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more on forgiveness of sins

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  • Jgibson
    I m reproducing here a section on the meaning of the forgiveness of sins in the LP/DP from an online dissertation by Richard Wendel entitled /The
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 20, 2013
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      I'm reproducing here a section on the meaning of the forgiveness of sins
      in the LP/DP from an online dissertation by Richard Wendel entitled
      /The Interpretation of the Lord's Prayer, Q 11:2b-4, in the Formative
      Stratum of Q According to the Literary and Cultural Perspectives
      Afforded by the Affixed Aphorisms, Q 11:9-10, 11-13//.

      /I think it is highly instructive -- and fits well with what I am
      arguing the rest of the LP/DP aims at./

      Jeffrey

      //
      > Q 11:4ab
      > καὶ ἄφες ἡμ ν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμ ν, ὡς καὶ ἡμε ς ἀφήκαμεν το ς
      > ὀφειλέταις ἡμ ν
      >
      > And cancel our debts for us, as we too have cancelled for those in
      > debt to us
      >
      > The key words for understanding Q 11:4ab are ἀφ ημι and ὀφε λημα. Well
      > used words commonly take on several meanings and this is clearly the
      > case with ἀφ ημι, which can be defined as, “to send forth, discharge,
      > let fall, give up, let go, set free, put away, divorce or release.”
      > On the other hand, ὀφε λημα has a narrower range of meaning and is
      > generally associated with indebtedness.
      > As we shall see the call to have debts cancelled is being proposed not
      > only as a call to forgive someone their offenses as the petitioner
      > hopes for forgiveness from God, but also, as Kloppenborg will insist,
      > it seems to call for a release of any debts for the many poor who were
      > held in their misery by the system of indebtedness in the culture. The
      > language of the prayer invites these ideas of fiscal indebtedness, it
      > must be said: Below are examples where ὀφε λημα deals with financial
      > transactions between humans, often in terms in financial indebtedness.
      >
      > Euclides the lapidary owes (ὀφε λει) me three minae. (Diogenes
      > Laertius, Lives 3.42)
      >
      > To Crito of Chalcedon I also remit (ἀφ ημι) the purchase-money for his
      > freedom and bequeath to him four minas. (Diogenes Laertius, Lives 5.72)
      >
      > To Syrus who has been set free I give four minas and Menodora, and I
      > remit to him any debt (ὀφε λει) he owes (ἀφ ημι) me. (Diogenes
      > Laertius, Lives 5.73)
      >
      > Whenyou makeyour neighbor a loan (ὀφε λημα) of any kind,you shall not
      > go into the house to take the pledge. (Deut 24:10)
      >
      > Every debt (ὀφε λημα)you owe to the royal treasury and any such
      > future debts shall be canceled (ἀφι σθω) foryou from henceforth and
      > for all time. (1 Macc 15:8)
      >
      > An example occurs in Matthean Sondergut, where the king describes his
      > magnanimous forgiveness of financial debt to a slave who was ready to
      > imprison his fellow slave for a relatively small sum: “you wicked
      > slave! I forgave (ἀφ κ )you all that debt (ὀφειλὴν) becauseyou pleaded
      > with me” (Matt 18:32).
      >
      > The second meaning is presented by Ben Sira, where this time it
      > refers to a wrong committed by one’s neighbor:
      >
      > Forgive (ἄφες)your neighbor the wrong he has done, and then your sins
      > will be pardoned when you pray. (Sir 28:2)
      >
      > This promise on the part of the petitioner is a mighty one. The
      > honor-shame society of the Greco-Roman world held honor as the supreme
      > goal, as is well known in today’s scholarship. Bruce Malina notes
      > three degrees of social dishonoring. The first and most dishonoring
      > act, for which there was no revocation possible, included:
      >
      > …murder, adultery, kidnapping, bearing false witness, and total social
      > degradation of a person by depriving one of all that is necessary for
      > one’s social status. These in sum, include all the things listed in
      > the second half of the Ten Commandments aside from theft, for this is
      > in fact what is listed there: outrages against one’s fellow Israelite
      > that are simply not revocable but require vengeance.21
      >
      > The second degree is the deprivation of honor, but with a possible
      > revocation, like theft, seduction of an unmarried daughter. Some kind
      > of restitution was possible. The least of the deprivations belong to
      > “the regular and ordinary interactions that require normal social
      > responses, such as repaying a gift with one of equal or better value,
      > allowing others to marry my children if they let my children marry
      > theirs.” 22
      >
      > Malina sums up the social sense of maintaining one’s honor with
      > the statement, “In other words, any implicit or explicit dishonor must
      > allow for satisfaction commensurate with the degree of dishonor
      > present.” 23
      >
      > Malina explains the importance of a person’s respected name in the
      > society, “A good name fundamentally means adequate honor to carry on
      > the social interactions necessary for decent human existence…Physical
      > affronts are always symbolic affronts that require a response. Failure
      > to respond means dishonor, disgrace.” 24
      > In the light of these remarks, the petitioner’s promise to forgive the
      > “debts” of another, calls for a new way to live. There is no demand
      > that the debtor acknowledge the debt, but only that the child of the
      > Father promises forgiveness.
      > Richard L. Rohrbaugh explains the social implications of the
      > maintenance of loss of honor because,
      >
      > …the honor of the whole family was at stake in the honor of one of its
      > members, a whole family’s honor would be damaged by a situation that
      > got out of control. The offended family would feel honor bound to
      > retaliate, which in turn would cause retaliation in response. The
      > resulting feuds could escalate into violence and disrupt the
      > stability of an entire village.25
      >
      > It is significant that the prayer presumes a plurality of persons:
      >
      > And cancel our debts for us, as we too have cancelled for those in
      > debt to us.
      >
      > This promise from the group to forgive and not to exact vengeance, not
      > to demand restitution but to allow the offense, the “debt,” to be
      > cancelled suggests a group life style in contradistinction to the
      > expectations of society, with the readiness to endure disgrace,
      > rather than respond in kind.
      > This promise also amounts to a recognition that the same grounds upon
      > which the petitioners call on God’s forgiveness—weakness, lack of
      > intent to offend, etc. —must be extended as well to those who have
      > offended the members. The magnanimity shown by God should be shown by
      > his children to each other and all others. This recognition of the
      > need to be as generous as the Father has been generous is seen
      > throughout the sayings that belong to the Q¹ speeches.
      > In the first major speech cluster of the formative document Q, such
      > programmatic teachings form the core of the message attributed to Jesus:
      >
      > First there is the magnanimity to be shown to others as one has
      > experienced it from God:
      >
      > To the one who asks of you, give; and from the one who borrows, do not
      > ask back what is yours. And the way you want people to treat you, that
      > is how you treat them. If you love those loving you, what reward do
      > you have? Do not even tax collectors do the same? And if you lend to
      > those from whom you hope to receive, what reward do you have? Do not
      > even the Gentiles do the same? Be full of pity, just as your Father is
      > full of pity. (Q 6:30-34, 36)
      >
      > The general rule, then, for treating others is found in Q 6:31,
      >
      > “And the way you want people to treat you, that is how you treat them.”
      >
      > Note how this is repeated in the teaching about the measure you use
      > for your neighbor will be used for you and is echoed in Q 11:4ab:
      >
      > Do not pass judgment, soyou are not judged. For with what judgment
      > you pass judgment you will be judged. And with the measurement you
      > use to measure out, it will be measured out to you. (Q 6:37-38)
      >
      > In another speech of Q, the bountiful character of forgiveness that is
      > enjoined, is understood to reside in the mercy the forgiver has
      > received from a merciful God:
      >
      > If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents,
      > forgive him. And if seven times a day he sins against you, also seven
      > times shall you forgive him. (Q 17:3-4)
      >
      > 21 . Bruce J. Malina, The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural
      > Anthropology, 3rd, revised and expanded ed. (Louisville: Westminster
      > John Knox Press, 2001), 44.
      > 22. Ibid., 44-45.
      > 23. Ibid., 46.
      > 24. Ibid., 55.
      > 25. Richard L. Rohrbaugh, "Honor: Core Value in the Biblical World,"
      > in Understanding the Social World of the New Testament, ed. Dietmar
      > Neufeld and Richard E. DeMaris (London and Newyork: Routledge, 2010),
      > 109-25, here 14.
      >



      /

      > The key words for understanding Q 11:4ab are ἀφημι and ὀφελημα. Well
      > used words commonly take on several meanings and this is clearly the
      > case with ἀφ ημι, which can be defined as, “to send forth, discharge,
      > let fall, give up, let go, set free, put away, divorce or release.” On
      > the other hand, ὀφελημα has a narrower range of meaning and is
      > generally associated with indebtedness.

      > As we shall see the call to have debts cancelled is being proposed not
      > only as a call to forgive someone their offenses as the petitioner
      > hopes for forgiveness from God, but also, as Kloppenborg will insist,
      > it seems to call for a release of any debts for the many poor who were
      > held in their misery by the system of indebtedness in the culture. The
      > language of the prayer invites these ideas of fiscal indebtedness, it
      > must be said: Below are examples where ὀφελημα deals with financial
      > transactions between humans, often in terms in financial indebtedness.

      > Euclides the lapidary owes (ὀφε λει) me three minae. (Diogenes
      > Laertius, Lives 3.42)

      > To Crito of Chalcedon I also remit (ἀφ ημι) the purchase-money for his
      > freedom and bequeath to him four minas. (Diogenes Laertius, Lives 5.72)
      > To Syrus who has been set free I give four minas and Menodora, and I
      > remit to him any debt (ὀφε λει) he owes (ἀφ ημι) me. (Diogenes
      > Laertius, Lives 5.73)

      > Whenyou makeyour neighbor a loan (ὀφε λημα) of any kind,you shall not
      > go into the house to take the pledge. (Deut 24:10) Every debt (ὀφε
      > λημα)you owe to the royal treasury and any such future debts shall be
      > canceled (ἀφι σθω) foryou from henceforth and for all time. (1 Macc 15:8)

      > An example occurs in Matthean Sondergut, where the king describes his
      > magnanimous forgiveness of financial debt to a slave who was ready to
      > imprison his fellow slave for a relatively small sum: “you wicked
      > slave! I forgave (ἀφ κ )you all that debt (ὀφειλὴν) becauseyou pleaded
      > with me” (Matt 18:32). The second meaning is presented by Ben Sira,
      > where this time it refers to a wrong committed by one’s neighbor:
      > Forgive (ἄφες)your neighbor the wrong he has done, and thenyour sins
      > will be pardoned whenyou pray. (Sir 28:2)

      > This promise on the part of the petitioner is a mighty one. The
      > honor-shame society of the Greco-Roman world held honor as the supreme
      > goal, as is well known in today’s scholarship. Bruce Malina notes
      > three degrees of social dishonoring. The first and most dishonoring
      > act, for which there was no revocation possible, included:
      > …murder, adultery, kidnapping, bearing false witness, and total social
      > degradation of a person by depriving one of all that is necessary for
      > one’s social status. These in sum, include all the things listed in
      > the second half of the Ten Commandments aside from theft, for this is
      > in fact what is listed there: outrages against one’s fellow Israelite
      > that are simply not revocable but require vengeance.21

      > The second degree is the deprivation of honor, but with a possible
      > revocation, like theft, seduction of an unmarried daughter. Some kind
      > of restitution was possible. The least of the deprivations belong to
      > “the regular and ordinary interactions that require normal social
      > responses, such as repaying a gift with one of equal or better value,
      > allowing others

      > 21 Bruce J. Malina, The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural
      > Anthropology, 3rd, revised and expanded ed. (Louisville: Westminster
      > John Knox Press, 2001), 44.
      >
      > to marry my children if they let my children marry theirs.” 22 Malina
      > sums up the social sense of maintaining one’s honor with the
      > statement, “In other words, any implicit or explicit dishonor must
      > allow for satisfaction commensurate with the degree of dishonor
      > present.” 23
      > Malina explains the importance of a person’s respected name in the
      > society, “A good name fundamentally means adequate honor to carry on
      > the social interactions necessary for decent human existence…Physical
      > affronts are always symbolic affronts that require a response. Failure
      > to respond means dishonor, disgrace.” 24
      > In the light of these remarks, the petitioner’s promise to forgive the
      > “debts” of another, calls for a new way to live. There is no demand
      > that the debtor acknowledge the debt, but only that the child of the
      > Father promises forgiveness.
      > Richard L. Rohrbaugh explains the social implications of the
      > maintenance of loss
      > of honor because,
      > …the honor of the whole family was at stake in the honor of one of its
      > members, a whole family’s honor would be damaged by a situation that
      > got out of control. The offended family would feel honor bound to
      > retaliate, which in turn would cause retaliation in response. The
      > resulting feuds could escalate into violence and disrupt the
      > stability of an entire village.25
      > It is significant that the prayer presumes a plurality of persons:
      > And cancel our debts for us, as we too have cancelled for those in
      > debt to us.
      > 22 Ibid., 44-45.
      > 23 Ibid., 46.
      > 24 Ibid., 55.
      > 25 Richard L. Rohrbaugh, "Honor: Core Value in the Biblical World," in
      > Understanding the Social World of the New Testament, ed. Dietmar
      > Neufeld and Richard E. DeMaris (London and Newyork: Routledge, 2010),
      > 109-25, here 14.
      >
      > This promise from the group to forgive and not to exact vengeance, not
      > to demand restitution but to allow the offense, the “debt,” to be
      > cancelled suggests a group life style in contradistinction to the
      > expectations of society, with the readiness to endure disgrace,
      > rather than respond in kind.
      > This promise also amounts to a recognition that the same grounds upon
      > which the petitioners call on God’s forgiveness—weakness, lack of
      > intent to offend, etc. —must be extended as well to those who have
      > offended the members. The magnanimity shown by God should be shown by
      > his children to each other and all others. This recognition of the
      > need to be as generous as the Father has been generous is seen
      > throughout the sayings that belong to the Q¹ speeches.
      > In the first major speech cluster of the formative document Q, such
      > programmatic teachings form the core of the message attributed to Jesus:
      > First there is the magnanimity to be shown to others as one has
      > experienced it from God:
      > To the one who asks ofyou, give; and from the one who borrows, do not
      > ask back what isyours. And the wayyou want people to treatyou, that is
      > howyou treat them. Ifyou love those lovingyou, what reward doyou
      > have? Do not even tax collectors do the same? And ifyou lend to
      > those from whomyou hope to receive, what reward doyou have? Do not
      > even the Gentiles do the same? Be full of pity, just asyour Father is
      > full of pity. (Q 6:30-34, 36)
      > The general rule, then, for treating others is found in Q 6:31, “And
      > the wayyou want people to treatyou, that is howyou treat them.” Note
      > how this is repeated in the teaching about the measureyou use foryour
      > neighbor will be used foryou and is echoed in Q 11:4ab:
      > Do not pass judgment, soyou are not judged. For with what judgmentyou
      > pass judgmentyou will be judged. And with the measurementyou use to
      > measure out, it will be measured out toyou. (Q 6:37-38)
      > In another speech of Q, the bountiful character of forgiveness that is
      > enjoined, is understood to reside in the mercy the forgiver has
      > received from a merciful God:
      > Ifyour brother sins againstyou, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive
      > him. And if seven times a day he sins againstyou, also seven times
      > shallyou forgive him. (Q 17:3-4)

      --
      ---
      Jeffrey B. Gibson D.Phil. Oxon.
      1500 W. Pratt Blvd
      Chicago, IL
      jgibson000@...



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • David Mealand
      Jeffrey sent an extract from Wendel both to Crosstalk and to Synoptic. While I would agree that honour and shame are important factors in understanding 1st C
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 20, 2013
      • 0 Attachment
        Jeffrey sent an extract from Wendel both to Crosstalk and
        to Synoptic.

        While I would agree that honour and shame are important
        factors in understanding 1st C attitudes in the Graeco-Roman
        world and elsewhere, I am not sure that this is the whole
        story. The extract cited mentions "magnanimity" to which I
        would also add "clemency". To get a better balance on this
        I think these items need to be given a bit more of a role.
        If Graeco-Roman rulers sometimes practiced such virtues, where
        does that fit in? Also is the mercy shown by a deity sometimes
        construed in a similar way? (Though I am well aware that there
        were plenty of acts attributed to Graeco-Roman deities which
        were far from being untinged by vengeance.)

        In other words I think that the extract tends to imply that
        NT ideas of forgiveness are more at odds with the surrounding
        culture than might be the case. Both Sirach, and examples of
        clemency by rulers suggest that the story is a bit more complex.
        We can find forgiveness in other 1st C contexts. We can also, it
        seems, find vengeful motifs even in the NT, or at least passages
        which appear to be such.

        Or have I misconstrued the argument in the extract?

        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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