Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Mark 15

Verse 1

1. εὐθὺς πρωΐ. Directly it was morning, i.e. as soon as it was lawful to transact business. They must get everything settled with Pilate before the Paschal Lambs were killed that afternoon. The real business was done at the nocturnal meeting, of which Mk and Mt. give a detailed account, and therefore describe the formal confirmation in the morning very briefly. Lk. records the later meeting only, and transfers to it features of the midnight sitting. Some items would have to be gone through twice. There is no exact parallel to εὐθὺς πρωΐ, but εὐθὺς τοῖς σάββασιν, “on the very first sabbath” (Mark 1:21) is near it.

συμβούλιον ποιήσαντες. “Held a consultation” (A.V., R.V.) is very likely right, but συμβούλιον may mean the result of consultation, “a plan of action.” Mt., as usual, has συμβ. ἔλαβον. See on Mark 3:6.

οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς. The three elements of the Sanhedrin are given, but differently from Mark 14:53. With characteristic fulness (Mark 14:58; Mark 14:61; Mark 14:68) Mk adds καὶ ὅλον τὸ συνέδριον, which Mt. omits as superfluous. Lk. has simply his characteristic words ἅπαν τὸ πλῆθος αὐτῶν.

δὴσαντες. He had been bound in the garden (John 18:12; John 18:24), and probably unbound in the high-priest’s palace. It was important to show to Pilate that they regarded Him as dangerous, and it is said that binding intimated that He had been declared to be worthy of death.

παρέδωκαν Πειλάτῳ. Mk assumes that his readers know who Pilate was; he never calls him ὁ ἡγεμών. The Procurator had come from Caesarea, the Roman capital, to keep order during the Passover. He probably occupied Herod’s palace, as Florus had previously done (Joseph. B.J. II. xiv. 8, xv. 5). The hierarchy hand Jesus over to him to get their sentence of death confirmed; See on John 18:31. Pilate of course would not listen to a charge of blasphemy, so they accuse Him of being seditious, forbidding tribute to Tiberius, and assuming the title of “king.” Pilate would not understand “Messiah,” but “king of the Jews” would be intelligible enough. Pilate does not take their word for it; he begins to investigate the case himself; and here we may have much of the exact language used, for Pilate would converse with our Lord in Greek.

Verses 1-15


Matthew 27:1-26. Luke 23:1-3; Luke 23:18-25

John 18:28-40; John 19:4-16

Verse 2

2. Σὺ εἶ ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων; The question is identical in all four. The Jews themselves say “King of Israel” (Mark 15:32), but to Pilate they would say “King of the Jews.” The σύ is emphatic and expressive of surprise; He certainly did not look like one who would claim kingly power. For ἀποκριθεὶς λέγει see on Mark 3:33 and Mark 8:29.

Σὺ λέγεις. Christ recognizes Pilate’s authority and his right to ask, and His Σύ also is emphatic; “That is thy statement.” Christ neither affirms nor denies it; He gives what Theophylact calls ἀμφίβολος ἀπόκρισις. He could not say that He was not King of the Jews; on the other hand He was not a king in Pilate’s sense. But the reply is probably nearer to assent than to denial; see on Mark 14:62. Σὺ λέγε ς is in all three; not in Jn.

Verse 3

3. κατηγόρουνπολλά. “Accused Him of many things” (R.V.), in multis (Vulg.), or much, the usual meaning in Mk. See on Mark 1:45.

Verse 4

4. ἐπηρώτα. Probably the conversational imperf. See on Mark 5:9. But Pilate may have asked the question several times.

Οὐκ ἀποκρίνη οὐδέν; See on Mark 14:16.

πόσα. “What grave charges” may be meant as well as “how many.”

Verse 5

5. οὐκέτι οὐδέν. Again a double negative; Lk. omits οὐκέτι. The accusations were false, like those before the Sanhedrin, and Christ did not reply to them in either case. The proceedings are more intelligible when we learn from Jn that in private Christ explained to Pilate that His Kingdom was not of this world. Pilate’s questions He answers, but He makes no reply to the false statements of the Sanhedrin. Yet, without Jn, we should not understand why Pilate did not condemn Jesus when He did not clearly renounce all claim to be King of the Jews.

Verse 6

6. κατὰ δὲ ἑορτήν. Neither “at that Feast” (A.V.) nor “at the Feast” (R.V.) is quite accurate; it means at festival-time. Singulis diebus festis (k) is better than per diem festum (Vulg.).

ἀπέλυενπαρῃτοῦντο. See crit. note. He used to release, and his releasing corresponded to their requesting; both were customary. Nothing is known of this custom beyond what is told us in the Gospels, but it is in accordance with Roman policy. At the lectisternium prisoners were sometimes released (Livy Mark 15:13); but here only one prisoner, specially chosen by the people, can be set free. A papyrus of about A.D. 87, quoted by Lagrange (ad loc.) and by Milligan (N.T. Documents, p. 79), gives a nearer parallel. Phibion, guilty of violence, is brought before C. Septimius Vegetus, governor of Egypt, who says to him ἄξιος μἐν ἦς μαστιγωθῆναιχαρίζομαι δέ σε τοῖς ὄχλοις. The mob did not wish Phibion to be scourged, and the governor “makes them a present of him.”

Verse 7

7. ἦν δὲ ὁ λεγόμενος Βαραββᾶς. Now there was the man called Barabbas, a somewhat unusual expression; cf. Matthew 26:14; John 9:11. The name is probably a patronymic, Bar-Abba, “son of Abba,” or “son of a father”; but it is not certain that Abba was used as a proper name so early as this. The interpretation “son of a Rabbi,” διδασκάλου υἱός or filius magistri, is ancient, but it is not correct. Bar-Rabban would become Βαρραββάνας. It was inevitable that the choice between “a son of a father” and “the Son of the Father” should be pointed out. The remarkable reading which inserts “Jesus” before “Barabbas” in Matthew 27:16-17 is almost certainly a corruption. WH. App. p. 19.

τῶν στασιαστῶν. See crit. note. “The members of a faction, the revolutionaries.” They are spoken of as notorious. The word occurs here only in Bibl. Grk. The classical form is στασιώτης.

οἵτινες. “Who were of such a character as to” (Mark 4:20, Mark 12:18). They were desperadoes.

πεποιήκεισαν. No augment, as usual; cf. Mark 15:10, Mark 14:44. In Deuteronomy 22:8, φόνον ποιεῖν is used of causing death by omitting to put a parapet round one’s roof. Excepting this verse, στάσις = “popular disturbance” is peculiar to Lk. and Acts; in Hebrews 9:8 it = “standing posture”; in LXX. it represents eight Hebrew words. Here Syr-Sin. has “had done wrong and committed murder.”

Verse 8

8. ἀναβάς. It might be natural to speak of going up to the Praetorium; but in fact the Praetorium stood high. Mk is silent as to the temper of the people when they started; they soon became hostile to Jesus.

ὁ ὄχλος ἤρξατο αἰτεῖσθαι. In Jn, Pilate takes the initiative and offers to “release the King of the Jews” in honour of the Passover, this being one of his devices to free an innocent prisoner without exasperating the populace. In Mt., Pilate offers the alternative of Jesus or Barabbas. Will they have one who was falsely accused of stirring up sedition, or one who was guilty of both sedition and murder? It is much more likely that, as Mk and Jn state, Pilate simply offered to release Jesus. He was most anxious to set Him free; he cared nothing, and possibly knew nothing, about Barabbas. To suggest him to the people would lessen the chance of their accepting Jesus.

Verse 9

9. Θέλετε ἀπολύσω. We have the same constr. Mark 10:36; Mark 10:51, Mark 14:12.

Verse 10

10. ἐγίνωσκεν. He was becoming aware. Pilate was shrewd enough to see that there was violent animus against Jesus and that the charges against Him were untrue. Jewish leaders were not likely to resent a Rabbi’s being hostile to Rome: they were quite capable of resenting the success of a rival Teacher. His real crime was that He had been too popular, and it was this which led Pilate to hope that the proposal to release Him in honour of the Feast would be welcomed by the people. But he made a mistake in calling Him “the King of the Jews.” Such a title in the mouth of a Roman official must seem to be contemptuous; he would have done better, had he called Him “the Prophet of Galilee.”

Verse 11

11. οἱ δὲ ἀρχιερεῖς. It was the hierarchy, and neither Pilate nor the people, who first suggested Barabbas. We are not told what means they used to change the attitude of the people towards Jesus. But the citizens far outnumbered the Galilean pilgrims, and with the city mob Barabbas may have been a sort of hero, like Dick Turpin, or, if he was a revolutionist rather than a highwayman, he may have been like Wat Tyler. The fickleness of the multitude in this case seems extraordinary, even beyond that which is often found in mobile vulgus. But it was a fatal shock to sentiment to see the supposed Messiah standing bound and helpless before the heathen Procurator. No true Messiah would endure such an indignity. The change of feeling was catastrophic and complete. They had been deceived and made fools of, and they were quickly made ready by the priests to propose the cruelest of punishments for the impostor. Judas had betrayed Him, the Eleven had deserted Him, and we need not be astonished at the fickleness of the populace. Loisy’s incredulity is quite out of place. Lagrange compares the sudden collapse of Boulanger’s popularity in April 1889. For ἀνασείω cf. Luke 23:5.

Verse 12

12. Τί οὖν ποιήσω ὃν λέγετε. See crit. note. What then am I to do with Him whom ye call. Delib. subj. rather than fut. indic. (R.V.). The more usual constr. is ποιεῖν τινί τι, but that does not mean quite the same as ποιεῖν τινά τι. The latter is “to do something with a person,” the former is “to do something to a person.” Here ὅν may = τούτῳ ὅν, but the other constr. is simpler. Pilate was within his duty in offering to release Jesus for the Feast and in letting the people choose Barabbas in preference. But he had no right to let them decide what was to be done with Jesus. He wanted to avoid the responsibility of condemning Jesus, and above all to avoid a tumult at the Passover. If the Jews were bent on having the life of an innocent Galilean, the responsibility was theirs. At all costs he must prevent an insurrection which would have to be put down by his troops. That would mean much bloodshed and the raising of awkward questions at Rome. Mt. interprets Pilate’s thoughts by putting into his mouth the words, “I am innocent of this blood” ([3516][3517] Syr-Sin.).

Verse 13

13. οἱ δὲ πάλιν ἔκραξαν. This does not mean that they had previously asked him to crucify Jesus. They had previously asked him to free Barabbas (Mark 15:11), and now they make another request. Or πάλιν may merely mean in reply to Pilate, in which case πάλιν = “thereupon.” Their reply was made with the uttermost promptitude, and was probably suggested by the priests when they urged the people to ask for Barabbas.

Verse 14

14. Τί γὰρ ἐποίησεν κακόν; In all three Synoptists. “I can hardly do that, for what evil hath He done?” This is well expressed by “Why” (A.V., R.V.). Pilate falls lower and lower. While acting as Roman judge, he allows clamorous Jews to dictate his decision, and even argues with them, and that in a way which declares that he regards their decision as iniquitous. He says, “You are sentencing an innocent man to crucifixion,” and their only answer is to shout the iniquitous decision again with vehemence. See crit. note and cf. Mark 10:26 and Acts 26:11.

Verse 15

15. τὸ ἱκανὸν ποιῆσαι. Satisfacere, a Latinism found in Polybius and other late writers, but nowhere else in N.T., and perhaps nowhere in LXX. Pilate is cowed and becomes the henchman of the hierarchy.

ἀπέλυσεν αὐτοῖς τ. Βαραββᾶν, καὶ παρέδωκεν τ. Ἰησοῦν. This contrast is in all three Synoptists and was evidently part of the primitive tradition; and all four Evangelists have παρέδωκεν of this last step in the great παράδοσις. Judas delivers Him up to the guards, the guards to Annas, Annas to Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, the Sanhedrin to Pilate, Pilate to Herod, Herod to Pilate, Pilate to the executioners. And all these details are part of God’s delivering up His Son for the redemption of mankind.

φραγελλώσας. Another Latinism (φλαγελλώσας, [3518] in Mark 10:34 and John 19:1 we have the usual μαστιγόω. In Mk and Mt. the scourging is closely connected with the crucifixion, and capital punishment often included both; Livy xxii. 13, xxxiii. 36; Cic. In Verr. v. 62; Joseph. B.J. II. xiv. 9, v. xi. 1. In Jn the scourging is one more attempt made by Pilate to save at least the life of Jesus; he hopes that the Jews will be satisfied with this; See on John 19:1.

Mk and Mt. have no dat. after παρέδωκεν, but ἵνα σταυρωθῇ implies “to the soldiers.” Jn says αὐτοῖς, viz. to the priests. Lk. says τῷ θελήματι αὐτῶν, which means to the will of the people. Pilate delivered Jesus up to both priests and people when he handed Him over to the soldiers to be crucified. In the Gospel of Peter Herod gives the sentence, and the guilt of the execution is attributed to him and the Jews. In the Acta Pilati (B. x.) the Jews execute the sentence as soon as Pilate has pronounced it.

Verse 16

16. Οἱ δὲ στρατιῶται. Some of the troops under the command of the Procurator, brought to Jerusalem to maintain order during the Feast. Again we have δέ to mark a change of subject; see on Mark 7:24, Mark 10:32, Mark 14:1, Mark 15:16.

ἔσω τῆς αὐλῆς. This implies that the scourging had been inflicted elsewhere; but whether inside the building, or outside, is not clear.

ὅ ἐστιν πραιτώριον. This loose conversational statement is quite in Mk’s style, and Blass’ proposal to substitute τοῦ πραιτωρίου is not needed. Whether the αὐλή was partly or wholly roofed, or not roofed at all, it is strange that it should be identified with the whole building. Probably the αὐλή was the only part that was open to the public, and therefore, when people spoke of the Praetorium, they meant its αὐλή. Or Mk in his conversational manner may be stating “I mean the praetorium-court”; but, even if we were sure of this, we should not be justified in altering his wording. It is perhaps possible that the soldiers’ quarters in the Procurator’s palace is meant. In A.V., πραιτώριον is translated in five different ways. In the Gospels it seems always to mean the residence of the Procurator. See on John 18:28.

ὅλην τὴν σπεῖραν. Again a loose conversational expression; it obviously means all the members of the cohort who were within hearing at the moment. The men on duty in connexion with the trial and the execution summon all who are near at hand to come and make sport of “the King of the Jews.” Possibly σπεῖρα does not mean a full cohort of 500 or 600 men.

Verses 16-20


Matthew 27:27-31. John 19:2-3

Verse 17

17. ἐνδιδύσκουσιν αὐτὸν πορφύραν. Double acc. both here and Mark 15:19. Cf. Luke 16:19 of Dives. Mt. for πορφύραν has χλαμύδα κοκκίνην, Jn has ἱμάτιον πορφυροῦν. All three mean some bright coloured garment to represent a royal robe; See on John 19:2-3 and cf. the Gospel of Peter iii. 7. There are parallels in the Testaments (Zebulon iv. 10; Benjamin ii. 3); and the behaviour of pirates to their captives, as described by Plutarch (Pomp. 24), is a striking illustration. Several others are quoted by Lagrange.

ἀκάνθινον στέφανον. It is impossible to determine what plant was used for this purpose, and conjectures are very various. But the use of στέφανος instead of διάδημα does not prove that the soldiers mock Him as conqueror rather than as king. The whole context indicates mock homage to royalty.

Verse 18

18. Χαῖρε βασιλεῦ τῶν Ἰουδαίων. The soldiers are playing at Ave Caesar and mingling brutal outrage with it. In the Gospel of Peter the formula is “Judge righteously, O king of Israel,” and the title on the cross is “This is the king of Israel”; see on Mark 15:32. Lk., having given the mockery by Herod and his guards (Luke 23:11), omits the mockery by Pilate’s troops, and the one incident may have led to the other, for some of Pilate’s soldiers probably accompanied Him and witnessed Herod’s brutality. But Pilate did not join in the mockery, as Herod did. Herod was exasperated with Jesus for not gratifying his curiosity. Pilate was exasperated, not with Jesus, but with the priests, for preventing him from setting Jesus free. On the voc. βασιλεῦ (not ὁ βασιλεύς) see J. H. Moulton, p. 70.

Verse 19

19. τιθέντες τὰ γόνατα. Possibly a Latinism; ponentes genua. Cf. Luke 22:41; Acts 7:60. Note the imperfects.

Verse 20


Matthew 27:31 b–33. Luke 23:26-33 a. John 19:16-17

καὶ ἐξάγουσιν. The change of tense and of behaviour point to a change of nominative. The soldiers off duty are left behind, while the centurion and his assistants take charge of the Prisoner and add neither insult nor brutality to what they are bound to do in their treatment of Him. At first, according to custom, Jesus bore the cross, or at any rate the cross-beam, Himself (John 19:17). The soldiers seeing that it was more than He could carry transferred the burden to Simon. Place a colon after σταυρώσωσιν αὐτόν.

Verse 21

21. ἀγγαρεύουσιν. Originally a Persian expression of impressing people into serving the couriers of the Great King (Hdt. viii. 98), similar to the cursus publicus in the Roman Empire. Cf. operae publicae and the French corvée. But papyri and other evidence show that as early as B.C. 250 the word was used in a more general sense and at last was applied to compulsory service of any kind. Deissmann, Bibl. St. pp. 86, 87; Hatch, Essays, p. 37. Cf. Matthew 5:41. [3519][3520][3521][3522] read ἐγγαρεύουσιν, which probably represents local pronunciation and is thought by some to point to an Egyptian origin for those two MSS.

παράγοντά τινα. Elsewhere in the Gospels the verb is used only of Jesus “passing by” (Mark 1:16, Mark 2:14; Matthew 9:9; Matthew 9:27; John 9:1); and outside the Gospels only in the sense of things “passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:31; 1 John 2:8; 1 John 2:17). Syr-Sin. omits the word.

Σίμωνα Κυρηναῖον. In all three Synoptists; his name and origin were well remembered. There was a strong colony of Jews in Cyrene, planted there by Ptolemy I. They had equal rights with the citizens and often gave trouble (Joseph. Apion. ii. 4, Ant. xiv. vii. 2, XVI. vi. 1, 5, B.J. VII. xi. 1, Vita 76; Eus. H. E. iv. 2 cf. 1 Maccabees 15:23; 2 Maccabees 2:23). Simon may have been a member of the Cyrenean synagogue (Acts 6:9). It is unlikely that he is the same as “Symeon that was called Niger” who is mentioned with “Lucius of Cyrene” (Acts 13:1).

ἐρχόμενον ἀπʼ ἀγροῦ. Coming from the country. This need not mean that he was coming from work in the country, and it certainly was not a case of coming home from work in the evening. If he was an inhabitant of the district, he may have come to buy or sell, or in connexion with the Passover; but he may have been a pilgrim come up for the Feast. We cannot use this statement as evidence for determining the day.

τὸν πατέρα Ἀλεξάνδρου καὶ Ῥούφου. Mk only. When he wrote, Alexander and Rufus were known to many for whom he wrote, and Simon was not. Mk wishes to interest his readers in the narrative. For the purposes of the narrative it is of no moment whether Simon had sons or what their names were. Cf. Mark 14:51-52. There may here be confirmation of the tradition that Mk wrote in Rome. Alexander is not to be identified with any other Alexander in N.T. The name was very common in the East, and no Alexander otherwise known to us is likely to be the same man. Rufus, on the other hand, is a rare name in the East, though not rare in Rome, and he may be the Rufus of Romans 16:13, in which case his mother was well known to St Paul. He may also be the Rufus of the Ep. of Polycarp [9]. But this conjecture is of as little value as that of Origen, who thinks that Simon of Cyrene may have been converted by St Mark.

ἄρῃ τὸν σταυρόν. In Mark 8:34 the same expression is rendered “take up his cross” (A.V., R.V.), but here “bear his cross.” Why not “take up” in both places? Vulg. has tollo in both, and Mk may have intentionally used the same verb in both passages. We need not be afraid of apparent discrepancy from Lk., who says that the soldiers laid the cross on Simon, ἐπέθηκαν αὐτῷ. What Christ had hitherto carried was transferred to Simon. Pictures sometimes represent Simon as merely helping Christ to carry the cross.

Verse 22

22. φέρουσιν αὐτόν. This may mean that He was so exhausted that the soldiers had to carry Him for the remainder of the way (Mark 1:32, Mark 2:3); but it probably means “bring, conduct” (Mark 7:32, Mark 8:22, Mark 9:17; Mark 9:19, Mark 11:2; Mark 11:7). Latin versions have perducunt, adducunt, duxerunt; k has ferunt illam, “bring the cross.”

Κρανίου τόπος. Mk, Mt., and Jn give this as the meaning of Golgotha, while Lk. has simply Κρανίον, which favours the view that it was so called from the shape of the rock. That Jews allowed the skulls of criminals to lie there unburied is incredible, though Jerome seems to accept it: in that case it would have been called the “place of skulls.” The legend that Adam’s skull lay there, thus bringing the fatal death of the first Adam into connexion with the lifegiving death of the second Adam, appears to be believed by Ambrose. But Chrysostom gives it as a mere report, and Jerome rejects it as an attractive interpretation of the name and mulcens aurem populi, nec tamen vera. The Ethiopic Melchisedek legend makes Golgotha itself to be Adam’s skull. Golgotha is not a pure transliteration, but is a Greek modification, for the sake of euphony, of Goulgoltha, Gougaltha, and Gogoltha. The familiar “Calvary” comes from Vulg. Calvariae locus, Lk. Calvariae. We have not sufficient evidence to decide either the site or the origin of the name. The literature is large. Sanday, Sacred Sites, pp. 54, 68–77; D.C.G. art. “Golgotha.” Nor is the route through the city to it known. What is called the Via Dolorosa is a mediaeval conjecture.

Verse 23

23. ἐδίδουν αὐτῷ. They offered Him (R.V.). “They tried to give Him”; the conative imperf. Cf. ἐκωλύομεν αὐτόν (Mark 9:38). Mt., as often, has the aor. where Mk has the imperf., and in this case is less accurate.

ἐσμυρνισμένον οἶνον. Wine medicated with myrrh and perhaps other drugs, to act as an anaesthetic. Syr-Sin. has “sweetened with spice.” Mt. has χολή, “gall,” instead of myrrh; both were bitter, and Mt. may have wished to recall Psalms 69:22. Euthymius erroneously suggests that a nauseous drink was offered to Him in mockery to increase His sufferings. It is said that there was a women’s guild in Jerusalem which supplied condemned criminals with potions for deadening pain before execution. “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto the bitter in soul; Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more” (Proverbs 31:6-7) may have suggested this custom. Christ refused to be stupefied and have His mental faculties obscured; His mind must be free to surrender His life by an act of will. Had He drunk the potion, Christendom might have lost the Words from the Cross. When Dr Johnson was told that without a miracle he could not recover, he said that he would take no more opiates, “for I have prayed that I may render up my soul to God unclouded.”

Verses 23-32


Matthew 27:34-44. Luke 23:33 b–43. John 19:18-26

Verse 24

24. σταυροῦσιν αὐτόν. All the Evangelists pass over the horrors of the process of crucifixion in reverent silence. There is no attempt to excite emotion by detailing them. We have no means of determining whether our Lord’s feet were nailed or tied, for Luke 24:39 is not decisive. In the Gospel of Peter, before the burial, nails are taken from the hands only, which indicates that “Peter” knew the Fourth Gospel. The Synoptists say nothing about the nailing, and Jn speaks only of the hands (John 20:25; John 20:27). Writers and painters, perhaps influenced by Psalms 22:17, have commonly assumed the nailing of the feet, and this is probably correct (see Meyer on Mt.). In that case each foot would almost certainly be nailed separately.

διαμερίζονται τὰ ἱμάτια. This was not an exceptional brutality; the clothing of an executed criminal was a perquisite of the executioners. All four call attention to the parting of the garments in wording which is influenced by Psalms 22:18, which Jn (John 19:24) quotes verbatim from LXX. The Hebrew distinguishes the upper and under garments, as does Jn in his narrative; LXX. and the Synoptists do not.

βάλλοντες κλῆρον ἐπʼ αὐτά. Here again the Evangelist who was present is more definite than the Synoptists. He records how lots were cast for the under-garment only, while the upper was divided into four.

τίς τί ἄρῃ. Lit. “Who should take what,” quis quid tolleret (Vulg.). The double question occurs nowhere else in N.T., though some authorities have it Luke 19:15, ἵνα γνῷ τίς τί διεπραγματεύσατο. Syr-Syn. omits it here. It is not rare in class. Grk. ἡ τίσι τί ἀποδιδοῦσα τέχνη δικαιοσύνη ἂν καλοῖτο (Plato Rep. 332 D). Similarly πῶς τί; Field, pp. 43, 44, quotes other instances.

Verse 25

25. Ἦν δὲ ὥρα τρίτη. Mk alone gives this note of the hour, which creates a difficulty with John 19:14, where the Ecce Homo is placed at the sixth hour. Suggestions of a false reading in either place may be rejected, and forced interpretations of plain language are unsatisfactory. The least unsatisfactory solution is the not quite baseless conjecture that Jn reckoned time as we do, and that his sixth hour is our 6.0 a.m., but it can hardly be called probable. See notes ad loc. On a day of exceptional excitement, with prolonged darkness at midday, traditions as to the time of day might be very confused and divergent; but a difference of two or more hours can hardly be explained in this manner.

καὶ ἐσταύρωσαν αὐτόν. The καί couples the fact of crucifixion already mentioned with the time of day, so that καί = ὅτε, which some cursives substitute. We sometimes use “and” in the sense of “when”; “it was noon and he arrived.”

Verse 26

26. ἦ ἡ ἐπιγραφὴ τῆς αἰτίας αὐτοῦ ἐπιγεγραμμένη. A titulus, stating the crime for which he was to suffer, was commonly fastened to the criminal’s neck before he was taken to execution, but we lack evidence as to its being fastened to the cross. The space above the head would be likely to be used in this way.

Just as no two authorities agree as to the words used at the Institution of the Eucharist, or as to the prayers in Gethsemane, or as to Peter’s denials, so no two Gospels agree as to the wording of the title on the Cross. All four, however, have Ὁ Βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων. St John had gazed at it and read it repeatedly, and he is doubtless accurate in stating that these words were preceded by Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος, and that the inscription was in the two languages of the country, Aramaic and Greek, as well as in the official Latin. The Gospel of Peter gives the improbable wording, “This is the King of Israel.” Pilate would know no such expression; cf. Mark 15:32.

Verse 27

27. δύο λῃστάς. Two robbers (R.V.); see on Mark 11:17, Mark 14:48. They may have taken part in the insurrection in which Barabbas had shed blood; but no hint is given of any such connexion. More probably they were bandits, and may have been some of those who caused the road from Jerusalem to Jericho to be notorious for danger (Luke 10:30). They had probably been condemned at the same time as Jesus, for they know how His case differs from theirs (Luke 23:40-42). The names of the two robbers are given with extraordinary variety in the Apocryphal Gospels and other legendary sources; but, on the whole, Dismas or a similar name is given to the penitent robber, and Gestas or a similar name to the impenitent. Titus and Dumachus (θεομάχος), Joathas and Maggatras, Zoatham and Chammatha, Matha and Joca, are other variants.

ἕνα ἐκ δεξιῶν. Such are the right and left hand places for which James and John had asked (Mark 10:37).

Verse 28

28. See crit. note. The interpolation is based on Luke 22:37 and Isaiah 53:12. It is not Mk’s habit to point out the fulfilment of Scripture. See WH. App. p. 27.

Verse 29

29. οἱ παραπορευόμενοι. Syr-Sin. omits. Cicero (In Verr. v. 66) says that public places along the highways were chosen for crucifixions; that the sufferers might serve as scares to criminals and warnings to passers by. The executed were treated as vermin, nailed to a tree or door. To this public place outside Jerusalem “passers by” would be brought by animosity, curiosity, business, or accident. The expression at once recalls Lamentations 1:12; Lamentations 2:15; but Psalms 22:8 may also be in the minds of the Synoptists. In O.T. “shaking the head” is often given as a sign of mock pity or derision; 2 Kings 19:21; Psalms 22:7; Psalms 109:25; Job 16:4; Isaiah 37:22.

ἐβλασφήμουν. Cf. Acts 13:45; Acts 18:6; Romans 3:8.

Οὐᾶ. Here only in Bibl. Grk. It expresses respect or amazement, genuine or sarcastic, while οὐαί, which is frequent in LXX. and N.T., expresses pity. There is much the same difference between vah and vae.

ὁ καταλύων. Nom. with art. for voc. as often; cf. Mark 5:8; Mark 5:41, Mark 9:25; and especially Revelation 18:10.

Verse 30

30. σῶσον σεαυτόν. These words are in all three. Lk. attributes them to the soldiers, who may have caught them from the passers by. They are the gibe of men who discredited Christ’s wonderful works. If it was really true that He could raise the dead, of course He could come down from the cross.

Verse 31

31. οἱ ἀρχιερεῖςμετὰ τῶν γραμματέων. On such a day, the eve of the Passover and of the Sabbath, these priests and scribes must have come on purpose to mock. Judges capable of striking and spitting at their Prisoner (Mark 14:65) would be equally capable of making derisive remarks in His hearing. They talk at the dying Sufferer, not like the passers by, to Him. Their scornful remarks to one another are meant to be heard by Him and by others. See on Mark 10:34. But the Evangelists let the malignity of the hierarchy speak for itself; they record it without denouncing it. Loisy remarks that it is improbable that the majority of the Sanhedrin would be present at the crucifixion. Perhaps so, but Mk does not say that they were. Enough were there to justify the statement that the priests and the scribes flung about insulting words.

Ἄλλους ἔσωσεν. These words also are in all three. He healed others; Himself He cannot heal. This is a freq. meaning of the verb in the Gospels (Mark 3:4, Mark 5:23; Mark 5:28; Mark 5:34, Mark 6:56, Mark 10:52; etc.). The prince of the demons, they said, helped Him to heal others (Mark 3:22), but He can get no such help for Himself. In the Gospel of Nicodemus the saying is expanded thus: “Others He saved, others He cured, and He healed the sick, the paralytic, the lepers, the demoniacs, the blind, the lame, the dead; and Himself He cannot cure.” His enemies had never been able to deny the fact of His miraculous healings.

Verse 32

32. ὁ Χριστός. Alluding to His declaration before the Sanhedrin (Mark 14:62).

ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ. Alluding to the title on the cross. It is probably from this expression (Mk, Mt.) that the Gospel of Peter gets the idea that the wording of the title was “This is the King of Israel.” Jews would say “of Israel,” but Pilate would write “of the Jews.”

ἵναπιστεύσωμεν. Mt. has καὶ πιστεύσομεν, turning the saying into a promise to believe. They failed to understand Moses and the Prophets, and they did not believe Him of whom they wrote, even when He raised the dead. But when He Himself rose, many of the priests became obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7).

ὠνείδιζον. As in Mark 15:29; Mark 15:31, the imperf. expresses continued action. Mt. retains the imperf. in all three places. We may suppose that Mk and Mt. were ignorant of the subsequent conduct of the penitent robber. The frequent reviling of the other robber was much better known and was commonly spoken of as done by “the robbers.” So Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose, and Augustine. Origen, Chrysostom, and Jerome suppose that both robbers at first reviled, and that afterwards one of them changed and rebuked the other. This is less probable. Much less satisfactory is the suggestion that ὠνείδιζον (Mk, Mt.) means much less than ἐβλασφήμει (Lk.); both reproached Jesus, but only one railed on Him. There is little difference in meaning between the two verbs (Luke 6:22; Romans 15:3; Hebrews 11:26; 1 Peter 4:14), and they are sometimes coupled (2 Kings 19:22). Vulg. here has conviciabantur, in Mt. improperabant.

Verse 33

33. The divergence in the records here and at Mark 15:36 need not surprise us. Eyewitnesses in a time of excitement seldom agree exactly as to what they saw and heard, and exact agreement is a reason for suspecting collusion. Reports of what was said and done at the execution of John of Leyden at Münster in Jan. 1536, written by eyewitnesses immediately afterwards, differ widely as to what took place.

ὥρας ἕκτης. All three Synoptists say that the darkness began at the sixth hour and lasted till the ninth; and “over the whole land” (A.V., R.V.) is doubtless the meaning of ἐφʼ ὅλην τὴν γῆν. As in the case of Egypt (see Driver on Exodus 10:23), the darkness was local, and it may be ascribed to natural causes. At the Paschal full moon an eclipse would be impossible, and we need not suppose that Luke 23:45 means this. An eclipse is given as the cause in the Acta Pilati, but Origen points out the impossibility. Extraordinary darkness at noonday, extending for miles, is not a very rare phenomenon, and there is no sound reason for doubting the fact on this occasion, although some critics suggest that Amos 8:9, quoted by Irenaeus (IV. xxxiii. 12) as a prediction of it, caused the midday darkness to be imagined. The Gospel of Peter enlarges upon the completeness of the darkness. Granting the fact, it was inevitable that Christians should believe that in this case Nature was expressing sympathy with the sufferings of the Redeemer, or pronouncing the infliction of them to be a work of darkness, or predicting the fate of those who had tried to extinguish the Light of the World (Origen), or refusing to look upon a crucified Lord and aid by its light those who blasphemed Him (Jerome). We have no right to condemn such beliefs as certainly untrue. “If He thunder by law, the thunder is yet His voice.” See on Amos 8:9 and Godet on Luke 23:44-45. Syr-Sin. omits ἐφʼ ὅλην τ. γῆν.

Verses 33-41


Matthew 27:45-56. Luke 23:44-49. John 19:29-30

Verse 34

34. ἐβόησεν. Like the cry with which He expired, this utterance was a φωνὴ μεγάλη (Mark 15:37). It is the only Word from the Cross recorded by Mk and Mt., and in both Gospels it is given in the original Aramaic, but texts vary somewhat as to the transliteration. Whether Jesus uttered the first word in the Aramaic or the Hebraistic form is, as Dalman remarks, of little moment. “The latter appears to have the greater probability in its favour, as being the less natural in the Aramaic context. It is conceivable that, to secure greater uniformity, one copyist corrected ἠλεί to ἐλωεί, so that the whole should be Aramaic, while another changed λεμᾶ σεβαχθανεί into λαμᾶ []ζαφθανεί, so as to have the whole in Hebrew” (Words, p. 54). Here [3523] has ἠλεί, and it would be easier for ἠλεί than ἐλωεί to be twisted into Ἠλείας. Allen thinks “it is difficult not to believe that Christ quoted the Psalm in Hebrew, Eli Eli lama azabhtani” (Studies in the Syn. Prob. p. 305). In that case the Aramaic form in Mk is given for the sake of those to whom Aramaic was more familiar than Hebrew. But even if ἐλωεί be original, there is no difficulty. It was not a case of accidental mishearing. The man, in derision, purposely misquoted the word which Christ had uttered. As to the next word we have λαμᾶ ([3524][3525] λεμᾶ ([3526][3527][3528][3529]), λιμᾶ ([3530][3531][3532][3533][3534][3535][3536]), and λειμᾶ ([3537][3538][3539][3540][3541][3542] as variants, and there are as many of σαβαχθανεί. But the asabtani in German Bibles has no MS. authority, any more than Bnehargem for “Boanerges” (Mark 3:17).

Ὁ θεός μου. LXX. also has the nom. with the art. (see on Mark 15:29), while Mt. has Θεέ μου. In N.T. there is perhaps not much difference in tone between the two usages; cf. Mark 15:18. On the other hand, LXX. and Mt. have ἵνα τί, while Mk has εἰς τί. In Mk and Mt., though not in LXX., the μον is repeated; even in this time of apparent desertion, Christ recognizes God as His God. And both Mk and Mt. omit πρόσχες μοι, which is in LXX. but not in the Hebrew. The character of the cry is full guarantee for its historical truth. No Christian would have attributed such words to the Messiah, had He not uttered them. It is possibly because of their perplexing mystery that Lk. and Jn omit them, and that the Gospel of Peter changes them into ἡ δύναμίς μου ἡ δύναμις, κατέλειψάς με. This is one of the Docetic traits in that book, which treats the crucifixion as if it were devoid of suffering. There is a passage in the Testaments (Joseph ii. 4–7) which might serve as a moral drawn from this cry of mental agony. Οὐ γὰρ ἐγκαταλείπει Κύριος τοὺς φοβουμένους αὐτόνἘν βραχεῖ ἀφίσταται εἰς τὸ δοκιμάσαι τῆς ψυχῆς τὸ διαβούλιονὍτι μέγα φάρμακόν ἐστιν ἡ μακροθυμία, καὶ πολλὰ ἀγαθὰ δίδωσιν ἡ ὑπομονή. On the reading ὠνίδισας ([3543] for ἐγκατέλιπες see crit. note. In the Defence of Christianity generally attributed to Macarius Magnes (A.D. 400) “it is remarkable that the objector knew both ὠνείδισας and ἐγκατέλιπες and regarded them as distinct utterances” (Swete).

Verse 35

35. Ἠλείαν φωνεῖ. This is ironical and means “The helpless Messiah wants the Messianic Forerunner to come and help Him,” or, more simply, “wants Elijah to succour Him.” It is said that Elijah was regarded as the helper of the helpless.

Verse 36

36. γεμίσας σπόγγον ὄξους. Lk. omits this, having mentioned at an earlier stage that the soldiers mocked Him by offering Him ὄξος, i.e. the posca or sour wine provided for them, and possibly for the sufferers. The sponge and the stalk may have been ready for the latter purpose, or the sponge may have been a stopper for the jar. Sponge is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible, but its use is often mentioned elsewhere, and it would be common in places near the sea. Jn says that it was Christ’s “I thirst” which led to this incident, and again he has the definiteness of an eyewitness. He remembers the jar of wine and that the “reed” was a stalk of “hyssop,” which was not our Hyssopus officinalis, for that does not grow in Palestine. A stalk of two or three feet long would suffice. Pictures with the feet of the Crucified above the heads of the spectators are misleading. So tall a cross would be troublesome to carry and difficult to fix upright.

The accumulation of participles is characteristic (see on Mark 1:15) and περιθείς is exact, the sponge being round the top of the stalk and crowning it (Mark 15:17; cf. Mark 12:1). Psalms 69:22 perhaps suggested ἐπότιζεν, which is the conative imperf., like ἐδίδουν in Mark 15:23. Mt. here retains the imperf.

λέγων Ἄφετε ἴδωμεν. Here Mt. differs completely. He says that it was the companions of the giver of the wine who cried, Ἄφες ἴδωμεν, i.e. “Let Him alone”; or “Leave off; let us see whether Elijah is coming to save Him.” Apparently Mt. had some authority which he preferred to Mk. In each case there is a doubt as to Ἄφετε or Ἄφες, whether it means “Let be” (A.V., R.V.), or coalesces with ἴδωμεν, as in ἄφες ἐκβάλω (Matthew 7:4). Ἄφετε might mean, “Let me alone,” “Don’t stop me.” But, whatever rendering we adopt, it is evident that Mk and Mt. follow different traditions as to what took place. Ἄφες ἴδω occurs Epict. Dis. iii. 12 sub fin.

Verse 37

37. ἀφεὶς φωνὴν μεγάλην. The recurrence of the verb is purely accidental. The great cry is in all three Synoptists, and it shows that Christ did not die merely of exhaustion.

ἐξέπνευσεν. The change from imperfects to aorists is accurate. No Evangelist says that Christ “died”; He gave up His life by an act of will, He yielded up His spirit; κατʼ ἐξουσίαν, ὅτε ἠθέλησεν, ἀποθνήσκει (Euthym.). Mk and Lk. say ἐξέπνευσεν, Mt. ἀφῆκεν τὸ πνεῦμα, Jn παρέδωκεν τὸ πνεῦμα. The last expression indicates that this “great cry” is to be identified with the last Word; Πάτερ, εἰς χεῖράς σου παρατίθεμαι τὸ πνεῦμά μου (Lk.). See on John 19:30. The Gospel of St Peter has ἀνελήμφθη, “He was taken up,” another expression with a Docetic tinge. A discussion of the physical causes of the death of Christ is unnecessary, and lack of evidence precludes the attainment of any satisfactory result. We may abide by the words of Scripture that He “lay down His life that He might take it again” (John 10:17).

Verse 38

38. τὸ καταπέτασμα κ.τ.λ. All three mention the portent of the rending of the Temple-veil, about which we have no further information. Possibly the Evangelist regards it as the Temple rending its clothes in grief for the death of the Messiah, a death which sealed its own doom, lamentans excidium loco imminens (Clem. Recog. i. 41). The Gospel of Peter has it, and there is a passage in the Testaments (Levi ix. 3) which predicts that “the veil of the Temple shall be rent, so as not to cover your shame”; but in the latter passage ἔνδυμα may be the true reading rather than καταπέτασμα. Jerome says that in the Gospel according to the Hebrews there was a statement that superliminare templi infinitae magnitudinis fractum esse atque divisum, which points to a tradition of some extraordinary occurrence. The veil in question is that between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, and it is mentioned nowhere else in N.T., for Hebrews 9:3 refers to the Tabernacle. Its rending might signify that by the death of Christ the exclusiveness of the Jewish religion was done away, and that even the Holy of Holies was now accessible to all who desired to enter.

ἀπʼ ἄνωθεν. Mt. omits the superfluous ἀπό. See on ἀπὸ μακρόθεν (Mark 5:6).

Verse 39

39. ὁ κεντυρίων. One of Mk’s Latinisms, already used by Polybius. In Mt., Lk., and Acts we have ἑκατοντάρχης or -χος. All three call him “the centurion,” the one whose duty it was to see the sentence of execution carried out, supplicio praepositus. Legend gives the name of Longinus (λόγχη, John 19:34) to him and to the soldier who pierced the Lord’s side, apparently identifying the two. Bede calls him Legorrius. He was standing close by, opposite the middle cross, and it was his duty to keep strict watch, which would be all the more necessary during the darkness, and what he had noted greatly impressed him. Legend says that he was healed of sore eyes by Christ’s blood, which fell on him during his watch, and that he became a Christian martyr. The Gospel narrative is very different.

ὅτι οὕτως ἐξέπνευσεν. The manner of Christ’s death, especially the confidence with which He committed His spirit into His Father’s hands, completed the conviction which had been growing in him. All three Evangelists endeavour to describe this heathen soldier’s attitude towards Christ’s death. He was awe-struck. This was no dangerous or despicable criminal. This Man was not merely innocent but righteous (Lk.), and he was quite right in claiming God as His Father (Mk, Mt.). In this way Mk confirms Lk.’s report of Christ’s last Word, which Mk himself does not record. He also, in recording the centurion’s comment, reveals his own feeling about the Gentiles. The moment after the death of the Messiah the power of that death is recognized by a heathen who had taken part in inflicting it. This heathen echoes the exordium of the Gospel. See on Mark 1:1. The centurion had perhaps been told that Jesus had supernatural powers and claimed to be Divine. But he had himself heard Him, with His dying breath, address God as His Father, and he knew that dying men do not tell wanton lies. The centurion, no doubt, meant far less than the truth when he called Jesus “a son of God.” But at least he meant that he had never seen a better man die a nobler death. Lk. says that in this confession the centurion “glorified God”; i.e. he unconsciously did so. Augustine (De Cons. Ev. iii. 20) treats the differences between the narratives well. The good character of the centurions in N.T. has often been noticed; cf. Matthew 8:5-13; Acts 10:22; Acts 22:26; Acts 23:17; Acts 23:23-24; Acts 24:23; Acts 27:43. Roman organization produced and promoted men of fine character. See Polybius Mark 6:24.

Verse 40

40. ἦσαν δὲ καὶ γυναῖκες. The centurion was not the only person who regarded the death of Christ with reverence and awe. There were also women beholding from afar (R.V.). Cf. Mark 5:6, Mark 8:3, Mark 11:13, Mark 14:54. They had no mind to see more of the horrible details of the crucifixions, still less to hear the derisive language of Christ’s triumphant enemies. His Mother and her sister, Mary of Clopas, with Mary Magdalen, had been near the Cross for a time, but they had come away, and the beloved disciple had taken the first to his own home; but the two others with Salome had joined a group at a distance and still remained. Lk. gives no names, but says that “all His acquaintance” were there also. Are the disciples included in οἱ γνωστοὶ αὐτῷ? John had probably returned to the cross; but where were the Ten?

[3544] ἡ ΄αγδαληνή. Mary of Magdala. Mk has not mentioned her before, but assumes that she is known to his readers. Gratitude for her great deliverance (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2) had made her a devoted follower. The common identification of her with the “sinner” of Luke 7:37 is a monstrous error, which ought never to be repeated.

[3545]. ἡ Ἰακώβου τ. μικροῦ κ. Ἰωσῆτος μήτηρ. Syr-Sin. has “Mary the daughter of James the less, the mother of Joseph”; but Mary the mother of James the less (little) and of Joses (A.V., R.V.) is right. She was the wife of Clopas (John 19:25), who is certainly not the same as Cleopas (Luke 24:18) and cannot with any certainty be identified with Alphaeus. See on Mark 3:18. James and Joses are mentioned, not as being famous, but in order to distinguish their mother from other Marys. They are not the James and Joses of Mark 6:3. James was called ὁ μικρός probably because of his stature, but Deissmann (Bib. St. p. 144) suggests age. “The younger” would probably have been ὁ μικρότερος (Genesis 42:32), or ὁ νεώτερος (Genesis 42:34; Luke 15:12), or ὁ ἐλάσσων (Genesis 25:23).

Σαλώμη. Mk treats her also as known to his readers. Mt. gives no name but substitutes “the mother of the sons of Zebedee,” who has been previously mentioned by him (Matthew 20:20). She was probably the sister of Christ’s Mother. See on John 19:25.

Verse 41

41. ἐν τῇ Γαλιλαίᾳ. This limitation is in all three. These numerous women were pilgrims who had come from Galilee for the Passover; they were not “daughters of Jerusalem.”

Verse 42

42. ὀψίας. A vague word, here used of the time between 3.0 p.m. and sunset.

ἐπεὶ ἦν παρασκευή. This is pointed out by Lk. also. The Sabbath began at sunset, and there must be no delay. If Joseph had not been prompt, Christ’s enemies would have had His Body put, with those of the two robbers, into the grave where criminals were interred (John 19:31). Even if the Sabbath had not begun that evening, it would have been contrary to Jewish law to allow the bodies to remain unburied after nightfall. See Driver on Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Joseph. B.J. IV. Mark 15:2. Παρασκευή is the regular name for Friday in the Greek Church. Mk explains the term for Gentile readers; nowhere else does he use ἐπεί. Προσάββατον occurs Judith 8:6 and in the title of Psalms 92 [93].

Verses 42-47


Matthew 27:57-61. Luke 23:50-56. John 19:38-42

Verse 43

43. ὁ ἀπὸ Ἀριμθείας. The site of Arimathaea is unknown. It has been identified by some with Ramah, the birthplace and burial-place of Samuel. Its full name was Ramathaim-zophim, “Double Height of the Watchers” (Stanley, Sin. and Pal. p. 224). The ἀπό suggests that Joseph had ceased to reside at Arimathaea, and his having a tomb at Jerusalem and being a member of the Sanhedrin shows that he had settled in the city. Mt. says that he was πλούσιος, Lk. that he was ἀγαθὸς καὶ δίκαιος, which may all be summed up in Mk’s εὐσχήμων. Only a person of good position and bearing would have had much hope of at once being admitted to an audience with Pilate.

ἦν προσδεχόμενος. Cf. Luke 2:25; Luke 2:38.

τολμήσας. Took courage; see Field, p. 44. It required courage to go to the Procurator on such an errand. He was no relation of the Crucified, and therefore had no claim to this favour, and his being a member of the Sanhedrin might be fatal. The Sanhedrin had that day driven Pilate to condemn an innocent person to death,—a humiliating and exasperating thought for a Roman judge, and Pilate would know nothing of Joseph’s having taken no part in this crime. Above all, there was danger as to what the Sanhedrin would do, when they heard of Joseph’s visit to the Procurator. But reverence and affection for the Master gave him the necessary courage.

Verse 44

44. ἐθαύμασεν. Pilate’s astonishment and questioning of the centurion are in Mk alone. Pilate would suspect an attempt to get possession of the Body before death had occurred. Death in a few hours was rare, and Eusebius (H. E. viii. 8) says that martyrs, even when nailed to the cross, sometimes were guarded till they died of hunger (see Heinichen’s notes). Josephus (Vita 75) tells us that among a number of crucified captives he found three of his acquaintances still alive, and got Titus to have them taken down. Two died under medical treatment, but one recovered. In the Digests (xlviii. 24, Ulpian) it is ordered that the bodies of the executed are not to be buried without permission, that permission may be refused, and should be refused in cases of high treason (majestatis). See Lagrange.

Verse 45

45. ἐδωρήσατο τὸ πτῶμα. He granted the corpse (R.V.). The verb occurs again 2 Peter 1:3-4, of Divine favours, and nowhere else in N.T. In LXX. it is used of Divine (Genesis 30:20) and royal (Esther 8:1) favours. Nowhere else is Christ’s Body called a πτῶμα, cadaver, a word which has a contemptuous sound, like “carcase”; cf. Mark 6:29; Matthew 24:28; Revelation 11:8-9. Hence Mt., Lk., and Jn use σῶμα, which many texts have here. But to Pilate Christ’s Body was a πτῶμα or cadaver; and after his pitiable conduct in surrendering Jesus to the priests he may have been glad to make some amends by granting Joseph’s request without a fee, as ἐδωρήσατο rather implies. On the other hand, ἀποδοθῆναι (Mt.) might imply that it was given in return for something paid. See on Mark 12:17.

Verse 46

46. ἀγοράσας σινδόνα. Joseph may have done this and made arrangements with Nicodemus before going to the Procurator. Both were members of the Sanhedrin and had agreed to act together. This σινδών might make the strips (ὀθόνια) which were wound round the Body along with the spices which Nicodemus brought. Ex simplici sepultura Domini ambitio divitum condemnatur, qui ne in tumulis quidem possunt carere divitiis (Bede). For ἐνείλησεν cf. 1 Samuel 21:9.

λελατομημένον. Rock-hewn tombs are common round about Jerusalem, and would commonly be used for well-to-do persons. Like the colt and the gravecloths, the tomb had not been used before, for Joseph had had it made for himself. See on John 19:41. One wall would be cut with a stone shelf, on which the Body was laid, and a large stone, circular like a millstone, would be lying flat against the outside rock, ready for closing the opening. Two men might roll it into its place, but to roll it back would be a difficult task for women (Mark 16:4). A globular stone would be much heavier, and it would not so completely close the opening as to exclude wild animals.

μνημείον. This is the word most frequently used of the sepulchre by all four. It perhaps has no shade of difference in meaning from μνῆμα. In the Byzantine sepulchral inscriptions at Jerusalem the usual word is θήκη, from the use of τίθημι, as here, of burial. See crit. note.

Verse 47

47. [3546] ἡ Ἰωσῆτος. This probably means “the mother of Joses” (Mark 15:40); if she had not been mentioned before, “the daughter of Joses” would be the probable rendering. [3547] ff n q and Syr-Sin. have “the daughter of James.” These two women had watched the pious work of Joseph and Nicodemus, who may have had assistants, but might wish to do without them. They desired to see the last of the Master, and to know exactly how to arrange for their own pious work. Apparently, after the men had departed, the two women still sat on and gazed.

Some critics suggest that all these details have been invented in order to make a foundation for the theory of the Resurrection. Such criticism renders history impossible. The strongest evidence can be shown to be possibly untrue by such methods. Mk’s simple narrative is thoroughly coherent. The women witness the hasty burial before sunset on Friday. When the Sabbath is over at sunset on Saturday, they buy spices. Very early on Sunday they set out to use the spices, evidently without any hope of a Resurrection. Their experiences at the tomb lead them to believe that Jesus is risen.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Mark 15". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.