Mark 12:40 Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers...

Spoken to: 

audience

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

The ones gulping down the houses of these bereaved and, as a pretext, praying long; these [are] getting extraordinary judgment.

KJV : 

Mark 12:40 Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

NIV : 

Mark 12:40  They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.

3rd Translation: 

Mark 12:40 (NLT) Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely punished.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This is good example of how humor is lost translated a spoken phrase into neat written sentences. In the Greek, there is no active verb in this verse. It is a series of verbal adjectives, describing the "scribes" of Mark 12:38.  It is best understood as series of spoken accusations. The first clauses uses a funny verb, but there are several uncommon words here.

The last clause is especially interesting because it is a play on words. The last clause is not a statement about the future nor does it indicate a possibility. The statement is in the present tense, and it could mean either that they are getting a privileged judgment or a severe judgment depending on who is judging.

Wordplay: 

Jesus brings together the idea of getting the best of everything from the previous two verses (here and here), with getting an "extraordinary judgment." The idea that this will be a punishment is implied subtly and humorously, not stated baldly as in the the translation.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

οἱ (article pl masc nom) "Which" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"), which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

κατέσθοντες [7 times](part pl pres act masc nom) "Devour" is from katesthio, which means "to eat up" and "to devour." It is a term applied to animals of prey. It also means "to corrode" or "to be gnawed."

τὰς (article pl fem acc) Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

οἰκίας [40 times](noun pl fem acc) "Houses" is from oikia, which means "house," "building," and "household." It was also the term that was used to describe a family or clan and the people associated with that family or clan, such as their servants and slaves.

τῶν (article pl masc gen) Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

χηρῶν [9 verses](noun pl masc gen) "Widows'" is chera, which means "widow" and "bereaved."

καὶ (conj.adv) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even," "also," and "just."

προφάσει [5 verses] (noun sg fem dat) "For a pretense" is prophasis, which means "motive," "alleged cause," "actual motive," "plea," "falsely alleged motive," "pretext," "pretense," "purpose," "cause," "persuasion," and "suggestion."

μακρὰ [4 verses](noun/adj pl neut nom/acc) "Long" is makros, which means in length, "long," in height, "tall," "high," "deep," in distance, "long," "far," "remote," generally, "large in size or degree," "great," of Time, "long," and "tedious." As a noun, it means "length." As an adverb, "lengthy."

προσευχόμενοι: [26 verses](part pl pres mp masc nom/acc) "Make...prayers" is proseuchomai, which means "to offer prayers or vows," "to worship," and "to pray for a thing. It is the combination of two Greek word, pros, meaning "towards" or "by reason of," and euchomai, meaning "to pray to God."

οὗτοι [137 verses](adj pl masc nom) "These" is from houtos, which means "this," "that," "the nearer." As an adverb, it means "in this way," "therefore," "so much," "to such an extent," and "that is why."

λήμψονται [54 verse](part pl pres act masc nom) "Shall receive" is lambano means to "take," "take hold of," "grasp," "seize," "catch," "overtake," "find out," "detect," "take as," "take [food or drugs]," "understand," "take in hand," "undertake," "take in," "hold," "get," "receive [things]," "receive hospitably," "receive in marriage," "receive as produce," "profit," "admit," "initiate," "take hold of," "lay hold on," "seize and keep hold of," "obtain possession of," "lay hands upon," "find fault with," "censure," "to apprehend with the senses," "to take hold of," and "to seize." It is also specifically used to mean "seized with emotion."

περισσότερον [7 verses] (adj sg masc acc) "Greater" is perissoteros, which is a form of the word perissos, which means "beyond the regular number of size," "out of the common," "extraordinary" "more than sufficient," "superfluous," "useless," "excessive," "extravagant," "over-wise," "over-curious," "abundantly," and "remarkable."

κρίμα. [5 verses](noun sg neut acc) "Damnation" is from krima, which means "decision," "judgment," "decree," "resolution," and a "legal decision."

KJV Analysis: 

Which -- (WW)  The word translated as "which" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." Here, it precedes a verb in the form of an adjective. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

devour -- (WF) "Devour" is a compound word that means "to eat up" and "to devour." It is a term applied to animals of prey. It also means "to corrode" or "to be gnawed." It is the common word that means "to eat" or "to devour" with a prefix that means "down." The sense is how we say "gulping down" in English. This verb is only used seven times, in parallels to this verse and in parables where the exaggeration creates humor. The form is not an active verb but an verb adjective, "devouring" or "gulping down."

untranslated  "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun, here, the noun "houses." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

widows' -- "Widows" is from chera, which means "widow" and "bereaved." The word follows "houses" in the form "of the widows."

untranslated "the" -- (MW)The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun, here, the noun "windows." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

houses, -- The Greek word translated as "house," in Christ's time, was not only the physical building but the whole household, its members, its property, business interests, and position in the community, all connected to the "name" of the head of the house.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

for  -- This word comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English. Here, the sense is "for" a purpose.

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

pretense --  "Pretense" is a noun that means "motive," "alleged cause," "actual motive," "plea," "falsely alleged motive," "pretext," "pretense," "purpose," "cause," "persuasion," and "suggestion." This word is used by Jesus only five times, most often in parallels of this verse.

make -- (WF) The Greek word translated as "make...prayers" means "to offer prayers of vows" either "to worship" or "to ask for a thing." This is not the normal Greek word for "make," but the verb for praying. The form is a verbal adjective, "praying" in the third person plural, "their praying," This is the last word in the clause.

long -- "Long" is an adjective that means in length, "long," in height, "tall," "high," "deep," in distance, "long," "far," "remote," generally, "large in size or degree," "great," of Time, "long," and "tedious." As a noun, it means "length." As an adverb, "lengthy."

prayers:  -- There is no Greek noun that means "prayers" in the source . It is used to translate the verb "make" into "praying."

these  -- "These" is translated from a Greek word that means "this," "that," "the nearer." Since this word and the following adjective, "receiving" are both in the form of subjects, a "are" can be inserted between them since no active verb is in the clause.

shall -- (WT) This helping verb seems to indicates that the following verb is the future tense. This is not the case.  Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

receive -- (WF) The word translated as "receive" primarily means "take." However, it means "receive" in the same sense that we use "get" to mean "receive" and has many different uses as we use "get" in English. Among these are the ideas of "understanding" and "possessing." The form of this verb is again, a verbal adjective use, "getting."

greater -- "Greater" is an adjective that means "beyond the regular number of size," "out of the common," "extraordinary" "more than sufficient," "superfluous," "useless," "excessive," "extravagant," "over-wise," "over-curious," "abundantly," and "remarkable."

damnation.-- (WW) "Damnation" is a noun that means "decision," "judgment," "decree," "resolution," and a "legal decision." It is the same root as the noun that means "judge" and the common Greek word translated as "judgment."

KJV Translation Issues: 

5
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "which" means "the ones."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "devour" is not an active verb but a participle, "devouring."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The article "the" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The article "the" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "make" is not an active verb but a participle, "making."
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "shall" seems to indicate the future tense, but the tense is the present.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "receive" is not an active verb but a participle, "getting."

NIV Analysis: 

They -- (WW)  The word translated as "which" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." Here, it precedes a verb in the form of an adjective. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

devour -- (WF) "Devour" is a compound word that means "to eat up" and "to devour." It is a term applied to animals of prey. It also means "to corrode" or "to be gnawed." It is the common word that means "to eat" or "to devour" with a prefix that means "down." The sense is how we say "gulping down" in English. This verb is only used seven times, in parallels to this verse and in parables where the exaggeration creates humor. The form is not an active verb but an verb adjective, "devouring" or "gulping down."

untranslated  "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun, here, the noun "houses." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

widows' -- "Widows" is from chera, which means "widow" and "bereaved." The word follows "houses" in the form "of the widows."

untranslated "the" -- (MW)The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun, here, the noun "windows." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more.

houses, -- The Greek word translated as "house," in Christ's time, was not only the physical building but the whole household, its members, its property, business interests, and position in the community, all connected to the "name" of the head of the house.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

for  -- This word comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English. Here, the sense is "for" a purpose.

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

show --  (WW) "Show" is a noun that means "motive," "alleged cause," "actual motive," "plea," "falsely alleged motive," "pretext," "pretense," "purpose," "cause," "persuasion," and "suggestion." This word is used by Jesus only five times, most often in parallels of this verse.

make -- (WF) The Greek word translated as "make...prayers" means "to offer prayers of vows" either "to worship" or "to ask for a thing." This is not the normal Greek word for "make," but the verb for praying. The form is a verbal adjective, "praying" in the third person plural, "their praying," This is the last word in the clause.

lengthy -- "Lengthy" is an adjective that means in length, "long," in height, "tall," "high," "deep," in distance, "long," "far," "remote," generally, "large in size or degree," "great," of Time, "long," and "tedious." As a noun, it means "length." As an adverb, "lengthy."

prayers:  -- There is no Greek noun that means "prayers" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. It is used to translate the verb into an noun to match the previous adjective.  However, this construction loses the sardonic edge of the original, "long their praying."

These  -- "These" is translated from a Greek word that means "this," "that," "the nearer."

men -- (IW) There is no Greek word that can be translated as "men" in the Greek source.

will -- (WT) This helping verb seems to indicates that the following verb is the future tense. This is not the case.  Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

be -- Though there is not verb here since the "these" and "getting" are both in the form of a subject, a verb "to be" can be inserted between them.

untranslated "take"-- (MW) The untranslated word means "take." However, it means "receive" in the same sense that we use "get" to mean "receive" and has many different uses as we use "get" in English. Among these are the ideas of "understanding" and "possessing." The form of this verb is again, a verbal adjective use, "getting."

punished .-- (WW) "Punished" is a noun that means "decision," "judgment," "decree," "resolution," and a "legal decision." It is the same root as the noun that means "judge" and the common Greek word translated as "judgment." It is not a verb but a noun.

most severely -- "Most severely" is an adjective that means "beyond the regular number of size," "out of the common," "extraordinary" "more than sufficient," "superfluous," "useless," "excessive," "extravagant," "over-wise," "over-curious," "abundantly," and "remarkable."

NIV Translation Issues: 

9
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "they" means "the ones."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "devour" is not an active verb but a participle, "devouring."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The article "the" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The article "the" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "show" means "pretext."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "men" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "make" is not an active verb but a participle, "making."
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "will" seems to indicate the future tense, but the tense is the present.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The verb "take" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "punished" means "judged."

3rd Analysis: 

(NLT)

Yet -- (IW) There is no Greek word that can be translated as "yet" in the Greek source.

They -- (WW)  The word translated as "which" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." Here, it precedes a verb in the form of an adjective. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

shamelessly -- (IW) There is no Greek word that can be translated as "shamelessly" in the Greek source.

cheat -- (WW, WF) "Devour" is a compound word that means "to eat up" and "to devour." It is a term applied to animals of prey. It also means "to corrode" or "to be gnawed." It is the common word that means "to eat" or "to devour" with a prefix that means "down." The sense is how we say "gulping down" in English. This verb is only used seven times, in parallels to this verse and in parables where the exaggeration creates humor. The form is not an active verb but an verb adjective, "devouring" or "gulping down."

untranslated  "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun, here, the noun "houses." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

widows -- "Widows" is from chera, which means "widow" and "bereaved." The word follows "houses" in the form "of the widows."

out of -- (IW) There is no Greek word that can be translated as "out of" in the Greek source.

their -- (WW) The word translated as "their" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

property  -- The Greek word translated as "house," in Christ's time, was not only the physical building but the whole household, its members, its property, business interests, and position in the community, all connected to the "name" of the head of the house.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

then -- (IW) There is no Greek word that can be translated as "then" in the Greek source.

pretend --  (WW) "Pretend" is a noun that means "motive," "alleged cause," "actual motive," "plea," "falsely alleged motive," "pretext," "pretense," "purpose," "cause," "persuasion," and "suggestion." This word is used by Jesus only five times, most often in parallels of this verse.

to be pious by -- (IP) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "to be pious by" in the Greek source.

making -- The Greek word translated as "make...prayers" means "to offer prayers of vows" either "to worship" or "to ask for a thing." This is not the normal Greek word for "make," but the verb for praying. The form is a verbal adjective, "praying" in the third person plural, "their praying," This is the last word in the clause.

long -- "Prayers" is an adjective that means in length, "long," in height, "tall," "high," "deep," in distance, "long," "far," "remote," generally, "large in size or degree," "great," of Time, "long," and "tedious." As a noun, it means "length." As an adverb, "lengthy."

prayers:  -- There is no Greek noun that means "prayers" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. It is used to translate the verb into an noun to match the previous adjective.  However, this construction loses the sardonic edge of the original, "long their praying."

in public. Because of this, -- (IP) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "in public. Because of this," in the Greek source.

they -- (WW) "They" is translated from a Greek word that means "this," "that," "the nearer."

will -- (WT) This helping verb seems to indicates that the following verb is the future tense. This is not the case.  Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

be -- Though there is not verb here since the "these" and "getting" are both in the form of a subject, a verb "to be" can be inserted between them.

untranslated "take"-- (MW) The untranslated word means "take." However, it means "receive" in the same sense that we use "get" to mean "receive" and has many different uses as we use "get" in English. Among these are the ideas of "understanding" and "possessing." The form of this verb is again, a verbal adjective use, "getting."

more severely -- "Most severely" is an adjective that means "beyond the regular number of size," "out of the common," "extraordinary" "more than sufficient," "superfluous," "useless," "excessive," "extravagant," "over-wise," "over-curious," "abundantly," and "remarkable."

punished .-- (WW) "Punished" is a noun that means "decision," "judgment," "decree," "resolution," and a "legal decision." It is the same root as the noun that means "judge" and the common Greek word translated as "judgment." It is not a verb but a noun.

3rd Issue Count: 

16
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "yet" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "they" means "the ones."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "shamelessly" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "cheat" means "devour."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "cheat" is not an active verb but a participle, "devouring."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The article "the" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "out of" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "their" means "the."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "then" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "pretend" means "pretext."
  • IP - Inserted phrase-- The phrase "to be pious by" doesn't exist in the source.
  • IP - Inserted phrase-- The phrase "in public. Because of this," doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "they" means "these."
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "will" seems to indicate the future tense, but the tense is the present.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The verb "take" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "punished" means "judged."

Front Page Date: 

Dec 7 2019