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

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  • Ron Price
    ... Ken, My only point was that Kloppenborg had overstated his case here by ignoring the possibility of a scribal variation. ... If we are to widen the
    Message 1 of 3 , May 1, 2005
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      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.

      Ken,
      My only point was that Kloppenborg had overstated his case here by
      ignoring the possibility of a scribal variation.

      > The main part of the case is his argument that the text of Luke is perfectly
      > understandable as Lukan redaction of his source .....

      If we are to widen the discussion, then I must start by challenging your
      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).

      > To vastly oversimplify Luke's position: almsgiving cleanses the
      > soul or, perhaps more accurately, is the sign of a clean soul.

      I'm not going to disagree with this and your subsequent explanation of
      Luke's position. 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".

      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.


      Ron Price

      Derbyshire, UK

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



      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
      List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
    • Ken Olson
      Ron, Sorry it s taken so long to get back you on this. Busy week. ... RP: Ken, ... Yes, you can get around JSKV s point by positing further hypotheticals. As
      Message 2 of 3 , May 9, 2005
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        Ron,

        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
        perfectly
        >> understandable as Lukan redaction of his source .....
        >
        RP:> If we are to widen the discussion, then I must start by challenging
        your
        > 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.

        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. 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:

        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 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
        14.55-58.

        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
        elsewhere.

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

        Best Wishes,

        Ken

        Bibliography:

        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:

        http://www.abdn.ac.uk/divinity/williams/index.shtml

        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@...
      • Ron Price
        ... 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
        Message 3 of 3 , May 10, 2005
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          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


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