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Mark 14:61-62

"Again the high priest asked him, 'Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?' 62 And Jesus said, 'I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven'." ESV My emphasis.

Luke 22:70

"So they all said, 'Are you the Son of God, then?' And he said to them , 'You say that I am."

In Mark at first glance perhaps Jesus' answer to the question seems straight forward. It starts simply with "I am..".

However, Luke 22:70 records Jesus' answer to the question 'Are you the Son of God' not with "I am" but with 'You say that I am'.

Does the Luke version of events affect the Mark account so that we can no longer take Mark's reply as a straight forward "I am"?

Another question on this site looks at the meaning of "You say that I am" but does not focus on what this question asks.

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You are struggling with the Hebrew idiom "You say," אַתֶּם אוֹמְרִים, which means "Yes, indeed ... just as you have asked in your question." That is exactly how those questioning Jesus took it.

Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.” (Luke 22:71, ESV)

"You say that I am." (ESV), ὑμεῖς λέγετε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι (NA28), אַתֶּם אוֹמְרִים כִּי אֲנִי הוּא (HNT + Delitzsch)

You say I am, literally, “You say,” with the same import here as the modern English idiom, “You said it!” Yeshua’s meaning here is, “Yes, I am indeed the Son of God, just as you have asked in your question.” That Yeshua’s inquirers understood him is clear from their response in v. 71. See also 23:3N. -- Stern, D. H. (1996). Jewish New Testament Commentary: a companion volume to the Jewish New Testament (electronic ed., Luke 22:70). Jewish New Testament Publications.

  1. Ye say that I am] A Hebrew formula (antt’ amarta) [ אַנְתְּ אָמָ֑רְתָּ , Aramaic]. “Your words verify themselves.” See some striking remarks in De Quincey, Works, in. 304. But the formula like “Thou sayest” in John 18:37 seems also to have been meant to waive further discussion. See p. 385. -- Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

It is also a Greek New Testament idiom.

Art thou the Son of God? (Συ οὐν εἰ ὁ υἱος του θεου; [Su oun ei ho huios tou theou?]). Note how these three epithets are used as practical equivalents. They ask about “the Messiah.” Jesus affirms that he is the Son of Man and will sit at the right hand of the power of God. They take this to be a claim to be the Son of God (both humanity and deity). Jesus accepts the challenge and admits that he claims to be all three (Messiah, the Son of man, the Son of God). Ye say (ὑμεις λεγετε [Humeis legete]). Just a Greek idiom for “Yes” (compare “I am” in Mark 14:62 with “Thou has said” in Matt. 26:64). -- Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Luke 22:70). Broadman Press.

Thou hast said (συ εἰπας [su eipas]). This is a Greek affirmative reply. Mark (14:62) has it plainly, “I am” (εἰμι [eimi]). But this is not all that Jesus said to Caiaphas. He claims that the day will come when Jesus will be the Judge and Caiaphas the culprit using the prophetic language in Dan. 7:13 and Psa. 110:1. It was all that Caiaphas wanted. -- Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Matt. 26:64). Broadman Press.

The Pulpit Commentary makes it clear that the origin of this idiom was rabbinic Hebrew and not originally from Greek.

And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. This form of reply is not used in Greek, but is frequent in rabbinic. By such an answer the one interrogated accepts as his own affirmation the question put to him in its entirety. We have, then, here, in the clearest possible language:

(1) A plain assertion by our Lord of his Divinity.

(2) The reply of the Sanhedrists, showing that they for their part distinctly understood it as such, but to make it quite clear they asked him if that was his meaning, i.e. the assertion of his Divinity.

(3) We have the Lord's quiet answer, "Yes, that was his meaning." The next verse (71) shows that they were satisfied with the evidence which they pro, ceeded without delay to lay before the Roman governor, Pilate.

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    I strongly agree with this answer as well. +1.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 22:39
  • I'm not completely sure the part about Hebrew idiom helps here (the first sentence) because I brings into this the debate about what language Jesus spoke and makes the assumption of what he would have said if it were Hebrew (Aramaic?) which we just don't know--we only have the Greek. I think this answer would stand alone without that part, and in fact would be stronger without it.
    – bob
    Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 13:11
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    @Bob Even if you assume Jesus spoke in Greek, the idiom is still based on the Hebrew culture in which Jesus was speaking.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 13:33
  • @PerryWebb I agree. I just think that at a minimum it would be good to provide support for the exact Hebrew phrase being the idiom that Jesus used. Otherwise it seems to be speculation as to the exact words (though not speculation that a Hebrew idiom was used, whether directly or imported into Greek). That's what I meant.
    – bob
    Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 14:50
  • Good answer, +1. @bob I added some comments regarding the spoken Hebrew language and the use of Hebrew idiom in the appendix of my answer. Commented Jun 19, 2022 at 2:28
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In Luke 22:70, the last clause is literally, "You say that I am", but this does not capture the force of what Jesus said and meant. I note the helpful remarks of the Pulpit commentary:

And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. This form of reply is not used in Greek, but is frequent in rabbinic. By such an answer the one interrogated accepts as his own affirmation the question put to him in its entirety.

Thus, the record as Luke has recorded it, appears to be (in more modern idiom) something like:

  • "As you have correctly stated, I am".

It is thus rendered by several insightful versions:

  • NKJV: “You rightly say that I am.”
  • NASB: “You say correctly that I am.”
  • ISV: "You said it—I AM."
  • LSV: “You say [it], because I AM”;
  • Weymouth: "It is as you say," He answered; "I am He."
  • WEB: "You say it, because I am."

Thus, there is no real difference between Luke's record and that of:

  • Matt 26:64 - “You have said it yourself,” Jesus answered. “But I say to all of you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
  • Mark 14:62 - “I am,” said Jesus, “and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
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  • +1 Another good answer.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 22:44
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Existing answers provide a solid response regarding the idiom in play in Luke. In the interest of supplementing these answers, I'll address the question as it relates to the synoptic problem (which is tagged in the question).

Synoptic Problem

If we grant that this conversation took place in Hebrew (see an argument to this effect in the appendix), then Hebrew idiom is straightforward and Luke, as is typical of his style, preserves the Hebrew structure of the phrase when he writes it in Greek. Mark, as is typical of his style, writes it in more colloquial Greek.

On the Two-Source Hypothesis, Luke copied this account from Mark. On the Farrer Hypothesis, Luke copied this account from Mark, but was influenced by Matthew as well. On the Two-Gospel or the Clementine Hebrew Hypotheses, Mark copied this story from Matthew & Luke. Let us consider both directions of dependence.

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Mark before Luke

If Luke copied this story from Mark, Luke has taken Mark's colloquial Greek and edited it back into a more Hebraic Greek. Luke is writing to a Gentile audience (probably in Greece--see Anti-Marcionite Prologue to Luke). This is a pointlessly complicated editorial exercise.

If Luke's source states in plain Greek "I am", he has no need to incorporate a Hebrew idiom that could potentially confuse his audience. Furthermore, the account in Matthew (see 26:64) also uses Hebrew idiom to convey the message "I am". On the Two-Source Hypothesis, the material shared by Matthew & Luke that is not in Mark came from the hypothetical "Q" source, but Q had no passion narrative. This means that both Matthew & Luke (neither of whom has read the other's work) read Mark's account, and both independently decided to add a somewhat confusing Hebrew idiom to Mark's plain Greek.

This passage is one of what are known as the minor agreements of Matthew & Luke against Mark, which serve as one of the weightier evidences against the Two-Source Hypothesis.

Luke's editorial procedure is unnecessarily complicated on the Farrer & Two-Source hypotheses (editing Hebraic structure back into the Greek of his source), and also wildly unlikely on the Two-Source Hypothesis (Matthew & Luke both independently made this unusual change to the text).

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Luke before Mark

If Luke wrote before Mark, both authors follow their customary writing patterns, and no unusual editing takes place.

Luke tends to preserve much Hebrew structure in his writing, even though he is writing in Greek (see further discussion on this site here), leading some (myself included) to believe that Luke is working with Hebrew source material. If Luke is working with Hebrew source material he's going to run into Hebrew idioms--like this one--and this would be but one of many cases where Luke has chosen to preserve in his translation not just what was said in his Hebrew source, but the way it was said.

Mark later comes across the Hebrew idiom and renders it in "street Greek" (as opposed to formal, literary Greek). Mark uses informal Greek all the time, and this is a straightforward editorial procedure--especially if the origin of Mark's Gospel is oral in nature, which I argue here.

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Conclusion

Luke & Mark are saying the same thing, Luke using a Hebrew idiom, and Mark without the Hebrew idiom. The difference between the texts is best explained if Luke did not use Mark as a source.


Appendix--Hebrew language

As noted by Dottard, Perry Webb, and multiple Biblical commentaries, there is a Hebrew idiom being used here. "You say that I am" or "Thou hast said" is a way of answering the question in the affirmative. In the comments there was discussion as to what language was being spoken at the trial.

My arguments that Jesus would have been able to communicate in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek are presented in this video (the "elite" of society in the Sanhedrin would have known these 3 languages as well). The question then is which of these 3 languages was being employed?

Greek is exceptionally unlikely--these are Jews, in Jerusalem, conversing with other Jews from the region, about a matter of Jewish law and Jewish theology. Greek was the language they used to communicate with their pagan overlords & pagan neighbors (and sometimes Jews from other parts of the Empire).

Aramaic is possible...but unnecessary.

Hebrew is the most likely, since their prophetic scriptures (the meaning of which is being debated in this trial) were written in Hebrew. As discussed in this post, the Hebrew scriptures were not written in Aramaic until after AD 70. A Jewish tribunal discussing the Jewish scriptures among locals in Jerusalem is more likely than not to be speaking in Hebrew.

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  • +! Good answer. One thing to keep in mind is Aramaic varied across geographies just as Arabic does today. Those fluent in Hebrew and Aramaic tell me the Aramaic of New Testament Israel was still a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Jun 19, 2022 at 12:04
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The meaning of Mark 14:62 (I am) is not effected(as in changed) by Luke 22:70 (Ye say that I am).

These two statements (I am and Ye say that I am) are synonymous and evidently the reaction in both Mark and Luke is the same: "What need we any further witness?"

Bottom line: Jesus is the son of the Blessed [God].

NS. I found the question difficult to read. I propose it be: Is the meaning of Mark 14:16 (I am) effected by Luke 22:70 (Ye say that I am)?

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