Wally V. Cirafesi, «Tense-Form Reduction and the Use of 'epoiesate' in Codex Bezae Matthew 21,13//Mark 1,17.», Vol. 26 (2013) 61-68
This short study employs the concept of tense-form reduction from the perspective of Hellenistic Greek aspectology to explain the reading epoiesate in Codex Bezae Matthew 21,13//Mark 11,17. The article suggests that the Bezen scribe has chosen (consciously or unconsciously) to reduce the aspectual semantics of the verb poieo from the imperfective Present (Matt) and the stative Perfect (Mark) to the perfective Aorist. The textual effect of this choice is that Jesus’ pronouncement of judgment on those buying and selling in the temple is emphasized less in the text of Bezae, since it stands in the background of Jesus’ speech frame. This finding has significant implications for proposals regarding the anti-Judaic bias of Codex Bezae, particularly as demonstrated by its version of the Markan temple cleansing episode.
64 Wally V. Cirafesi
a. Harmonization with Luke
The first possibility is that the use of ἐποιήσατε in Bezae represents
an attempt to harmonize Matthew’s and Mark’s account with that of
Luke’s. Wong suggests this when he says
In Mt 21, 13, both the simple aorist (C D W f13) and perfect (f1) are found
through the influence of parallels in Luke and Mark. By contrast, Luke has
no other variant...[T]he occurrence of the variant forms in other gospels indi-
cates that the word ποιεῖν is influenced by one another among the parallels9.
However, a difficulty arises regarding harmonization with Luke
when one considers the minimal role the temple cleansing episode
plays in Luke’s discourse. The episode in Luke gets very little attention
and contains little detail in comparison to the Matthean and Markan
accounts10. The overturning of tables and chairs (Matt 21,12//Mark 11,15)
and the comment made in Mark 11,16 that Jesus did not allow anyone
to bring a σκεῦος through the temple are omitted in Luke11. Only a brief
reference is made to the casting out of “the sellers” (τοὺς πωλοῦντας),
which quickly transitions into Jesus’ speech frame in v. 46. All of this
points to the likelihood that the temple cleansing is, as a whole, rather
insignificant in Luke’s narrative in comparison to Matthew and Mark.
What matters most to Luke in these two short verses is Jesus’ declaration
from written Scripture (γέγραπται) that God’s house will be known as an
οἶκος προσευχῆς12. If this is indeed the case, it is unlikely that the scribe
Wong, The Temple Incident, 131, n. 225.
For a fuller discussion of this, see Cirafesi, Verbal Aspect in Synoptic Parallels, 94-95.
Gray, The Temple in the Gospel of Mark, 28-30 notes that there has been considerable
debate over the meaning of σκεῦος in Mark 11,16. J. Massyngberde Ford argues that it
refers to “money bags” by tying σκεῦος to the money-changers and the fact that the temple
was used as a bank (“Money ‘Bags’ in the Temple [Mark 11:16]”, Bib 57.2  249-53).
Tom Holmén suggests that the word’s meaning is ambiguous (Jesus and Jewish Covenant
Thinking [BIS 55; Leiden 2001] 309). Gray, however, offers a convincing argument for
understanding σκεῦος as “cultic vessel”. In this sense, Jesus was interrupting the entire
cultic process of offering sacrifices in the temple. J. Gnilka, Das Evangelium nach Markus
(EKKZNT; 2 vols.; Zürich 1989) II, 129 also interprets σκεῦος in a cultic sense. In any case,
Mark’s inclusion of this detail points toward the greater significance of Jesus’ act in this
Gospel in comparison to Matthew and Luke.
I.H. Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text (NIGTC; Grand
Rapids 1978) 719; Ådna, Jesu Stellung zum Tempel, 168, 168 n. 35. See John Nolland, Luke
18:35–24:53 (WBC 35C; Dallas 1993) 935, who says, “Luke severely abbreviates in a way
that draws the emphasis strongly onto the biblical citations in 19:46”. However, see Brent
Kinman, Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem in the Context of Lukan Theology and the Politics
of his Day (AGAJU 28; Leiden 1995) 150-53, where he suggests that despite the brevity of
the account, Luke emphasizes three things in his temple cleansing narrative: (1) that Jesus’
actions do indeed represent a “cleansing” of the temple; (2) that the political implications
of the event are marginal; and (3) that the event should be closely connected to Jesus’ entry
(παρουσία) into Jerusalem and the city’s subsequent response to him.