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EI=Since & irony in Matthew

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  • Jeffrey B. Gibson
    ... Mark, I should think, given (a) that the temptation narrative has long preceded the crucifixion account and (b) that it is well established by the time
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 1998
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      Mark Goodacre wrote:
      >
      > I wrote:
      >
      > > >Matt. 27.40: SWSON SEAUTON, EI hUIOS EI TOU QEOU, KAI KATABHQI APO
      > > >TOU STAUROU
      > > >
      > > >Would we naturally read this as "since you are the Son of God"?
      >
      > Jim West replied:
      >
      > > I think so, Mark.
      >
      > I had written:
      >
      > > >Would we not rather translate "*if* you are the Son of God", with an
      > > >element of sarcasm, doubt or irony implied?
      >
      > Jim answered:
      >
      > > If this were Johannine material I would give a hearty yes; but as it
      > > is Matt. I do not think so. Unless, of course, there are examples
      > > of Matthean irony that can be pointed to.
      >
      > The irony in the Matthean Passion Narrative is not as thick, in my
      > opinion, as it is in Mark's, but it is certainly there -- most
      > clearly in Matt. 27.27-31: scarlet robe, crown of thorns, "King of
      > the Jews". Do the mockers in the narrative really think that Jesus
      > is a king? Of course not. Does the implied reader think that Jesus
      > is a king? Of course. This is dramatic irony par excellence.
      >
      > But thinking again about Matt. 27.40, surely to translate it "since
      > you are the Son of God . . ." only increases the element of dramatic
      > irony. The mockers are saying sarcastically "since you are [but
      > really you are not]" and the reader is thinking "he IS, and how
      > little they realise the truth that comes out of their mouths".
      >
      > However we translate EI here, "if" or "since", the reader surely
      > takes Matt. 27.40 to imply that the mockers did not think Jesus was
      > the Son of God. In which case, to bring us back to the original
      > question, does not this help us to understand the same phrase in the
      > Temptation narrative?
      >
      Mark,

      I should think, given (a) that the "temptation" narrative has long
      preceded the crucifixion account and (b) that it is well established by
      the time of the crucifixion that Jesus is indeed God's Son *and* sees
      himself as such, that the real question here is: *doesn't the meaning of
      the expression as the Devil uses it help us to understand how it is to
      be taken within the crucifixion account, not vice versa. It is the fact
      that EI hUIOS EI TOU QEOU has *already* been said, and that the reader
      knows it has already been said, and with what meaning, that sets up the
      irony and the tension in the crucixion story. The reader is thereby
      clued into the fact that here at the crucifixion (a) the opponents are
      acting, knowingly are not, as the Devil did to Jesus in the wildernessJ
      and (b) Jesus is once more being subjected to the testing he underwent
      at the hands of the Devil. Will he give in now?

      And in regard to the following which you wrote in another post:
      >
      > My feeling would therefore be that the elements of dramatic irony
      > present in the Passion Narrative come in to Matthew from his
      > source in Mark. The classic is Matt. 27.27-29 // Mark 15.17-19: the
      > crown of thorns, the scarlet robe, "the king of the Jews", to the
      > persecuters a farce but to the reader Jesus' coronation.

      I need to note: In Matthew as well as in Mark we find a raft of
      indicators that show that the crucifixion story is being paced within
      the interpretative context provided by the story of the testing og God's
      son as told in Wisdom 2. The curious thing here, however, is that
      Matthew seems to take *more* pains than Mark does to make sure that one
      does not miss the fact that Jesus is here reacpitulating the testing of
      the Son recounted in Wisdom 2. Moreover, one of the ways he does this is
      by placing on the lips of Jesus' mockers the words of the Devil from
      Matt. 4:3 and 4:6! (compare Wis. 2:13, 16-17). What I am noting, then,
      is that,
      accepting Matthew's use of Mark (sorry Ward!), and therefore accepting
      also the fact that he has taken over the Wisdom 2 theme *from* Mark,
      Matthew's additions here not only have the effect of dotting the "i's"
      and crossing the "t's" of Mark's account to make sure that the crucixion
      story is tranparent to its backgound but also indicate that within the
      crucixion story that
      Matthew is indeed ironic, and that here, as nowhere else, he has allowed
      that sense of irony to have full play.

      Does this make any sense?

      Yours,

      Jeffrey
      --
      Jeffrey B. Gibson
      7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
      Chicago, Illinois 60626
      e-mail jgibson000@...
      jgibson@...
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