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Re: Mark and Aramaic

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  • David Gentile
    David Mealand wrote: Luke 16.17 is, however, more intriguing. It could well be an example of exasperated irony in prophetic mode - objecting to opponents
    Message 1 of 35 , Nov 24, 2009
      David Mealand wrote:

      Luke 16.17 is, however, more intriguing. It could
      well be an example of exasperated irony in prophetic
      mode - objecting to opponents insisting on every
      last mark on the text of the torah. If we hear
      the tone of the saying that way then one could
      put forward an argument like Casey's _Sitz im Leben_
      arguments for it fitting the first stage of the
      Jesus tradition. (Casey's arguments do not rely
      solely on reconstructing Aramaic, but do also invoke
      claims about likely _Sitz im Leben_, some more
      persuasive than others.)

      We might then reconstruct the series as follows:
      a) a prophetic utterance ironically denouncing
      excessive insistence on every last mark in the torah.

      b) an early Christian modification that the words
      of Jesus do have lasting significance - no controversy
      over that within the community, so hardly altered in
      the triple version.

      c) A rival version of a) in a torah affirming line
      preserved in Matthew (5.18) upholding rather than
      ironically criticizing the smallest points of the torah.

      If this is right then there is a further irony in
      people who insist on proposition b) but use it
      to miss the tone in which the words of Jesus were
      uttered. His wit and humour are often also missed.


      I just wanted to add how this passage would be seen to evolve, given the synoptic solution I favor. I like Ron's 3SH, with the exception that I think the saying source is subsequent to the gospel of Mark, and a conservative response to it. It is essentially a sayings-list precursor to the gospel of Matthew. I see the saying source and the gospel of Matthew emerging out of the same community, with similar agendas. So the scenario is as follows:

      1) Mark develops in stages
      2) A conservative response sayings list emerges. (Probably Aramaic)
      3) The gospel of Matthew is written based on sources 1 and 2
      4) Shortly after this Luke is written. Luke is aware of all 3 of the above, but dislikes Matthew's Theology, and regards it as a contemporary rival work, not as a source, and thus makes limited use of it.

      Then for the saying in question, I would suppose that there is no version going back to the historical Jesus. The first occurrence would be in Mark 13 (then copied by the other synoptic authors). Next, as the status and authority of Torah starts to become controversial a version of this saying emerges from a conservative community, modifying the version from Mark to have Jesus support the full authority of Torah. This is then incorporated into the gospel of Matthew in that same community. Finally we have Luke, who (mistakenly) believes the saying list to be authentic words of Jesus. Luke thus incorporates this saying into his gospel, but lessens its force by prefacing it by saying that "until the time of John the Law and the Prophets were preached".

      In support of this scenario I would again bring up a point I have made here before. Statements pro or con regarding something we know was controversial at some point in history should preferentially be dated to that period. My example has been that a future scholar coming across the statement "Marriage is only between a man and a woman" would realize that such a statement could have been made at many points in history. But it was more likely made today than in say 1933, given that it was not controversial then and is now.

      In the same way, Jesus could have made a statement about the authority of Torah, but probably didn't need to. They were all Jews. But by the latter half the 1st century, this was a controversy, and thus we should prefer to suppose that the saying regarding the status of Torah originated during this time, rather than with the historical Jesus.

      Dave Gentile

      David Gentile

      Context4 Healthcare, Inc.
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      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Ron Price
      ... Jack, I can t comment on Matthew s knowledge of Hebrew, but Matthew s retention of debts could have been for other reasons than his lack of understanding
      Message 35 of 35 , Nov 25, 2009
        Jack Kilmon wrote:

        > I am convinced that Matthew was neither Aramaic nor Hebrew competent and
        > used Mark and a Q document in translational Greek. Luke, however, was
        > Aramaic competent and used Mark and an Aramaic Q which he translated
        > himself. This is why Luke explains the Hoybyn/"debts"/"sins" idiom in his
        > version of the LP and Matthew does not.


        I can't comment on Matthew's knowledge of Hebrew, but Matthew's retention of
        "debts" could have been for other reasons than his lack of understanding of
        the Aramaic word. Both Matthew and Luke transliterate and thus retain the
        Aramaic words "mammon" (Mt 6:24 // Lk 16:13) and "saton" (Mt 13:33 // Lk

        Also, Matthew's gospel is widely thought to have been written in Antioch of
        Syria. Wasn't the Syrian dialect of Aramaic the main language of that town?
        Wouldn't it follow that Matthew probably had some understanding of Aramaic?

        Ron Price,

        Derbyshire, UK
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