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4947Re: [Synoptic-L] Re: Cutting off the High Priest's Slave's Ear

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  • Stephen Carlson
    Sep 23, 2013
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      I've had a chance to read the Viviano article in Revue Biblique. It is on point. Thanks, Jack, for the cite.
      Some pluses:
      + It is nice to see Viviano address the assumption that theology and history are incompatible. Here, V. takes what had been thought to be a historical detail merely because it lacked a theological motive and shows that there is a theological import behind the act.
      + I think he develops well the first-century currency of the notion that mutilation of the ear is somehow disqualifying for cultic service, though many details remain obscure.
      + He is right to call attention to the importance of the high priest's servant but his actual proposal of a segan remains speculative, perhaps necessarily so in light of the slimness of the evidence.
      Some minuses:
      - I don't agree that WTARION means an earlobe. Yes, the form is a (double) diminutive, but Mark's (and John's) register often uses diminuative forms without diminuative import. I think it just means the (outer) ear, and that's how BDAG goes.
      - Because I don't buy into the earlobe interpretation, it doesn't follow to me that the ear mutilation is intentional. In fact, it is hard for me to imagine that the person with the sword/large knife would have had the time to pin down the victim, hold the earlobe, and slice off the end. Rather, I agree with Brown that it's the kind of wound that would happen in a swordfight.
      Nevertheless, the mutilation need not be intentional to work for Mark's literary purposes. There is a certain sense of Markan irony here: in the very act of arresting Jesus, which the audience knows to be going against God's will, the arrestor renders himself unfit for serving God.
      Stephen Carlson
      Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
      Post-Doctoral Fellow, Theology, Uppsala
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