Bill Mounce: The KJV’s use of “desert places” is unfortunate. I suspect that for most of us “desert” evokes images of the Mohave or Sahara desert. As desolate as rural Palestine was in the first century, it certainly was not filled with sand dunes. The NKJV’s adjustment to “country” is better, but as I say above it is not best. All this illustrates the challenges of finding just the right word when translating.
Mondays with Mounce: Why did Mary keep the perfume? An ellipsis is when words are left out, and the assumption is that the context is sufficient to fill in the gaps. It especially happens in the second of two parallel thoughts, words from the first assumed in the second. But John 12:7 gives us a good example of ellipsis when there is no parallel.