The NA28 text gives the following version of Mark 12:34.

καὶ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἰδὼν [αὐτὸν] ὅτι νουνεχῶς ἀπεκρίθη εἶπεν αὐτῷ· οὐ μακρὰν εἶ ἀπὸ τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ θεοῦ. Καὶ οὐδεὶς οὐκέτι ἐτόλμα αὐτὸν ἐπερωτῆσαι.

Here's my translation:

And Jesus seeing that he answered wisely said to him: You are not far from the Kingdom of God. And no one dared to question him any longer.

I would like to know, why does the first occurrence of αὐτὸν (in brackets) even show up at all? It doesn't make sense when you translate it into English. "And Jesus seeing him that he answered wisely said to him". There's simply no need for a pronoun there.

I assume that the first sentence before the interpunct is indirect statement. The participle ἰδὼν introduces the ὅτι clause. The fact that ἰδὼν takes an object looks funny to me. Is it correct to place a direct object before a ὅτι clause? Could it be an error from a copyist?

I find it interesting that most versions have this pronoun, but the one from the Greek Orthodox Church (dating to 1904) does not. You can see the comparison here. It's likewise interesting that NA28 chooses to place it in brackets. What do the brackets signify?


1 Answer 1


This phenomenon involving ὅτι is called “attraction.”

On the Greek word ὅτι, Thayer wrote,1

Noteworthy is the attraction, not uncommon, by which the noun that would naturally be the subject of the subjoined clause, is attracted by the verb of the principal clause and becomes its object [cf. W. § 66, 5; B § 151, 1 a.]; as, οἴδατε τὴν οἰκίαν Στεφανᾶ, ὅτι ἐστὶν ἀπαρχή. for οἴδατε, ὅτι ἡ οἰκία Στ. κτλ., 1 Co. 16:15; also after εἰδέναι and ἰδεῖν, Mk. 12:34; 1 Th. 2:1; so after other verbs of knowing, declaring, etc.: Mt. 25:24; Jn. 9:8; Acts 3:10; 9:20; 1 Co. 3:20; 2 Th. 2:4; Rev. 17:8, etc.; ὃν ὑμεῖς λέγετε ὅτι θεὸς ὑμῶν ἐστι, for περὶ οὗ (cf. Lk. 21:5) ὑμεῖς λέγετε ὅτι, Jn. 8:54.

BDAG wrote,2

Very oft. the subj. of the ὅτι-clause is drawn into the main clause, and becomes the object of the latter: ἐπεγίνωσκον αὐτοὺς ὅτι (=ὅτι αὐτοὶ) σὺν τῷ Ἰησοῦ ἦσαν Ac 4:13. οἴδατε τὴν οἰκίαν Στεφανᾶ ὅτι (=ὅτι ἡ οἰκία Σ.) ἐστὶν ἀπαρχή 1 Cor 16:15. Cp. Mt 25:24; Mk 12:34; J 8:54; 9:8; Ac 3:10; 1 Cor 3:20 (Ps 93:11); 1 Th 2:1; Rv 17:8. Somet. the subj. is repeated by a demonstrative pron. in the ὅτι-clause: ἐκήρυσσεν τὸν Ἰησοῦν ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ Ac 9:20.—Pass. εἰ Χριστὸς κηρύσσεται ὅτι ἐκ νεκρῶν ἐγήγερται (=εἰ κηρύσσεται ὅτι Χρ. ἐκ νεκ. ἐγ.) 1 Cor 15:12.

With respect to Mark 12:34, «ἰδὼν αὐτὸν ὅτι νουνεχῶς ἀπεκρίθη...» would be understood as «ἰδὼν ὅτι νουνεχῶς ἀπεκρίθη αὐτὸς...».

More information can be found in Buttman3 and Winer4 in the references below.

As far as the textual critical aspect is concerned, just as many manuscripts appear to lack it as have it. According to Constantin Tischendorf,5

Tischendorf, Mark 12:34

Porter and Pitts describe the significance of the brackets,6

Square brackets ([]) signify that the enclosed reading is one that the committee could not reach a certain decision on so they include the text in brackets to indicate doubt.


Arndt, William; Bauer, Walter; Danker, Frederick William. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2000.

Buttmann, Alexander. A Grammar of the New Testament Greek. Trans. Thayer, Joseph Henry. Andover: Draper, 1873.

Pitts, Andrew W.; Porter, Stanley E. Fundamentals of New Testament Textual Criticism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015.

Tischendorf, Constantin. Novum Testamentum Graece. Vol. 1. Lipsiae: Giesecke, 1869.

Wilke, Christian Gottlob. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti. Trans. Thayer, Joseph Henry.Ed. Grimm, Carl Ludwig Wilibald. Rev. ed. New York: American Book, 1889.

Winer, George Benedikt. A Grammar of the Idiom of the New Testament. 7th ed. Andover: Draper, 1892.


1 p. 459, §3
2 p. 732, 1, f
3 p. 376, §151
4 p. 626, §66, 5
5 Vol. 1, p. 354
6 p. 150

  • It turns out, I read about this in my textbook after posting the question. I think the principle is actually called prolepsis, deriving from the Greek word προλαμβάνω, "to anticipate".
    – ktm5124
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 1:55
  • I think that attraction, as a technical term, actually refers to something else. That is, when a word is inflected according to a nearby word, such as a relative pronoun taking the case of its antecedent.
    – ktm5124
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 1:58
  • @ktm5124:http://i.imgur.com/BcmjouJ.png
    – user862
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 4:03
  • Interesting! Indeed, it may also be called by the name attraction. In which case my second comment is partially wrong.
    – ktm5124
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 4:12
  • 1
    @ktm5124—1. “Attraction” is a term likely used for a variety of grammatical phenomena. 2. Certainly useful. :)
    – user862
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 5:07

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