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When I was looking Mark 4:40 I was little confused for the word "οὕτω" translation and meaning. For it was translated in many English translations as "so", "So" in English may means:

  • Thus, like this.
  • So much, very, too, greatly.

The word "οὕτω" in Greek has the two meanings also, i.e: thus and so much. Beside other meanings not required here.

Mark 4:40;

  1. καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· τί δειλοί ἐστε οὕτω; πῶς οὐκ ἔχετε πίστιν; And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? KJV.

Some English translations don't mention "so". All Arabic translations I had read have the translation "هكذا" which means the English "thus","like this".

So, what is the accurate translation of "οὕτω" in the phrase of Mark 4:40?

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One can understand so here in the King James Bible (in 17th century English) to be synonymous with thus - i.e. in this manner.* It is not, I believe, an expression of extreme degree (e.g. "so hot" or "so cold"). I think modern translations that see it this way miss the mark. Take for an extreme example the ISV: Why are you such cowards?

A very literal version - the Orthodox New Testament - translates the verse:

Why are ye cowardly in this manner?

More modern translation have retained the choice of so as well as its place in the English word order, which strikes a modern reader as implying "so much" and not "thus", as you indicate. The confusion here is not in the Greek but in the English, I think.


* See, e.g., The Complete Oxford English Dictionary (1971 ed.), p.344ff.

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