have been some attached disciple of the Lord (probably well known to the readers of Mark), who had gone to rest, and had been aroused by the intelligence. The disciples were not laid hold of:—this person perhaps was throwing some obstacle in the way of the removal of Jesus: or he may have been laid hold of merely in wantonness, from his unusual garb.
γυμνοῦ does not require σώματος to be supplied, but γυμνόν is a neuter substantive: see on this usage generally Kühner, Gramm. ii. p. 118.
53. ἀρχιερέα] Caiaphas, de facto, and in the view of our narrator;—so Matt. and Luke: but Jesus was first taken before Annas, who was de jure the high-priest: see John 18:12-23. It is not easy to interpret συνέρχονται αὐτῷ. Meyer, relying on the fact that the dative after συνέρχεσθαι is always one of companionship, maintains that αὐτῷ refers to our Lord—‘there come with him.’ And so Winer, Exo_6, § 31. 5 ad fin. But surely this is very precarious. For 1) St. Mark uses this verb once only besides here, and then absolutely. And there could be no difficulty in taking it thus here and applying αὐτῷ to the High-priest as a dative of direction. And 2) could it be said of one whom they ἀπήγαγον, that he ἔρχεται to the High-priest? I venture therefore to prefer the usual construction of the words, ‘there come together to him.’ The E. V. has ‘with him were assembled;’ and so Winer in former editions of his Grammar.
54.] The usage of φῶς for a fire is found in Xen. Cyr. vii. 5. 27, οἱ δʼ ἐπὶ τοὺς φύλακας ταχθέντες ἐπεισπίπτουσιν αὐτοῖς πίνουσι πρὸς φῶς πολύ.
56.] ἴσαι—consistent with one another. It was necessary that two witnesses should agree. Deuteronomy 17:6. (ἰσος should not be accentuated as in Homer, ἶσος, but as in later writers, ἴσος.)
57.] τινες,—two; see Matt.
58.] ἡμεῖς and ἐγώ are emphatic. Some have imagined (De Wette, Meyer) that they find in these words χειροπ. and ἀχειρ. traces of later Christian tradition, and an allusion to Hebrews 9:11: Acts 7:48; but such conjectures are at best very unsafe, and the words are quite as likely to have been uttered by the Lord as they here stand. The allusion is probably to Daniel 2:34.
59.] Perhaps the inconsistency of these testimonies may be traced in the different reports here and in Matt.
οὕτως,—‘in asserting this’—i.e. they varied in the terms in which it was expressed.
60.] On the most probable punctuation and construction, see note on Matt. ver. 62.
61.] τοῦ εὐλ., Heb. הַבָּרוּךְ, the ordinary Name for God. “This is the only place in the N.T. where the well-known Sanctus Benedicous of the Rabbis is thus absolutely given.” Meyer.
62.] The ἀπʼ ἄρτι of Matt., and ἀπο τοῦ νῦν of Luke, are here omitted.
63.] χιτῶνας—not his priestly robe, which was worn only in the temple, and when officiating: see on Matt. ver. 65.
The plural, τοὺς χιτ., perhaps is due to the wearing of two inner garments by persons of note: see Winer, Realw. art. “Kleidung,” i. p. 662.
65.] ἤρξαντο—when the sentence was pronounced. The τινες appear to be members of the Sanhedrim: the servants follow. προφήτ.] Matt. and Luke explain this: ‘Prophesy, who smote thee?’
The reading ἔλαβον is harsh in sense, but the coincidence of ἐλάμβανον in al. seems to stamp it with genuineness. The meaning must be ‘took Him in hand with,’ ‘treated Him with.’ Meyer understands it, took Him into custody, with …, for the further carrying out of the sentence against Him. But the unemphatic position of the verb seems to preclude this.
66.] κάτω, because the house was built round the αὐλή, and the rooms looked down into it. See note on Matthew 26:69.
68.] οὔτε οἶδα, scil. αὐτόν: an union of two separate answers, which form the 1st and 2nd in Matt. The οὔτε … οὔτε simply connect: the repetition being that of urgent denial.
τὸ προαύλ. = τὸν πυλῶνα Matt.
The omission of the words καὶ ἀλ. ἐφ. appears to be an attempt to harmonize the accounts.
69.] ἡ παιδίσκη—in Matt. ἄλλη, in Luke ἕτερος. Meyer does not appear to be justified in asserting that this is necessarily the same maid as before: it might be only the maid in waiting in the προαύλιον: see note on Matt.
70.] μετὰ μικρόν = διαστάσης ὡσεὶ ὥρας μιᾶς, Luke.
καὶ γάρ, for, in addition to all that has been hitherto said …
72. ἐπιβαλών] No entirely satisfactory meaning has yet been given for this word. 1) Hammond and Palairet supply τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς τῷ Ἰησοῦ—but besides this being most fanciful, the fact was not so: see Luke ver. 61. 2) The vulgate, ., Euth., Thl.2, Luth., Kuin., take ἐπιβαλὼν ἔκλαιεν for ἐπέβαλεν κλαίειν, ‘he began to weep.’ But granting that this is a later meaning of the word (Kuin. cites ἐπέβαλε τερετίζειν, cantillare cœpit, Diog. Laërt. vi. 2. 4, and has ἐπέβαλεν· ἤρξατο), yet this participial construction will not bear that interpretation. Acts 11:4, which Kuin. cites to support it, has quite another meaning—see note there. 3) Grot., Le Clerc, al. render it ‘addens flevit’—i.e. he continued weeping (so ἐπιβαλὼν ἐρωτᾶν Theophr. Char. 8. ἐπιβαλών φησι Diod. Sic. p. 345 b);—but then his beginning to weep would have been noticed before. Grot. wants to give it the sense of ‘prœterea.’ 4) Beza, Raphel, Bretschn., Wahl, al. say, ‘quum se foras projecisset;’ but although ἐπιβάλλειν τινί or ἐπί τι may mean ‘to rush upon’ (see 1 Macc. 4:2), it cannot stand alone in this meaning. The chief support of this sense is the ἐξελθὼν ἔξω of Matt. and Luke: but this cannot decide the matter. 5) Thl. al. supply τὸ ἱμάτιον τῇ κεφαλῇ, ‘casting or drawing his mantle over his head,’ but this, without any precedent for such an ellipsis, although it suits the sense very well, appears fanciful. 6) . al. take it for ‘attendere,’ and some supply τῇ ἀλεκτοροφωνίᾳ, others τῷ ῥήματι: Wetst. and Kypke have however shewn that the word is used absolutely in this sense, in Polyb. and other late writers. One example given by Kypke is much to the point: ‘ἀεὶ μὲν γινώσκει, ἄλλως δὲ καὶ ἄλλως ἐπιβάλλει, καὶ μᾶλλόν ἐστιν ὅτε καὶ ἧττον, semper quidem cognoscit, sed diversis modis res animadvertit, imo magis interdum et minus:’ Hierocl. in carm. Pythag. p. 14.
The above list is taken mainly from De Wette (Exeg. Handb. p. 247), who while preferring this last sense, yet thinks that it was before expressed in ἀνεμνήσθη. But ἐπιβαλών contains more than ἀνεμν.: that was the bare momentary remembrance—the ῥῆμα occurred to him;—this is the thinking, or, as we sometimes say, casting it over; going back step by step through the sad history. This sense, though not wholly satisfactory, appears to me the best.
In ἔκλαιεν, Bp. Wordsw. well points out the imperf. “wept, and continued weeping: something more than ἔκλαυσε.”