10770GTh and the parable of the banquet
- Jan 12, 2014
I am currently looking at the parable of the meal/banquet/wedding feast in GTh 64||Lk 14:16-24||Mt 22: 1-10 and I am wondering about the word SHEMMO, which is usually translated visitors or guests in English versions of GTh for two reasons.
First, Lambdin says ‘A man had received visitors (SHEMMO). And when he had prepared the dinner, he sent his servant to invite the guests (SHEMMO).’ This translation suggests that the first group of SHEMMO might be different people to the second group. Lamdin’s translation supports Crossan’s contention that the meal in GTh is an impromptu one, where the host hasn’t gone through the usual local process of inviting people in advance and then sending out word when the meal was actually ready. The other translations that I’ve seen (eg Paterson & Meyer, Patterson & Robinson, DeConick, Valantasis in English and also Nordsieck into German and Menard into French) use the same word in each case, whether it be guests or visitors. This supports the notion that the normal practice had been adhered to and that, as in the synoptic versions, the guests had therefore insulted their potential host by having accepted initially but provided poor excuses when the time actually came. Can anyone see particular support for the Lambdin translation here?
Second, according to Crum, SHEMMO = stranger, visitor, alien and is the equivalent of _allotrios_, _allouenes_ or _xenos_ in Greek. All of these words have the sense of foreigner and _allotrios_ can also mean enemy. I spent a happy hour or so looking through Richard Smith’s Concise Coptic English lexicon yesterday and it appears that there is no Coptic word that expresses the idea of invited guest. The only other option I found was REMEN6OEILE, which means stranger or visitor, so very similar to SHEMMO. In the synoptics, the invitees are referred to as _keklemenous/keklemenois_ which is literally those who are invited/called. This construction is, I think, also possible in Coptic, although stylistically it would require a significant restructure of the introductory material. Am I being too literalist in thinking that there might be some significance in the fact that the GTh host has initially invited strangers to his meal?
Humanities and Social Sciences
University of New England
ARMIDALE NSW 2351
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