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RE: {Disarmed} Re: [GTh] Parable of the Wicked Tenants (L65)

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  • Richard Hubbard
    Well, in Charlie s defense, at least in his forthcoming commentary, he is taking a neutral stance on which of the two readings is preferable. For the intended
    Message 1 of 13 , Apr 9, 2010
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      Well, in Charlie's defense, at least in his forthcoming commentary, he
      is taking a neutral stance on which of the two readings is preferable.
      For the intended audience (i.e., the popular market) that is probably an
      okay move to make .For most folks, whether the vintner was a "good man"
      or a "usurer", it will probably not alter their reading of the text in
      any significant way.

      It may also be helpful to try to tease out what "may" incline
      Kloppenborg and Patterson to favor the XRHSTHS reading. Both of these
      two scholars approach Gth from the perspective of social historians.
      Both read Gth as having world view that disparages wealth, the
      accumulation of property and conventional economic values. Within this
      context, the vintner-as-usurer reading seems to them to align more
      favorably with Gth's broader proclivities. With this in mind, **IF** the
      possibility of the reading XRHSTHS or XRHSTOS happened to be roughly
      equal in terms the respective word's' frequency of usage then the choice
      of the former would be substantially less problematic, ISTM.

      What I find troubling about Kloppenborg's proposed reading is not
      whether or not it affects the "meaning" of the parable. Instead, it is
      whether the choice correctly restores the original text. Again, I argue
      that, while XRSTHS "fits" in the lacuna, its relative obscurity makes it
      **statistically** less likely to be the correct reading. Then there are
      a couple of other factoids that should not be over looked.

      First, there is a Coptic word for "usurer" listed in Crum (MICE, 186a)
      that appears to be more widely attested than the Greek (or Greco-Coptic)
      XRHSTHS. I'll not try to speculate on why, if the vintner was indeed a
      usurer, he would not have been called a MICE (although this to is
      questionable if L 65 drives from a Greek vorlage).

      Second the Greek word for "usurer" used elsewhere in Hellenistic
      literature is TOKISTHS, not XRHSTHS. While TOKISTHS itself is
      comparatively rare, it is at least attested 2 times in the GN (see BAGD
      under TOKOS). I don't have counts for it in the LXX, but if anyone has
      access to the Hatch-Redpath concordance, maybe a quick check would be
      helpful.

      Then there is the question of what is an appropriate characterization of
      the vintner (and this truly IS a question that needs an answer). Would a
      farmer, even one who was an absentee landlord, have been called a
      usurer? Did he earn money selling wine from the vineyard, or was he in
      the business of lending money and collecting interest? Could he have
      been both? Is the historical evidence of that in antiquity?

      The final question: what is the range of meaning of XHRHSTOS? Is "good
      man" perhaps a bit too wooden and literal? Was there a bit of sarcasm at
      work here? Or could we understand a "good man" in the vernacular of
      something like "big-shot"?

      If time ever permits, I'd like to dig into all this in detail, but what
      I've said here are the things that come to light easily and without much
      real effort.


      Rick Hubbard


      |-----Original Message-----
      |From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com]
      |Sent: Thursday, April 08, 2010 3:36 PM
      |To: Richard Hubbard; gthomas@yahoogroups.com
      |Subject: {Disarmed} Re: [GTh] Parable of the Wicked Tenants (L65)
      |Importance: Low
      |
      |
      |
      |
      |Rick informs me that he's posted a note relevant to this discussion on
      Charlie
      |Hedrick's blog at:
      |[ http://www.charleshedrick.com ]http://www.charleshedrick.com
      |
      |It's worth taking a look at, though Hedrick totally ignores the
      research results that
      |Rick presents. Instead, he makes two claims that I think are misleading
      to the point of
      |being blatantly false:
      |
      |(1) that XRHSTOS and XRHSTHS are "equally possible".
      |What Hedrick must mean is that they both fit the lacuna.
      |As to probability of usage, however, it's clear from the evidence
      presented here lately
      |(and in Rick's blog note) that XRHSTHS is quite improbable.
      |
      |(2) that 'usurer' is a neutral term. To quote Hedrick:
      |"... there is nothing intrinsically wrong about being a userer (money
      lender). Under
      |certain community attitudes it can be seen as an ignoble profession,
      but in our
      |society it plays a helpful role, unless of course we are talking about
      payday loans at
      |exorbitant rates of interest."
      |
      |But when we use the word 'usurer', we _are_ talking about "loans at
      exorbitant rates
      |of interest", because that's what the word means today! In an English
      translation, we
      |cannot use a word to convey an
      |*archaic* meaning that it no longer has. The reader will understand it
      in its
      |contemporary meaning. If we want to convey an archaic meaning, another
      word
      |should be used which has that meaning in contemporary parlance, such
      as, in the
      |present case, 'money lender'.
      |In short, I find Hedrick's defense of 'usurer' to be untenable.
      |
      |Mike Grondin
      |
      |
      |
      |
      |
    • Michael Grondin
      ... Yes, and I should have said not that he claimed that usurer was a neutral term, but that he claimed it to be *relatively* neutral compared to good .
      Message 2 of 13 , Apr 9, 2010
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        Rick wrote:
        > Well, in Charlie's defense, at least in his forthcoming commentary, he
        > is taking a neutral stance on which of the two readings is preferable.

        Yes, and I should have said not that he claimed that 'usurer' was a neutral
        term, but that he claimed it to be *relatively* neutral compared to 'good'.
        (The critique I presented is still applicable, however.)

        > For most folks, whether the vintner was a "good man" or a "usurer",
        > it will probably not alter their reading of the text in any significant
        > way.

        I'm not as confident as you are about that, but Kloppenborg takes full
        advantage of the contemporary (as opposed to archaic) meaning of
        'usurer' in his 2001 CSBS Presidential address (p.18-19):

        "The designation of the main character as [a usurer] is already an
        ideologically laden type-casting of a person who is in violation of
        old Israelite laws concerning loans."

        So much for Hedrick's relatively-neutral (archaic) sense of 'usurer'.

        > It may also be helpful to try to tease out what "may" incline
        > Kloppenborg and Patterson to favor the XRHSTHS reading. Both of these
        > two scholars approach Gth from the perspective of social historians.

        They may also have been influenced by their participation in the Jesus
        Seminar (of which Hedrick was also a member).

        > Both read Gth as having [a] world view that disparages wealth, the
        > accumulation of property and conventional economic values. Within this
        > context, the vintner-as-usurer reading seems to them to align more
        > favorably with Gth's broader proclivities.

        Well, here is what Kloppenborg had to say in his Presidential address:

        "... Thomas uses the parable of the Tenants as the conclusion of a
        triad of parables [L63-65]. In each instance, figures who seek or
        possess wealth or who strive for status among their peers through
        status-displays at banquets are criticized and their pursuits lampooned."
        (Ref: www.ccsr.ca/csbs/presidential2001.PDF, p.18)

        Personally, I don't recognize L63-65 under Kloppenborg's description.
        I simply don't see any "lampooning" at all, especially not in L64, where
        the postscript clearly indicates that the point of the parable is not to
        make fun of the giver of the banquet - even if some reader were to
        somehow come up with that unlikely interpretation.

        > ... there is a Coptic word for "usurer" listed in Crum (MICE, 186a) ...

        In Sahidic, I believe the word is MHCE (i.e., MHSE), though it's
        shown under MICE (MISE) in Lambdin. It appears twice in Thomas,
        at L95 ("If you have money, don't lend at interest") and L109 (the finder
        of the hidden treasure began to lend at interest).

        But since you mention Crum, let me throw another factoid out there.
        I had previously determined that neither Lambdin's "Glossary of Greek
        Words" (_Intro to Sahidic Coptic_, pp.359-363) nor the Coptic CD
        (which includes Greek words in its lexicon) included XRHSTHS.
        Now in looking at Crum's much-larger (60 pages!) "Greek Index",
        I see that XRHSTHS isn't listed there, either. And Crum's sources
        ranged far and wide beyond the NT.

        > Then there is the question of what is an appropriate characterization of
        > the vintner (and this truly IS a question that needs an answer). Would a
        > farmer, even one who was an absentee landlord, have been called a
        > usurer? Did he earn money selling wine from the vineyard, or was he in
        > the business of lending money and collecting interest? Could he have
        > been both? Is the historical evidence of that in antiquity?

        Yeah, this struck me too.

        > The final question: what is the range of meaning of XRHSTOS? Is "good
        > man" perhaps a bit too wooden and literal? Was there a bit of sarcasm at
        > work here? Or could we understand a "good man" in the vernacular of
        > something like "big-shot"?

        I don't think so, but maybe 'kind man'? In the Coptic translation of Paul's
        letters, MeNT-XRHSTOS is used often to mean 'kindness'. This might
        have suggested an innocent naivete that could have explained the
        vineyard-owner's excusing of the tenant's behavior ("maybe they didn't
        recognize him") and continuing to send emissaries where a less naive
        person wouldn't have. In fact, it occurs to me that this interpretation
        fits nicely with L63. Both parables involve men of wealth, but whereas
        the man in L63 is too worldly, the man in L65 appears to be too trusting.
        Do these two parables illustrate the admonition to be BOTH "shrewd as
        serpents and innocent as doves" (L39)? IOW, are they counterpoints
        to each other? It's a possibility, I think, and in that regard I note the
        similarity of endings:

        L63: "That night he died. Whoever has ears should listen!"
        L65: "... they killed him. Whoever has ears should listen!"

        To go a little way towards meeting Kloppenborg, it might be said
        that this pair of parables expresses the view that the accumulation
        of wealth won't do any good in the long run, whether one goes
        about it in a world-wise, shrewd way or a trusting, innocent (one
        wants to say "Christian") way. True, the latter is an unfamiliar
        theme to Christian ears, but if the parable traces back to Jesus,
        maybe that's why it was widely misunderstood and so easily
        put into service as an allegory.

        Mike
      • Richard Hubbard
        Mike Wrote: | ... advantage of ... 2001 CSBS ... [||] It sounds like maybe I need to do some homework here. Where did I miss something about what the
        Message 3 of 13 , Apr 9, 2010
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          Mike Wrote:
          <snip>|
          |I'm not as confident as you are about that, but Kloppenborg takes full
          advantage of
          |the contemporary (as opposed to archaic) meaning of 'usurer' in his
          2001 CSBS
          |Presidential address (p.18-19):

          [||]
          It sounds like maybe I need to do some homework here. Where did I miss
          something about what the distinction is between the "contemporary" and
          "archaic" meaning of usurer?

          Rick
        • Michael Grondin
          ... Sorry, I didn t spell that out. My edition of the American Heritage Dictionary has this under usury : 1. The act or practice of lending money at an
          Message 4 of 13 , Apr 9, 2010
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            Rick writes:
            > Where did I miss something about what the distinction is between
            > the "contemporary" and "archaic" meaning of usurer?

            Sorry, I didn't spell that out. My edition of the American Heritage
            Dictionary has this under 'usury':

            1. The act or practice of lending money at an exorbitant or illegal
            rate of interest. ...
            3. _Archaic_. The act or practice of lending money at any rate
            of interest.

            The origin of the word is indicated to be the Latin 'usura', meaning
            "use of money lent, interest". In other words, the original meaning
            of the word seems to tie to what is now an archaic meaning.

            Mike
          • Bob Schacht
            ... Rick, This happens all the time with words. Elizabethan English is a good grounds for such word explorations. Compare, for example the old and current
            Message 5 of 13 , Apr 9, 2010
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              At 12:35 PM 4/9/2010, Richard Hubbard wrote:
              Where did I miss something about what the distinction is between the "contemporary" and
              "archaic" meaning of usurer?


              Rick,
              This happens all the time with words. Elizabethan English is a good grounds for such word explorations.
              Compare, for example the old and current definition of "manifold," encountered in my Episcopal book of Common Prayer in the phrase, "manifold sins." Today, this would only make sense in reference to misbehavior on the part of your auto mechanic.

              More recently, words such as "moron," "idiot," etc. used to be technical definitions used by professionals to refer to various degrees of mental retardation. Now, those are terms of abuse and insult.

              This kind of linguistic drift is exceedingly common.

              Bob in AZ

            • Judy Redman
              I have been reading this thread but not felt I had anything much to add until now. ... Yes, and I should have said not that he claimed that usurer was a
              Message 6 of 13 , Apr 9, 2010
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                I have been reading this thread but not felt I had anything much to add until now.

                 

                Rick wrote:

                > Well, in Charlie's defense, at least in his forthcoming commentary, he
                > is taking a neutral stance on which of the two readings is preferable.

                Yes, and I should have said not that he claimed that 'usurer' was a neutral
                term, but that he claimed it to be *relatively* neutral compared to 'good'.
                (The critique I presented is still applicable, however.)

                > For most folks, whether the vintner was a "good man" or a
                "usurer",
                > it will probably not alter their reading of the text in any significant
                > way.

                I'm not as confident as you are about that, but Kloppenborg takes full
                advantage of the contemporary (as opposed to archaic) meaning of
                'usurer' in his 2001 CSBS Presidential address (p.18-19):

                "The designation of the main character as [a usurer] is already an
                ideologically laden type-casting of a person who is in violation of
                old Israelite laws concerning loans."

                So much for Hedrick's relatively-neutral (archaic) sense of 'usurer'.

                Indeed. One of the odd things about the difference between the Matthean and the Thomasine versions of the parable of the treasure (Matt 13: 34 and Thos 109) is that while Matthew’s version has the finder of the treasure using ethically questionable means to get hold of it (ie hiding it and then buying the field) Thomas’ version has the finder of the treasure using the money in a way that is specifically forbidden in Ex 22: 25:  

                If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them. (NRSV)

                or

                If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury. (KJV)

                Although that has been interpreted by some sectors of Judaism to mean that it is OK to lend money at interest to non-Jews (this being one of the points that Shakespeare was making in The Merchant of Venice), Thomas’ newly rich man is lending money with interest to whomever he pleases. Perhaps one could argue that in view of S 109, the archaic sense of ursury was not seen as something negative???

                Judy

                 

                _

              • Rick Hubbard
                Thanks Bob and Mike for clarifying the distinction between the archaic and contemporary definitions of usury. Perhaps it would less confusing though, to
                Message 7 of 13 , Apr 10, 2010
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                  Thanks Bob and Mike for clarifying the distinction between the "archaic" and
                  "contemporary" definitions of usury. Perhaps it would less confusing though,
                  to adopt the terms "pejorative" and "ordinary" to replace "contemporary" and
                  "archaic", respectively. For one thing usury is not always a pejorative term
                  in contemporary usage (banking laws in many states are still known as "usury
                  laws") and during antiquity "usury" seems to have had both an "ordinary
                  sense" and a "pejorative" sense as Judy pointed out in her note.

                  Speaking of Judy's note, what she said prompted me to start looking at how
                  (and where) the word for usury is used in the Hebrew Bible. As it turns out
                  that's a task easier said than done since (a) my Hebrew skills are abysmal
                  and (b) I can't seem to locate my copy of Lizowsky's Hebrew Bible
                  concordance. Anyway I'll keep at it for a while to see if I turn up anything
                  relevant to our discussion.

                  What I really wanted to say, however, hearkens back to the question I asked
                  previously about the general practice of usury in agrarian societies in late
                  antiquity. I suspect Kloppenborg may have addressed this in his monograph,
                  but I still want to know what realistic circumstance would bring a banker
                  into the story, as it is told in L 65. It's not that such a thing is
                  completely impossible, but it still seems incongruous to have a money lender
                  getting involved in an agricultural matter. I need some hints, please.

                  Rick

                  ||-----Original Message-----
                  ||From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                  Of
                  ||Bob Schacht
                  ||Sent: Friday, April 09, 2010 4:58 PM
                  ||To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                  ||Subject: RE: Rick Re: [GTh] Parable of the Wicked Tenants (L65)
                  ||
                  ||
                  ||
                  ||At 12:35 PM 4/9/2010, Richard Hubbard wrote:
                  ||
                  ||
                  || Where did I miss something about what the distinction is between the
                  ||"contemporary" and
                  || "archaic" meaning of usurer?
                  ||
                  ||
                  ||
                  ||Rick,
                  ||This happens all the time with words. Elizabethan English is a good
                  grounds for such
                  ||word explorations.
                  ||Compare, for example the old and current definition of "manifold,"
                  encountered in my
                  ||Episcopal book of Common Prayer in the phrase, "manifold sins." Today,
                  this would
                  ||only make sense in reference to misbehavior on the part of your auto
                  mechanic.
                  ||
                  ||More recently, words such as "moron," "idiot," etc. used to be technical
                  definitions
                  ||used by professionals to refer to various degrees of mental retardation.
                  Now, those
                  ||are terms of abuse and insult.
                  ||
                  ||This kind of linguistic drift is exceedingly common.
                  ||
                  ||Bob in AZ
                  ||
                  ||
                  ||
                  ||
                • Judy Redman
                  Rick says: What I really wanted to say, however, hearkens back to the question I asked previously about the general practice of usury in agrarian societies in
                  Message 8 of 13 , Apr 10, 2010
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                    Rick says:

                     



                    What I really wanted to say, however, hearkens back to the question I asked
                    previously about the general practice of usury in agrarian societies in late
                    antiquity. I suspect Kloppenborg may have addressed this in his monograph,
                    but I still want to know what realistic circumstance would bring a banker
                    into the story, as it is told in L 65. It's not that such a thing is
                    completely impossible, but it still seems incongruous to have a money lender
                    getting involved in an agricultural matter. I need some hints, please.

                     

                    Do you think that it has to be a money lender per se? Is it possible that the term might be used to refer to anyone who lends money for interest, rather than just for someone who does this for a profession?

                     

                    Judy



                    --

                    Judy Redman
                    PhD Candidate, School of Humanities
                    University of New England
                    Armidale 2351 Australia
                    ph:  +61 2 6773 3401
                    mob: 0437 044 579
                    web: 
                     http://judyredman.wordpress.com/
                    email: 
                     jredman2@...
                     

                    _,___

                  • Rick Hubbard
                    ... the term might ... for ... I have no idea. Something makes me think you have some ideas about this, so maybe you can take some time to expand? Rick ... Of
                    Message 9 of 13 , Apr 10, 2010
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                      Judy asked:
                      ||
                      ||Do you think that it has to be a money lender per se? Is it possible that
                      the term might
                      ||be used to refer to anyone who lends money for interest, rather than just
                      for
                      ||someone who does this for a profession?
                      ||

                      I have no idea. Something makes me think you have some ideas about this, so
                      maybe you can take some time to expand?

                      Rick

                      ||-----Original Message-----
                      ||From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                      Of
                      ||Judy Redman
                      ||Sent: Saturday, April 10, 2010 8:31 AM
                      ||To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                      ||Subject: RE: Rick Re: [GTh] Parable of the Wicked Tenants (L65)
                      ||
                      ||
                      ||
                      ||Rick says:
                      ||
                      ||
                      ||
                      ||
                      ||
                      ||What I really wanted to say, however, hearkens back to the question I
                      asked
                      ||previously about the general practice of usury in agrarian societies in
                      late antiquity. I
                      ||suspect Kloppenborg may have addressed this in his monograph, but I still
                      want to
                      ||know what realistic circumstance would bring a banker into the story, as
                      it is told in L
                      ||65. It's not that such a thing is completely impossible, but it still
                      seems incongruous to
                      ||have a money lender getting involved in an agricultural matter. I need
                      some hints,
                      ||please.
                      ||
                      ||
                      ||
                      ||Do you think that it has to be a money lender per se? Is it possible that
                      the term might
                      ||be used to refer to anyone who lends money for interest, rather than just
                      for
                      ||someone who does this for a profession?
                      ||
                      ||
                      ||
                      ||Judy
                      ||
                      ||
                      ||
                      ||--
                      ||
                      ||Judy Redman
                      ||PhD Candidate, School of Humanities
                      ||University of New England
                      ||Armidale 2351 Australia
                      ||ph: +61 2 6773 3401
                      ||mob: 0437 044 579
                      ||web: http://judyredman.wordpress.com/
                      ||email: jredman2@... <mailto:jredman@...>
                      ||
                      ||
                      ||_,___
                      ||
                      ||
                    • Bob Schacht
                      ... Think of tenant farmers, who owe an annual rent to their landlord. If they owe, say, 10% of their harvest, then no problem. But what if the landlord
                      Message 10 of 13 , Apr 10, 2010
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                        At 04:17 AM 4/10/2010, Rick Hubbard wrote:
                         

                        ...What I really wanted to say, however, hearkens back to the question I asked
                        previously about the general practice of usury in agrarian societies in late
                        antiquity. I suspect Kloppenborg may have addressed this in his monograph,
                        but I still want to know what realistic circumstance would bring a banker
                        into the story, as it is told in L 65. It's not that such a thing is
                        completely impossible, but it still seems incongruous to have a money lender
                        getting involved in an agricultural matter. I need some hints, please.

                        Rick

                        Think of tenant farmers, who owe an annual rent to their landlord. If they owe, say, 10% of their harvest, then no problem. But what if the landlord demands a fixed amount per year? What do they do in a bad year?

                        This also has to do with the extent to which the economy has been monetized. If the tenants can pay in kind, then there may be no need for a "usurer".  But if the rent is monetized, then the tenant has to convert his crop to money to pay the rent, and if he's had a bad year, or does not manage his harvest well, then he has to make up the difference somehow.

                        Absentee Roman landlords living in cities like Sepphoris or Tiberias would probably want to collect their rents in money, whereas traditional landlords living out in the rural towns might be satisfied with rent in kind.

                        Bob in AZ
                      • Michael Grondin
                        ... The problem with this suggestion is that the ordinary meaning IS the pejorative meaning. My paperback OAD, for example, lists only the pejorative
                        Message 11 of 13 , Apr 10, 2010
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                          Rick wrote:
                          > Perhaps it would less confusing ... to adopt the terms "pejorative"
                          > and "ordinary" to replace "contemporary" and "archaic", respectively.
                          > For one thing usury is not always a pejorative term in contemporary
                          > usage (banking laws in many states are still known as "usury laws")
                          > and during antiquity "usury" seems to have had both an "ordinary
                          > sense" and a "pejorative" sense as Judy pointed out in her note.

                          The problem with this suggestion is that the "ordinary" meaning IS
                          the pejorative meaning. My paperback OAD, for example, lists only the
                          pejorative meaning. What this implies is that one can't use the word
                          'usurer' without invoking the pejorative meaning in the minds of the
                          readers/listeners. You'd have to go to special pains to get around this.
                          Maybe ordinary (pejorative) vs. legal (non-pejorative)?

                          > ... it ... seems incongruous to have a money lender getting involved
                          > in an agricultural matter.

                          I agree that it's incongruous, and I think that's another reason to reject
                          the suggestion of XRHSTHS. The nearest modern-day analogy I can
                          think of to the situation pictured in the parable is share-cropping,
                          wherein "a tenant farmer pays part of his crop as rent to the owner"
                          (OAD), but there's no money-lending inherent in that situation.

                          Yet another reason to reject 'money-lender' is that if the owner was a
                          money-lender, he's got to be the worst one in recorded history. Even
                          after two of his servant-emissaries are viciously beaten when they go
                          to collect his agreed-upon due, he doesn't send a goon squad to
                          enforce the agreement, but instead sends his son _by himself_ for
                          one more try. Talk about being delusionally-optimistic! This behavior
                          just doesn't fit the description 'money-lender'. It does, however, fit an
                          overly-kind man who can't believe that others aren't as good-hearted
                          as he is.

                          Keeping in mind also that the Gospel of Thomas is no more an
                          impartial record than any other gospel, L65 (as they worded it)
                          must have had a relationship to their belief-system. Yet there's
                          no apparent interest in GTh in economic reform.

                          Mike
                          p.s.: For non-States-siders, 'OAD' is Oxford American Dictionary.
                        • Rick Hubbard
                          My curiosity about the characterization of the XRHSTOS/XRHSTHS in L 65 has taken me away from looking at lexical resources that might help build a case for one
                          Message 12 of 13 , Apr 11, 2010
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                            My curiosity about the characterization of the XRHSTOS/XRHSTHS in L 65 has
                            taken me away from looking at lexical resources that might help build a case
                            for one or the other to an examination of secondary literature dealing with
                            the economic environment of Roman Palestine during the first century.

                            As I have written earlier, I have been flummoxed about why a money-lender
                            would have any involvement in an agricultural enterprise. The answer that
                            comes to mind after examining the admittedly limited resources that I have
                            available is that the circumstances described in this story are consistent
                            with an apparently common situation in the in which wealthy urbanites were
                            land-holders of a great deal of agricultural acreage. As understand it,
                            these city dwellers came into possession of these properties not through
                            direct investment (in hope of a return on the investment), but via the route
                            of foreclosure on defaulted loans.

                            It was not uncommon, from what I have been able to determine, for
                            agricultural producers to seek loans, especially in the aftermath of poor
                            growing seasons. These loans apparently could take the form of either
                            hard-currency (coinage) or produce (in-kind loans). The latter were
                            frequently provided by other land owners whose crops were more abundant
                            while the former (currency loans) were likely provided by urbanites. In
                            either case, the borrowers land would have been the collateral for the loan.

                            Specific data on the interest rates has been a little hard to come by,
                            however rates seemed to have ranged from one-third to one-half of the face
                            amount of the loan. There are also indications that the interest rates were
                            lower on coinage than on produce loans. "Late fees" were sometimes 100% of
                            the loan!

                            Bill Arnal's book, _Jesus and the Village Scribes_, devotes an entire
                            chapter to the "Socio-economics of Roman Galilee" (pp97-155). Citing the
                            results of a host of studies and including references to primary sources
                            from the period Arnal writes:

                            "It is something of a commonplace that debt levels were increasing among
                            free rural small holders [in Roman Palestine] throughout the first century
                            and that this increase resulted in the concentration of land among wealthy
                            creditors" (Arnal, 2001, p. 143).

                            One might suspect, after reading the chapter cited above, that such was the
                            condition presupposed in L 65 (i.e., that the XRHSTOS/XRHSTHS had gained
                            ownership of the vineyard by foreclosure on a debt).

                            Nevertheless, even if that was indeed the state of affairs presupposed in
                            the story, it is only this **circumstantial** evidence that supports the
                            reading of XRHSTHS in the opening phrase of L65.

                            As a side note, I earlier remarked that it might be worth investigating
                            whether the word XRHSTOS (usually translated as "good man") might have a
                            broader range of meaning that could include a sarcastic sense of "big-shot".
                            I haven't pursued this, but I noticed an intriguing footnote in Bill's book
                            (p130, n110) that references an article by F.G. Bailey "The Peasant View of
                            the Bad Life" in _Peasants and Peasant Societies_ (T. Shanin, Blackwell,
                            1989 p 287) where he invokes the term "big-shot"). Shanin's book is
                            sufficiently obscure that I have little hope of finding in locally, but I
                            certainly would like to learn more.

                            Rick
                          • Judy Redman
                            ... the term might ... for ... and Rick responded: I have no idea. Something makes me think you have some ideas about this, so maybe you can take some time to
                            Message 13 of 13 , Apr 12, 2010
                            • 0 Attachment
                              Judy asked:
                              ||
                              ||Do you think that it has to be a money lender per se? Is it possible that
                              the term might
                              ||be used to refer to anyone who lends money for interest, rather than just
                              for
                              ||someone who does this for a profession?
                              ||

                              and Rick responded:

                              I have no idea. Something makes me think you have some ideas about this, so
                              maybe you can take some time to expand?

                              and Judy answers:

                              What I was thinking was this:

                              It seems that the expected Jewish practice was to lend (at least to other
                              Jews) without charging interest, yet it was also common for people to lend
                              and expect the loan to be repaid with interest. In a previous post, you
                              suggested that other farmers who had had better years might make a loan in
                              kind and expect to be repaid with interest. Such a person might well be
                              described as XRHSTHS - an usurer in the classic, non-pejorative sense of the
                              word, without being a professional money-lender. In non-Jewish circles,
                              lending to a neighbour to help him out, but expecting interest on the loan
                              would not have been considered in the same negative light as it was in
                              Jewish society, which might go some way to explaining the rather (or
                              extremely) naive behaviour that the person exhibited in sending his son when
                              the tenants had beaten up.

                              Looking at the actual text (which I hadn't done), this doesn't quite fit,
                              but it might be possible that XRHSTHS is a term for someone who lends
                              anything (not just money), expecting interest in return, but not necessarily
                              exorbitant amounts of interest. The owner of the vineyard could certainly be
                              seen to be lending his land to the tenants so that both he and they might
                              benefit - he by getting some produce back without having to work it and they
                              by also (one assumes) being able to get some produce without having to have
                              the money to buy land in the first place. If that is the case, then XRHSTHS
                              might simply be a technical term for what the man is doing, rather than
                              saying that he is nasty. The neutrality of the term in the mind of the
                              author of GosThom seems to be backed up by the fact that in 109, the kingdom
                              is likened to a man who, on finding a treasure in his field, lends money
                              with interest to whomever he wishes.

                              I guess the question is what truth the author of Thomas' gospel wanted his
                              readers to get from the story. I would be inclined to read the story
                              substituting RWME for the problem word, analyse the message and then try to
                              decide whether XRHSTOS or XRHSTHS makes more sense. But not at this hour of
                              night, I'm afraid. J

                              Judy



                              --

                              Judy Redman
                              PhD Candidate, School of Humanities
                              University of New England
                              Armidale 2351 Australia
                              ph: +61 2 6773 3401
                              mob: 0437 044 579
                              web: http://judyredman.wordpress.com/
                              email: <mailto:jredman@...> jredman2@...




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