Mark 1:41

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And being moved with compassion, he stretched forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou made clean. (ASV)



Identification Of Error = Transmission Error = "Compassion" is not original

Summary of Error

"Compassion" is the reading in all Bibles except the NIV which has "indignant" Bible Gateway . Textual Criticism though indicates that "angry/indignant" is more likely original.

Detailed Argument

External Evidence

The Patristic Evidence

General copying of story

Specific omission of "compassion"

Omission of accompanying harsh language

General avoidance of "anger"


General copying of story

Specific omission of "compassion"

Omission of accompanying harsh language

General avoidance of "angry"

Weakness of the Manuscript Evidence in General
The Difficult Reading Principle
Specific Quality Manuscript Evidence

Internal Evidence

The Tone of the Narrative
Context of Healing Stories in General
Connection to 3:5
Reason for Jesus' Anger
Use of an Emotion as Bookends
Repetition of Word


Edit this section if you doubt error.


And Metzger commentary:

1.41 σπλαγχνισθείς {B}

It is difficult to come to a firm decision concerning the original text. On the one hand, it is easy to see why ὀργισθείς (“being angry”) would have prompted over–scrupulous copyists to alter it to σπλαγχνισθείς (“being filled with compassion”), but not easy to account for the opposite change. On the other hand, a majority of the Committee was impressed by the following considerations. (1) The character of the external evidence in support of ὀργισθείς is less impressive than the diversity and character of evidence that supports σπλαγχνισθείς. (2) At least two other passages in Mark, which represent Jesus as angry (3.5) or indignant (10.14), have not prompted over–scrupulous copyists to make corrections. (3) It is possible that the reading ὀργισθείς either (a) was suggested by ἐμβριμησάμενος of ver. 43, or (b) arose from confusion between similar words in Aramaic (compare Syriac ethraḥm, “he had pity,” with ethra‘em, “he was enraged”).6

Metzger, B. M., & United Bible Societies. 1994. A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament, second edition; a companion volume to the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament (4th rev. ed.) . United Bible Societies: London; New York


The Evidence for "Mark's" Jesus being angry here is even better than what Metzger says above. Moving up the Textual Critic scale France points out in NIGTC that unlike the other two examples of "Mark's" Jesus being angry cited by Metzger, in 1:41 there is no apparent reason why Jesus would be angry. Trying to supply a reason has resulted in some entertaining Apologymnastics.
As we move further up the Textual Critic scale (me) there is another reason for "Mark" to attribute anger to his Jesus here. Throughout "Mark" the author uses the Literary Technique of assigning the same Emotion at the Start and End of Related Blocks of his story. The "Amazing/Surprised" emotion is the most common. This Emotion helps create a Tone for the entire related story.

Mark 1

38 And he saith unto them, Let us go elsewhere into the next towns, that I may preach there also; for to this end came I forth.
39 And he went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out demons.
40 And there cometh to him a leper, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
41 And being moved with compassion/[anger], he stretched forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou made clean.
42 And straightway the leprosy departed from him, and he was made clean.


So at the Start of the Galilean ministry Jesus is Angry.

Mark 3

1 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there who had his hand withered.
2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.
3 And he saith unto the man that had his hand withered, Stand forth.
4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful on the sabbath day to do good, or to do harm? to save a life, or to kill? But they held their peace.
5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved at the hardening of their heart, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he stretched it forth; and his hand was restored.
6 And the Pharisees went out, and straightway with the Herodians took counsel against him, how they might destroy him.
7 And Jesus with his disciples withdrew to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and from Judaea,
8 and from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and beyond the Jordan, and about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, hearing what great things he did, came unto him.
9 And he spake to his disciples, that a little boat should wait on him because of the crowd, lest they should throng him:
10 for he had healed many; insomuch that as many as had plagues pressed upon him that they might touch him.
11 And the unclean spirits, whensoever they beheld him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.
12 And he charged them much that they should not make him known.
13 And he goeth up into the mountain, and calleth unto him whom he himself would; and they went unto him.
14 And he appointed twelve, that they might be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,
15 and to have authority to cast out demons:
16 and Simon he surnamed Peter;
17 and James the [son] of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and them he surnamed Boanerges, which is, Sons of thunder:
18 and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the [son] of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean,


So at the End of the Galilean ministry Jesus is Angry.
An important Christian Doctrine is that Jesus was a perfect role model for human behaviour. In 1:41 a Jesus who gets angry for no apparent reason is less than a perfect role model.
Using Literary conventions like this is another argument for Markan priority as "Matthew" and "Luke" tend to undo this kind of Emotional Connection at the Start and End of Sections. This Type of Intentional Editing is a very good category of Evidence for Markan priority. Stephen Carlson is championing "Editorial Fatigue" as a very good catergory of evidence for Markan priority. Because Editorial Fatigue is Unintentional, it is a very bad category of Evidence. It is the Intent that gives Evidence Consistency and gives it Weight. Carlson and Goodacre prefer the Unintentional category because that makes "Matthew"/"Luke" look less Guilty. Understand Dear Reader?
As a side note, Daniel Wallace, who is a pretty intelligent Christian author, has written a review of Misquoting Jesus here:

The Gospel according to Bart


And by an Act of Providence it just so happens that Wallace comments on Ehrancyman's comments of 1:41. Enjoy!:

"Mark 1.41 In the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel, a leper approaches Jesus and asks him to heal him: “If you are willing, you can make me clean” (Mark 1.40). Jesus’ response is recorded in the Nestle-Aland text as follows: καὶ… σπλαγχνισθει…Vς ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ ἥψατο καὶ… λέγει αὐτῳÇ· θέλω, καθαρίσθητι (“and moved with compassion, he stretched out [his] hand and touched him and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed”). Instead of σπλαγχνισθει…vς (‘moved with compassion’) a few Western witnesses50 read ὀργισθείς (‘becoming angry’). Jesus’ motivation for this healing apparently hangs in the balance. Even though the UBS4 gives σπλαγχνισθει…vς a B rating, an increasing number of exegetes are starting to argue for the authenticity of ὀργισθείς. In a Festschrift for Gerald Hawthorne in 2003, Ehrman made an impressive argument for its authenticity.51 Four years earlier, a doctoral dissertation by Mark Proctor was written in defense of ojrgisqeivV.52 The reading has also made its way into the TNIV, and is seriously entertained in the NET. We won’t take the time to consider the arguments here. At this stage I am inclined to think it is most likely original. Either way, for the sake of argument, assuming that the ‘angry’ reading is authentic, what does this tell us about Jesus that we didn’t know before?

Ehrman suggests that if Mark originally wrote about Jesus’ anger in this passage, it changes our picture of Jesus in Mark significantly. In fact, this textual problem is his lead example in chapter 5 (“Originals That Matter”), a chapter whose central thesis is that some variants “affect the interpretation of an entire book of the New Testament.”53 This thesis is overstated in general, and particularly for Mark’s Gospel. In Mark 3.5 Jesus is said to be angry—wording that is indisputably in the original text of Mark. And in Mark 10.14 he is indignant at his disciples.

Ehrman, of course, knows this. In fact, he argues implicitly in the Hawthorne Festschrift that Jesus’ anger in Mark 1.41 perfectly fits into the picture that Mark elsewhere paints of Jesus. He says, for example, “Mark described Jesus as angry, and, at least in this instance, scribes took offense. This comes as no surprise; apart from a fuller understanding of Mark’s portrayal, Jesus’ anger is difficult to understand.”54 Ehrman even lays out the fundamental principle that he sees running through Mark: “Jesus is angered when anyone questions his authority or ability to heal—or his desire to heal.”55 Now, for sake of argument, let’s assume that not only is Ehrman’s textual reconstruction correct, but his interpretation of ὀργισθείς in Mark 1.41 is correct—not only in that passage but in the totality of Mark’s presentation of Jesus.56 If so, how then does an angry Jesus in 1.41 “affect the interpretation of an entire book of the New Testament”? According to Ehrman’s own interpretation, ὀργισθείς only strengthens the image we see of Jesus in this Gospel by making it wholly consistent with the other texts that speak of his anger. If this reading is Exhibit A in Ehrman’s fifth chapter, it seriously backfires, for it does little or nothing to alter the overall portrait of Jesus that Mark paints. Here is another instance, then, in which Ehrman’s theological conclusion is more provocative than the evidence suggests."

--JoeWallack 08:19, 20 Nov 2006 (CST)

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Daniel Wallace

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