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Re: Greek idiom (triclinium)

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  • Dennis C. Sullivan
    ... From: Thomas R. W. Longstaff To: Dennis C. Sullivan ; Synoptic-L@bham.ac.uk Date:
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 5, 1998
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Thomas R. W. Longstaff <t_longst@...>
      To: Dennis C. Sullivan <densull@...>; Synoptic-L@...
      <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
      table.
      >The term is also used to refer to the dining room in which the triclinium
      >(couches) were located. An absolutely magnificent triclinium (dining room),
      >with a mosaic incorporating motifs from the Dionysian myth, was unearthed
      by
      >the Hebrew University/Duke University excavations at Sepphoris (only about
      >6 km from Nazareth).
      >
      DENNIS: You're right! I stand corrected. I either misunderstood my source
      (a video), or the source was not well researched.>

      >We've also been influenced by a host of other cultural factors. As an
      >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
      contexts.
      >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.
      >
      >trwl

      DENNIS: Right again! Thanks, Thomas! I value your input.

      Best wishes,

      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
      >Colby College
      >Waterville, ME 04901
      >Email: t_longst@...
      >Office phone: 207 872-3150
      >FAX: 207 872-3802
      >
    • Bob Schacht
      ... Oh, I don t know. Let s take a look at Mark 14: 12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him,
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 5, 1998
        At 10:02 AM 12/5/98 -0500, Dennis C. Sullivan wrote:
        >
        >-----Original Message-----
        >From: Thomas R. W. Longstaff <t_longst@...>
        >To: Dennis C. Sullivan <densull@...>; Synoptic-L@...
        ><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.
        >>
        >>trwl
        >
        >DENNIS: Right again! Thanks, Thomas! I value your input.

        Oh, I don't know. Let's take a look at Mark 14:
        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
        towns.

        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
        Passover?"
        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
        my disciples.'"
        19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the
        Passover meal.
        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
        with him

        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
        table?

        So perhaps there are some synoptic issues here, after all.

        Bob
        "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,
        twentieth-century mind?"
        Malcolm Muggeridge _Jesus Rediscovered_ (1969),
        writing about the KJV New Testament
      • Thomas R. W. Longstaff
        ... 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
        Message 3 of 3 , Dec 5, 1998
          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
          model?

          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.......

          trwl

          And the child said, "Look! The emperor isn't wearing any clothes."

          Dr. Thomas R. W. Longstaff
          Crawford Family Professor of Religious Studies
          Colby College
          Waterville, ME 04901
          Email: t_longst@...
          Office phone: 207 872-3150
          FAX: 207 872-3802
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