Mark 13:9 – Witness to or against?


It’s interesting and a little bit fun that the KJV and Ched Myers (Binding the Strong Man, 333) agree on how to translate the dative of Mark 13:9 (εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς). While other translations render the latter part of the verse as “you will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony/witness to them” (cf. NRSV, RSV, NASB, NET, et. al.), the KJV and Myers diverge from everyone else and find a strange commonality together by rendering the final clause as “as a witness against them,” that is, against the kings and governors before whom the discipleship community stands. Given the treatment that the ruling classes receive throughout Mark (almost entirely negative and oppositional), and that the same construction (εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς) appears in 6:11 and is always translated as “as a witness against them,” is it possible that the KJV and Myers are on to something?

I am tossing this idea around as an example of story-sensitive translation and exegesis in Mark. I think the divergence from  the KJV’s translation of εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς in all of the other translations might also have something to say about the politics of Christian bible translation, but that’s a rabbit hole better left for another day.