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Re: [Synoptic-L] Plutarch's Life of Tiberius Gracchus & Matthew 8:20

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  • David C. Hindley
    Hi Ken, Oft cited sometimes means cited by those with whom I disapprove. What I was hoping for was a commentary on Matthew that specifically cites this
    Message 1 of 14 , Mar 20, 2012
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      Hi Ken,

      "Oft' cited" sometimes means "cited by those with whom I disapprove."

      What I was hoping for was a commentary on Matthew that specifically cites this speech of Tib. Gracchus (probably invented by Plutarch) in relation to Matt 8:20.

      Greg,

      So, the only proper source Hagner can cite is a journal article by Nestle, dating to 1899/1900? Even then, the words are dismissed as a mere commonplace.

      John Duncan Martin Derrett, _Studies in the New Testament: The Sea-Change of the Old Testament in the New_, think that Nestle cites the parallel because "he did not know what the passage meant". Of course, he means, "not like *we* correctly understand it."

      Kautsky draws attention to this parallel in 1908, but the "revolutionary" nature of the political program of the Gracchus brothers had been featured in chapter 2 of Forerunners of Modern Socialism (1893), although back then he did not draw the parallel to Matthew 8:20.

      Albert Kalthoff, following Marxist lines, had cited this same parallel in his _Rise of Christianity_ (1904):

      The remedies that were applied to this malady of the social organism were bound to fail. The two Gracchi fully recognise the extent and the depth of the evil, and are, in their way, full of a plan of salvation. It is afterwards written in the Gospel (Matt. viii. 20): "The foxes have holes and the birds of the heavens have their nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." Just in the same way Tiberius Gracchus appeals to the people with the plaint: "The wild beast has its cavern and its den: everyone of them has its place of refuge. But those who are called the lords of the earth have nothing left but light and sunshine. There is not a stone that they can call their own and lay their [38] weary head to rest on." (pg. 38n1 Plutarch's Lives: Tiberius Gracchus, c. 9).

      It is perfectly reasonable for me to accept that both Kalthoff and Kautsky picked up on the parallel cited by Eberhard Nestle in 1899, as it was important to them to relate it to a Roman political movement that championed the plight of the proletariat.

      Still, that brings me back to the dancing fish story, as it also has a political angle. Whether Herodotus borrowed from an Aesopian fable, or Aesop drew from a witticism of Cyrus, Herodotus uses it in a political manner: Lydia had not subjected to Cyrus when he offered favorable terms, but now that Lydian defeat was impending they ask for terms from Cyrus. Cyrus would have nothing of it, and taunted them, comparing them to fish jumping in the net to no avail. This too is sometimes tossed away as a "commonplace."

      What is it about the idea that Jesus, or at very least the authors of these gospel accounts, was/were aware of the political overtones of these ditties, that prompts so many to dismiss them casually? Chances are Nestle was willing to consider this angle. Why can't we?

      Dave Hindley
      Newton Falls, Ohio, USA

      --- In Synoptic@yahoogroups.com, Ken Olson <kenolson101@...> wrote:
      >
      > But in this case, more recent scholarship has also addressed this. Maurice Casey, the Solution ot the Son of Man Problem, 2009, 175-176, refers to this as a parallel often cited. I imagine the earlier citations to which he refers could be found without too much difficulty.
      >
      > Best,
      >
      > Ken Olson
      > PhD Candidate, Religion
      > Duke university


      --- In Synoptic@yahoogroups.com, "Greg Crawford" <g.c@...> wrote:
      >
      > Dave Hindley wrote:
      >
      > "Could someone point me in the direction of a modern NT critic
      who draws attention to these allusions to classic Greek or Latin literature."
      >
      > Donald Hagner draws attention to this in his commentary:
      Hagner, Donald. A Word Biblical Commentary Matthew 1-13. 1993.
      Word Incorporated pp. 216-7.
      >
      > Hagner refers to a 19th century article by E. Nestle "A
      Parallel to Matt. Viii.20. Exp Tim 11 (1889-90) 285 in his bibliography for that section.
      >
      > Hagner's comment is "Perhaps the words were part of a
      familiar proverb."
      >
      > - Greg
    • David C. Hindley
      Ken, you were right, Craig S. Keener, _The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary_, says: Following E Nestle, Bultmann and Hagner suggest a popular
      Message 2 of 14 , Mar 20, 2012
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        Ken, you were right,

        Craig S. Keener, _The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary_, says:

        "Following E Nestle, Bultmann and Hagner suggest a popular proverb in Plut. Tiberius Gracchus 9.4-5, but the parallel is not close enough to warrant assuming it is a proverb (Marshall 1978: 410)." (I Howard Marshall, Commentary on Luke, New International Greek Testament Commentary).

        What Marshall actually says is:

        Bultmann, 27, argued that a proverbial statement, true of man in general, had been secondarily applied to Jesus. But the parallels he cites in favour of this do not prove the point (Homer, Od. 18:130ff.; Plutarch, Tib. Gracchus 9, p.828c); in any case the saying is not true of men in general.

        Bultmann's _History of the Synoptic Tradition_ (revised ed. 1963) page 27, has "This is presumably an old proverb which tradition has turned into a saying of Jesus." It is on page 98 of the revised edition of 1963 that the parallel to Plutarch is mentioned (citing [John James] Wetstein, [_Novum Testamentum Graecum Editionis Receptae 1. Continens quatuor Evangelia_, 1751, p351, parallels]). The parallel to Homer is mentioned in an addition to note 1 on page 98 (in the supplement, page 396, citing Cp. Br. Snell, _Die Entdeckung des Geistes_2, 1955, p 271f).

        I haven't been able to find the work by Hagner alluded to.

        Keener's vague statement took hours to unpack. Why is this kind of thing buried so deeply?

        David Hindley
        Newton Falls, Ohio, USA
      • David Mealand
        When G--gle Books was persuaded to limit a search to the period before 1700 it turned up a copy of Matthew Poole, Synopsis criticorum ...commentatorum (1694),
        Message 3 of 14 , Mar 21, 2012
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          When G--gle Books was persuaded to limit a search to the
          period before 1700 it turned up a copy of Matthew Poole,
          Synopsis criticorum ...commentatorum (1694), which he produced over
          some ten years after 1666, using many earlier critical studies. In Vol 4
          on p.242 he gets to Matthew 8.20, and notes the similarity of Matthew 8.20
          to what Plutarch said in his life of Tiberius Gracchus. As this work
          is, like many commentaries, a compendium of what previous commentators had
          already published, the awareness of this similarity probably goes back
          quite a bit before 1676.

          As for a further recent commentary which discusses the issue, Fitzmyer Luke
          p.835 notes the Plutarch passage, but is cautious about the view that a
          proverbial saying or generalization is involved.

          David M.



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



          --
          The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
          Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
        • David C. Hindley
          Thanks David, It seems to have been the humanists, thoroughly acquainted with the classics, who first noted parallels such as these, often without comment. I
          Message 4 of 14 , Mar 21, 2012
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            Thanks David,

            It seems to have been the humanists, thoroughly acquainted with the classics, who first noted parallels such as these, often without comment. I am not averse to thinking of such a saying being a sort of proverb that can be applied to varied circumstances, but where I can find modern discussion of it the interest seems to be to negate any idea that Jesus would lower himself to use already existing proverbs and suggest that his sayings rather reach a higher ethical plane.

            "...the name of Jesus has become for Protestant theology an empty vessel into which every theologian pours his own thoughts."
            A. Kalthoff, The Christ Problem, 2902, p 17

            Regards,

            David Hindley
            Newton Falls, Ohio, USA

            --- In Synoptic@yahoogroups.com, David Mealand <D.Mealand@...> wrote:
            >
            >When G--gle Books was persuaded to limit a search to the
            period before 1700 it turned up a copy of Matthew Poole,
            Synopsis criticorum ...commentatorum (1694), which he produced
            over some ten years after 1666, using many earlier critical studies. In Vol 4 on p.242 he gets to Matthew 8.20, and notes the similarity
            of Matthew 8.20 to what Plutarch said in his life of Tiberius Gracchus. As this work is, like many commentaries, a compendium of what previous commentators had already published, the awareness of
            this similarity probably goes back quite a bit before 1676.
            >
            > As for a further recent commentary which discusses the issue, Fitzmyer Luke p.835 notes the Plutarch passage, but is cautious about the view that a proverbial saying or generalization is involved.
            >
            > David M.
          • fathchuck@aol.com
            UH I just caught this one and am a bit confused: Jesus and a dancing fish? Where? Rev. Charles Schwartz Church of Saint Dorothea Eatontown, NJ In a message
            Message 5 of 14 , Mar 21, 2012
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              UH I just caught this one and am a bit confused: Jesus and a dancing fish?
              Where?

              Rev. Charles Schwartz
              Church of Saint Dorothea
              Eatontown, NJ


              In a message dated 3/18/2012 10:32:52 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
              dhindley@... writes:

              This is not the first time I've run across this deafening silence. Jesus'
              tale of the dancing fish and the pipe-flute is strangely reminiscent to
              Herodotus' account of Cyrus taunt of the Lyddian representatives who were
              petitioning a surrender with terms. Yet I really don't see this in modern
              scholarship.



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • David Mealand
              I think I would tend to argue that neither the Plutarch passage, nor the logion in the double tradition, universalize by saying that birds and animals have
              Message 6 of 14 , Mar 22, 2012
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                I think I would tend to argue that neither the Plutarch
                passage, nor the logion in the double tradition, universalize
                by saying that birds and animals have homes but members
                of the human race do not. Both do seem to say that even
                birds and animals have homes but _some_ people do not.
                I have no problem with discovering that some items in the
                Synoptics contain sentiments that someone endowed with
                wisdom or with prophetic insight might have said previously.

                The line I take seems to require, for at least this item in the
                double tradition, a sense that the expression barnasha could
                refer in some indirect way to the speaker, or speaker and associates.
                I have no problem with that, but am well aware that we can't
                treat all barnasha passages in precisely the same way. (That
                however is a large problem I am quite content to leave well alone
                while I have a few other things to attend to.)

                David M.


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


                --
                The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
                Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
              • olugbenga olagunju
                David, do you know that in Africa especially among the Yoruba people group there are some proverbs and old wise sayings that are parallel to what Plutarch in
                Message 7 of 14 , Mar 22, 2012
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                  David, do you know that in Africa especially among the Yoruba people group there are some proverbs and old wise sayings that are parallel to what Plutarch in antiquity and what Jesus said in the double tradition. For example the Yoruba proverb says "gbogbo eye lo ni ile beeni gbogbo eranko loni ibuba sugbon awa omo eniyan a ni bi taa forile" meaning all birds has nest yes all animal has places to hide but we human being has no place to rest our head. The problem here is that some of the sayings in our culture are not documented but through oral tradition we got to know and believe them.  In "Ijala ode" odes of the hunter or "odu ifa" oracle there are numerous sayings that has been documented that has parallel in the synoptics but it seems the saying of Jesus carries more weight that all other sayings in every culture
                  Olugbenga Olagunju
                  Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso,
                  Nigeria


                  ________________________________
                  From: David C. Hindley <dhindley@...>
                  To: Synoptic@yahoogroups.com
                  Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2012 3:21 AM
                  Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Plutarch & Matthew 8:20 - in 1694


                   
                  Thanks David,

                  It seems to have been the humanists, thoroughly acquainted with the classics, who first noted parallels such as these, often without comment. I am not averse to thinking of such a saying being a sort of proverb that can be applied to varied circumstances, but where I can find modern discussion of it the interest seems to be to negate any idea that Jesus would lower himself to use already existing proverbs and suggest that his sayings rather reach a higher ethical plane.

                  "...the name of Jesus has become for Protestant theology an empty vessel into which every theologian pours his own thoughts."
                  A. Kalthoff, The Christ Problem, 2902, p 17

                  Regards,

                  David Hindley
                  Newton Falls, Ohio, USA

                  --- In Synoptic@yahoogroups.com, David Mealand <D.Mealand@...> wrote:
                  >
                  >When G--gle Books was persuaded to limit a search to the
                  period before 1700 it turned up a copy of Matthew Poole,
                  Synopsis criticorum ...commentatorum (1694), which he produced
                  over some ten years after 1666, using many earlier critical studies. In Vol 4 on p.242 he gets to Matthew 8.20, and notes the similarity
                  of Matthew 8.20 to what Plutarch said in his life of Tiberius Gracchus. As this work is, like many commentaries, a compendium of what previous commentators had already published, the awareness of
                  this similarity probably goes back quite a bit before 1676.
                  >
                  > As for a further recent commentary which discusses the issue, Fitzmyer Luke p.835 notes the Plutarch passage, but is cautious about the view that a proverbial saying or generalization is involved.
                  >
                  > David M.




                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • David C. Hindley
                  Sorry, I am telescoping this a bit. Luke 7:28-35: 28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God
                  Message 8 of 14 , Mar 22, 2012
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                    Sorry, I am telescoping this a bit.

                    Luke 7:28-35:

                    28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." 29 (When they heard this all the people and the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John; 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.) 31 "To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the market place and calling to one another, 'We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.' 33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say, 'He has a demon.' 34 The Son of man has come eating and drinking; and you say, 'Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children."

                    The 'piper' (v32) referred to represents John the Baptist (v33), while the 'wailer' represents the Son of man (Jesus, v34). This pericope clearly states that the Pharisees and lawyers did not heed the messages of these men, to their disfavor. The disfavor is indicated by "wisdom is justified by all her children." But what justly happened to the children of the Pharisees and lawyers on account of their rejection of the wise message of John the Baptist and Jesus?

                    Herodotus, Book 1 (Clio):

                    Immediately after the conquest of Lydia by the Persians, the Ionian and Aeolian Greeks sent ambassadors to Cyrus at Sardis, and prayed to become his lieges on the footing which they had occupied under Croesus. Cyrus listened attentively to their proposals, and answered them by a fable. "There was a certain piper," he said, "who was walking one day by the seaside, when he espied some fish; so he began to pipe to them, imagining they would come out to him upon the land. But as he found at last that his hope was vain, he took a net, and enclosing a great draught of fishes, drew them ashore. The fish then began to leap and dance; but the piper said, 'Cease your dancing now, as you did not choose to come and dance when I piped to you.'" Cyrus gave this answer to the Ionians and Aeolians, because, when he urged them by his messengers to revolt from Croesus, they refused; but now, when his work was done, they came to offer their allegiance. It was in anger, therefore, that he made them this reply.

                    Couldn't Jesus statement (or Matthew/Luke/Q's statement) be taken to mean "By rejecting God's call to repent, God's anointed, like Cyrus, will destroy them in consequence." What happened one generation after Jesus' time? The destruction of the Temple and the fledgling Jewish state.

                    Aesop, who is believed to have flourished around the time of Cyrus, has a similar version of this saying.

                    Ben Perry, Babrius and Phaedrus (Loeb). This edition contains the Greek texts of Babrius, with a facing English translation, and an extensive index covering the Greek and Latin fable tradition.

                    ÂÁÂÑÉÏÕ ÌÕÈÉÁÌÂÏÉ ÁÉÓÙÐÅÉÏÉ

                    Babrius 9 = Perry 11

                    Ἁëéåύò ôéò áὐëïὺò åἶ÷å êáὶ óïöῶò çὔëåé·
                    êáὶ äή ðïô' ὄøïí ἐëðéóáò ἀìï÷èήôùò
                    ðïëὺ ðñὸò áὐëῶí ἡäõöùíίçí ἥîåéí,
                    ôὸ äίêôõïí èåὶò ἐôåñέôéæåí åὐìïύóùò.
                    ἐðåὶ äὲ öõóῶí ἔêáìå êáὶ ìάôçí çὔëåé,
                    âáëὼí óáãήíçí åἷëêåí ἰ÷èύùí ðëήñç.
                    ἐðὶ ãῆò ä' ἰäùí óðáίñïíôáò ἄëëïí ἀëëïίùò,
                    ôïéáῦô' ἐêåñôόìçóå ôὸí âόëïí ðëύíùí·
                    "ἄíáõëá íῦí ὀñ÷åῖóèå. êñåῖóóïí ἦí ὕìáò
                    ðάëáé ÷ïñåύåéí, ἡíίê' åἰò ÷ïñïὺò çὔëïõí."

                    Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)290.
                    THE FISHERMAN AND HIS PIPE
                    Perry 11 (Herodotus I.141)

                    There was once a fisherman who saw some fish in the sea and played on his pipe, expecting them to come out onto the land. When his hopes proved false, he took a net and used it instead, and in this way he was able to haul in a huge catch of fish. As the fish were all leaping about, the fisherman remarked, 'I say, enough of your dancing, since you refused to dance when I played my pipe for you before!'

                    http://mythfolklore.net/aesopica/oxford/contentindex/index_contentf.htm (mind the wrap!)

                    Dave Hindley
                    Newton Falls, Ohio, USA

                    --- In Synoptic@yahoogroups.com, fathchuck@... wrote:
                    >
                    > UH I just caught this one and am a bit confused: Jesus and a dancing fish?
                    > Where?
                    >
                    > Rev. Charles Schwartz
                    > Church of Saint Dorothea
                    > Eatontown, NJ
                    >
                    >
                    > In a message dated 3/18/2012 10:32:52 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
                    > dhindley@... writes:
                    >
                    > This is not the first time I've run across this deafening silence. Jesus' tale of the dancing fish and the pipe-flute is strangely reminiscent to Herodotus' account of Cyrus taunt of the Lyddian representatives who were petitioning a surrender with terms. Yet I really don't see this in modern scholarship.
                  • David Mealand
                    G--gle Books was eventually persuaded to limit a search to the period before 1700 and it turned up a copy of Matthew Poole, Synopsis criticorum
                    Message 9 of 14 , Oct 1, 2012
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                      G--gle Books was eventually persuaded to limit a search to the
                      period before 1700 and it turned up a copy of Matthew Poole,
                      Synopsis criticorum ...commentatorum (1694) which he produced over
                      some ten years after 1666 using many earlier critical studies. In Vol 4
                      on p.242 he gets to Matthew 8.20, and notes the similarity of Matthew 8.20
                      to what Plutarch said in his life of Tiberius Gracchus. As this work
                      is, like many commentaries, a compendium of what previous commentators had
                      already published, the awareness of this similarity probably goes back
                      quite a bit before 1676.

                      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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