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Re: [John_Lit] water jugs

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  • Yuri Kuchinsky
    On Wed, 6 Mar 2002, Jack Kilmon wrote: [Yuri:] ... [Paul:] ... Hello, Paul, The standard Greek text of course says METRHTHS DUO HE TREIS, as Jack Kilmon has
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 8 8:34 AM
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      On Wed, 6 Mar 2002, Jack Kilmon wrote:

      [Yuri:]
      > > > Dear Paul,
      > > >
      > > > Could you please suggest some reason why the author of the Magdalene
      > > > Gospel would have intentionally replaced "20 or 30 gallon" jugs with "3
      > > > gallon" jugs?

      [Paul:]
      > > Certainly. If the "author" (or redactor) was aware of a tradition
      > that read > "3" rather than "20 or 30", (s)he could easily have
      > "corrected" the reading > in his manuscript. One of the tendencies of
      > copyists is to elaboration and > exaggeration. "20 or 30" sounds like
      > so much better a miracle than only 3, > and it hardly seems like a
      > corruption. After all, the Lord did perform > miracles. Why not make
      > them just a bit more miraculous? The author, being > aware of this
      > tendency, may have sought to adhere to what he believed to be > the
      > original text.

      Hello, Paul,

      The standard Greek text of course says METRHTHS DUO HE TREIS, as Jack
      Kilmon has already helpfully noted. So the question then becomes, What did
      the translator of MG have in his/her source text? Was it METRHTHS, or
      perhaps some other word?

      But of course if one accepts your suggestion that our MG translator was
      aware of a tradition that was different from the standard canonical text,
      then it's also possible that this tradition was pre-canonical. Which is
      what my argument is all about.

      > Since there were no "gallons" in 1st century Palestine, Early English
      > translators used a "Firkin" to represent the Greek METRHTHS which was an
      > amphora equivalent to a little less than 9 gallons. The Jewish liquid
      > measurement of a "bath" was about 20-30 liters and smaller capacity "jugs"
      > were hins and logs. I am more inclined to believe a medieval translator
      > didn't know what a metrhths was.

      KJV actually has "two or three firkins" here.

      John 2
      6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone,
      after the manner of the purifying of the Jews,
      containing two or three firkins apiece.

      And New KJV has "twenty or thirty gallons" in this verse.

      As to Jack's suggestion that this variant reading was merely a
      mistranslation by the medieval translator, this is undermined somewhat by
      the fact that some further details in MG story are inconsistent with this.
      Namely, the same Chapter 10 includes the following,

      "9 And Jesus told them to take them up,
      and to carry them to him who was the chief
      of the feast. 10 And they took them up,
      and carried them over."

      So this looks like the servants are carrying the jugs, themselves, over to
      "the chief of the feast", rather than just a sample of the wine, like in
      the canonical version of the story. But this is only possible if the jugs
      are quite small.

      Regards,

      Yuri.

      Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- http://www.trends.ca/~yuku

      What are the things of long ago? Tell us, that we may
      reflect on them, and know their outcome; or declare
      to us the things to come -=O=- Isaiah 41:22
    • Yuri Kuchinsky
      Dear friends, In this post I will compare 3 versions of that famous incident of Jesus turning water into wine -- the canonical version, the Magdalene Gospel
      Message 2 of 6 , Mar 9 8:31 AM
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        Dear friends,

        In this post I will compare 3 versions of that famous incident of Jesus
        turning water into wine -- the canonical version, the Magdalene Gospel
        version, and also a very interesting version as found in the Dutch
        Diatessaron (the Liege Gospel). This Liege Gospel was of course the text
        that WL Petersen has extensively compared with the Hebrew Gospel of
        Matthew (Shem-Tob's text), and found lots of special and sometimes unique
        parallels between the two.

        These comparisons aim to establish, among other things, that MG and the
        Liege share a large number of textual parallels against the canonical
        text. And this seems to indicate that these similarities come from a
        shared common source, which was most likely an Old Latin Diatessaron, now
        lost. (Of course, these similarities may also go even further back, and so
        they may even be resulting from common dependence on a very ancient
        Semitic-language source, now lost.)

        First, here's the canonical version for reference.

        John 2:1-11 :: Revised Standard Version (RSV)

        1 On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in
        Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there;
        2 Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his
        disciples.
        3 When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to
        him, "They have no wine."
        4 And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you
        to do with me? My hour has not yet come."
        5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he
        tells you."
        6 Now six stone jars were standing there, for the
        Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or
        thirty gallons.
        7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And
        they filled them up to the brim.
        8 He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take
        it to the steward of the feast." So they took it.
        9 When the steward of the feast tasted the water
        now become wine, and did not know where it came
        from (though the servants who had drawn the water
        knew), the steward of the feast called the
        bridegroom
        10 and said to him, "Every man serves the good
        wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the
        poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until
        now."
        11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in
        Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples
        believed in him. (221 words)

        ____________

        And now, the Magdalene Gospel version of this story. Here, I put MG
        Special Material in capitals letters.

        THE MAGDALENE GOSPEL
        10 # How Jesus Made Wine Out Of Water.

        1 On the third day Jesus CAME TO Galilee, and was LED to a FEAST, with his
        disciples. And his mother was there. 2 And IT CAME TO PASS that THERE
        failed wine. 3 And his mother said to him that they had no wine. 4 And
        Jesus said that the hour (ms?) has not yet come THAT [he] SHOULD SHOW HIS
        POWER. 5 And then his mother said to the servants that they should do all
        that he tells them to do. 6 Now, there were six jars that the GOOD MAN AND
        ALL THE MEN WASHED FROM, each holding THREE gallons. 7 And Jesus told them
        that they should fill them full of water. 8 And they filled them full
        RIGHT AWAY. 9 And Jesus told them to take THEM UP, AND TO CARRY THEM TO
        HIM WHO WAS THE CHIEF OF THE FEAST. 10 And they took THEM UP, AND CARRIED
        THEM OVER. 11 And as soon as THE GOOD MAN had drank thereof, he called the
        BUTLER, and said to him, "Every wise man serves the BEST wine first, and
        when men are [already] drunk, then HE SERVES the one that is NOT AS GOOD.
        12 And you have kept the BEST wine even until now." 13 This WAS the first
        MIRACLE that Jesus did. 14 And BECAUSE OF THAT his disciples believed in
        him. (215 words)

        As we can see, the Magdalene version is very similar in length to the
        canonical version (221 words vs. 215 words). There's a lot of shared
        material there, as well as some seeming expansions, although these
        expansions tend to be quite different in the two versions.

        The biggest and the most striking difference in MG is that, in this text,
        this is not a wedding, and it's not taking place at Cana. So this is just
        a feast that Jesus has been invited to.

        Also, the harsh words that Jesus uses in the canonical version to address
        his mother are absent in MG.

        The size of the water jugs is also different, of course, however is this
        to be explained. In MG 10:6, they are 3 gallons, while in the canonical Jn
        2:6 they are "20 or 30 gallons". Normally, this more modest size of the
        jugs should be counted as an indicator of primitivity for the Magdalene
        version.

        In connection with this, also to be noted is the detail that, in MG, the
        servants take the jugs together with the wine to be tasted by the "chief
        of the feast". While, in the canonical Jn, only some wine is taken to be
        tasted. This seems to indicate that the smaller size of the jugs is an
        integral part of MG narrative, and not just some sort of a mistake in the
        manuscript.

        Another striking difference in MG is that it's the "chief of the feast"
        who is in charge of this whole affair, and not merely a
        "steward/headwaiter", like in the canonical Jn. The importance of this
        detail is that, as a result, in MG, the story appears to be a lot more
        coherent and logical. Indeed, logically, how can it be that the
        "headwaiter" can chide the groom for keeping the best wine for the last?
        Shouldn't this be the other way around, since it is the headwaiter,
        himself, who should have normally been in charge of the wine? And so, in
        the Magdalene text it is indeed the "chief of the feast" who chides the
        butler/headwaiter for keeping the best wine until later. And, importantly,
        this narrative detail is also supported by the Dutch text. (Of course,
        since in MG the feast is not a wedding, there is no "groom" involved in
        this story at all.)

        ____________

        And now, here's the Middle Dutch text of this story. This medieval Liege
        Diatessaron is a lot better studied, compared to the Magdalene Gospel. It
        is also included in the apparatus of the standard Nestle-Aland Greek
        gospels. Two English translations of this gospel have been published.

        I have now counted 10 special parallels between MG and the Liege. They are
        numbered in the text below, and then commented upon later.

        THE LIEGE DIATESSARON; the English translation as printed in D. Plooij
        edition, Koninklijke Akademie Wetenschappente, Amsterdam, 1929-1970, pp.
        99-103. (This monumental work can be found in most large academic
        libraries, although it's not listed under "Plooij". Rather, it came out as
        part of the Proceedings of the Royal Dutch Academy, vol. 31.)

        ____________

        One day there was a wedding feast in a city which was called Chana, in the
        land of Galilee, and there was Mary, Jesus' mother. Jesus and his
        disciples were also called there to the feast. (1) It happened at this
        wedding that (2) there lacked wine. Then Jesus' mother spoke to him and
        said, "They lack wine". And Jesus answered her, "Woman, what have I in
        common with thee? Mine hour is not yet come".

        [Omit an 11 line theological expansion about the right interpretation of
        this remark, and about Jesus' humanity vs. his divinity.]

        Then his mother spoke to those that were serving there and said, "Whatever
        he says to you, do that". There stood six stone jars, which had been set
        there after the manner of the Jews, (3) who used to do their purification
        in such vessels. Those held as much as two or three measures. Then Jesus
        said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water". And they did so, and
        filled them to the brim. "Now scoop and (4) carry it to (5) the master of
        the house", and they did so. And when the master of the house tasted of
        the wine that had been made of water, and knew not how it had happened,
        (but the servants knew it well, who had filled the jars with water), the
        master of the house asked for the bridegroom and said to him thus, "Every
        man is wont to give first the (6) best wine, and after that, when they
        have drunk of this, he gives wine of his which is weaker. But thou has
        kept thy (7) best wine until now". (8) This was one of the first (9)
        miracles that Jesus did in Chana of Galilee, and there he revealed his
        divine power. And (10) therewith his disciples were strengthened in the
        faith. (280 words)

        So here are these 10 parallels, together with some comments.

        #1
        MG: And IT CAME TO PASS
        LIEGE DT: It happened at this wedding

        This sort of a detail is a very conventional detail as used by traditional
        storytellers. It looks like this may have been quite a primitive detail.

        #2
        MG: that THERE failed wine
        LIEGE DT: that there lacked wine

        Exact parallel in these two passages with the word "there". In his notes,
        Plooij does draw attention to this MG variant. And he also supplies a
        parallel for this in Ephrem the Syrian.

        #3
        MG: the GOOD MAN AND ALL THE MEN WASHED FROM
        LIEGE DT: the Jews, who used to do their purification

        Although the parallel is not exact here, still, these two expansions seem
        to be in parallel overall. The canonical version lacks any of these
        details.

        #4
        MG: CARRY THEM (used twice in MG)
        LIEGE DT: carry it

        A pretty close parallel here with this specific word "to carry". In the
        canonical version, we find "to take".

        #5
        MG: THE CHIEF OF THE FEAST
        LIEGE DT: the master of the house

        A very important parallel. For some reason, Plooij omits this parallel
        between the Liege and MG in his notes.

        #6
        MG: the BEST wine
        LIEGE DT: the best wine

        An exact parallel here. Again, Plooij omits this parallel with MG in his
        notes. And yet he comments that the Liege version of this story does not
        really involve any drunkenness. (In the Liege, this seems like one of
        those later encratistic/ascetic expansions that the Diatessaron is
        believed to feature, as noted by numerous scholars.)

        #7
        MG: the BEST wine
        LIEGE DT: thy best wine

        Again, an exact parallel with the word "best". Not noted by Plooij.

        #8
        MG: This WAS
        LIEGE DT: This was

        Again, like in #1, we have a much simpler grammatical construction here
        both in MG and in the Liege. Such a turn of phrase seems more primitive
        than what we find in the canonical version.

        Plooij does cite MG here, and also notes a number of additional parallels
        with some Old Latin mss.

        #9
        MG: MIRACLE
        LIEGE DT: miracles

        This parallel seems quite important (not noted by Plooij). In my view, the
        more primitive version of this story didn't yet have this rather odd word
        "sign".

        #10
        MG: BECAUSE OF THAT
        LIEGE DT: therewith

        This parallel is pretty close (not noted by Plooij). Such a turn of
        phrase, i.e. saying that the disciples believed _because_ of the miracle,
        seems quite simple and rather primitive.
        __________

        In his notes, Plooij also cites plenty of other parallels between the
        Liege and various ancient sources, such as versions of Ephrem's
        COMMENTARY, a wide variety of gospel and Diatessaron mss, Irenaeus, the
        COMMENTARY by Zacharias Chrysopolitanus, etc. To me, this indicates that
        the Liege is based on a version of an Old Latin Diatessaron that had
        plenty of parallels with the texts that were quite common in the Ancient
        Near East. And yet, most likely, this was a more developed version of the
        Old Latin Diatessaron, compared to the one which served as the basis for
        the Magdalene Gospel.

        MG is cited by Plooij very often indeed (perhaps hundreds of times)
        throughout this whole edition of the Dutch Diatessaron. And yet, as we
        have seen, he also misses plenty of still other parallels between the
        Liege and MG.

        These close textual parallels between MG and the Liege seem to indicate
        that both texts ultimately derive from some mysterious pre-canonical
        version of the Gospel of John. And the same can of course be said in
        regard to the other 3 NT gospels.

        Best wishes,

        Yuri.

        Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- http://www.trends.ca/~yuku

        What are the things of long ago? Tell us, that we may
        reflect on them, and know their outcome; or declare
        to us the things to come -=O=- Isaiah 41:22
      • Paul Schmehl
        ... From: Yuri Kuchinsky To: Sent: Friday, March 08, 2002 10:34 AM Subject: Re: [John_Lit] water jugs
        Message 3 of 6 , Mar 9 9:30 AM
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          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Yuri Kuchinsky" <yuku@...>
          To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Friday, March 08, 2002 10:34 AM
          Subject: Re: [John_Lit] water jugs
          >
          > Hello, Paul,
          >
          > The standard Greek text of course says METRHTHS DUO HE TREIS, as Jack
          > Kilmon has already helpfully noted. So the question then becomes, What did
          > the translator of MG have in his/her source text? Was it METRHTHS, or
          > perhaps some other word?
          >
          > But of course if one accepts your suggestion that our MG translator was
          > aware of a tradition that was different from the standard canonical text,
          > then it's also possible that this tradition was pre-canonical. Which is
          > what my argument is all about.

          This is the part of your argument that bothers me the most. It is equally
          possible that this tradition is post-canonical. ISTM that your tendency is
          to assume early provenance if no evidence supports late provenance.
          Essentially it's an argument from silence, which is by far the weakest
          argument one can make.
          >
          [snipped]
          >
          > As to Jack's suggestion that this variant reading was merely a
          > mistranslation by the medieval translator, this is undermined somewhat by
          > the fact that some further details in MG story are inconsistent with this.
          > Namely, the same Chapter 10 includes the following,
          >
          > "9 And Jesus told them to take them up,
          > and to carry them to him who was the chief
          > of the feast. 10 And they took them up,
          > and carried them over."
          >
          > So this looks like the servants are carrying the jugs, themselves, over to
          > "the chief of the feast", rather than just a sample of the wine, like in
          > the canonical version of the story. But this is only possible if the jugs
          > are quite small.
          >
          Why is it only possible if they were quite small? 1) You're assuming the
          servants couldn't carry large jugs full of wine and 2) you're assuming that
          each servant carried one jug. What if they had devised a carrier that could
          hold multiple jugs, with extensions so that several servants could carry
          them? I'm not saying it's true, mind you, merely that it's possible. Again
          I think this points out the weakness of arguments from silence. If we don't
          *know* how it was done, there is no warrant to *assume* certain parameters.
          ISTM there is so much speculation in your arguments that I remain thoroughly
          unconvinced.

          Paul Schmehl pauls@...
          pschmehl@...
          http://www.utdallas.edu/~pauls/
        • Yuri Kuchinsky
          ... Paul, I don t agree that it s equally possible that this tradition is post-canonical. I think that, for a number of reasons, the chances are greater that
          Message 4 of 6 , Mar 11 9:48 AM
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            On Sat, 9 Mar 2002, Paul Schmehl wrote:

            > ----- Original Message -----
            > From: "Yuri Kuchinsky" <yuku@...>
            > To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
            > Sent: Friday, March 08, 2002 10:34 AM
            > Subject: Re: [John_Lit] water jugs
            > >
            > > Hello, Paul,
            > >
            > > The standard Greek text of course says METRHTHS DUO HE TREIS, as Jack
            > > Kilmon has already helpfully noted. So the question then becomes, What did
            > > the translator of MG have in his/her source text? Was it METRHTHS, or
            > > perhaps some other word?
            > >
            > > But of course if one accepts your suggestion that our MG translator was
            > > aware of a tradition that was different from the standard canonical text,
            > > then it's also possible that this tradition was pre-canonical. Which is
            > > what my argument is all about.
            >
            > This is the part of your argument that bothers me the most. It is
            > equally possible that this tradition is post-canonical. ISTM that
            > your tendency is to assume early provenance if no evidence supports
            > late provenance. Essentially it's an argument from silence, which is
            > by far the weakest argument one can make.

            Paul,

            I don't agree that it's equally possible that this tradition is
            post-canonical. I think that, for a number of reasons, the chances are
            greater that it's pre-canonical.

            > > As to Jack's suggestion that this variant reading was merely a
            > > mistranslation by the medieval translator, this is undermined somewhat by
            > > the fact that some further details in MG story are inconsistent with this.
            > > Namely, the same Chapter 10 includes the following,
            > >
            > > "9 And Jesus told them to take them up,
            > > and to carry them to him who was the chief
            > > of the feast. 10 And they took them up,
            > > and carried them over."
            > >
            > > So this looks like the servants are carrying the jugs, themselves, over to
            > > "the chief of the feast", rather than just a sample of the wine, like in
            > > the canonical version of the story. But this is only possible if the jugs
            > > are quite small.
            >
            > Why is it only possible if they were quite small? 1) You're assuming
            > the servants couldn't carry large jugs full of wine and 2) you're
            > assuming that each servant carried one jug. What if they had devised
            > a carrier that could hold multiple jugs, with extensions so that
            > several servants could carry them? I'm not saying it's true, mind
            > you, merely that it's possible. Again I think this points out the
            > weakness of arguments from silence. If we don't *know* how it was
            > done, there is no warrant to *assume* certain parameters. ISTM there
            > is so much speculation in your arguments that I remain thoroughly
            > unconvinced.

            Well, my only point here is that the smaller size of jugs in MG is
            consistent with the rest of the story, as we find it in MG. So this
            decreases the chances that this was some sort of a mistranslation by a
            medieval translator.

            Of course they could have had a whole army of servants carrying such huge
            jugs around, but this is not what our texts are really indicating.

            Best wishes,

            Yuri.

            Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- http://www.trends.ca/~yuku

            The goal proposed by Cynic philosophy is apathy, which is
            equivalent to becoming God -=O=- Julian
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