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10033Re: [Synoptic-L] The same Aramaic word "cleanse"?

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  • Ron Price
    May 10, 2005
      Ken Olson wrote:

      > 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

      Ken,

      You seem to have missed one: (4) by showing that the hypothetical source is
      internally so inconsistent and incoherent that it could never have existed
      as a stand-alone source.

      > 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;

      "not much" implies that there is *some* evidence. How would anyone make the
      judgement that the 'some' is not enough?

      > 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.

      Do you think Theophilus or Luke's other original readers would have
      understood it? I doubt it.

      > But there is no obvious reason that
      > Luke's wooden (mis-)translation of Dakkau/Zakkau should lead him to
      > introduce the 'nonsensical' TA ENONTA.

      I agree that origin of the plural is not obvious. But the meaning "what is
      inside" could have derived from the same Aramaic word (whatever that was)
      which Matt 23:26 translates as TO ENTOS.

      > If he's going to make a free translation, why not one that makes sense?

      As a master of the Greek language eager to convince both his patron and his
      readers, Luke rarely wrote anything that doesn't make complete sense. Of
      course thanks to Mark G., we know Luke occasionally suffered from 'fatigue',
      which produces a rather distinctive type of error. Working from Aramaic
      would have given Luke another potential way of going wrong, especially if he
      had a less than perfect grasp of that language, and a degree of respect for
      the wording of the source as he perceived it.

      > 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.

      Surely the key to the original meaning is to be found in Matthew's version.
      There the scribes and Pharisees are presented as admitting that they are
      descendants of those who murdered the prophets, and that confirms their
      guilt by the peculiar logic that the descendants will behave like the
      ancestors. So replacing "you build" by "you are their children" does
      introduce the sort of twisted logic which was in Matthew and (I would argue)
      also in the Aramaic original.

      > 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.

      There still seems to me to be an awkwardness in the Greek, i.e. the absence
      of an explicit object corresponding to "you build", though admittedly I
      don't know whether someone more fluent in Greek would perceive this as
      awkward or as natural.

      > Casey reconstructs the original Aramaic source .......

      I think Casey should be commended for putting serious effort into trying to
      bridge the gulf between the Greek New Testament and a presumably
      Aramaic-speaking Jesus, a gulf on which the most popular synoptic theories
      fail to shed any light whatsoever.

      However some of the scholarly comments on Casey's books on Mark and on Q
      have been quite harsh, which doesn't encourage confidence in his
      reconstructions. Also he claimed an Aramaic origin for a Markan text which I
      believe I can show to have been dependent on another Greek text. What I
      would like to see is other Aramaic experts writing on the same problems (as
      opposed to directly criticizing Casey), to find out to what extent there is
      agreement between them.

      > 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.

      Because there are several candidate cases for mistranslation, Occam's razor
      can't be applied to this case in isolation.

      Also if Luke was working entirely in Greek, a domain over which he had
      indisputable mastery, why did he produce a woe which is so difficult to
      understand, in contrast with e.g. the following which, though peculiar and
      difficult to accept, are fairly easy to understand? :

      > "It is better to give alms than to amass gold. For almsgiving delivers from
      > death and cleans away every sin"
      >
      > "As water extinguishes a blazing fire, so almsgiving atones for sin"

      .........................

      > 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.

      You make some good points here.

      > 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.

      To be fair my case is not as consistent as this. For EN TH DIDACH AUTOU in
      4:2 introduces the parable of the sower which is not in sQ. So here I take
      it as an attempt to legitimize a parable which Mark had just invented.

      However the many references to "teacher" and "teaching", which you rightly
      emphasize, ought to raise the question: "If Jesus was such a prolific
      teacher, why (on 2ST & FT) didn't James et al. publish Jesus' teaching
      during the 30 years between 30 CE and 60 CE?" This seems to me to be a
      *major* problem for the standard synoptic theories, yet it vanishes on the
      3ST where, lo and behold, they *do* publish Jesus' teaching ca. 45 CE and we
      can reconstruct it from the synoptics.

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

      Glad you think it's a good thing!

      Ron Price

      Derbyshire, UK

      Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm


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