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Re: [XTalk] Re: MAQHTHS (was: John 2:1-4:54)

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  • Mahlon H. Smith
    ... century ... so ... All of the gospels also post-dated the historical Jesus. So are they to be dismissed as of little use to us ? There is a syllogistic
    Message 1 of 7 , Dec 31, 2001
      Jim Bacon wrote:

      > > ...early Christians did *not* speak of one another as disciples.
      > > Therefore, the term had to originate with Jesus himself. Further, Meier
      > > argues that the Greek word *mathetes* occurs very rarely in the 1st
      century
      > > at all. Josephus uses the word, but he post-dated the historical Jesus,
      so
      > > he is of little use to us.

      All of the gospels also "post-dated the historical Jesus." So are they to be
      dismissed as "of little use to us"?

      There is a syllogistic error in reasoning that the term MAQHTHS in the
      gospels must have originated with Jesus simply because there is no evidence
      that Xns used that term to refer to each other after his death. The term
      MAQHTHS is not an absolute title but describes a particular temporal social
      relationship (learner-teacher). It is dependent on access to the
      instructional activity of a DIDASKALOS. People aren't generally referred to
      as perpetual "students" after their teacher has passed away. Apart from
      alleged resurrection appearances, HJ's role as instructor ended with his
      crucifixion, if not before. Ergo with HJ's disappearance from the historical
      stage Kephas & Co. graduated to a post-MAQHTHS status in the Jesus movement.
      They became APOSTOLOI ("missionaries").

      Paul, pseudo-James & the Pastor are witnesses that there continued to be Xn
      DIDASKALOI in the primitive church (1 Cor 12:28, 1 Tim 1:7, Jms 3:1), each
      of whom would have had his/her own MAQHTAI (even if that word is not used in
      these texts). But the term MAQHTAI did not properly describe the current
      social relationship of any member of the EKKLHSIA to Jesus himself; nor was
      its implication of subservience adequate to characterize early
      Xns'egalitarian ideal of their relationship to each other. Xns
      demonstrably preferred to refer to each other as ADELFOS (presumably because
      HJ referred to his own associates as such - Mark 3:35par).

      *If* HJ taught his groupies to regard God as their personal ABBA &
      themselves as his brothers, then it is highly unlikely that the term MAQHTHS
      in the gospels would have originated with HJ himself. Rather, MAQHTHS was
      the standard Attic academic term from Plato on (cf. Liddell-Scott 1072) for
      designating those who subordinated themselves to a mentor & committed
      themselves to passing on *his* instruction (as Plato pretends to do for
      Socrates). Thus, as Hellenistic authors who claimed to be transmitting the
      DIDAXH of HJ himself, it is easy to see why the evangelists regularly
      characterized HJ's followers as MAQHTAI. For in the social world in which
      they were writing this automatically accorded HJ the social status of a
      protean sage & vested his words with the authority of eternal wisdom. At
      the same time it was useful for down-playing the reputations of pillars of
      the early church such as Peter, James & John -- just as it makes a
      difference to my reputation whether I am presented as a "disciple of R.W.
      Funk" (one of his many students) or "Prof. Smith" (i.e., a teaching
      authority in my own right).

      If the *concept* of learning implied by the term MAQHTHS is retrojected to
      the time of HJ himself, then it approximates the status of a Jewish TALMID
      (learner) who was accustomed to addressing his mentor as RABBI. In this
      case, then the concept is better seen as originating with HJ's followers
      themselves rather than with the one whom *they* addressed as "Master" (MAR,
      KYRIOS). For it could be argued (akin to Mark's thesis) that the term
      MAQHTHS reflects the failure of HJ's most avid devotees to grasp fully the
      anti-hierarchical implications of their mentor's own social message.

      Shalom!

      Mahlon


      Mahlon H. Smith
      Department of Religion
      Rutgers University
      New Brunswick NJ 08901

      http://religion.rutgers.edu/profiles/mh_smith.html

      Synoptic Gospels Primer
      http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/

      Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
      http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/
    • Jim Bacon
      ... evidence ... social ... to ... historical ... movement. ... Mahlon, Pardon my sloppiness. I mis-stated Meier s argument. In my post, I incorrectly
      Message 2 of 7 , Jan 1, 2002
        Mahlon Smith wrote:
        > There is a syllogistic error in reasoning that the term MAQHTHS in the
        > gospels must have originated with Jesus simply because there is no
        evidence
        > that Xns used that term to refer to each other after his death. The term
        > MAQHTHS is not an absolute title but describes a particular temporal
        social
        > relationship (learner-teacher). It is dependent on access to the
        > instructional activity of a DIDASKALOS. People aren't generally referred
        to
        > as perpetual "students" after their teacher has passed away. Apart from
        > alleged resurrection appearances, HJ's role as instructor ended with his
        > crucifixion, if not before. Ergo with HJ's disappearance from the
        historical
        > stage Kephas & Co. graduated to a post-MAQHTHS status in the Jesus
        movement.
        > They became APOSTOLOI ("missionaries").

        Mahlon, Pardon my sloppiness. I mis-stated Meier's argument. In my post, I
        incorrectly suggested that the *term* disciples (mathetes/MAQHTHS)
        originated with Jesus. The fact that Jesus probably spoke Aramaic and not
        Greek is by itself sufficient reason to suspect that he did not introduce
        the term into Palestinian discourse. Meier's argument, which I found
        persuasive, is that John the Baptist is the first known instance in
        Palestine of the *practice* of the master-disciple relationship described by
        the term mathetes/MAQHTHS, and that Jesus imitated this practice.

        Meier based his argument largely on the criterion of dissimilarity. The word
        mathetes/MAQHTHS is absent from the Septuagint and other Jewish writings in
        Greek dated earlier than Philo. The word mathetes/MAQHTHS also is absent
        from New Testament writings outside of the Gospels/Acts. Given the paucity
        of precedents, he argues, the practice was not borrowed from Judean
        tradition. Given the non-use of the term in the early church, the Gospel
        writers did not retroject the practice back onto Jesus. Ergo, the practice
        in Palestine probably originated with John and Jesus.

        > Paul, pseudo-James & the Pastor are witnesses that there continued to be
        Xn
        > DIDASKALOI in the primitive church (1 Cor 12:28, 1 Tim 1:7, Jms 3:1), each
        > of whom would have had his/her own MAQHTAI (even if that word is not used
        in
        > these texts). But the term MAQHTAI did not properly describe the current
        > social relationship of any member of the EKKLHSIA to Jesus himself; nor
        was
        > its implication of subservience adequate to characterize early
        > Xns'egalitarian ideal of their relationship to each other. Xns
        > demonstrably preferred to refer to each other as ADELFOS (presumably
        because
        > HJ referred to his own associates as such - Mark 3:35par).

        > *If* HJ taught his groupies to regard God as their personal ABBA &
        > themselves as his brothers, then it is highly unlikely that the term
        MAQHTHS
        > in the gospels would have originated with HJ himself.

        If I understand you correctly, you are implying from Jesus' use of the term
        ABBA that he practiced an egalitarian relationship with his followers: God
        was the father while Jesus and his companions were brothers. While I would
        agree that such terminology implies a less hierarchical relationship that
        that which prevailed in the world around them -- from kings to beggars -- it
        was not an egalitarian relationship either. The family structure in
        1st-century Palestine had hierarchical elements, in which older brothers
        enjoyed superior status, privileges and authority. Jesus may have viewed
        himself as a brother to his companions, but he likewise enjoyed superior
        status and authority within the movement he led and created.

        > Rather, MAQHTHS was
        > the standard Attic academic term from Plato on (cf. Liddell-Scott 1072)
        for
        > designating those who subordinated themselves to a mentor & committed
        > themselves to passing on *his* instruction (as Plato pretends to do for
        > Socrates). Thus, as Hellenistic authors who claimed to be transmitting
        the
        > DIDAXH of HJ himself, it is easy to see why the evangelists regularly
        > characterized HJ's followers as MAQHTAI. For in the social world in which
        > they were writing this automatically accorded HJ the social status of a
        > protean sage & vested his words with the authority of eternal wisdom. At
        > the same time it was useful for down-playing the reputations of pillars of
        > the early church such as Peter, James & John -- just as it makes a
        > difference to my reputation whether I am presented as a "disciple of R.W.
        > Funk" (one of his many students) or "Prof. Smith" (i.e., a teaching
        > authority in my own right).

        You make an interesting argument. As I understand you, the Gospel writers
        were applying the term mathetes/MAQHTHS to Jesus' followers based on the
        master-learner relationships they had observed in their own societies. But
        you are pre-supposing that they are applying the term inappropriately. I
        must ask you, what kind of relationship do you suppose Jesus had with those
        who abandoned personal property and family ties to follow him? Did Jesus'
        followers not regard him as a sage? Did they not vest his words with the
        authority of eternal wisdom? And, however, you see that relationship, did it
        not represent an innovation in the Palestinian Judaism of the 1st century
        C.E.?

        Best regards,

        Jim

        James A. Bacon Jr.
        The Jesus Archive
        jabacon@...
      • David C. Hindley
        ... Testament writings outside of the Gospels / Acts.
        Message 3 of 7 , Jan 1, 2002
          Jim Bacon said:

          >>The word mathetes / MAQHTHS also is absent from New
          Testament writings outside of the Gospels / Acts.<<

          I have yet to obtain volume 3, but does Meier really limit
          consideration to only NT documents? What about the _Letter
          to Diognetus_?

          The dating (ranging from 117-313, with 150-225 being more
          likely per Holmes in his edition of Lightfoot's _Apostolic
          Fathers_) is, perhaps, precarious (as if that of NT books in
          general is not), but it does show that somewhere in the
          "early" Christian movement an author could use the word
          MAQHTES in a description of himself and others (11.1), fully
          expecting the readers to understand what meaning he was
          conveying, that is, giving it the same sense that the NT
          Gospels do when referring to a close follower of Jesus. This
          author does appear to allude to passages in the gospels of
          Matthew and John.

          I also think an infinitive form of a related Greek verb
          (MANQANW)is used in the sense of disciples in Lxx Isaiah
          8:16 (although Brenton does not so translate it). The author
          of the _Letter to Diognetus_ also uses the infinitive of
          MANQANW to describe Diognetus (1.1, as one who is learning).

          Respectfully,

          Dave Hindley
          Cleveland, Ohio, USA
        • Jim Bacon
          By Meier s count, the term *mathetes* occcurs 261 times in Gospels/Acts and only 12 times in the corpus of the Apostolic Fathers, nine of which occur in the
          Message 4 of 7 , Jan 1, 2002
            By Meier's count, the term *mathetes* occcurs 261 times in Gospels/Acts and
            only 12 times in the corpus of the "Apostolic Fathers," nine of which occur
            in the writings of Ignatius. I could find no reference in Meier's footnotes
            to the Letter to Diognetus. He doesn't address the post-Apostolic Fathers
            literature. Jim

            ----- Original Message -----
            From: David C. Hindley <dhindley@...>
            To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Tuesday, January 01, 2002 12:32 PM
            Subject: RE: [XTalk] MAQHTHS (was: John 2:1-4:54)


            > Jim Bacon said:
            >
            > >>The word mathetes / MAQHTHS also is absent from New
            > Testament writings outside of the Gospels / Acts.<<
            >
            > I have yet to obtain volume 3, but does Meier really limit
            > consideration to only NT documents? What about the _Letter
            > to Diognetus_?
            >
            > The dating (ranging from 117-313, with 150-225 being more
            > likely per Holmes in his edition of Lightfoot's _Apostolic
            > Fathers_) is, perhaps, precarious (as if that of NT books in
            > general is not), but it does show that somewhere in the
            > "early" Christian movement an author could use the word
            > MAQHTES in a description of himself and others (11.1), fully
            > expecting the readers to understand what meaning he was
            > conveying, that is, giving it the same sense that the NT
            > Gospels do when referring to a close follower of Jesus. This
            > author does appear to allude to passages in the gospels of
            > Matthew and John.
            >
            > I also think an infinitive form of a related Greek verb
            > (MANQANW)is used in the sense of disciples in Lxx Isaiah
            > 8:16 (although Brenton does not so translate it). The author
            > of the _Letter to Diognetus_ also uses the infinitive of
            > MANQANW to describe Diognetus (1.1, as one who is learning).
            >
            > Respectfully,
            >
            > Dave Hindley
            > Cleveland, Ohio, USA
            >
            >
            >
            >
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            >
          • Bob Schacht
            ... Jim, The thesis that the concept of discipleship goes back to Jesus is supported by Hans Weder s article on Disciple, Discipleship in the Anchor Bible
            Message 5 of 7 , Jan 1, 2002
              At 03:55 PM 12/31/01 -0500, Mahlon H. Smith wrote:
              >Jim Bacon wrote:
              >
              > > ...early Christians did *not* speak of one another as disciples.
              > > Therefore, the term had to originate with Jesus himself. Further, Meier
              > > argues that the Greek word *mathetes* occurs very rarely in the 1st
              >century
              > > at all. Josephus uses the word, but he post-dated the historical Jesus,
              >so
              > > he is of little use to us.

              Jim,
              The thesis that the concept of discipleship goes back to Jesus is supported
              by Hans Weder's article on Disciple, Discipleship in the Anchor Bible
              Dictionary.

              However, Weder makes an even better point, IMHO, by drawing attention to
              the importance of Greek *akolouthein,* "to walk behind, to follow" which,
              Weder notes, was frequently used as a specialized term in the NT for
              following Jesus. My BibleWorks glosses the term as
              "akoloutheo {ak-ol-oo-theh'-o} • from 1 (as a particle of union)
              and keleuthos (a road); TDNT - 1:210,33; v • AV - follow 91, reach 1; 92
              • 1) to follow one who precedes, join him as his attendant, accompany him
              2) to join one as a disciple, become or be his disciple 2a) side with his
              party".

              The classic phrase, "Follow me" is couched in these terms, e.g.,
              (Mark 2:14//Matt 9:9//Luke 5:27; Mark 8:34//Matt 16:24//Luke 9:23; Mark
              10:21//Matt 19:21//Luke 18:22; Matt 8:22//Luke 9:59; John 10:27;12:26;
              13:36; 21:19)

              In contrast, the term "disciple" (MAQHTHS) in the singular form is never
              used by Jesus in direct address to a disciple; instead, all usages are
              talking *about* disciples. Furthermore, the term in the singular is not
              used at all by Mark, only 4 times each by Matthew and Luke, and 14 times by
              John. Of course the plural is much more numerous; but both singular and
              plural are completely lacking from Paul's letters. Instead, in Paul's
              letters, we get the term *mimetes* [{mim-ay-tace'} • from 3401; TDNT -
              4:659,594; n m • AV - follower 7; 7 • 1) an imitator] , e.g., 1 Cor 11:1,
              and other words with the same base.

              Interestingly, when a replacement for Judas is called for in Acts 1:21, the
              term is not disciple, but
              sunerchomai [{soon-er'-khom-ahee} • from 4862 and 2064; TDNT
              - 2:684,257; v • AV - come together 18, go with 4, come with 2, resort
              2, come 2, come with + 2258 1, company with 1, accompany 1, assemble with
              1; 32 • 1) to come together 1a) to assemble 1b) of conjugal cohabitation
              2) to go (depart) or come with one, to accompany one ]

              Acts 1:21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time
              that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
              22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up
              from us-- one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection."

              Note also that what was required was not discipleship but witness.

              From this I conclude that
              1. the followers of Jesus were not initially thought of as disciples, but
              simply as companions.
              2. During Paul's era, the idea of followers as imitators began to develop;
              3. with Mark and Q the followers were collectively referred to as disciples;
              4. and then with Matthew and Mark specific individual followers began to be
              regarded as disciples (interestingly, first with Joseph of Arimethea! [Matt
              27:57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named
              Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus.]

              Happy New Year!
              Bob







              >All of the gospels also "post-dated the historical Jesus." So are they to be
              >dismissed as "of little use to us"?
              >
              >There is a syllogistic error in reasoning that the term MAQHTHS in the
              >gospels must have originated with Jesus simply because there is no evidence
              >that Xns used that term to refer to each other after his death. The term
              >MAQHTHS is not an absolute title but describes a particular temporal social
              >relationship (learner-teacher). It is dependent on access to the
              >instructional activity of a DIDASKALOS. People aren't generally referred to
              >as perpetual "students" after their teacher has passed away. Apart from
              >alleged resurrection appearances, HJ's role as instructor ended with his
              >crucifixion, if not before. Ergo with HJ's disappearance from the historical
              >stage Kephas & Co. graduated to a post-MAQHTHS status in the Jesus movement.
              >They became APOSTOLOI ("missionaries").
              >
              >Paul, pseudo-James & the Pastor are witnesses that there continued to be Xn
              >DIDASKALOI in the primitive church (1 Cor 12:28, 1 Tim 1:7, Jms 3:1), each
              >of whom would have had his/her own MAQHTAI (even if that word is not used in
              >these texts). But the term MAQHTAI did not properly describe the current
              >social relationship of any member of the EKKLHSIA to Jesus himself; nor was
              >its implication of subservience adequate to characterize early
              >Xns'egalitarian ideal of their relationship to each other. Xns
              >demonstrably preferred to refer to each other as ADELFOS (presumably because
              >HJ referred to his own associates as such - Mark 3:35par).
              >
              >*If* HJ taught his groupies to regard God as their personal ABBA &
              >themselves as his brothers, then it is highly unlikely that the term MAQHTHS
              >in the gospels would have originated with HJ himself. Rather, MAQHTHS was
              >the standard Attic academic term from Plato on (cf. Liddell-Scott 1072) for
              >designating those who subordinated themselves to a mentor & committed
              >themselves to passing on *his* instruction (as Plato pretends to do for
              >Socrates). Thus, as Hellenistic authors who claimed to be transmitting the
              >DIDAXH of HJ himself, it is easy to see why the evangelists regularly
              >characterized HJ's followers as MAQHTAI. For in the social world in which
              >they were writing this automatically accorded HJ the social status of a
              >protean sage & vested his words with the authority of eternal wisdom. At
              >the same time it was useful for down-playing the reputations of pillars of
              >the early church such as Peter, James & John -- just as it makes a
              >difference to my reputation whether I am presented as a "disciple of R.W.
              >Funk" (one of his many students) or "Prof. Smith" (i.e., a teaching
              >authority in my own right).
              >
              >If the *concept* of learning implied by the term MAQHTHS is retrojected to
              >the time of HJ himself, then it approximates the status of a Jewish TALMID
              >(learner) who was accustomed to addressing his mentor as RABBI. In this
              >case, then the concept is better seen as originating with HJ's followers
              >themselves rather than with the one whom *they* addressed as "Master" (MAR,
              >KYRIOS). For it could be argued (akin to Mark's thesis) that the term
              >MAQHTHS reflects the failure of HJ's most avid devotees to grasp fully the
              >anti-hierarchical implications of their mentor's own social message.
              >
              >Shalom!
              >
              >Mahlon
              >
              >
              >Mahlon H. Smith
              >Department of Religion
              >Rutgers University
              >New Brunswick NJ 08901
              >
              ><http://religion.rutgers.edu/profiles/mh_smith.html>http://religion.rutgers
              >.edu/profiles/mh_smith.html
              >
              >Synoptic Gospels Primer
              ><http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/>http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/
              >
              >Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
              ><http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/>http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/
              >
              >
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              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • David C. Hindley
              ... Gospels/Acts and only 12 times in the corpus of the Apostolic Fathers, nine of which occur in the writings of Ignatius. I could find no reference in
              Message 6 of 7 , Jan 1, 2002
                Jim Bacon replied:

                >>By Meier's count, the term *mathetes* occurs 261 times in
                Gospels/Acts and only 12 times in the corpus of the
                "Apostolic Fathers," nine of which occur in the writings of
                Ignatius. I could find no reference in Meier's footnotes to
                the Letter to Diognetus. He doesn't address the
                post-Apostolic Fathers literature.<<

                Well ... I may just have to break down and secure a copy of
                a Greek concordance of the Apostolic Fathers. None of the
                translations of these works in my possession seems to have
                the word "disciple" indexed, nor are there Greek word
                indices.

                If Meier is true to form, the answer to the question of
                whether Diognetus includes one or more of those 3 occasions
                of use of the word MAQHTHS (spelled right this time) not in
                Ignatius is probably buried in one of those references in
                the notes.

                Thank you!

                Respectfully,

                Dave Hindley
                Cleveland, Ohio, USA
              • Jeffrey B. Gibson
                ... I have just uploaded a TLG D Disk search of all instances of MAQHTH (using MAQHT as my search term) from the 3rd cent. BCE through the second century CE
                Message 7 of 7 , Jan 1, 2002
                  "David C. Hindley" wrote:

                  > Jim Bacon replied:
                  >
                  > >>By Meier's count, the term *mathetes* occurs 261 times in
                  > Gospels/Acts and only 12 times in the corpus of the
                  > "Apostolic Fathers," nine of which occur in the writings of
                  > Ignatius. I could find no reference in Meier's footnotes to
                  > the Letter to Diognetus. He doesn't address the
                  > post-Apostolic Fathers literature.<<
                  >
                  > Well ... I may just have to break down and secure a copy of
                  > a Greek concordance of the Apostolic Fathers. None of the
                  > translations of these works in my possession seems to have
                  > the word "disciple" indexed, nor are there Greek word
                  > indices.
                  >
                  > If Meier is true to form, the answer to the question of
                  > whether Diognetus includes one or more of those 3 occasions
                  > of use of the word MAQHTHS (spelled right this time) not in
                  > Ignatius is probably buried in one of those references in
                  > the notes.
                  >

                  I have just uploaded a TLG D Disk search of all instances of MAQHTH
                  (using MAQHT as my search term) from the 3rd cent. BCE through the
                  second century CE (excluding the instances in Galen, Origen, and the
                  Ecumenical Councils) to our files section.

                  It may be accessed at

                  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/crosstalk2/files/MAQHTH.htm

                  The Greek text is in beta code. To transform it to Greek, you will need
                  to have SGreek in your fonts file.

                  I hope this helps, rather than hinders, the discussion.

                  Yours,

                  Jeffrey Gibson
                  --
                  Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)
                  1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
                  Floor 1
                  Chicago, Illinois 60626
                  e-mail jgibson000@...
                  jgibson000@...



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