Mark 10:2

10:2 Then some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”

tc The Western text (D it) and a few others have only καί (kai) here, rather than καὶ προσελθόντες Φαρισαῖοι (kai proselqonte" Farisaioi, here translated as “then some Pharisees came”). The longer reading, a specific identification of the subject, may have been prompted by the parallel in Matt 19:3. The fact that the mss vary in how they express this subject lends credence to this judgment: οἱ δὲ Φαρισαῖοι προσελθόντες (Joi de Farisaioi proselqonte", “now the Pharisees came”) in W Θ 565 2542 pc; καὶ προσελθόντες οἱ Φαρισαῖοι (kai proselqonte" Joi Farisaioi, “then the Pharisees came”) in א C N (Ë1: καὶ προσελθόντες ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν οἱ Φαρισαῖοι) 579 1241 1424 pm; and καὶ προσελθόντες Φαρισαῖοι in A B K L Γ Δ Ψ Ë13 28 700 892 2427 pm. Further, the use of an indefinite plural (a general “they”) is a Markan feature, occurring over twenty times. Thus, internally the evidence looks rather strong for the shorter reading, in spite of the minimal external support for it. However, if scribes assimilated this text to Matt 19:3, a more exact parallel might have been expected: Matthew has καὶ προσῆλθον αὐτῷ Φαρισαῖοι (kai proshlqon aujtw Farisaioi, “then Pharisees came to him”). Although the verb form needs to be different according to syntactical requirements of the respective sentences, the word order variety, as well as the presence or absence of the article and the alternation between δέ and καί as the introductory conjunction, all suggest that the variety of readings might not be due to scribal adjustments toward Matthew. At the same time, the article with Φαρισαῖοι is found in both Gospels in many of the same witnesses (א Ï in Matt; א pm in Mark), and the anarthrous Φαρισαῖοι is likewise parallel in many mss (B L Ë13 700 892). Another consideration is the possibility that very early in the transmissional history, scribes naturally inserted the most obvious subject (the Pharisees would be the obvious candidates as the ones to test Jesus). This may account for the reading with δέ, since Mark nowhere else uses this conjunction to introduce the Pharisees into the narrative. As solid as the internal arguments against the longer reading seem to be, the greatest weakness is the witnesses that support it. The Western mss are prone to alter the text by adding, deleting, substituting, or rearranging large amounts of material. There are times when the rationale for this seems inexplicable. In light of the much stronger evidence for “the Pharisees came,” even though it occurs in various permutations, it is probably wisest to retain the words. This judgment, however, is hardly certain.

sn See the note on Pharisees in 2:16.

tn In Greek this phrase occurs at the end of the sentence. It has been brought forward to conform to English style.

tn The personal pronoun “his” is not in the Greek text, but is certainly implied and has been supplied in the English translation to clarify the sense of the statement (cf. “his wife” in 10:7).

tn The particle εἰ (ei) is often used to introduce both indirect and direct questions. Thus, another possible translation is to take this as an indirect question: “They asked him if it were lawful for a man to divorce his wife.” See BDF §440.3.

sn The question of the Pharisees was anything but sincere; they were asking it to test him. Jesus was now in the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas (i.e., Judea and beyond the Jordan) and it is likely that the Pharisees were hoping he might answer the question of divorce in a way similar to John the Baptist and so suffer the same fate as John, i.e., death at the hands of Herod (cf. 6:17-19). Jesus answered the question not on the basis of rabbinic custom and the debate over Deut 24:1, but rather from the account of creation and God’s original design.