Mark 8:17 Why do you reason that it is because you have no bread?

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

What are you arguing about loaves you don't have? No yet do you comprehend and nor put it together, having hardened, you have those hearts of yours.

KJV : 

Mark 8:17 Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened?

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The verb translated as "reason" has the sense of "argue" or "debate," but Jesus uses it to refer to an internal debate, using it often with the phrase "in your hearts." The Greek word translated as "perceive" and "understand" are both translated commonly in the KJV as "understand."  The first means comprehending what you are seeing and the second means putting it into a bigger picture. The word translated as "hardening" is used unique by Jesus in this verse. This is the Greek word used to translate the OT references to the hardening of hearts.  The word "heart" is singular though Jesus refers to the plural you as possessing it, the sense is "this heart of yours." Jesus refers to a group sharing a single heart several times in the Gospels.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Τί (irreg sg neut nom) "Why" is tis which can mean "someone", "any one", "everyone", "they [indefinite]", "many a one", "whoever", "anyone", "anything", "some sort", "some sort of", "each", "any", "the individual", "such," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who", "why," or "what."

διαλογίζεσθε ( verb 2nd pl pres ind mp) "Reason" is from dialogizomai, which means "to calculate exactly", "to add up account", "to debate," and "to argue."

ὅτι (adv/conj) "Because" is hoti, which introduces a statement of fact "with regard to the fact that", "seeing that," and acts as a causal adverb meaning "for what", "because", "since," and "wherefore."

ἄρτους ( noun pl masc acc ) "Loaves" is artos, which means specifically a "cake of whole wheat bread," and generally "loaf," and "bread."

οὐκ (partic) "No" is ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

ἔχετε; ( verb 2nd pl pres ind act ) "Ye have" is echo, which means "to have", "to hold", "to possess", "to keep", "to have charge of", "to have due to one", "to maintain", "to hold fast", "to bear", "to carry", "to keep close", "to keep safe," and "to have means to do."

οὔπω (adv) "Not..yet" is from oupo, which means "not yet" and a strong form of "not" and "not at all."

νοεῖτε (verb 2nd pl pres ind act) "Perceive ye" is from noeo, means specifically "perceive by the eyes", "observe," "to perceive with the mind", "apprehend", "think out, "devise", "consider," (of words) "bear a certain sense," and "reflect."

οὐδὲ (adv/conj) "Neither" is from oude , which means "but not", "neither", "nor,"and "not even."

συνίετε; ( verb 2nd pl pres ind act ) "Understand" is from suniêmi (syniemi) which means "to bring together" or "to set together." It is also a metaphor for "perceive", "hear," and "understand" as we would say that we "put it all together" when figuring something out.

πεπωρωμένην [unique]( part sg perf mp fem acc ) "Harden" is from poroo, which means "to petrify", "to turn into stone," and "to harden."

ἔχετε ( verb 2nd pl pres ind act ) "Ye have" is echo, which means "to have", "to hold", "to possess", "to keep", "to have charge of", "to have due to one", "to maintain", "to hold fast", "to bear", "to carry", "to keep close", "to keep safe," and "to have means to do."

τὴν ( article sg fem acc ) Untranslated 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."

καρδίαν ( noun sg fem acc ) "Heart" is kardia, which means "heart (the physical organ)", "the seat of emotions (especially passion, rage, and anger)", "inclination", "desire," "purpose", "mind", "the pith (in wood), and "the deep (of the sea)."

ὑμῶν; (pron 2nd pl gen) "Your" is humon, the plural possessive form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

KJV Analysis: 

Why-- The word translated as "why" means primarily "anything" or "anyone," but Jesus often uses it to start a question so it means "who", "what", or even "why". 

reason -- "Reason" is a verb that means "to calculate exactly", "to add up account", "to debate," and "to argue." It is not a common word. Jesus only uses it seven time, but he often uses it, as he does here, with the word "heart."

ye, -- This comes from the plural, second-person form of the verb above.

because -- The word translated as "because" introduces a statement of fact or cause so  "with regard to," "that" or "because."

ye -- This comes from the plural, second-person form of the verb below.

have -- The word translated as "have" means to "have", "possess", "bear", "keep close", "have means to do",  "to have due to one", or "keep" and many specific uses. This verb isn't used to form past tenses as it is in English. 

no -- The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence captures the same idea.

bread? -- The word translated as "bread" means "small loaf or cake of bread". It is more like a slice of bread today.

perceive  -- "Perceive" is from a verb that means "to perceive with the eyes", "to perceive with the mind," and "to observe." We use the word "see" to have the same sense of physical seeing and perceiving with the mind.

ye -- This comes from the plural, second-person form of the verb above.

not yet -- "Not..yet" is an adverb that means "not yet" and a strong form of "not" and "not at all." It begins the clause about perceiving.

neither -- "Neither" is from a Greek negative meaning "but not" and as both parts of "neither...nor."

understand? -- The word translated as "understand" means "to bring together." It means "understand" in the same sense that we say "put it together" to mean "understand." This word is always translated as "understand" in the KJV translation. A number of other Greek words begin with the same prefix, and all mean some form for bringing things together, for calling a meeting to gathering a crop.

have -- The word translated as "have" means to "have", "possess", "bear", "keep close", "have means to do",  "to have due to one", or "keep" and many specific uses. This verb isn't used to form past tenses as it is in English, which is confusing in this context. Though "hardened" is in the past tense, this word refers directly to his listeners having hearts.

ye -- This comes from the plural, second-person form of the verb above.

your -- The word translated as "your" is plural addressing a group of Jesus's listeners. This comes after the word "heart."

untranslated  -- The untranslated word is the Greek definite article. Here, it is important because it confirms that the word "heart" is singular.  The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more.  The sense is "this heart of yours.

heart -- "Heart" is the Greek word that means "heart" both the physical organ and as the seat of emotions, which we discuss in a larger Greek context in this article here. However, this phrase can be read as defining the "heart" and both the "soul" and "the mind".

yet -- There is no "yet" in the Greek source that we use today.

hardened? -- "Harden" is a verb that means "to petrify", "to turn into stone," and "to harden." It is in the form of an adjective in the same singular form as "heart." The tense is the past perfect, so the sense is "having hardened." The "have" above is not part of this verb. This verb comes first in the clause, introducing the rest.

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

Why do reason that you have no reason? Do you not see what is real and put it all together? Have your ability to connect emotionally turned to stone?

This verse connects some of Jesus's most commonly used symbols. It refers to the previous verses mention of "leaven," a symbol for the hidden spirit or life within things. Leaven is connected to bread, Jesus's symbol for the beneficial products of the mind (reason) that support physical life. The heart is Jesus's symbol for relationships, the emotional realm of the connections between people as feelings, "ideas" that cannot be put into words.

Jesus often talks about transformation, how things are changed from one thing to another (discussed here more extensively). Here, the transformation discussed is a negative, hearts becoming stones. The stone is one of Jesus's first symbols of the purely physical, hearts turned into stone, the emotional becoming purely physical, with no connection to life.

Jesussee human understanding as the ability to see the connection between things as they are transformed, that is, to recognize all life, including communication as an on-going process.  Ideas musts be understood in their larger context, not in a limited way. While the apostle's can only connect Christ's mention of the leaven in the previous verse to bread, he wants them to see its connection to the inner spirit of things. To understand, we must see more than the surface, the immediate, but what is inside, what is deep, the cause creating what we see.

In this case, the spirit, the leaven, is the cause of the bread, the product of the mind,  just like relationships, the emotional connections between people, are the cause of their ways of seeing the world.

Front Page Date: 

Aug 20 2019