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RE: Targumim RE: [Synoptic-L] Re: Sources and languages

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  • Greg Crawford
    David asks: “What is the evidence for the size and character of Cepar Nahum in the 1st C CE?” Greg replies: Both R. T. France1 and Robert H. Stein2 come to
    Message 1 of 76 , Feb 29, 2012
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      David asks:



      “What is the evidence for the size and character of Cepar Nahum in the 1st C CE?”



      Greg replies:



      Both R. T. France1 and Robert H. Stein2 come to the conclusion that Capernaum in the time of Jesus was a town or “city” of around 10,000 people. They appear to base this conclusion on the evidence that the town had a detachment of Roman troops, a major customs post, and a residential royal official (βασιλικὸς). It lay on a major east-west trade route. Capernaum was also a border town between the tetrarchies of Antipas and Philip. Antipas’ favourite toll was one on goods in transit and the strategic location of the toll-collector, Levi, (Mark 2) by the shores of Lake Galilee implies significant traffic also on the waterways. Strange and Shanks3 note the site of the synagogue in a town tended to remain the same through a succession of rebuilding efforts and that there is evidence below the later fourth century synagogue of an earlier one. Stein concludes that in the time of Jesus there was a “major synagogue, whose black basalt foundation can still be seen below the impressive ruins of the later, fourth-century white synagogue.”



      I don’t have any argument with the idea that Aramaic was a living language in Galilee during that time. My argument is that Greek was also a living language amongst the people; and that Jesus and others who based themselves in Capernaum were at least effectively bi-lingual. It is interesting to consider the comparative usage of local dialects and English in African countries. One of the forces pushing people to speak English is that local dialects simply do not have the vocabulary adequate for the modern world. If Jesus truly was a revolutionary, (and it is hard to imagine how a parochial backwoods boy from Nazareth would have managed to get himself crucified), there must have been pressure on him to reach for Greek vocabulary to express his revolutionary ideas.



      1) France, R.T. The Gospel of Mark. NIGTC. Paternoster Press. 2002. p.101

      2) Stein, Robert H. Mark. Baker Exegetical. Baker Academic. 2008. p.84

      3) Strange, J.F. & Shanks, “St Peter’s House. Has the House Where Jesus Stayed in Capernaum Been Found?” in Top Ten Biblical Archaeology Discoveries. Biblical Archaeology Society. 2011. pp 68-85.





      From: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com [mailto:Synoptic@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of David Mealand
      Sent: Wednesday, 29 February 2012 11:32 PM
      To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: Targumim RE: [Synoptic-L] Re: Sources and languages





      Greg writes of
      ------------
      ...the bustling commercial town of Capernaum,
      are we looking at someone who lived in a cultural and
      linguistic ghetto, or someone exhilarated by a
      cultural and linguistic mix?
      -------------

      What is the evidence for the size and character of
      Cepar Nahum in the 1st C CE?

      It is true that by the 3rd C CE it had a large white
      limestone synagogue, but by that time the Jewish population
      of Galilee had increased with people moving up
      from Judaea. The use of Aramaic still in that later
      period is evidenced by the inscription on a pillar.
      The Franciscan custodians set up a replica but
      the photo can't go in this email. It says the column
      was made by Hlpy br zbydh br ywhnn (Alphaeus son of
      Zebidah son of Johanan). In the later period Greek was
      certainly more prevalent but Aramaic remains in use.

      But what is the evidence for the size and character of
      the place in the 1st C CE? My memory is of a fairly small
      patch of house foundations - certainly enough to provide
      a fishing village ...though some NT texts call it a polis.
      But Josephus called it a kwmh (Vita 72) and it may still
      have had that description much later.

      Bet Zaida was upgraded from kwmh to polis when it became Julias.
      That probably did have a more mixed character than Cepar Nahum
      in the relevant period.

      David M.

      ---------
      David Mealand, University of Edinburgh

      --
      The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
      Scotland, with registration number SC005336.





      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • David Mealand
      Greg wrote ... Both R. T. France1 and Robert H. Stein2 come to the conclusion that Capernaum in the time of Jesus was a town or ?city? of around 10,000 people.
      Message 76 of 76 , Feb 29, 2012
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        Greg wrote
        -----------
        Both R. T. France1 and Robert H. Stein2 come to
        the conclusion that Capernaum in the time of
        Jesus was a town or ?city? of around 10,000
        people. They appear to base this conclusion on
        the evidence that the town had a detachment of
        Roman troops, a major customs post, and a
        residential royal official (?????????).
        ...Stein concludes that in the time of Jesus there
        was a ?major synagogue ...
        ----------

        I would suggest that before assenting to such a
        picture some attention should be paid to the sober
        and cautious account to be found in J.L.Reed,
        Archaeology and the Galilean Jesus, 2002 pp.139-169
        which looks at the evidence from both site and
        sources in considerable detail with plenty of references to
        other scholarly literature. Population 600-1500, mostly Jewish,
        any officials those of Antipas not Roman, Romans
        nearby later in Hadrian's time, in this period no overtly pagan
        artifacts, evidence of what was under the 3rd C CE (or later)
        synagogue far from clear. Well worth reading.

        I would add that none of this excludes a small building
        used as a synagogue and village centre at this period
        whether under the later much larger one or not.

        A generation ago there was antipathy towards seeing Graeco-Roman
        features in the NT, now there seems to be an equally mistaken
        reluctance to engage with the Aramaic Jewish features behind the
        Greek of the Synoptics.

        David M.




        ---------
        David Mealand, University of Edinburgh


        --
        The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
        Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
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