This essay discusses the key Greek verb e0kplh/ssw in Mark’s gospel, which is typically rendered as “astonished” or “amazed” in English translations. However, outside of the New Testament the term usually connotes a much more emotional, visceral response than mere amazement; relaying a sense of anger, frustration, and the threat of violence. Accordingly, I argue that standard modern renderings of this verb in Mark and the other Synoptic Gospels are not only inaccurate; they also detract from the overall depth and meaning of the passages in which it appears. Through a reexamination of this verb in concert with an analysis of the historical and social frameworks of the gospel texts, I will show how an accurate reading of e0kplh/ssw can open up new possibilities for interpreting Mark 6.1-6 and other Markan passages where the term appears. Specifically, I will argue that the verb always is used to highlight a turning point in the gospel, marked by emotional confrontations and the recurring issues of pedagogy, authority, and social status that create significant tension within the narrative. Lastly, I will highlight many interesting analogies between Mark’s itinerant prophet Jesus and texts of the moral philosophers. In doing so, a more accurate reading of the passage is possible, which can help to uncover its original first century context.


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