In Mark 12:35-37 Jesus poses a question to a crowd, concerning the title that the scribes at Jerusalem (Gk. grammateiswhich could also mean scholars) had for the Anointed One, that being 'the son of David.' He goes on to say that since in one of David's psalms the king says that YHWH tells 'his lord' (which at the time was believed to refer to said Anointed One) to sit at his right hand. He then questions the scholars' authority, seeing as though they have missed this reference in the book of Psalms.

The entire episode is translated in the HCSB as this:

35And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared,“‘The Lord said to my Lord,“Sit at my right hand,until I put your enemies under your feet.”’

37David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly.

My question here would be concerned with Mark 12:35, specifically the clause, "and answering, Jesus said, teaching in the temple" which in Tischendorf's Greek text (8th edition) goes like this:

Καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἔλεγεν διδάσκων ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ Πῶς λέγουσιν οἱ γραμματεῖς ὅτι ὁ Χριστὸς υἱὸς Δαυείδ ἐστιν;

Seeing as though there really aren't any punctuation or commas in the Greek, is it completely reasonable to assume Jesus' question begins with this:

"Teaching in the temple, how can the scribes/scholars say..."

rather than having the teaching part excluded like this:

"...said, teaching in the temple: "How can the scribes/scholars say..."

The variant translation which I'm thinking might work would have Jesus begin at addressing where the scribes/scholars teach the 'son of David' doctrine, rather than having the text establish where Jesus himself was teaching. Is this at all within the realm of possibility, or am I being ridiculous in not grasping Koine Greek?

2 Answers 2


"teaching" is singular while "scribes/scholars" is plural. In Greek these must agree but don't. However, "Jesus" is singular, which agrees with "teaching".

English works similarly:



Word by word, the Greek means (punctuation necessitated by grammar):

Καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἔλεγεν, διδάσκων ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ, Πῶς λέγουσιν οἱ γραμματεῖς ὅτι ὁ Χριστὸς υἱὸς Δαυείδ ἐστιν

And answering Jesus said, teaching in the temple: How say the Scribes that the Christ the son of David is?


And Jesus answering, said, teaching in the temple: In what sense do the Scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?

'He said' (ἔλεγεν) and 'teaching' (διδάσκων) are both masculine singular, referring to Jesus. 'Teaching in the temple' modifies or qualifies 'he said,' by setting what he says in the context of teaching in the temple.

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