Mark 4:39 wake up or get up?

Seminary professor Rod Decker blogged today about translation of the Greek participle διεγερθείς in Mark 4:39:

διεγερθείς. Aor pass ptc masc nom sg διεγείρω (temporal). There are two questions to be answered here. First, does διεγείρω mean “to awake from sleep” or “to get up [i.e., from laying down]”? Second, is διεγερθείς best understood as a temporal adverbial participle or as a participle of attendant circumstance?

I’m not clear from reading Decker’s post which translation options he considers best. Why don’t you read his post and comment if you understand what he thinks is best.

And, regardless of Decker’s preference, do you think it is better to translate the Greek participle as “After he got up” or “After he woke up”, or yet some other wording?

12 thoughts on “Mark 4:39 wake up or get up?

  1. Jay Seidler says:

    If you want to maintain the accuracy of the grammer “And being awakened” maintains the sense of the Aorist passive participle. Same word as in Matthew 1:24. Awaken seems fine, no reason to translate it, “got up”. On Saturday morning, I am looking forward to sleeping in, but then at 6 A.M. my dog wakes me up with his barking. Having been awakened, I decide I might as well get up and do my yard work.

  2. David Ker says:

    Based on Luke 8:24, I take this to be awaken/wake up. But I’ll go read his article and see how he approaches it.

    This phrase that I don’t swallow in his commentary is this one: “but there is nothing to be gained by creating an unnecessary redundancy here.” I’d like some evidence for a statement like that since there are many, many, many good reasons for redundancy. 😉

  3. Wayne Leman says:

    David wrote:

    I’d like some evidence for a statement like that since there are many, many, many good reasons for redundancy.

    Also reasons for saying the same thing more than once? 🙂

  4. JKGayle says:

    Karen H. Jobes translates διεγερθεὶς Μαρδοχαῖος in the first part of Esther (LXX, NETS) these wayS:

    “Mardochaios…awoke” [Old Greek manuscript]


    “Mardochaios arose from his sleep” [Alpha text]

    Is one of her translations necessarily better, or more accurate, or less redundant than the other? The narrative context of Mardochaios sleeping and dreaming and getting up awake is the same in both Greek versions.

    Is there an application or two here for the English translationS of Mark and Luke?

  5. Rod Decker says:

    Since the discussion is here instead of on my blog… 🙂 I’ll comment here. The point of the distinction between “awoke” and “got up” is not which is the best description of awaking from sleep. Most who translate “got up” imply that he *stood up* in the boat. One even suggests “he rose to full height.”

    My preference may not be as obvious without the accompanying translation, so I’ll append it here.

    Mk 4:35 Now he said to them that day when it was evening, “Let us go to the other side [of the lake].” 36 So having dismissed the crowd, they took him in the boat as he was, and other boats were with him. 37 Then a fierce wind storm arose and the waves were breaking over the boat so that the boat was filling up. 38 Now Jesus was in the stern sleeping on the steersman’s cushion. So they woke him and said to him, “Teacher! Don’t you care that we are going to die?!” 39 Having been awakened, he rebuked the wind and said to the lake, “Quiet! Be silenced!” And the wind died down and it became completely calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and were saying to one another, “Who then is this that even the wind and the lake obeys him?!”

    Bear in mind that this is translation in a grammatical handbook that is intended to be formal enough to reflect the grammatical decisions. This is not the sort of translation that I’d produce if I were aiming for a stand-alone version for the general reader.

  6. David Ker says:

    Rod, I tried to comment on your blog but it required a login. Is that intentional on your part? If not you can change that option under Settings>Discussion>Users must be logged in to comment. (Something like that…)

  7. Rod Decker says:

    Yes, login/registration is intentionally required. You’d be amazed at how much comment spam I still deflect by other means. It’s no big deal to register: name and email and password of your choice. Email is never posted.

  8. David Ker says:

    Thanks for the info. Here at BBB we require commenters to have one comment moderated and after that they don’t need moderation unless they get out of control! 🙂

  9. nathanwells says:

    I don’t think it is normal for an aorist participle to be antecedent in time to the action of the main verb if the main verb is aorist (as it is here, ἐπετίμησεν). Normally, if the aorist participle is related to an aorist main verb it will be simultaneous to the main verb’s action (p. 624 of Wallace).

    That being said, “The context has more influence on participles than on any other area of Greek grammar” – (p. 613 of Wallace)

    I also agree with David Ker that Dr. Decker’s quote (“Mark can be redundant, but there is nothing to be gained by creating an unnecessary redundancy here”) needs some proof. Because there are many times, just as Dr. Decker says, that Mark is redundant, especially with aorist participles and historical present main verbs (ex. Mark 3:33 “καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς αὐτοῖς λέγει” “answering…he says”).

    In English, virtually all the redundancy seen in Mark is viewed as unnecessary, but this is Greek, not English.

    I mean, Luke basically has the same redundancy (Luke 8:24; διήγειραν…διεγερθεὶς), so I don’t see why Dr. Decker views the possibility of redundancy absurd.

    While it isn’t fully redundant in the same sense, Mark 11:20 gives the content of reminding, then 11:21 explicitly says Peter was reminded (ἀναμνησθεὶς).

    But in the end, while διεγερθεὶς could be contemporaneous to ἐπετίμησεν it seems best because of context that it is rather antecedent to ἐπετίμησεν, for the sequence in the narrative is clearly, Jesus is awakened, then spoken to by the disciples, then he rebukes the storm.

    As far as “got up” verses “awoken,” or “woken up” (because it is passive, “woke up” is a bad translation because it could mean he woke up without outside interference), I think the simple translation of “having been awakened he…” works best with the lexical information we have, because I agree with Dr. Decker that “διεγερθείς is rarely used to refer to a physical action of movement”

    I’m not sure if I am making any sense, but hey, it’s all Greek to me 😉

  10. David L. Mohn says:

    Can’t quote any references, but I remember being taught that an aorist participle generally should not be translated by past tense, because it is not indicative, but participial. Thus, Acts 22:16 should _NOT_ be translated as: “having arisen…having called on” but, as most translations have it, “Rise up/Get up…calling on”. If a participial form is desired, the simple form should be used: “Rising up…calling on”. Only an _indicative_ aorist is emphatically translated by a past tense form. In Mark, the word could just as simply (and more grammatically accurate) be rendered, “being awakened” or ” being made awake” without the “having been”. As pointed out above, we should not let our English get in the way of Greek thought forms.

  11. David L. Mohn says:

    Or rather, the temporal element of the aorist participle takes its part from the main verb. If the main verb is aorist: “woke him”, the participle could/would have a past tense form: “having been awakened”. But if the main verb were, say, imperative (as in Acts 22:16), the participle would share that aspect: “Rise up!…call on the name!”

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