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158[HJMatMeth] Re: Greek Q and Aramaic Jesus

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  • John Dominic Crossan
    Mar 1, 2000
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      You ask, Brian, "why the lack of efforts to bridge the linguistic gap [from
      Greek to Aramaic] and reconstitute Jesus' own words?" My best guess is that
      is that most of the retrojections from Greek texts that we have (or
      reconstruct, if we are talking about Q) have been so linguistically insecure
      and/or so historically uninteresting that they have never created a wider
      tradition of scholarship. On the one hand, the debate between two such
      experts as Vermes and Fitzmyer on the Jewish Aramaic background of son of
      man, seems to me to have been more convincingly argued by the latter than
      the former. If we were sure that the Jewish Aramaic phrase "son of man," at
      the time of Jesus, meant "I myself" in an exclusive sense (as distinct from
      "we ourselves" including, but in no way emphasizing, the speaker), we might
      have one very clear example of how a retrojection from Greek to Aramaic
      could be of great significance. But all the examples cited by Vermes can (at
      least) be read in that corporate sense. On the other hand, if you read the
      careful reconstruction of a presumed Aramaic behind the "Our Father" in
      Fitzmyer's double-volume commentary on Luke (p. 901), you do not find any
      particular new information given there than is available in the Greek. The
      Greek term we translate as "daily"is unclear in Greek and just as unclear in
      any possible Aramaic substratum. I suppose the question you would ask is
      whether, be it in English, Greek, or Aramaic (let us presume Jesus spoke
      Aramaic and Fitzmyer got it exactly right) we have any shortcuts to
      understanding what those heavy-duty terms such as "kingdom of god" or "son
      of man" meant by retrojecting from Greek to Aramaic. On your specific
      example of Jesus' Aramaic "kingdom of WHAT?,"I leave open whether he would
      have said "Kingdom of God" or "Kingdom of (the) heaven(s)" or "Kingdom of
      the Father" and see no very clear way of deciding between them. I also see
      no immediate difference between those referents and would still have to
      interpret them within his wider vision/program.

      >From: "Brian McCarthy" <brmcc@...>
      >To: "hj materials" <hjmaterialsmethodolgy@...>
      >Subject: [HJMatMeth] Greek Q and Aramaic Jesus
      >Date: Tue, Feb 29, 2000, 12:07 AM

      > Dom,
      > As we come to the end of this many-sided discussion, a big word of thanks to
      > you and to Jeffrey and Mahlon.
      > Here is my final question: I have not followed Q studies in detail, the SBL
      > Q Seminar, the International Q Project etc. But each time i have come across
      > some Q discussion it has always concerned some Greek entity.
      > This is fine for gospel experts, who are working back from Greek texts--and
      > whose Greek in most cases is probably far better than their Aramaic--but
      > how can Questers justify the great unbalance between, on the one hand, the
      > major investment of energy in Greek Q and on the other the
      > lack--comparative? total?--of attempts to bridge the
      > the chasm between Greek Q and Jesus' popular teaching, presumably in Aramaic
      > (or Hebrew, or a mix)?
      > For example what Aramaic lay behind the tou theou of he basileia
      > tou theou? Was it the equivalent i) of El or Elohim or of
      > ii) or YHWH (or one of its pious replacements)?
      > The questions would then arise of i) the possible implications of
      > Jesus' choice of one of these alternatives over the other, and ii)
      > of the fact that we probably cannot determine which he chose?
      > But this is simply an example and should not distract from the basic
      > question of why the lack of efforts to bridge the linguistic gap and
      > reconstitute Jesus' own words?
      > Brian McCarthy, Madison WI
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