Mark 7:4

From the marketplace (ap agora). Ceremonial defilement was inevitable in the mixing with men in public. This agora from ageirw to collect or gather, was a public forum in every town where the people gathered like the courthouse square in American towns. The disciples were already ceremonially defiled. Wash themselves (baptiswntai). First aorist middle subjunctive of baptizw, dip or immerse. Westcott and Hort put rantiswntai in the text translated "sprinkle themselves" in the margin of the Revised Version, because Aleph, B, and some of the best cursives have it. Gould terms rantiswntai "a manifest emendation," to get rid of the difficulty of dipping or bathing the whole body. Meyer says: "The statement proceeds by way of climax: before eating they wash the hands always. When they come from market they take a bath before eating." This is not the place to enter into any controversy about the meaning of baptizw, to dip, rantizw, to sprinkle, and eccew, to pour, all used in the New Testament. The words have their distinctive meanings here as elsewhere. Some scribes felt a difficulty about the use of baptiswntai here. The Western and Syrian classes of manuscripts add "and couches" (kai klinwn) at the end of the sentence. Swete considers the immersions of beds (baptismou klinwn) "an incongruous combination." But Gould says: "Edersheim shows that the Jewish ordinance required immersions, baptismou, of these vessels." We must let the Jewish scrupulosity stand for itself, though "and couches" is not supported by Aleph, B L D Bohairic, probably not genuine.