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[Synoptic-L] semitic background and more central concerns

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  • yochanan bitan
    some of the responses to the question on aramaic assumptions miss its import. i would like to briefly interact with them so that we can come back and perhaps
    Message 1 of 3 , Oct 31, 1999
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      some of the responses to the question on aramaic assumptions
      miss its import.
      i would like to briefly interact with them so that we can come back
      and perhaps proceed to a/the major synoptic issue following the dialogue.

      rbuth:
      >> why do NT people regularly assume a written aramaic background to
      synoptic
      >> greek sources, as opposed to hebrew written sources?

      jkilmon:
      >Two reasons. The consensus of NT scholarship assumes an Aramaic
      >substratum but not necessarily written but also oral.
      rb:
      great.
      they assume a written A-substratum because they assume an oral
      A-substratum.
      which ignores the jump from oral to written and assumes monolingual
      conformity.
      and which is, of course, logically flawed, since our gospels are in greek.
      unilingual/monolingual transmission through all early stages cannot be
      assumed.

      jk:
      >The second reason, of course, is to irritate OT
      >scholars who have an enhanced intellectual and emotional investment in
      Hebrew
      ><grin>.

      rb:
      this unwittingly reveals more of the problem, but from the opposite
      direction:
      it is probably fair to say most OT scholars are not at home with
      post-Biblical Hebrew developments.
      christian OT scholars usually assume Aramaic NT substrata.
      ditto for NT scholars trained by such OT people.

      rb:
      >> 1st century aramaic narrative, as opposed to hebrew, leaves tell-tale
      >> traces in greek that are totally missing in mark/luke.
      >> yet luke shows distinct semitic narrative influence.

      jk:
      >Only for the first two chapters...likely appended at a late date.
      rb:
      What?!?! (You may need to read a lot more Greek.)
      E.g. ever notice that "te" 'and' is used 140xx in Acts but only 9xx in all
      of Luke (once in luke 2)?
      especially check out "te solitarium", only once in the whole gospel of
      luke, 70-80 xx in Acts.

      jk:
      >Are you claiming there are no Aramaisms in either Mark or Luke?
      rb:
      irrelevant. hebrew writings may have aramaisms and vice-versa. (and most
      alleged substratum 'aramaisms' are, in fact, Semitisms. but a discussion of
      these misses the big picture below. save them for reviews of specific
      proposals in Black, AAGA, or Mahoney, or Casey.)

      jk:
      >Are you saying that Aramaic source material *must* show a
      >tote/edayin track in the Greek?
      rb:
      yes,
      unless the greek shows evidence of being stylistically cleaned up (e.g.
      josephus).
      edayin is obvious, and shows up in all known 1st century aramaic narrative.
      'tote' works wonders for deciphering intertestamental greek documents. and
      see note on matthew at end of this email.
      its lack in mark and luke cries out for an explanation. Burden of proof
      lies heavily against NT Aramaic assumptions because of the need to suppose
      non-existent evidence in order to maintain an Aramaic hypothesis.

      jk:
      >I am sure you have read Fitzmyer so I am not going to act as
      >an intermediary in a proxy debate between you and him and appeal
      >to his authority to make my case. Suffice to say that I agree with him
      rb:
      surprise.
      in an oral response to a public lecture at SBL, 1997, Fitzmyer commented
      that he had never considered the 'lack of tote' in substratum discussions.
      I respect Fitzmyer too highly to hold him to an oral statement in either
      direction. and he is allowed time for reflection. (you will notice that
      mahoney, writing a dissertaion under fitzmyer, does not discuss 'lack of
      tote'.)
      yet fitzmyer's comment reveals something true about NT scholarship.
      you will not find the 'lack of tote' discussed in NT secondary literature.
      yet it is the most obvious distinguishing mark between Hebrew and middle
      Aramaic narrative when in Greek translation.

      jk:
      >The notion that the ratio of Aramaic to Hebrew texts in the DSS (1:4)
      rb:
      1:10 would be more accurate and there are several different ways to count.
      but the number is irrelevant, i would request not to debate here.

      jk:
      >represents the ratio of language usage among the populace is indefensible.

      rb:
      agreed. no one is suggesting such a jump. again, irrelevant.

      jk:
      >I also read a letter written for Ben Kosiba
      >in Greek because there was no one around who knew Hebrew.
      rb:
      irrelevant and misquoted. 'had no [de]sire to write hebrew'. and which also
      raises the possibility of a non-jew in the revolt (no aramaic or hebrew,
      plus same letter mentions 'of the Jews' as though another group! or see
      baruch lifshitz "papyrus grecs du desert de juda" who thinks bar kocba
      himself wrote this greek!). while on the topic of bar-kosiba, the Hebrew
      misspellings showed milik that some were written by un-schooled,
      semi-literate people. "ta-shamayim" ! this was not a language learned in
      school or as a written language or an aramaic speaker trying to write
      hebrew, but lined up with the oral mishnaic hebrew hypothesis of segal. and
      milik gave segal credit.
      but this takes us away from the first century and the discussion of
      written documents.

      jk:
      >I am a great coffee lover, Randy, and have learned to recognize the
      >aromas of the different blends.
      rb:
      i'm glad
      hopefully, with some of this out of the way and a nice cup of coffee,
      we can get back to the synoptic problem.

      i will posit my own reasons why Hebrew, unconsciously, is not proposed for
      substratum discussions in synoptics.

      1. If taken seriously, it would undermine Marcan priority.
      Hebraisms are sprinkled throughout Luke, in great measure,
      inconsistently in pools, and include non-LXX-isms.
      [E.g. Schramm's semtisms in der markus stoff bei lucas (71?) led
      him away from simple
      marcan priority. More Semitic/Hebraic examples wouldn't have hurt Schramm
      either.]

      2. During most of the formative years of discussion about Marcan priority
      (1850-1950) Hebrew was assumed to be a dead language and to have NOT been
      in use in the first century, written, oral or otherwise.
      Thus, Hebraisms in Luke could be dismissed as artificial,
      reinforcing Marcan priority.

      3. It is assumed that the LXX will account for all Hebraisms.
      The "LXX-style" approach is also a red-herring. It gathers
      emotional support because most
      Hebraisms will always be duplicatable in the LXX. E.g., if a DSS document
      were translated, most Hebraisms would be duplicatable in the LXX. The
      logical key is the existence of non-LXX-isms.
      It is the few non-LXX-isms that show the flawed and apparently
      biased logic of formative NT studies like like Howard (in Moulton-Howard)
      or Sparks. It is not the numbers or percentage of Hebraisms/Semitisms that
      can be illustrated in the LXX that matters. As though the majority can be
      accounted for as "Septuagintal" and then the rest ignored as statistically
      small. That is hiding from the evidence. Once it is known that non-LXX-isms
      occur then all of the other LXX-examples join in the argument and provide
      cumlulative weight. Just like if you were evaluating a translated DSS
      document, or 1 Maccabees, etc.
      Additionally, recognising that Mark's semitisms do NOT pattern like
      Aramaic narrative, adds credulity to Hebraic sources behind 1st century
      gospel literature, which reinforces from another angle what we find in
      Luke. [Matthew's tote is a very useful 'fly in the ointment', apparently
      not coming from a source. this reinforces what good aramaic style must have
      been like in the first century for it to so color his greek against all
      greek stylistic norms.]

      4. Anybody need a fourth reason?

      These above 3 may be more pertinent reasons why Hebraisms are unconsciously
      discounted in synoptic studies.
      And why it is imperative for NT scholars to have a better control of
      post-Biblical Hebrew, as well as Greek and Aramaic.
      And why I think that the 21st century may be standing at the door of a
      wide-open, new discussion of the synoptic problem.

      Some of the 'facts on the ground', long ignored and mistakenly
      marginalized, will necessarily re-enter the discussion as soon as NT
      scholars begin dealing seriously with Hebrew.

      And a re-opening of the synoptic question with better linguistic tools will
      benefit all.

      yisge shlamxon
      randall buth
      ps:
      you're welcome to join us here in jerusalem in january for reading the
      aramaic antiochus scroll as an introduction to jewish palestinian aramaic
      and important for related language issues.
    • Brian E. Wilson
      Randall Buth wrote - ... Fascinating! I am presently immersed in work on the Minor Agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark in the triple tradition. I
      Message 2 of 3 , Oct 31, 1999
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        Randall Buth wrote -
        >
        >I will posit my own reasons why Hebrew, unconsciously, is not proposed
        >for substratum discussions in synoptics.
        >
        >1. If taken seriously, it would undermine Marcan priority. Hebraisms
        >are sprinkled throughout Luke, in great measure, inconsistently in
        >pools, and include non-LXX-isms.
        >

        Fascinating!

        I am presently immersed in work on the Minor Agreements of Matthew and
        Luke against Mark in the triple tradition.

        I notice that Robert Lindsey considers that some of the Minor Agreements
        are Hebraisms. For instance, he points out that KAI IDOU in Mt 9.2(a) //
        Lk 5.18(a) which is absent from Mk 2.3(a), is "certainly a Hebraism".
        (R. L. Lindsey, "A Hebrew Translation of The Gospel of Mark" first
        edition (Jerusalem, 1970) pages 16-17.)

        Would you agree that the Minor Agreements become a much more significant
        difficulty for the Two Document Hypothesis once it is realized that they
        include Hebraisms? If so, would you like to expand on this a little? It
        seems to me a very important point for the study of the Synoptic
        Problem.

        Furthermore, I would be interested to know whether you consider that
        there are any indications that in the triple tradition there are
        Hebraisms in Matthew not present in the parallel material in Mark and
        Luke. (If not, it would seem that the Hebraisms in the Minor Agreements
        are a difficulty for the Farrer Hypothesis also.)

        Best wishes,
        BRIAN WILSON

        E-MAIL: brian@... HOMEPAGE
        SNAILMAIL: Rev B. E. Wilson,
        10 York Close, Godmanchester, http://www.twonh.demon.co.uk
      • yochanan bitan
        ... to do something properly would be more open ended and would take more time than i can put into email. yes, there are examples, like the kai idou you
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 2, 1999
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          >Would you agree that the Minor Agreements become a much more significant
          >difficulty for the Two Document Hypothesis once it is realized that they
          >include Hebraisms? If so, would you like to expand on this a little? It
          >seems to me a very important point for the study of the Synoptic
          >Problem.

          to do something properly would be more open ended and would take more time
          than i can put into email.
          yes, there are examples, like the kai idou you quoted.
          several often-overlooked items continually need to be examined like
          imperfect vs. aorist verbs, idiomatic singulars versus plurals, complex
          vocabulary versus simple stem vocabulary (inc. adverbial -os, a-privative,
          prepositional compounds), word order of course.
          and minor agreements are important, especially if hebraic. but minor
          agreements tend to be short and they are usually ignored, hebraic or
          otherwise.
          'much more significant' is probably an overstatement when singly applied to
          minor agreements, since the minor agreements are already marginalized by
          the name minor.

          the bottom line, of course, is that this is very fertile ground for study
          and repays the investment.

          braxot
          randall but
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