Mark 12:10 And have you not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected...

KJV Verse: 

Mark 12:10 And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Not at all the writing, this one, have you recognized: A stone, this here they rejected, the ones building the house. This is being changed: into a head of a corner.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse is identical to Psalm 118:22 of the Septuagint, the Greek OT of Jesus's time (see Greek Septuagint version below and at this link.

In the original Greek, the word play is on the two meanings of "head" and "corner," contrasting leadership with the top layer of stones that protects a wall. Interestingly, this word play also works in Hebrew (see Hebrew of Psalm 118:22 here).

The KJV translators added three definite articles to the verse to make Jesus's role seem more unique. The Greek says "a stone" and "a head of a corner" not "the stone," "the head" or "the corner."

In architecture, "a head of a corner" comes from the technique of coping an exterior wall. The coping is the final, finishing layer of stone that protects the rest below. The head or top coping layer of stones is not square but slanted so that it sheds water. If its stones were square, the water would sit on top, working into the joints and eventually destroying the wall. The "head of a corner" was slanted in two directions, the least square stone of all. Note that by saying this, Jesus is making fun of himself, basically saying that he is very slanted and off kilter by regular standards.

Of course, as in English, "head" also means a leader. In Greek,  this idea came the idea of "crowning" a leader. However, unlike English, "corner" also means "a leader of a people" in Greek.  In English, we say a "pillar of the community" to describe a leader. In Greek, they would say "a corner of a community" in the same way. Think of the corners as supporting a structure like a pillar does. In Hebrew, the words for head (ro'sh ) and corner (pinnah) also both carry the same sense of leadership.

So a "head of a corner" is not just a leader, but a leader of leaders. The "head" of the "pillars" of the community.

KJV Analysis: 

And-- The Greek word translated as "and" is an adverb that means "not at all" or "no even". As a conjunction, it works as both parts of the "neither/nor" constructions. 

have  -- This helping verb in English comes from the tense of the following Greek verb. However, it is not really the past tense, but a tense that indicates something that happened at a specific point in time.

you -- This is from the second-person, plural form of the verb.

not -- This is from the negative that began the verse and is translated as "and."

read  --  "Read" is a verb that means "know well", "recognize," and "know again." It is always translated as "read" in the Gospels, but that always comes from the fact that it is used in reference to the law or written law. However, Jesus is never talking about "reading". He is talking about "knowing well" and "recognizing", which may have been read or heard or memorized, all of which were common in a relationship to scripture. 

untranslated -- The untranslated word 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.

this -- The word translated as "this" means "from here" or "this/that thing."

scripture; -- "The scripture" is a Greek noun that means  "writing", "the art of writing," and "that which is written." It came to mean "scripture" from its use in the Gospels.

The -- There is no Greek word that is translated as "the" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. It was added for clarity.

stone -- The Greek word translated as "stone" means "a stone", "stone as a substance," and various specific types of stones, such as touchstones and altar stones.

which  -- The word translated as "which" is a demonstrative pronoun ("this" "that"), but it often acts as a pronoun ("the one that), especially a connective pronoun ("the one that") introducing a dependent clause

the -- The word translated as "the" 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. 

builders -- "Builders" is a verb that specifically means "build a house," generally, "build", "fashion," "found upon," and, metaphorically, "build up," and "edify." In English, we use "construct" to specifically describe house building.  The form in an adjective, "constructing." With the previous article, "the ones building."

untranslated -- The untranslated word in KJV means "this", "that", "the nearer."

rejected -- "Rejected" is a verb that means specifically "reject on scrutiny", "reject as unfit or unworthy," and "reject for want of qualifications."  Referring to a stone used to build a wall, we would say "reject as unfitting."

is -- This helping verb indicates that the following verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translated the Greek verb forms into English.

become -- The word translated as "become" means "to become," "to be born," "to happen," "come into,"  that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Christ, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state.

untranslated -- The untranslated word means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, and "up to" limits in time and measure. With the previous verse, the sense is as we use the phrase "changes into."

the -- There is no Greek word that is translated as "the" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. It was added for clarity.

head -- "Head" is from a noun that means "head of a man or beast", "an extremity", "the top", "the capital (top) of a pillar", "the coping of a wall", "the source of a rivalry," and, metaphorically the "crowning" or "completion" of a thing. It means "head" and "top" but also the completion of a thing (as we say, "bringing it to a head"). It is also a metaphor for life ("losing your head" in Greek doesn't mean an emotional outburst, but being killed). "Head" is from a noun that means "head of a man or beast", "an extremity", "the top", "the capital (top) of a pillar", "the coping of a wall", "the source of a rivalry," and, metaphorically the "crowning" or "completion" of a thing.

of  -- This word comes from the genitive case of the following word(s) that required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession, but it can also mean "belonging to," "part of", "which is", "than" (in comparisons), or  "for", "concerning" or "about" with transitive nouns. 

the -- There is no Greek word that is translated as "the" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. It was added for clarity.

corner: "Corner" is a noun that means "corner", "angle", "a quarter of a compass," and "a leader of people." In Greek, another meaning for "corner" is "a leader of a people." We don't use the word "corner" similarly, but the meaning is easier to understand if you think of the corners as supporting a structure, like a pillar does. We do say a "pillar of the community" to describe a leader. In Greek, they would say "the corner of a community" in the same sense.

Greek Vocabulary: 

Οὐδὲ  (partic) "Not" is oude, which, as a conjunction, means "but not", "neither", and "nor." As an adverb, it means "not at all" and "not even."

τὴν  (article sg fem acc) (article)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

γραφὴν ( noun sg fem acc) "Scripture" is from graphe, which means "representing by means of lines", "a drawing", "writing", "the art of writing," and "that which is written." It came to mean "scripture" from its use in the Gospels.

ταύτην  ( adj sg fem acc ) "This" is touto, which means "from here", "from there", "this [thing]," or "that [thing]."

ἀνέγνωτε (verb 2nd pl aor ind act) Have you read" is anaginosko, which means "to recognize", "to know well", "to know certainly", "to know again", "to own," and "to acknowledge."

Λίθον (noun sg masc acc) "The stone" is from lithos, which means "a stone", "stone as a substance," and various specific types of stones, such as touchstones, and altar stones.

ὃν (pron sg masc acc) "Which" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

ἀπεδοκίμασαν (5 times)(verb 3rd pl aor ind act) "Rejected" is from apodokimazô, which means specifically "reject on scrutiny", "reject as unfit or unworthy," and "reject for want of qualifications."

οἱ (article pl pres masc nom) "The" 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."

οἰκοδομοῦντες (part pl pres act masc nom) "Builders" is from oikodomeo,which means to "build a house," generally, "build", "fashion," "found upon," and, metaphorically, "build up," and "edify."

οὗτος (adj sg masc nom) Untranslated is houtos, which means "this", "that", "the nearer."

ἐγενήθη (verb 3rd sg aor ind pass) "Is become" is from ginomai, which means "to become", "to come into being", "to be produced," and "to be." It means changing into a new state of being. It is the complementary opposite of the verb "to be" (eimi)which indicates existence in the same state.

εἰς Untranslated is eis, which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."

κεφαλὴν (noun sg fem acc) "Head" is from kephalê, which means "head of a man or beast", "an extremity", "the top", "the capital (top) of a pillar", "the coping of a wall", "the source of a rivalry," and, metaphorically the "crowning" or "completion" of a thing.

γωνίας: (4 times) (noun sg fem gen) "Of the corner" is from gônia, which means "corner", "angle", "a quarter of a compass," and "a leader of people."

Wordplay: 

 In the original Greek, the word play is on the two meanings of "head" and "corner," contrasting leadership with the top layer of stones that protects a wall. Interestingly, this word play also works in Hebrew.

Related Verses: 

Matthew 21:42 Did you never read in the scriptures...

Luke 20:17 What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected,

Psalm 118:22  (LXX 117:22) λίθον ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

This verse is about the angles, a slanted stone that sits on top of an angle. For Christ, as a builder, this would be an obvious analogy about separating leaders from regular people.

To build a wall, the stones have to be square, and somewhat consistent in size and shape. They have to "fit into" the wall. Stones that have an angle to them are rejected as being part of the building. These same rejected slanted stones, however, work perfectly as capstones, which sit on the top of the wall, especially at the corner.

The analogy here is between regular people and  their leaders.  Regular people fit into society in a way that leaders do not. Regular people are square. They fit together.  Leaders do not fit. A leader stand outs from the crowd, but because of they are different, leaders can play a different role, deflecting the elements.

Nov 19 2019