10032Re: [Synoptic-L] Re: The same Aramaic word "cleanse"?
- May 9, 2005Ron,
Sorry it's taken so long to get back you on this. Busy week.
> Ken Olson wrote:RP:> Ken,
>>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.
> My only point was that Kloppenborg had overstated his case here byYes, you can get around JSKV's point by positing further hypotheticals. As
> ignoring the possibility of a scribal variation.
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. TheOK; I will clarify this by saying that Luke's changing KAQARISON to DOTE
> variety of English translations shows that this is not the case. NRSV
> 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
> 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
> for charity", which would make a sort of sense, but doesn't match the
> 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
> 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
> indeed the "you build" in 11:48 also doesn't make proper sense and is
> another candidate for mistranslation).
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.Good.
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. YourI find your 'point of view' much odder than I find the 'co-incidence' of the
> understanding still leaves the odd co-incidence of the similarity of the
> Aramaic words for "cleanse" and "give alms".
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
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:
KALON POIHSAI ELEHMOSUNHN H QHSAURISAI CRUSION. ELEHMOSUNH GAR EK QANATOU
RUETAI, KAI hAUTH APOKAQARIEI PASAN hAMARTIAN.
"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 revealingHooker then goes on to say: "This impression may be accidental, but it is of
> 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)
> 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.
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.
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
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