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[crosstalk2] John 19:36

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  • Tom Simms
    Notice that I have double posted in a different way... From: Jan Sammer To: Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 18:28:25
    Message 1 of 1 , May 23, 1999
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      Notice that I have double posted in a different way...

      From: "Jan Sammer" <sammer@...>
      To: <crosstalk2@egroups.com>
      Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 18:28:25 +0200
      Subject: [crosstalk2] John 19:26

      >In my unpublished manuscript on gospel origins, co-authored with Livio
      >C. Stecchini, the tentative conclusion is drawn that in the postulated
      >literary source for the gospel passion narrative Mary Magdalene played
      >the role of Jesus' mother. Her name indicates that her hometown was
      >Magdala and it would on the face of it be nothing out of the ordinary
      >for a woman from Magdala to marry a resident of Nazareth.
      >It has been argued, rather convincingly in my opinion, that the
      >gospel writers invented Jesus' link to Nazareth in order to
      >"neutralize" an epithet by which he and his followers were generally
      >known, and which had become politically inopportune at the time of
      >the gospels' composition. Since Bethlehem had to be the place of
      >his birth according to prophecy, it was all the more important to
      >stress his ties to Nazareth by having both his parents be residents
      >of that town.

      I've posted to the List this argument (from Schonfield) before,
      Jan, as you know, and to a similar reception. Schonfield offers
      a lot of support for the Nazorean connection. We used to be in
      all this without ground under our feet with only later texts.
      However, I think the Dead Sea Scrolls students can show us that
      the Nazoreans existed before 70 BCE. I've not looked recently
      but I think this view can stand on Qumran feet. What say?

      >It is for this reason that Mary of Magdala become unacceptable as
      >Jesus' mother. In other words, once it became important to deny
      >Jesus' link with a Nazorean sect by having his parents be residents
      >of Nazareth, it became equally important to deny that Mary of Magdala
      >was Jesus' mother.
      >This is where I would appreciate the opinion of Crosstalk2 learned
      >denizens. I have raised this matter on Crosstalk many months ago,
      >without however generating the responses I hoped for regarding my and
      >Stecchini's reading of the grammatical form of the text. A key piece
      >of evidence for this thesis is John 19:26:
      >Standing close to Jesus' cross were his mother, his mother's sister,
      >Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
      >eisthkeisan de para tw starw tou Ihsou h mhthr autou kai h adlefh ths
      >mhtros autou, Maria h tou Klwpa kai Maria h Magdalhnh.
      >The question is: how many women are mentioned?
      >There are three possibilities:
      >1) Four women are mentioned, Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Clopas,
      >Mary the mother of Jesus, and an unnamed aunt of Jesus
      >2) Three women are mentioned, i.e., the sentence should be paraphrased
      >as follows:
      >Standing close to Jesus' cross were his mother, his mother's sister
      >[whose name is] Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
      >3) Two women are mentioned, i.e., in paraphrase:
      >Standing close to Jesus' cross were his mother and his mother's
      >sister, whose names were Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene
      >Here respectively should be understood in the original meaning of the
      >word, i.e., looking backwards, and not in the sense it is usually
      >understood nowadays. The sentence thus consists of two parts: it lists
      >his mother and his mother's sister in the first part and then names
      >them "respectively" in the second part. Reading "respectively" in the
      >original sense of the word, one must retrace one's steps from the
      >midpoint of the sentence.
      >If only two women are mentioned, it follows that Mary Magdalene must
      >be the mother of Jesus, and Mary of Clopas the aunt--since Mary the
      >mother of Jesus was the wife of Joseph and not of Clopas. Admittedly,
      >this thesis runs into the difficulty that there would be two sisters,
      >both named Mary. This difficulty, however, does not appear to be an
      >insuperable one, since the information we are looking at is that
      >provided by a literary source, not necessarily a reflection of the
      >situation within a historical family.
      >One of the reasons why we have difficulty with this conclusion is that
      >chiasmus as a literary device has become rather foreign to us. Chias-
      >mus was common in literary Greek, including NT Greek. It involves the
      >nesting of statements within each other; one could almost say that the
      >practice has been revived in computer programming languages, where
      >statements are regularly nested within others.

      Classical Latin was FULL of these excursions. Milton, writing
      the Areopagetica, his great defense of freedom of the press, and
      named for and modelled on the second of two famous speeches by
      Isocrates, created the longest sentence in English, the famous
      "Methinks..." which is scriven in gold leaf completely around the
      Great Hall of Hart House at the University of Toronto. He was
      able to do so for he was Cromwell's LATIN Secretary and was able
      to create Isocrates' smooth yet florid, or periodic, antithetical
      style labelled in Greek, GLAFIRA or ANTHIRA ARMONIA (if I got the
      transliteration right).

      Over fifty years ago now, in doing a Latin major for my B.A. I
      took two Latin courses one semester. One on Bradley's Arnold
      Latin Prose Composition involved reading and translating in class
      both Caesar's Gallic and Civil Wars. I still have trouble
      writing plain, simple English. I still have to work at it and
      often run my published material through RightWriter to can the

      Let the expert speak on this: I know little Greek but it sure
      makes sense to me in Latin what Jan proposes.

      >If John 19:26 employed chiasmus, the inevitable conclusion would be as
      >in no. 3 above. There are close parallels that can be drawn from
      >ancient literary works where chiasmus is used in just this fashion.
      >What I'm after right now is garnering opinion as to whether John 19:26
      >can be legitimately read as referring to two women. Parallels in
      >classical Greek and Latin literature have convinced me that the
      >reading as in no. 3 above is the preferred one. I would be most
      >interested to know whether this position is vulnerable grammatically
      >or otherwise.
      >Jan Sammer

      Ingenious, Jan, and really hard to argue against. Don't ask ME
      to do so. Thanks again for an advance in our teasing SOMETHING
      out of the little we have even in text matter about Jesus.

      Tom Simms
      - whose _Behind The Bible_ ISBN 0-9695425-0-X is on Amazon.com -


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