It is alleged that in the gospel of Mark Jesus improperly identified Abiathar as High Priest when David ate the showbread. The first of the two relevant verses reads:
Assuming that Jesus or Mark didn't know the Old Testament well enough to accurately reflect that Ahimelech rather than Abiathar was the high priest is a foolish and dangerous proposition. However, facts around these texts actually make clear there is no contradiction or error here. The apparent "problem" in Mark's account is easily resolved by properly consulting more than one reliable English translation and/or the original Greek. Although some respectable Bible translations (the RSV and ASV, for example) improperly translate "epi Abiathar archiereoos" as "when Abiathar was high priest," the Greek in v. 26 literally means "in the time of Abiathar the high priest" (as in the NKJV above, NIV, NAS, KJV, and Amplified). Epi is best translated "in the days of" or "in the time of" because it is part of the genitive case here (prepositional/possessive). This is the consistent genitive translation in the NT, as demonstrated in verses like Acts 11:28.
Mark 2:26 therefore contains a perfectly normal and accurate statement for Jesus to have made, regardless of who the high priest was at the precise time of David's seeking the bread. In fact, Ahimelech was Abiathar's father and was slaughtered along with the rest of the priestly community in Nob by Doeg the Edomite on the command of King Saul. Abiathar was the only priest to escape and immediately served as David's high priest (with Zadok) until David died. Just the same as one could say "in the days of King David" to refer to this or any other event that happened contemporarily with David (even though he was not YET "king"), Jesus could rightly say "in the time of" Abiathar the high priest," regardless of whether he was high priest yet or not1. The use here of "epi" is "locative" rather than "temporal," as scholars on the book of Mark remark. The emphasis on Abiathar rather than Ahimelech is expected in Jesus' teaching, as Abiathar officiated in Jerusalem, which was the context for Jesus and his "house of God" (not Nob). The readers would have more naturally related to the mention of Abiathar than Ahimelech.
1 Standard examples in modern speech further amplify this point. For example, it would not be uncommon to hear documentaries reference "President Reagan" as such during his acting era, even though he wasn't President then. This statement would not imply that Reagan was president while acting (although many would argue that he was acting while he was president).
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