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

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  • Ken Olson
    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
    Message 1 of 4 , May 15, 2005
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      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
      > problems
      > 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
      source is
      internally so inconsistent and incoherent that it could never have existed
      as a stand-alone source.<<

      *KO:

      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
      other options.

      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
      make the
      judgement that the 'some' is not enough?<<

      *KO:

      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
      check.

      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.<<

      *KO:

      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
      is
      inside" could have derived from the same Aramaic word (whatever that was)
      which Matt 23:26 translates as TO ENTOS.<<

      *KO:

      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
      sense?<<

      RP:>>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.<<

      *KO:

      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.
      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.

      RP:>>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.<<

      *KO:

      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
      > 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.

      RP:>>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.<<

      *KO:

      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
      prophets.

      This theme is most fully developed in the conclusion of Stephen's speech in
      Acts 7.37-53:

      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
      made.

      [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
      prophet says:

      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
      theme:

      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
      built.


      [material on Casey snipped]


      KO:> 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.

      RP:>>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" [Tobit 12.8-9].
      >
      > "As water extinguishes a blazing fire, so almsgiving atones for sin"
      > [Sirach 3.30]

      *KO:

      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
      isolation.

      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.

      To recap:

      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
      difficulty.

      "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.

      Best,

      Ken

      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
      List Owner: Synoptic-L-Owner@...
    • Ron Price
      ... *RP: Indeed. This is where I think you Farrer adherents understate your case. I ve done a lot of work on the structure of all the major NT documents, and
      Message 2 of 4 , May 17, 2005
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        Ken Olson wrote:

        > 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
        > other options.

        *RP:
        Indeed. This is where I think you Farrer adherents understate your case.
        I've done a lot of work on the structure of all the major NT documents, and
        by comparison the Q structure looks incredible for a stand-alone document.

        > *KO:
        >
        > 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).

        *RP:
        Your paraphrase missed the "would have been", so my reply that there must
        have been *some* evidence was an invalid deduction. My apologies.

        > *KO:
        > 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
        > check.

        *RP:
        I've already answered this one: at that point Luke saw what he wanted to
        see.

        >> RP: 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.<<

        > *KO:
        >
        > 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?

        *RP:
        No. I'm saying I can see where the *root* of the word came from, but not
        where the *plural* came from.

        >> RP: 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...
        >
        > *KO:
        >
        > 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.

        *RP:
        Perhaps my choice of phrase was inaccurate. Luke rarely wrote anything that
        looks like nonsense, and our disagreements represent differing judgements as
        to whether certain texts look nonsensical.

        > *KO:
        >
        > 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.

        *RP:
        Perhaps so. But it could at the same time be a deliberate but clumsy
        distortion of the well-attested "The kingdom of God is near", replacing near
        in time by near in place in order to further dampen enthusiasm for an
        imminent return of Jesus.

        > *KO: > The same principle applies to the alleged mistranslation in Lk. 11.48.
        > .......
        >
        > 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:
        This appears to assume that Luke thought it reprehensible to dig the
        prophets' graves (or build their tombs). The nearest NT analogy that springs
        to mind is Joseph of Arimathea. But he is viewed with respect by all the
        gospel writers, not least by Luke himself who calls Joseph "a good and
        righteous man".

        Your subsequent exposition about Luke [snipped] is about building idols and
        building the Temple. Even if it is true as you argue, that Luke was critical
        of the Temple, it's not clear to me that the argument carries over to tombs.
        Notwithstanding Lk 9:60a "Leave the dead to bury their own dead" (which I
        take to be a typical example of hyperbole taken from the early sayings
        source), Jews and early Christians alike had a high respect for tombstones.

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

        > *KO:
        > ....... As it happens, the subsidiary arguments are even worse
        > than thi one and have been dealt with, so Occam is hardly being applied in
        > isolation.

        *RP:
        What I meant was that it would only need the verification of a single
        candidate mistranslation to confirm the existence of the Aramaic source, at
        which point the source would no longer be hypothetical. But even this is not
        needed. The source did exist: Papias wrote about it. The effect of this is
        that individual mistranslation arguments should not need to be as strong as
        they would have needed to be had there been no external evidence for the
        existence of the source.

        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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