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[XTalk] Re: [Synoptic-L] Mark Used CG in 15:42-16:8, Pt. 2-Fatigue in 16:6

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  • jlupia2
    Ted Weeden has pointed out problems of so-called inconsistencies in the drink motif in the Crucifixion Narrative . The following are some thoughts I have
    Message 1 of 4 , Feb 8, 2002
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      Ted Weeden has pointed out problems of so-called
      inconsistencies in the "drink motif" in the "Crucifixion Narrative".

      The following are some thoughts I have had on this subject.

      The Drink

      1. Historical Background

      Plato was the first author to use the term anaisthesia.
      According to Isidorus, Serapion, and Pliny, Nat. hist. xxxv, 94 the
      Romans used Mandrake or Mandragora juice and atropine as
      an anesthetic. Nepenthes was a plant mixed with wine that was
      drunk to remove sorrow. In the Odyssey it is referred to as an
      Egyptian drug. It was given to Telemachus by Helen at the court
      of Menelaus when he sought news of Odysseus. Xenophon, in
      his history called the Anabasis tells us that story of how his
      soldiers lay on the ground in a drunken madness after having
      eaten some wild honey at Colchis. Pliny refers to such honey as
      meli maenomenon or the mad honey. This honey was produced
      by bees that gathered toxins from Nerium or dogbane, the
      Mediterranean oleander, and from the Rhododendron ponticum,
      among other such toxic plants of the region. Pliny tells us that
      aged meli maenomenon was made into a mead-wine.
      Although Romans developed various anesthetic drinks they
      never offered them to prisoners to deaden or ease their pain at
      execution. So, the significance of the drink offered to Jesus must
      have another meaning. All four Gospels mention that Jesus was
      offered a drink during the crucifixion. Luke 23: 36 and John 19:
      29 both agree that it was vinegar. Historically, Roman soldiers
      carried a potable tart or pungent wine used to quench or slake
      their thirst when water was not readily available. Frequently they
      washed down their food with this acetum or vinegar. The
      presence of the acetabulum or oxybaphon (OXUBAFON) or
      vinegar dipping vessel attested to by John 19:29 who uses the
      word SKEUOS instead evokes the image that the Roman
      soldiers had been eating and drinking as they guarded the
      executed prisoners. We know that Roman soldiers made a fire
      and cooked grain or meat for the afternoon meal. Luke is even
      more precise about this. In 23:36 he mentions the vinegar and
      in 23:44 says it was about the sixth hour. For the Romans the
      sixth hour was the time for the prandium (PRWHN) or lunch.
      This presence of the acetabulum is strengthened by Poll. 6.85
      and Athen 11.494 b, who attest to the food at table was dipped or
      sopped into the acetabulum. John relates that a soldier dipped
      a spongia (SPONGIOS) into the acetabulum to soak up some of
      the vinegar. The Greeks used OXALMH, a wine and brine
      mixture, medicinally, as cited by Philumenus, Ven., 32.3, quoting
      Apollonius. They also had OXOS a vinegar put to the nose as a
      mode of torture mentioned by Aristophanes, Ranae, 620 . The
      Romans putting the sponge to Jesus' lips would have not
      necessarily served as a drink since he was far within reaching
      distance to have easily offered him a cup. To press the sponge
      to his lips was to force him to inhale the fumes of pungent OXOS
      (vinegar) as a torture much like the quote from Aristophanes.
      Then taking a small twig of hyssop he used it as a batillum or
      scooper to press it against Jesus' lips, which were well within
      arms reach. However, this twig of hyssop was more probably
      the peniculi cited by Ter. Eun. 4.7,7; Martial 12.48; and Plautus
      Stich. 2.2,23. These were sponges on short sticks Roman
      soldiers carried for cleaning their boots described by Plautus in
      Menaechm. 2.3, 40. Romans used three grades of sponges (1)
      TRAGOS which was a hard and course variety, (2) MANOS a soft
      type, and (3) ACILLEION, a fine variety. This latter type was also
      used for fitting the ocrea or greaves which were leg armor, and
      for lining helmets. So, the sponge on a short stick and
      wine-viegar were commodities commonly held by Roman
      soldiers and are in keeping with what we should expect to find if
      the story is consistent with the historical facts.

      2. Pesharim

      Besides having evidence of this custom practiced in his day
      Luke and John also had the Sacred Scriptures. When they wrote
      their Gospels they needed to discover how the events in Jesus'
      life fulfilled the description of the messiah given in the
      prophetical writings of the bible. This method "pesher" was
      used by Jewish scholars who studied the scriptures to see how
      they might be fulfilled in their day. The apostles used this
      method to see how the events in Jesus' personal life were the
      fulfillment of Sacred Scriptures in their day. These Evangelists,
      therefore, cite vinegar as the drink offered to Jesus on the cross
      since it serves as a pesher, or fulfillment of a prophecy about the
      Messiah, proving once again that Jesus is it. In Psalm 69: 21-22
      we read:

      "In thy sight are all that afflict me; my heart hath expected
      reproach and misery. And I look for one that would grieve
      together with me, but there was none: and for one that would
      comfort me and there was none. And they gave me gall for my
      food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink."

      Yet another meaning can be gleaned from Sacred Scripture that
      does not refer to the Messiah but the disciples. Proverbs 10:26
      says:

      "Like vinegar to the teeth, and smoke to the eyes, so is the
      dawdling messenger to the one who sends him."

      The association of the vinegar in Luke's text to the Roman
      prandium indicated the presence of smoke from the fire
      customarily used for cooking in the field. The reference to
      Proverbs 10:26, if it was intended, associated through the
      imagery of Luke's text possibly drew the analogy that lacking true
      devotion to Jesus by witnessing the Gospel with all due
      diligence grieves him like that historical vinegar offering or the
      smoke from the soldier's campfire.

      Matthew 27:34, rather, says they offered him wine mixed with
      gall. Here it is possible that Matthew was also referencing
      Psalm 69. Matthew may have been trying to purposefully allude
      to the manner of execution offered to the Greek philosopher
      Socrates, who was given wine mixed with hemlock, since
      hemlock was sometimes called gall (Hosea 10:4). The Greeks
      had a variety of wine called ABROTONINOS since it was mixed
      with wormwood from the Artemisia arborescens or ABROTON.
      This way the parallel between Socrates and Jesus could easily
      be accomplished. Socrates was put to death because he taught
      virtue to the youth of Greece. By doing this he violated the
      tradition of the Greek pagan polytheistic religion. Likewise,
      Jesus also violated the human traditions that began to strangle
      the spiritual life out of Judaism. He too taught people how to live
      meaningful and virtuous lives. Creating this parallel between
      these two great men would have facilitated the apostles to easily
      convert the Greek speaking people who already knew about
      Socrates. Recently, J. S. Kloppenborg (1992) pointed out that
      Luke's attention to Jesus' final words was reminiscent of the
      Greek manner of describing the last words of Socrates.

      Mark 15:23, on the other hand, says it was wine mixed with
      myrrh. Pliny Nat. Hist. 14.15;92, and 14.19,107 tells us that the
      finest wines were scented with myrrh. The first thought is that
      this was intended to have symbolic meaning and not be taken
      literal. Why would Roman soldiers have on them the finest
      wines at an executioners post? Furthermore, why would they
      offer Jesus the finest wine? However, Roman soldiers imbibed
      on perfumed wines during meals. Their jentaculum or breakfast
      typically consisted of a wine scented with seselis or silis at
      meal. It was from this scented wine that the jentaculum was
      sometimes called silatum. Since Romans frequently consumed
      scented wines at meals it seems only natural that at crucifixion
      sites these wines served as an emunctary, an inhalant to
      cleanse their noses like a snuffer, to fumigate the foul stench
      from those crucified. This scented wine served as an aromatic
      deodorant to freshen the air they inhaled. This was
      accomplished by keeping the cups or goblets at their mouths
      tilted upward so that the rim touched the bridge of their nose.
      Consistent on the level of assonance puns or words of similar
      sounds being associated the Aramaic or Hebrew word for myrrh
      "mor" was associated with the Latin "morsus" meaning "a
      pungent taste" as used by the Roman poet Marcus Valerius
      Martialis (1st cent. B.C.-1st cent A.D.), commonly called Martial.
      This would have been a poetic way of expressing the salvific
      crucifixion of Jesus as a bitter cup whose fragrance is the
      perfume of the tomb. Since myrrh was used for burial, as
      attested to by John 19:39, the myrrh in the wine symbolizes the
      death of Christ associated with the cup of wine or Eucharist.
      This interpretation is reinforced by the use of the term for myrrh
      in Latin. Since Roman goblets were made of a mineral called in
      Latin "murrah' or `murra," meaning myrrh, a term also used by
      Martial to signify the goblets themselves. Also mor may have
      been targeted as an assonance pun on morus or the mulberry
      tree. This black berry bearing tree was an arbor infelix, the type
      used in the manufacture of the patibulum.


      Just a few thoughts.

      Cordially,
      John

      John N. Lupia
      Elizabeth, New Jersey 07208-1731 USA


      Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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    • Horace Jeffery Hodges
      ... If anyone s intersted, look at what I have to say on the vinegar (and food and drink generally) in two SBL papers. These are online:
      Message 2 of 4 , Feb 8, 2002
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        John Lupia wrote:

        > Ted Weeden has pointed out problems of so-called
        > inconsistencies in the "drink motif" in the
        > "Crucifixion Narrative".

        If anyone's intersted, look at what I have to say on
        the vinegar (and food and drink generally) in two SBL
        papers. These are online:

        http://bellarmine.lmu.edu/~fjust/John/SBL1999.html

        Jeffery Hodges

        =====
        Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
        Hanshin University (Korean Theological University)
        447-791 Kyunggido Osan-City
        Yangsandong 411
        South Korea

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