The Use of εὐθύς (“immediately”) in Mark -- By: Rodney J. Decker

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 01:1 (Spring 1997)
Article: The Use of εὐθύς (“immediately”) in Mark
Author: Rodney J. Decker

The Use of εὐθύς (“immediately”) in Mark

Rodney J. Decker

Assistant Professor of New Testament

In English translations and commentaries on the Gospel of Mark εὐθύς is often translated as “immediately.” This ignores the semantic range of εὐθύς and often results in over-exegeting. A sensitivity to Mark’s distinctive use of εὐθύς as both an adverb of rapidity and a conjunction suggests that a variety of English equivalents are needed in translation.


The purpose of this article is to examine the temporal deixis function of εὐθύς in Mark.1 The initial section will sketch the general use of εὐθύς. This will be followed by a discussion of the theoretical aspects of pragmatics and deixis, focusing particularly on temporal deixis. Next, the semantic range of εὐθύς will be described, including a summary of the grammarians’ statements on the subject. Markan usage will then be

examined and classified. The conclusion will evaluate the various proposals by the grammarians in light of the data of Mark.

It will be argued that εὐθύς is a key word in evaluating temporal deixis, but that it has been abused by over-exegeting passages in which it occurs. This has been done primarily by ignoring the range of Mark’s use of εὐθύς and forcing all or most occurrences to function as an adverb of rapidity. It will be demonstrated not only that εὐθύς has considerable flexibility in this category, but that it also functions as a conjunction in many passages.

General Observations

This preliminary section summarizes the usage of εὐθύς but does not endeavor to suggest the significance of the data. That will be addressed later in the article.

Mark has an unusual concentration of occurrences of εὐθύς. In narrative material (Matthew-Acts),2 εὐθύς occurs 51 times. Of these, 41 instances are in Mark.3 Matthew has 5, Luke and Acts have 1 each, and John has 3 instances of εὐθύς.4 This suggests th...

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