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Major Critical Texts of the New Testament
Byz RP: 2005 Byzantine Greek New Testament, Robinson & Pierpont
TR1550: 1550 Stephanus New Testament
Maj: The Majority Text (thousands of minuscules which display a similar text)
Gries: 1774-1775 Johann Jakob Griesbach Greek New Testament
Treg: 1857-1879 Samuel Prideaux Tregelles Greek New Testament
Tisch: 1872 Tischendorf’s Greek New Testament
WH: 1881 Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament
NA28: 2012 Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament
UBS5: 2014 Greek New Testament
NU: Both Nestle-Aland and the United Bible Society
SBLGNT: 2010 Greek New Testament
THGNT: 2017 The Greek New Testament by Tyndale House
GENTI: 2020 Greek-English New Testament Interlinear
We have two textual issues here that we will deal with, as well as the baptismal issue.
Mark 7:4 The Greek-English New Testament Interlinear (GENTI)
4 καὶ ἀπ’ ἀγορᾶς ἐὰν μὴ ῥαντίσωνται οὐκ ἐσθίουσιν, καὶ ἄλλα πολλά ἐστιν ἃ παρέλαβον κρατεῖν, βαπτισμοὺς ποτηρίων καὶ ξεστῶν καὶ χαλκίων.—
4 καὶ ἀπ’ ἀγορᾶς ἐὰν μὴ βαπτίσωνται οὐκ ἐσθίουσιν, καὶ ἄλλα πολλά ἐστιν ἃ παρέλαβον κρατεῖν, βαπτισμοὺς ποτηρίων καὶ ξεστῶν καὶ χαλκίων [[καὶ κλινῶν]].
According to Philip W. Comfort
TR NU ἐὰν μὴ βαπτίσωνται
“unless they wash [themselves]”
A D W Θ f1, 33 Maj
Variant 1 εαν μη βαπτιζωνται
“unless it is immersed”
Variant 2/WH [GENTI] εαν μη ραντισωνται
“unless they sprinkle [themselves]”
The verb in TR NU, βαπτισωνται, is in the middle voice; this usage indicates that the Pharisees washed themselves. The first variant is in the passive voice; it suggests that the Pharisees washed whatever they bought from the marketplace before eating it. The second variant could be the result of Alexandrian scribal adjustment attempting to avoid the use of βαπτιζω (“baptize”) in any context beside that of Christian baptism. But this verb was commonly used to describe normal washing (see Luke 11:38; and see Luke 16:24; John 13:26; Rev 19:13 for the use of the cognate verb βαπτω); so it does not follow that the scribes of א and B would have necessarily changed it to preserve it as a descriptor of the Christian rite. Rather, it is just as likely that ραντισωνται was the more unusual word that was changed to βαπτιζωνται.
Finally, it should be noted that some manuscripts (D W it) add οταν ελθωσιν (“whenever they come”) after απ αγορας (“from the marketplace”) in order to fill out the meaning: “whenever they come from the marketplace.” The shorter text is preserved in 𝔓45 א A B L etc.
TR NU βαπτισμοὺς ποτηρίων καὶ ξεστῶν καὶ χαλκίων [καὶ κλινῶν]
“washing of cups and pitchers and bronze vessels and dining couches”
A D W Θ f1, 33 Maj
variant/WH [GENTI] βαπτισμους ποτηριων και ξεστων και χαλκιων
“washing of cups and pitchers and bronze vessels”
𝔓45 א B L Δ
If 𝔓45 were the only early manuscript to contain the shorter reading, it could be dismissed as 𝔓45’s typical trimming of the text; but the words και κλινων are also lacking in several other significant manuscripts, including א and B. Perhaps the words were omitted accidentally due to homoeoteleuton (χαλκιων and κλινων end in the same two letters), or they may have been purposely excised because the scribes may have thought that κλινων meant “beds” and therefore deleted it as incongruous with the other items. But in context it has to mean “dining couches” because the passage speaks of the legalistic requirements pertaining to eating utensils. This word could not have been added under the influence of Lev 15, as Metzger suggests (TCGNT), because “the bed” in Lev 15 is the conjugal bed, which is never said to be washed. If it was added by scribes, it was done so as to include the largest of dining fixtures—the dining couch. Most modern translations (including the NRSV, which usually follows NU) adhere to the shorter text lacking the words “and beds.”
END OF COMFORT COMMENTS
Mark 7:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they sprinkle themselves. And there are many other traditions that they have received and cling to, such as baptisms of cups, pitchers, and copper vessels.
OTHER TRANSLATIONS, MARK 7:4
ASV 1901 and when they come from the marketplace, except they bathe themselves, they eat not; and many other things there are, which they have received to hold, washings of cups, and pots, and brasen vessels.)
ESV and when they come from the marketplace,
NASB95 and when they come from the
NASB 2020 and when they come from the marketplace,
Baptismal Issues—Doctrinal Consideration
“Unless they sprinkle themselves” is the original wording according to the earliest and most trusted manuscripts (א B). Rantisōntai (they sprinkle themselves) was the more difficult reading that the scribes changed to baptisontai (they wash themselves). We can arrive at some sound deductions concerning baptism if we look at the traditions of the Pharisees and other Jews. The Gospel writer Mark said, “When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they sprinkle themselves [ραντισωνται rantisōntai (ῥαντίζω rhantizō; from ῥαίνω rhainō)]; there are many other traditions that they have received and cling to, such as baptisms [βαπτισμός baptismos] of cups and pitchers and copper vessels.” (Mark 7:3, 4) These men self-righteously sprinkled themselves before eating when they came back from the market. Whereas, they baptized, or immersed in water, the different things they used when eating their meals. This verse has nothing to do with Christian baptism. The account here at Mark 7:1-4 has to do with washings of hands and of vessels, not the baptism of people. The Jewish sect the Essenes or from the Pharisees went to extensive efforts to observe tithing and ceremonial cleanness went beyond what that law demanded to show the people just how pious they supposedly were. Jesus just a few verses later would condemn them, saying, “in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commands of men … You skillfully disregard the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.” (Mark 7:7, 9) “Unless they sprinkle themselves” is the original wording, as is clear it is, but it has nothing to do with baptismal immersion of persons, while βαπτίζω baptizō is found elsewhere, and baptism of persons by full immersion is what was meant. – Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:41; 8:12; 19:1-7
 Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary: Commentary on the Variant Readings of the Ancient New Testament Manuscripts and How They Relate to the Major English Translations (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2008), 118–119.
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THE BEGINNING: John Prepares the Way for Jesus’ Baptism (John 1:29-51)
Why Should Persons Who Really Believe God’s Word Be Baptized?
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