Often scholars criticize the Greek syntax in the Gospel of Mark, concluding that the author of Mark didn’t know Greek very well. However, if one were to consider the syntax from a Semitic viewpoint, one would find that the order of the Hebrew (or Aramaic) verbs is preserved in Mark’s Gospel implying that the author translated it from the Hebrew (or Aramaic). In fact, the late Dr. Robert L. Lindsey, when he attempted to translate the Gospel of Mark from the Greek to Hebrew, discovered that what had been poor Greek syntax had surprisingly become good Hebrew! Therefore, it would seem that at least Mark’s Gospel is not the result of a gentile church writing down an oral tradition long after the Jewish Messiah had died and rose from the dead. Rather, it seems to be a very literal translation of the Hebrew/Aramaic original into the Greek, completely lacking an independent point of view. The Greek of Mark is completely dependent upon a Semitic mother tongue, which preserves the original Hebrew/Aramaic syntax and idiom, making the Greek clumsy with poor word order.
Another syntax feature that would point to a Semitic origin is the use of the Greek, kai (and), that is often used connecting clauses and sentences, which imitates the waw construct of the Hebrew/Aramaic of the older Testament. Moreover, the use of Semitic idioms is completely lost in the Greek translation. For example, what does Jesus mean when he spoke of an evil eye (Mark 7:22), which he claimed defiled a man (verse-20)? One Christian commentator says it means: “A malicious, mischief-working eye, with the meaning of positive, injurious, activity” [see Vincent’s Word Studies], but actually it is a Hebrew idiom denoting a stingy or selfish person.
Something else that should catch a careful reader’s eye is the use of unnecessary details used to describe the events of Jesus’ life and what he said. For example, when Jesus called James and John, why do we need to know they were in a boat with their father working with his servants (Mark 1:20)? When Jesus taught the people the parable of the sower, why do we need to know he was sitting in a boat while his listeners stood on the shore (Mark 4:1-3)? Before Jesus calmed the storm, how does it serve the Gospel to know that he was asleep on a pillow in the stern of the boat? These unnecessary descriptions are understandable when the narrator is an eyewitness, but why would they be used by someone late in the first century AD whose interest is to compile and spread a “new” theology?
On the face, it certainly seems as though we have in Mark a Semitic narrative translated into the Greek. While the overall message would not be lost, many of the idiomatic details, which make sense in the Hebrew/Aramaic mind would be lost in the Greek translation for the gentile believer. If he doesn’t have some familiarity with Palestine or isn’t helped by someone who is, he may never get some of the details. Moreover, the usual complaint of the scholars that Mark is very poor Greek, is now understood in the fact that it is probably a literal translation of Hebrew/Aramaic hard copy. It probably would not be a Greek rendering of a Semitic oral tradition, because why would anyone keep the Semitic idioms and syntax when translating memory into another language? One doesn’t do that, therefore, an original hard copy is needed to explain Mark’s translation. Finally, Mark’s details in his narrative show that his account is more like an eyewitness testimony than a theological enterprise conducted late in the first century AD by a gentile evangelist.