Re: Greek idiom (triclinium)
- -----Original Message-----
From: Thomas R. W. Longstaff <t_longst@...>
To: Dennis C. Sullivan <densull@...>; Synoptic-L@...
Date: Friday, December 04, 1998 1:03 PM
Subject: Re: Greek idiom
>Someone may correct me if I am mistaken, but I understood that the term
>"triclinium" (which does come from the root "to lean") referred to a couch,
>or couches, usually placed in a U-shaped configuration around a low table.
>The term "triclinium," I believe, refers to the couches and not to the
>The term is also used to refer to the dining room in which the tricliniumby
>(couches) were located. An absolutely magnificent triclinium (dining room),
>with a mosaic incorporating motifs from the Dionysian myth, was unearthed
>the Hebrew University/Duke University excavations at Sepphoris (only aboutDENNIS: You're right! I stand corrected. I either misunderstood my source
>6 km from Nazareth).
(a video), or the source was not well researched.>
>We've also been influenced by a host of other cultural factors. As ancontexts.
>archaeologist who has worked in the Galilee for more than 25 years, I find
>myself wondering whether a triclinium would be found in most homes. The
>ones I've seen have been in very elaborate villas; I see no trace of any
>such use of space in the more modest homes, either in urban or rural
>When talking about a triclinium are we talking about the dining patterns ofDENNIS: Right again! Thanks, Thomas! I value your input.
>a very elite segment of society? Do we envision Jesus and the disciples
>gathering in the banqet hall of some elegant mansion?
>And what has all of this to do with the synoptic problem, I ask myself.
>I think that this thread should end here.
Dennis C. Sullivan Dayton, Ohio
>And the child said, "Look! The emperor isn't wearing any clothes."
>Dr. Thomas R. W. Longstaff
>Crawford Family Professor of Religious Studies
>Waterville, ME 04901
>Office phone: 207 872-3150
>FAX: 207 872-3802
- At 10:02 AM 12/5/98 -0500, Dennis C. Sullivan wrote:
>Oh, I don't know. Let's take a look at Mark 14:
>From: Thomas R. W. Longstaff <t_longst@...>
>To: Dennis C. Sullivan <densull@...>; Synoptic-L@...
>Date: Friday, December 04, 1998 1:03 PM
>Subject: Re: Greek idiom
>>When talking about a triclinium are we talking about the dining patterns of
>>a very elite segment of society? Do we envision Jesus and the disciples
>>gathering in the banqet hall of some elegant mansion?
>>And what has all of this to do with the synoptic problem, I ask myself.
>>I think that this thread should end here.
>DENNIS: Right again! Thanks, Thomas! I value your input.
12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is
sacrificed, his disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to go and make
the preparations for you to eat the Passover?"
13 So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go into the city, and
a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him,
14 and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher
asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?'
15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make
preparations for us there."
16 So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as
he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
17 When it was evening, he came with the twelve.
18 And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said,
"Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me."
In the modern middle east, at least, the best rooms are often upstairs, and
extra care may be observed in their finishing touches. I am referring here
not to rich modern homes, but in traditional middle class homes in small
The parallels are in Matt. 26:17-19,
17 On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying,
"Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the
18 He said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, 'The
Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with
19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the
20 When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve;
Notice that in Matthew's version (assuming Markan priority), "guest room"
becomes simply a "house", and reference to the "large room upstairs,
furnished and ready" is omitted. Why? so as not to offend the 'am ha'aretz?
The parallel in Luke is in chapter 22:
7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had
to be sacrificed.
8 So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover
meal for us that we may eat it."
9 They asked him, "Where do you want us to make preparations for it?"
10 "Listen," he said to them, "when you have entered the city, a man
carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters
11 and say to the owner of the house,
'The teacher asks you, "Where is the guest room, where I may eat the
Passover with my disciples?" '
12 He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make
preparations for us there."
13 So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared
the Passover meal.
14 When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles
Notice that Luke here retains the Markan references to the guest room, and
the "large room upstairs, furnished and ready" with only minor word
changes. But he has also added a new word: the table (cf. John 13:4,12,28).
In Mark and Matthew, Jesus and the disciples merely 'take their places.' Is
there anything about the Greek idiom here that implies the presence of a
So perhaps there are some synoptic issues here, after all.
"Is it not extraordinary to the point of being a miracle, that so loose
and ill-constructed a narrative in an antique translation of a dubious
text should after so many centuries still have power to quell and
dominate a restless, opinionated, overexercised and undernourished,
Malcolm Muggeridge _Jesus Rediscovered_ (1969),
writing about the KJV New Testament
- At 12:17 PM 12/5/98 -0700, Bob Schacht wrote:
>So perhaps there are some synoptic issues here, after all.Good points, Bob. As you present the texts it seems that
there are very likely some synoptic issues here. At the
level of text there are interesting issues of how the authors
envisioned the scene.
You mention the configuration of modern homes in the near
east. Are you suggesting that homes in the first century
were essentially similar? You don't talk much about the
archaeological evidence for domestic structures in first
century Galilee. Is it possible that Mark wrote at Rome
(or somewhere else outside of Palestine) and, not knowing
well what houses there were like, used Roman houses as his
I concede that there are likely synoptic issues here but also
still think that we often read the texts with images in mind
that do not well reflect the environment of ancient Galilee.
So, maybe the thread should continue.......
And the child said, "Look! The emperor isn't wearing any clothes."
Dr. Thomas R. W. Longstaff
Crawford Family Professor of Religious Studies
Waterville, ME 04901
Office phone: 207 872-3150
FAX: 207 872-3802