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10032Re: [Synoptic-L] Re: The same Aramaic word "cleanse"?

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  • Ken Olson
    May 9, 2005
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      Sorry it's taken so long to get back you on this. Busy week.

      > Ken Olson wrote:
      >>I suspect that Kloppenborg was aiming at putting forward a stronger case
      >>than Wellhausen/Black and was not overly concerned with attempting to
      >>demonstrate the impossibility of a scribal error in a hypothetical source.
      RP:> Ken,
      > My only point was that Kloppenborg had overstated his case here by
      > ignoring the possibility of a scribal variation.

      Yes, you can get around JSKV's point by positing further hypotheticals. As
      far as I am aware, there is no way to demonstrate the non-existence of a
      hypothetical source, or of a hypothetical scribal error in a hypothetical
      source. One can only show the lack of evidence favoring it. I know of at
      least three ways to do that:

      (1) by showing the hypothetical source to be unnecessary

      (2) by showing that the hypothetical source does not, in fact, solve the
      problem it is hypothesized to solve

      (3) by showing that the hypothetical source involves us in further problems
      that make it less probable than other solutions to the problem it was
      hypothesized to solve

      JSKV used all of these. While he did not specifically address the
      possibility of scribal error, getting around his case that way falls under
      category (3). Tuckett, ( pp. 88, 90) and Head and Williams (pp. 15-16) have
      some relevant remarks. Daleth and Zayin are not particularly graphically
      close; there is not much evidence for them being confused in this period;
      and the scribe would have had to make pretty much the same mistake as JSKV
      said a mis-translator would. In the context of a discussion of
      cleansing/purity, and having correctly copied forms of the root "clean"
      (with Daleth) both before and after this occurrence, he would somehow have
      mistakenly written it wrong here (with a Zayin) and nobody caught or
      corrected the mistake. This is again 'not impossible', but it does raise the
      question of whether it is more probable than the idea that Luke redacted the
      Greek of Matthew (or Q).

      KO:>> The main part of the case is his argument that the text of Luke is
      >> understandable as Lukan redaction of his source .....
      RP:> If we are to widen the discussion, then I must start by challenging
      > apparent claim that the text of Luke is perfectly understandable. The
      > variety of English translations shows that this is not the case. NRSV
      > seems
      > to me about as clear as mud. To what do "those things that are within"
      > refer? How can they (whatever they are) can be given for alms? JB has
      > "give
      > alms from what you have", but "from what you have" seems a rather strained
      > reading of TA ENONTA. NEB interprets it as "let what is in the cup be
      > given
      > for charity", which would make a sort of sense, but doesn't match the
      > Greek
      > text very well. J.B.Phillips interprets it as "If you would only make the
      > inside clean by doing good to others ....." seems to be closer to your
      > understanding, but "If you would only" and "make clean" don't appear in
      > the
      > Greek, and why the plural TA ENONTA if this is what Luke meant?
      > My argument is that there is no reason why the process of redaction should
      > lead to a nonsensical sentence, whereas mistranslation could well do so
      > (and
      > indeed the "you build" in 11:48 also doesn't make proper sense and is
      > another candidate for mistranslation).

      OK; I will clarify this by saying that Luke's changing KAQARISON to DOTE
      ELEHMOSUNHN is perfectly understandable as Lukan redaction. The fact that
      translators disagree on how to interpret TA ENONTA ("the inside things") has
      more to do with the intricacies of Lukan theology than with mis-translated
      Aramaic. I have not seen anyone suggest that TA ENONTA is a close rendering
      of anything in Aramaic. I would also caution that while Luke's TA ENONTA may
      be difficult for modern interpreters to understand, that does not
      necessarily make it nonsensical.

      Earlier advocates of an Aramaic common source (Wellhausen and Black) based
      their theories on individual mis-translated words. Casey has now attempted
      to reconstruct complete Aramaic passages underlying our Greek texts. In this
      case, the problem with both approaches is that the proposed Aramaic source
      does not actually help us to a clearer understanding of the present text.
      Luke's TA ENONTA is thought to be a very free rendering of an Aramaic text
      more closely represented by Matthew. But there is no obvious reason that
      Luke's wooden (mis-)translation of Dakkau/Zakkau should lead him to
      introduce the 'nonsensical' TA ENONTA. If he's going to make a free
      translation, why not one that makes sense? And if he's rendering his source
      freely by introducing TA ENONTA, why can't it be a Greek source?

      The same principle applies to the alleged mistranslation in Lk. 11.48. The
      interpretive problem in the text is that Jesus takes the fact that his
      audience builds the tombs of the prophets whom their ancestors killed as
      evidence that they are in agreement with their ancestors. This seems to be a
      non-sequitur. We can change the text by replacing Luke's "you build" in
      11.48 with the alleged Aramaic original "you are their children" (=Mt.
      23.31). This does little to solve the problem. We still have "you build
      their tombs" in Lk. 11.47 (where it IS parallel to Mt. 23.29) being taken as
      evidence of agreement with the ancestors. Adding "you are their [i.e., your
      ancestors] children" in 11.48 would still not explain why this would
      indicate agreement with them; it replaces one form of redundancy with
      another. Further, the Greek MEN. DE construction used in Lk. 11.48 suggests
      that that feature was a product of Greek composition. I would argue that it
      is likely to have come from the same redactional hand as SUNEUDOKEITE ("you
      agree with", "you approve of"). The sense is that the children have
      collaborated with their ancestors in the deaths of the prophets. The
      ancestors, for their part, performed the actual killings, while the
      children, for their part, dug the graves. This may not seem a fair or
      reasonable interpretation of the Jesus' opponents motives for tomb-building,
      but none of our evangelists is particularly concerned with providing fair or
      reasonable interpretation of the motives of Jesus' opponents.

      Casey reconstructs the original Aramaic source for this saying as being more
      closely represented by Matthew. He believes that verse 10 in the
      hypothetical source (=Mt. 23.30) is "essential to the argument" (p. 93) but
      that Luke found it unhelpful in communicating with Gentile Christians, so he
      has dropped it as a whole (p. 94). Casey adds that it must be understood
      that the premise of Jesus' argument is that the scribes and Pharisees are
      hypocrites in venerating the prophets of old that their ancestors persecuted
      while at the same time persecuting the present day prophets. All of this may
      be so, but it does not show the necessity of positing an Aramaic source.
      These arguments will function quite nicely on the premise of Luke's use of
      Greek Matthew/Q. Casey attributes the Lukan form mostly to Luke's "vigorous
      editing" (4 times on p. 97). But if the differences between the Lukan form
      is due to Luke's editing of the source rather than to carrying over what was
      in the source, how does hypothesizing the Aramaic source help?

      KO:>> To vastly oversimplify Luke's position: almsgiving cleanses the
      >> soul or, perhaps more accurately, is the sign of a clean soul.
      RP:> I'm not going to disagree with this and your subsequent explanation of
      > Luke's position.


      RP:>From my point of view it simply made the mistranslation
      > more likely, i.e. Luke saw in the text what he wanted to see. Your
      > understanding still leaves the odd co-incidence of the similarity of the
      > Aramaic words for "cleanse" and "give alms".

      I find your 'point of view' much odder than I find the 'co-incidence' of the
      similarity of the Aramaic words.

      First, the basic point of Occam's razor is that theories require evidence.
      The essential argument for an Aramaic source behind Lk. 11.41/Mt. 23.26 is
      that the identification of almsgiving with purity could not occur in Greek
      but could occur in Aramaic. If it could plausibly occur in Greek (and I will
      show below that it could), if Luke "saw in the text what he wanted to see",
      then there is no basis for hypothesizing an Aramaic source. This does not
      prove the non-existence of an Aramaic source, it merely renders the theory
      of an Aramaic source groundless.

      Second, there is a large number of QD words. It would not be particularly
      surprising if a small fraction of them coincidentally resembled translation
      variants. However, I do not believe that such a hypothesis is necessary in
      this particular case.

      The relationship between the language of cleansing or purification and the
      language of almsgiving is not coincidental. It is a product of the cultural
      background that shaped the language. If I have understood
      Wellhausen-as-interpreted-by-Head-and-Williams correctly, Dakkau ("cleanse")
      and Zakkau ("give alms") have developed out of the same root word (p. 27;
      quoted in Head and Williams, p. 15). Actually, it isn't entirely clear to me
      whether Wellhausen is saying they developed from the same word or from
      homographs, but I'm assuming Head and Williams know what they are talking
      about. I would welcome clarification on that issue from anyone familiar with
      Aramaic philology.

      More importantly, as Kloppenborg-Verbin points out (pp. 74-75, citing Moule,
      pp. 186-187) Zakkau ("give alms"), can also have a moral sense of "be
      justified". As both Casey (p. 23) and Head and Williams (p. 17) note, Zakkau
      is translated as "give alms" when a beneficiary is mentioned for the act of
      righteousness or justification. Thus they argue that the use of Zakkau in
      passages in the Talmud (Y. Shek. 49b; Y. Taan 64b), which idiomatically mean
      "give alms to me", have the literal meaning "do righteousness with me" or
      "attain merit through me".

      This equation of almsgiving with the attainment of righteousness is not
      peculiar to Aramaic. The Greek word KAQAROJ means "clean" or "pure", and in
      Jewish usage is frequently intended in the ritual sense, but it can also
      mean these things in the moral sense of "innocent" or "guiltless." Matthew
      is using the verb form and clearly playing on both its meanings. The ritual
      purification of the cup is a metaphor for the moral purification of the
      soul. That Luke, who has less interest in Jewish observance, chooses to
      interpret it only in the moral sense is certainly understandable.

      The Greek word ELEHMOSUNH means "exercise of benevolent goodwill" (BAGD,
      315-316), though such exercise most frequently takes the form of almsgiving
      in the literature. The concept that exercise of goodwill purges sin is found
      in LXX Tobit 12.8b-9:


      "It is better to give alms than to amass gold. For almsgiving delivers from
      death and cleans away every sin"

      That almsgiving delivers from death is also expressed in Tobit 4.10. The
      general concept that almsgiving takes away one's sins can also be found in
      Sirach 3.30, though the language there differs a little bit:

      "As water extinguishes a blazing fire, so almsgiving atones for sin"

      The fact that the association of the verb KAQARIZW ("to make clean; purify")
      with the noun ELEHMOSUNH ("exercise of goodwill; almsgiving") is attested in
      Greek prior to Luke renders the hypothesis of Aramaic interference in Mt.
      23.26//Lk. 11.41 unnecessary. I suppose you could argue that our fourth and
      fifth century Greek texts of Tobit are late enough that they could be
      influenced by Luke, but I think that would be a long way to go. Further, the
      relationship among the words for ritual purity, moral purity, and acts of
      goodwill or almsgiving cannot properly be called a coincidence. It is a
      result of the fact that Jews expressed the closely related Jewish concepts
      of purity, justification and righteousness in both Aramaic and Greek.

      RP> Widening the discussion even further, I think the Farrer Theory gives a
      > less than optimum explanation of the woes. Have you noticed the revealing
      > comment by Morna Hooker on Mark 12:38 (_The Gospel According to St.Mark_,
      > p.38)? Commenting on "And in his teaching he said" (her own translation)
      > she
      > writes: "Mark's new introduction gives the impression that he has picked
      > this passage out of a longer section of teaching." This is very neatly
      > explained if Mark selected this woe from the set of seven in the early
      > sayings source of which (on other grounds) I now believe Mark had a copy.

      Hooker then goes on to say: "This impression may be accidental, but it is of
      course possible that he has done precisely that." The idea that Mark's
      introductory comment might suggest that he is drawing from a larger body of
      material also known to Matthew and Luke goes back at least as far as
      Dibelius in 1919 and is found regularly in pre-Hooker commentaries (e.g.,
      Branscomb, Taylor, Cranfield, Nineham).

      Another recent Markan commentator, C. A. Evans, rightly comments that Mk.
      12.38's "and in his teaching he was saying" continues the setting of Jesus'
      teaching in the temple established in Mk. 12.35, "and answering, Jesus was
      speaking, while teaching in the temple." The same device of reintroduction
      of setting can be seen in Mk. 4.1, 2, "Again he began to teach beside the
      sea," and "and he taught them many things in parables, and in his teaching
      he said to them. " Mark calls Jesus a teacher 12 times and refers to him
      teaching 16 times. He certainly gives the impression throughout his gospel
      that Jesus taught a great deal more than he has bothered to give us in
      direct discourse. However, there is a pretty big logical jump between this
      and the conclusion that Mark when Mark says "in his teaching he said" on two
      occasions, he means he had a particular written source of teachings of
      Jesus. Giving us one or a few items in direct discourse to represent a
      larger body that he alludes to briefly in narrative is typically Markan. He
      does it with the parables in chapter 4 and the charges against Jesus in

      On Goulder's take on the Farrer theory, Matthew takes Mark's hints that
      Jesus taught more than Mark gives us as an invitation to expand and expound
      upon the teaching in Mark. This has been a stumbling block for many,
      including several who accept Luke's use of Matthew but do not wish to accept
      that our evangelists exercised that kind of creativity with sacred
      tradition. Nevertheless, Goulder's take is no less optimal here than

      Anyway, it's a good thing you've got the other grounds to fall back on.

      Best Wishes,



      Black, Matthew, An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts (3rd ed.; 1967).

      Casey, Maurice, An Aramaic Approach to Q (2002).

      Head, Peter M. and P. J. Williams, "Q Review", currently available at:


      Kloppenborg, John S., The Formation of Q (1987).

      Kloppenborg-Verbin, John S., Excavating Q (2000).

      Moule, C. F. D., An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek (1953).

      Tuckett, Christopher M., Q and the History of Early Christianity (1996).

      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
      List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
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