OK. Another delayed response from me. Sorry for reproducing so much of the
previous discussion. I have marked my new additions with *KO (an asterisk
and my initials).
KO: > 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
> that make it less probable than other solutions to the problem it was
> hypothesized to solve
RP: >>You seem to have missed one: (4) by showing that the hypothetical
internally so inconsistent and incoherent that it could never have existed
as a stand-alone source.<<
I was considering that under (3). It is unlikely that a hypothetical source
could have so many attendant difficulties as to render it impossible, but it
might well have so many difficulties as to make it much less attractive than
KO: > 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;
RP: >>"not much" implies that there is *some* evidence. How would anyone
judgement that the 'some' is not enough?<<
I was paraphrasing Tuckett's statement "The situation in Q 11.41 seems to
involve faulty _hearing_ of an Aramaic text _dakku_ for _zakku_: there is
little evidence that the letters _daleth_ and _zain_ would have been
confused at this period" (Tuckett, Q and the History, p. 90).
So you don't actually know what the evidence is for the two letters being
confused in this period, but you deduce from the fact that Tuckett says
there is little evidence that there must be some, and that some, whatever it
may be, is enough for you. There is still the problem of why, in a sequence
about cleansing which used the word cleanse before and after this occasion,
the scribe heard or read the wrong word here and it didn't occur to him to
You seem to be holding yourself to the standard of possibility rather than
likelihood. Once again, I am not concerned to show the impossibility of the
theory you're advocating (which I do not think it is possible to do), but
that it has attendant problems and comes off second-best (or third or fourth
or later) to the theory that Luke was redacting a Greek source that
resembled or was Matthew.
KO: > 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.
RP:>>Do you think Theophilus or Luke's other original readers would have
understood it? I doubt it.<<
As with all literature, there are levels to understanding Luke's gospel. On
a general level, I think both the original audience and modern interpreters
understand Lk. 11.41 quite well. One should not concern oneself with ritual
observance, because it is acts of benevolent goodwill that justify the soul.
KO: > But there is no obvious reason that
> Luke's wooden (mis-)translation of Dakkau/Zakkau should lead him to
> introduce the 'nonsensical' TA ENONTA.
RP:>>I agree that origin of the plural is not obvious. But the meaning "what
inside" could have derived from the same Aramaic word (whatever that was)
which Matt 23:26 translates as TO ENTOS.<<
So you don't actually know of any scholar competent in Aramaic who has put
forward a detailed argument for how Luke derived the plural TA ENONTA from
an Aramaic source, but are speculating that this might possibly be the case?
KO: > >If he's going to make a free translation, why not one that makes
RP:>>As a master of the Greek language eager to convince both his patron and
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.<<
It's that 'complete sense' thing that gets me. Luke is a sophisticated
writer and theologian and wrote many things that are difficult to understand
and on which interpreters disagree. You are right that TA ENONTA in Lk.
11.41 is a crux for translators. So is Luke's ENTOJ in 17.21. Grammatically,
the end of 17.21 ought to mean: "the kingdom of God is _inside_ you".
Currently, more interpreters probably favor the understanding: "the kingdom
of God is _among_ you". I think they're probably wrong. It seems to me that
Luke's conception of the things inside a man is a complex problem and not
one to be pushed aside as a mistranslation. I do not think I fully grasp
what Luke is getting at, but it seems to me that taking these two texts and
Lk. 6.45 together is a step in the right direction. To be very reductive,
Luke is saying: 'the man who has the kingdom of God in his heart expresses
it through goodwill to his neighbors'. Or something like that.
KO: > The same principle applies to the alleged mistranslation in Lk. 11.48.
> 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
> 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
> evidence of agreement with the ancestors. Adding "you are their [i.e.,
> ancestors] children" in 11.48 would still not explain why this would
> indicate agreement with them; it replaces one form of redundancy with
RP:>>Surely the key to the original meaning is to be found in Matthew's
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.<<
I quite agree about Matthew's version containing the 'original' meaning of
the saying, but the idea that the Jews are the descendents of those who
killed the prophets is already present in 11.47, so "you are their children"
would not introduce anything new. Luke is adding an additional argument
against the Jews with "you build", on which, see below.
KO: > 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
> is likely to have come from the same redactional hand as SUNEUDOKEITE
> 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.
RP:>>There still seems to me to be an awkwardness in the Greek, i.e. the
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.<<
Good point. Let's suppose you're right that Luke is a master of the Greek
language and has put some thought into what he says. Even if he introduced
the word "you build" in place of "you are their descendants", either as an
intentional play on words (as Black holds) or by mistake, he still knows
that OIKODOMEW is a transitive verb and normally takes a direct object.
Also, as I argued previously, he's already made the point that the Jewish
leaders build the tombs of the prophets their ancestors killed in 11.47. Why
does he repeat himself, or rather, why does he repeat himself except for
leaving off the object of the verb. I would suggest that we consider the
possibility that Luke knows what he is doing and that if he didn't include
"the tombs of the prophets" in 11.48, it may be because he meant "you build"
more broadly than just that.
It is always dangerous to build a theory on either single words or on an
omission, as Black does and I am about to do. But in this case I think it is
justified to suggest that Lk. 11.48 contains in brief a theme that Luke
develops more fully elsewhere. That theme is that the Jews honor the works
of their own hands rather than the commandments of God as delivered by his
This theme is most fully developed in the conclusion of Stephen's speech in
37 This is that Moses who told the Israelites, 'God will send you a prophet
like me from your own people.' 38 He was in the assembly in the desert, with
the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he
received living words to pass on to us. 39 But our fathers refused to obey
him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. 40
They told Aaron, 'Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow
Moses who led us out of Egypt-we don't know what has happened to him!' 41
That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought
sacrifices to it and held a celebration in honor of what their hands had
[vv. 42-43 omitted]
44"Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the Testimony with them in the
desert. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he
had seen. 45Having received the tabernacle, our fathers under Joshua brought
it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before
them. It remained in the land until the time of David, 46who enjoyed God's
favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.
47But it was Solomon who built the house for him.
48"However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the
49" 'Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord.
Or where will my resting place be?
50Has not my hand made all these things?'
51"You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just
like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52Was there ever a
prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted
the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him-
53you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but
have not obeyed it."
Commentators on Acts 7.47 and environs have not been slow to pick up on Luke's
E. Haenchen observes: "The speaker sees in the building of the Temple an
apostasy from the true service of God" (Haenchen, p. 285).
L. T. Johnson, comments on Acts 7.48's use of 'made with hands', a term
normally associated with pagan idols, "The shock here is to see it turned
against the Jewish Temple. But there is a tradition of such criticism in
Israel. Like kingship itself, the Temple did not meet unanimous approval.
Even the oracle legitimating its being built was in the form of a
conditional clause: "if the commandments are kept" (1 Kings 6.11-13). The
prophets in particular warned against the tendency of the people to rely on
ritual rather than obedience" [Johnson, p. 133].
B. R. Gaventa, arguing against those commentators who think Luke took a hard
line against the temple, says: "The verses that follow, taken together with
the criticism of idolatry in vv. 39-43, suggest that the problem is not the
temple _per se_ but Israel's false perception that the temple renders God
manageable. The Israelites are recalled for celebrating 'the work of their
hands' (v. 41) in the wilderness" [Gaventa, p. 129].
I conclude from this that Luke 11.47-48 expresses a theme found elsewhere in
Luke-Acts. In building the tombs of the prophets, the Israelites follow
their ancestors in honoring the works of their own hands [the Golden Calf,
the Temple] instead of obeying the commands of God delivered by the
prophets. They killed them and you build just as you kill them and they
[material on Casey snipped]
KO:> First, the basic point of Occam's razor is that theories require
> 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
> show below that it could), if Luke "saw in the text what he wanted to
> then there is no basis for hypothesizing an Aramaic source.
RP:>>Because there are several candidate cases for mistranslation, Occam's
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
> death and cleans away every sin" [Tobit 12.8-9].
> "As water extinguishes a blazing fire, so almsgiving atones for sin"
> [Sirach 3.30]
First, the basic point is that theories require evidence. The alleged
mistranslation of "purify" as "almsgiving" is the major point in making the
case for an Aramaic source. A virtually unlimited number of bad arguments
may be advanced in favor of any theory, so the mere fact of their existence
counts for little. As it happens, the subsidiary arguments are even worse
than thi one and have been dealt with, so Occam is hardly being applied in
Second, as argued above, the full depth of meaning of Luke's TA ENONTA may
be difficult to understand, but this is not untypical of Luke. The general
sense of the woe in 11.41 as a whole is not difficult to understand.
The identification of acts of benevolent goodwill (e.g., giving alms) with
the cleansing of sin, as found in Lk. 11.41, is already found in Greek
before Luke in Tobit 12.8-9 and Sirach 3.30, so we don't need an Aramaic
source to account for it.
The backup argument that TA ENONTA in Lk. 11.41 is a crux for interpreters
is vulnerable to the objections that, in fact, Luke has many passages that
are cruces for interpreters and that it can be explained on the basis of
Luke's conception of what is inside a man, which is also a crux elsewhere in
Luke. Further, no scholar competent in Aramaic has put forward an
explanation of precisely how the Aramaic source would explain the
"You build" in Lk. 11.48 is perfectly consistent with, and explicable on the
basis of, Luke's theme that the Jews honor the works of their own hands
rather than obeying the commandments of God as delivered by the prophets.
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