What’s with the RNAB version of this coming Sunday’s gospel?

So here is the second full paragraph of next Sunday’s pericope in the RNAB:

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then they [εὐθὺς] abandoned their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he [εὐθὺς] called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.

What’s missing is any translation of Mark’s two uses (out of his forty-one uses) of εὐθὺς, “immediately, straightway.”

Any insider information?


  1. I have no insider information, but I am very glad they are gone because they help to make this a very badly misinterpreted text.

    If we follow the literary form of concentric writing in Mark and see the matching text on the other side of the synagogue episode, we see the two pairs of brothers together in Peter’s house which has become the house of Jesus.

    So following Jesus is not only a personal response to him, it is also becoming a part of his spiritual family (the brethren) which is sadly neglected in most of our homilies.

    Also the “break” with the family is badly misinterpreted. It is not that the brothers leave their families and their livelihood completely, as if this was modern day priesthood or religious life. Rather those things are placed at the service of Jesus in the rest of the Gospel.

    Perhaps the worse part of the misinterpretation of this passage is labeling it the call of the disciples. It is a call to follow Jesus, but the word disciple is not used yet of these persons, and should be seen as dealing with the general call to be a follower of Christ, not simply a part of the choice of the apostles, which comes later.

    I think Mark understood the sociology of conversion, i.e. that it occurs through social networks, often those of families, but that it also transcends families and other social networks because its focus is Jesus.

    1. Immediately is taken to comment upon the Simon and Andrew, indicating complete conversion, e.g. leaving family and occupation.

      “immediately” like the connective “and” is often left out of translations. In the following passage about the synagogue all the in bold below are omitted, and only the immediately in italics is kept in the old NAB. That invites us to interpret the immediately with regard to Simon’s mother-in-law as something particular to her, e.g. that she was sick.

      Mark 1:21 Then they came to Capernaum, and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.
      22 The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
      23 and immediately In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
      24 he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are– the Holy One of God!”
      25 Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!”
      26 The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
      27 All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
      28 immediatelyHis fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
      29 immediately On leaving the synagogue he entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
      30 Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her.

      What is the meaning of the word “immediately” Its first two occurrences in Mark give us a clue. It is the Holy Spirit shaping the life of Jesus.

      10 and immediately On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
      11 And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
      12 At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert,

  2. The Greek word you are concerned about does appear in this RNAB translation, not as “immediately” or “straightaway,” but as “then.” Not what we are used to, but still it could have a sharp focus. Why the translation of the Greek word was changed from NAB (1970 Lectionary) “immediately” and “on the spot,” to “then” in both instances referenced I do not know.

  3. When first you land in Beginning New Testament Greek, you quickly and gratefully fall for Mark and his εὐθὺς — what a good evangelist, to hand you a single vocabulary word that will carry you through those first chapters — yes, 41 occurrences (as Paul says) in rapid succession. Those early scenes thrum with the repetition of the εὐθὺς, at least to the ears of a struggling Greek student. To Matthew’s ears, maybe not so much. Sometimes he keeps Mark’s “immediately”s (Call of the Disciples, Cleansing of the Leper), and sometimes he drops them (Healing of Peter’s Mother-in-Law, Healing of the Paralytic). As for the RNAB translators, I wouldn’t want to speculate. But the effect of muting the εὐθὺς is to make Mark sound less excitable, and also, perhaps, less like Mark.

  4. There is a discussion of this question in the first appendix of Harold Riley’s ‘The Making of Mark’ (1989), 215ff. You can read it on Google Books. Riley favors ‘then’–which has a broad semantic range in English–for most instances of this word in Mark. You might also check Louw and Nida’s Lexicon s.v. euthus.

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