Greek text is the most corrupt! (Mk 9:38)

by Yuri Kuchinsky

Many people are familiar with the story of the Strange Exorcist in Mark.

(Mk 9:38 RSV) John said to him, "Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us." (39) But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work (DUNAMIN) in my name will be able soon after (TAXU) to speak evil of me."

So let's now look carefully at these words of Jesus, as they are found in the canonical Greek version, because their meaning seems highly problematic. The main problem is in the last part, with the exact meaning of the Greek word TAXU.

"no one ... will be able soon after (TAXU) to speak evil of me"

The English translations are badly divided on this issue. On the one hand, RSV and a few others translate it as a temporal adverb, i.e. as "soon after", "soon", "quickly", etc.

Yet, on the other hand, KJV, and a few others, translate this word as "lightly", or "readily", which tends to complicate the meaning of this phrase even more.

(Mk 9:39 KJV) "no man ... can lightly (TAXU) speak evil of me"

And the Bible in Basic English even translates this word as "at the same time"!

So it seems like nobody can figure out just what this whole phrase is supposed to mean.

But is it possible that this word TAXU was a late addition to the text of Mk? Well, this is exactly how it looks to me! After all, if we remove it, the whole phrase will become crystal clear.

And this is exactly what we find in the ancient Aramaic Sinaiticus version of Mark. Here's my literal translation from the Aramaic, based on Burkitt's 1904 translation,

(Mk 9:39 Aramaic) "Do not forbid him; for there is no one who does something in my name, and can speak evil of me."

Burkitt's 1904 translation: "Forbid him not; for there is no one that doeth aught in my name and can say against me what is evil."

And here's the original Aramaic,

        lo t'kolwnyhy
        layt gyr anash
        dabad medem b'shemy
        w'mashikyh d'namar aly d'bysh

In addition to the Aramaic Mark, this same shorter and simpler version is also found in quite a few other ancient manuscripts (although you will not find any of these variants listed in Aland's Synopsis, the standard reference volume of today's Textual Critics). The support for the Aramaic is found in the Old Latin manuscripts, and in the ancient Armenian and Georgian manuscripts. And there are even some important early Greek manuscripts that also contain the shorter version.

In fact, this is obviously a more original text! So why is Aland's Synopsis neglecting to mention all these important variants? Is it merely the incompetence, or something else?

And now we can consider the second difficulty in this saying of Jesus, as associated with the Greek word DUNAMIN. RSV translates it as "mighty work", while KJV translates it as "miracle". But, literally, according to Strong's Concordance, DUNAMIS most often means "power". Thus, this expression is also somewhat problematic.

In any case, as we can see above, the Aramaic Mark leaves this part quite vague. One can surmise that, in the earliest version of Mark, this phrase would have read something like this,

"Do not forbid him; for there is no one who does good deeds in my name..."

And this is very similar to what we find in the Magdalene Gospel, the mysterious medieval manuscript that I have now translated. I happen to believe that this is the earliest Christian gospel that we now possess.

(MG 63:30) "For no one, he said, who did miracles in his name will ever be able to speak ill of him."

As we can see, just like the Aramaic Mark, the Magdalene Gospel also contains this verse in its very simple form; the qualifying words "soon after" are lacking. This is just one of the hundreds of textual parallels between the ancient Aramaic gospels and the Magdalene Gospel.

To sum up, it looks like our standard canonical Greek version is quite corrupt in this passage. Various explanations may be found as to why an ecclesiastical Greek editor added up this TAXU there, but it unquestionably complicated the meaning of this verse.

So how can anyone say that the ancient Aramaic gospels depend on the Greek text? It's quite clear that they preserve the more original text of the Christian gospels. Unfortunately, hardly any of today's biblical professionals have even laid their eyes on them.

It sure looks like these folks are really in love with their false image of "Jesus the Greek". This is what I call the Big Aramaic Cover-up.

Best wishes,


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