Mark 12:15 Why tempt you me? bring me a penny, that I may see [it].

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Why test me? Fetch me a silver coin in order that I might see.

KJV : 

Mark 12:15 Why tempt you me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This light-hearted nature of verse in Greek is lost in translation.  Jesus is playing dumb, here pretending that he doesn't know why he is being challenged and what money looks like. But he is being much slyer, asking for a specific coin because he does know what it looks like.  The specific nature of this coin, one with Caesar on it, is lost in most translations.

The "tempt" and "trying to trap" translation of the first verb is misleading. Jesus uses this verb to mean simply "test."  His challengers  were not trying to "tempt" him, but this verb can be translated that way. And they may have been trying to trap him, but he didn't say that.

The KJV, except for misnaming the coin, comes closest to the Greek. The English in both the NIV and NLT add phrases that Jesus didn't use. This is especially true in the NLT where a key verb is dropped, another is mistranslated,  and a major phrase is added at the end.

NIV : 

Mark 12:15 Why are you trying to trap me? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.

NLT : 

Mark 12:15 Why are you trying to trap me? Show me a Roman coin, and I’ll tell you.”

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Τί ( pron 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."

πειράζετε; (7 verses)  ( verb 2nd pl pres ind act) "Tempt" is peirazo, which means "to attempt", "to try", "to test," and, in a bad sense, "to seek to seduce," and "to tempt."

με (noun sg masc acc) "Me" is eme, which means "I", "me", and "my".

φέρετέ ( verb 2nd pl pres imperat act) "Bring" is from pherô, which means "to bear", "to carry", "to bring", "to produce," and "to fetch."

μοι (pron 1st sing dat) "Me" is moi, which means "I", "me", and "my". 

δηνάριον ]9 verses](noun sg neut acc) "Penny" is denarion, which was the principle silver coin of the Roman Empire in NT times.

ἵνα (adv/conj) "That" is hina, which means "in that place", "there", "where", "when", "that", "in order that", "when," and "because."

ἴδω. ( verb 1st sg aor subj act )  "See" is eidon, which means "to see", "to perceive", "to behold", "to experience", "to look", "to see mentally", "to examine", "to investigate", "to see with the mind's eye," and "to know how."

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". 

tempt -- "Tempt" is a verb that means "to attempt", "to try", "to test," and, in a bad sense, "to seek to seduce," and "to tempt." Jesus usually uses it in the sense of "test."

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

me? -- "Me" is the regular first-person pronoun in Greek.

bring --  "Bring" is a verb that means "to bear", "to carry", "to bring", "to produce," and "to fetch." -- 

me -- The "me" is in the indirect object form on the first-person pronoun, so usually "to me", though the form has other uses in Greek.

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.

penny, -- (WW)  "Penny" is from the Greek word for a denarius, which was a coin of silver, which had the purchasing power of about $70-$80 today (though comparisons are obviously not very meaningful). It was the standard wage for a day's labor by a general laborer, which for most of human history was an agricultural worker. To offer and agree to work for this wage would be considered the expected practice for hundreds of years around the birth of Jesus in the Roman Empire. 

that -- The word translated as "that" is an adverb or a conjunction that starts a subordinate clause "there", "where," and "in order that."

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the following verb.

may -- This helping verb in English comes from the form of the following Greek verb that indicates a possibility.

see  -- The verb translated as "see" means "to see" but it is used like we use the word "see" to mean "to know" or "to perceive."

it. --  In Greek, names or pronouns of objects are not repeated after each verb because they are implied by their first occurrence.

KJV Translation Issues: 

1

WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "penny" means "denarius," a silver coin worth a days wages.

NIV 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". 

are -- This helping verb refers to the present tense of the verb.

trying -- "Tempt" is a verb that means "to attempt", "to try", "to test," and, in a bad sense, "to seek to seduce," and "to tempt." Jesus usually uses it in the sense of "test."

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

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

me? -- "Me" is the regular first-person pronoun in Greek.

Bring --  "Bring" is a verb that means "to bear", "to carry", "to bring", "to produce," and "to fetch." -- 

me -- The "me" is in the indirect object form on the first-person pronoun, so usually "to me", though the form has other uses in Greek.

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.

denarius, -- "Denarius" is from the Greek word for a denarius, which was a coin of silver, which had the purchasing power of about $70-$80 today (though comparisons are obviously not very meaningful). It was the standard wage for a day's labor by a general laborer, which for most of human history was an agricultural worker. To offer and agree to work for this wage would be considered the expected practice for hundreds of years around the birth of Jesus in the Roman Empire.

and -- (WW) The word translated as "that" is an adverb or a conjunction that starts a subordinate clause "there", "where," and "in order that."

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

me -- (WF) This is from the first-person, singular form of the following verb. It is not an object but a subject.

look -- (WF) The verb translated as "look" means "to see" but it is used like we use the word "see" to mean "to know" or "to perceive." The verb is in a form of possibility and should be translated with a helping verb, "might."

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

it. --  In Greek, names or pronouns of objects are not repeated after each verb because they are implied by their first occurrence.

NIV Translation Issues: 

5
  • IP - Inserted phrase-- The phrase "to trap" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "and" means "in order that."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "me" is an object but a subject, "I."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "look" is not in an indicative mood, but a subjunctive one, "might look."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "at" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.

NLT 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". 

are -- This helping verb refers to the present tense of the verb.

trying -- "Tempt" is a verb that means "to attempt", "to try", "to test," and, in a bad sense, "to seek to seduce," and "to tempt." Jesus usually uses it in the sense of "test."

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

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

me? -- "Me" is the regular first-person pronoun in Greek.

untranslated "bring"-- (MW) The untranslated word "bring" is a verb that means "to bear", "to carry", "to bring", "to produce," and "to fetch." -- 

Show-- (WW) The verb translated as "show" means "to see" but it is used like we use the word "see" to mean "to know" or "to perceive." The verb is in a form of possibility and should be translated with a helping verb, "might."

me -- The "me" is in the indirect object form on the first-person pronoun, so usually "to me", though the form has other uses in Greek.

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.

Roman coin, -- "Roman coin" is from the Greek word for a denarius, which was a coin of silver, which had the purchasing power of about $70-$80 today (though comparisons are obviously not very meaningful). It was the standard wage for a day's labor by a general laborer, which for most of human history was an agricultural worker. To offer and agree to work for this wage would be considered the expected practice for hundreds of years around the birth of Jesus in the Roman Empire.

and I’ll tell you. -- (IP) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "and I’ll tell you. " in the Greek source.

NLT Translation Issues: 

4
  • IP - Inserted phrase-- The phrase "to trap" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The verb "bring" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "show" means "see."
  • IP - Inserted phrase-- The phrase "and I'll tell you" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.

Front Page Date: 

Nov 21 2019