“I will put one question to you,” said Jesus. “Answer me that, and then I will tell you what authority I have to act as I do.
Economic transactions in many cultures work on a personal bargaining process rather than turn that over to a system-wide process of wholesale and retail set prices. This carries over into styles of argumentation.
From a cycle of a price offered to a counter-offer to see if a sale can be achieved, we begin a cycle of questions offered to counter-questions to see if we can land on the same page or not.
Of course this could go on for some time:
“First respond to my question.”
“No, first respond to my question.”
“No, you answer first, then I will.”
“I asked first. You answer!”
And around it can go—any early example of a gunfight at an O.K. Corral. In these sorts of encounters there are always differing versions of the events and echoing encounters.
Since Mark is telling this tale, it is Jesus who gets to use a volitive “subjunctive … with the force of the imperative”—“You answer!” [Bratcher359]. Which is to say, the cycle is broken early with a run-on response that connects this verse with the next in one, unbroken stream that gives no opportunity to wriggle away because the question is included with the response. In essence, the formality of religious leaders—going step-by-step, tit-by-tat—was over-taken by a specific question not waiting its turn.
This presumption of being able to question first those who asked the first question is a second disruption, a second riding of a colt into the midst of a dressage performance of Lipizzaner stallions.
With the cycle broken, we will move on from a relatively simple request for a certificate duly signed and sealed indicating where one is placed on an approved list of rankings (external validations of I.Q., social status, prison record, bank account, experience base, and much more still used to automatically sort people) to a more complex demand for an example of critical thinking.