Why did the EHV not use the word “immediately” in Mark 1:21? I noticed that some translations have “immediately” in that verse while others do not.
The Greek word euthus is often translated “immediately.” But sometimes in Mark’s inspired Gospel account, it seems that the Greek word combination kai euthus instead indicates a new section. It’s almost like punctuation or a heading. In Mark 1:21, it seems that the Greek kai euthus is indicating a new section. So here is how the EHV translated kai euthus: There is a period after “Capernaum.” That is followed by a new section heading, “Jesus Drives Out a Demon.” Then there is a space, an indentation, and a capital letter indicating a new sentence. All of that is the translation of kai euthus in Mark 1:21.
When people wrote in Greek on papyri they left no spaces between words, paragraphs, and sections. They had other ways of marking transitions and pauses and new sections or subjects for the reader. Today, we mark those in English by using commas, periods, new paragraphs, and section headings. For example, the Greek words kai or de appear very often in the Gospel accounts. One of challenges of translating the Gospel accounts from Greek into English is how to render these markers into English. Sometimes the Greek words kai or de are actually “translated” into sentence divisions, punctuation, and new paragraphs. Sometimes it is said that these words are left untranslated, but that is not really the case if they are “translated” by English punctuation and a new sentence. Rather than starting almost every sentence with “and,” there are periods, spaces, and capital letters indicating new sentences in English.
In addition to that, each of the four Gospel writers has a unique word or phrase that does not seem to always retain its usual meaning (when it does not appear next to a verb) and instead marks a new thought or section/scene.
- Matthew regularly uses tote this way.
- Mark uses kai euthus.
- Luke uses kai egeneto.
- John uses oun.
What makes this difficult is that not every use of kai euthus in the Greek text is an indication of a new section in Mark. Professor David Kuske wrote an article entitled, “Translating Connectives,” which explains this translation issue in more detail. [LINK]
Here are a few additional notes/references for those who know Greek:
- One Greek grammar text notes: “Mark, for example, often uses εὐθύς, an adjective functioning adverbially (often preceded by καί), to signal significant turning points in his narrative” (Stanley E. Porter, Idioms of the Greek New Testament (Sheffield: JSOT, 1999, p. 305).
- Those who know Greek might also consult Moulton’s Grammar of New Testament Greek, volume 3, page 229 for more examples.
- One commentator explains on Mark 1:10: “Here is the first use of Mark’s characteristic adverb εὐθύς, which occurs 11 times in the first chapter alone…usually to introduce a new incident, or a dramatic new phase within an episode…” (R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 2002, page 76).