EI=Since & irony in Matthew
- 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?
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:
>I need to note: In Matthew as well as in Mark we find a raft of
> 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.
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,
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?
Jeffrey B. Gibson
7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
Chicago, Illinois 60626