[Synoptic-L] Re: Mattean fatigue?
Dear Marc Turnage & Leonard:
I am pleased you mentioned the Curing of the
Centurion's Slave (-boy) (Mt 8:5-13//Lk 7:1-10).
However, Leonard, it does not actually perform the
motifs you suggest in Mt, but rather, Marc Turnage is
almost correct but still fails to see it as Mt's
fatigue derived from changes to Lk.
Curing of the Centurion's Slave (-boy) (Mt 8:5-13//Lk
I. Geographic Location
Lk 7:1 Jesus arrives in Capernaum. Jesus had been in
Capernaum since Lk 4:31. There he entered the local
synagogue Lk 4:33; Simon's house Lk 4:38; a deserted
place Lk 4:42. But Jesus leaves to preach to the
cities of Judea Lk 4:44. The fastest route is to sail
down the Jordan, go to Jericho and the neighboring
cities. Jesus and the disciples are on the shore of
lake Gennesaret from Lk 5:1-6:49 where we should
expect him to make his voyage south. In Lk 5:12 the
trip to Judea is delayed by Jesus' compassion for the
sick Lk 5:12 "KAI EGENETO EN TW EINAI AUTON EN MIA TWN
POLEWN" So, although Jesus was supposed to be in one
of those cities he was delayed and the mission to
Judea was temporarily aborted due to the pity Jesus
took on those whom he encountered along the way.
Apparently he did not go very far. So, since Jesus
could not get to them they came to him Lk 5:15-17.
Jesus taught in a local house Lk 5:18, then in the
house of Levi Lk 5:29. He had only traveled within
that vicinity moving to the grainfields Lk 6:1 , the
local synagogue Lk 6:6, the mountains to pray Lk 6:12,
the plain there Lk 6:17. Now in Lk 7:1 Jesus reenters
Capernaum where he had been all along since Lk 4:31
on, only traveling about the outskirts mainly along
the shore, fields, plain, mountain and for brief
episodes through the city.
Mt 8:5 also has Jesus and the disciples arrive and
reenter Capernaum. Like Luke they too had been there
all along Mt 4:13 on. However, Mt 4:13-8:5 is very
difficult to read regarding their location due to Mt's
style that gets a bit frilly in Mt 4:25. In Mt 5:1 we
wonder what mountain he is talking about? Where is he?
This is due to his frilly summary n Mt 4:25. The
reader needs to get past this to see it was nothing
more than a summary of future events encapsulated here
as an ornament that acts more like a boulder in the
path interrupting the smooth flow of the transition of
the text. Mt does this because he belongs to a later
artistic period than Lk. Lk belonged to the period
that had what is called the Fist, Second and Third
Style painting. Whereas, Mt belonged to the Fourth
Style painting period that first emerged in the late
50's AD. It was characteristic to add frilly details
deviating from the simpler, cleaner, and clearer
images of the first three styles. The Fourth Style
painting period was the first Baroque-like period when
imagery became cluttered and driven by "horror vacui"
which Mt 4:25 exemplifies here and throughout his
Gospel as does Mk clearly demonstrating that they
belong to this new artistic period and are later than
both Lk and Jn. (See John A. Clarke, The Houses of
Roman Italy. 100 B.C. --A.D. 250 (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1991); Roger Ling,
Roman Painting. (Cambridge, Cambridge University
Press, 1991); Alexander G. McKay, Houses, Villas, and
Palaces in the Roman World. (Ithica, NY: Cornell
University Press, 1975); Amedeo Maiuri, Roman
Painting. (Geneva, Skira, 1953); Jerome J. Pollitt,
The Art of Rome, 753 B.C.--A.D. 337. Rev. ed.
(Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1983). For the
parallels in literature see J. Wight Duff, A Literary
History of Rome In the Silver Age, 3rd ed. (N. Y.,
2. The Centurion
Lk 7: 2 says "a centurion there" indicating he lived
in Capernaum. Lk tells us that this centurion has a
slave whom he cherished (ENTIMOS) and was deadly ill.
The centurion hears about Jesus and dispatches a small
delegation of Jewish elders to appeal to him for help
on the slave's behalf. They convince him of the
centurion's worthiness and goes with them to see him
and the slave. Before Jesus arrives to the
centurion's home a second delegation of friends greets
Jesus with the message: "I am not worthy that you
should come under my roof . . .But only speak the
word, and let my servant be healed." Then, they give
the centurion's analogy of his power to dispatch
commands (already obvious by the 2 delegations) to
Jesus who can do likewise.
Mt 8:5 has the centurion also living in Capernaum
personally come to Jesus as soon as he enters the
city. He tells him his slave-boy is bedridden,
paralyzed and in terrible pain. Now this is curious
since Lk has traditionally been characterized as a
physician (a position which I do not hold) who if he
read Mt would surely have delighted in the physical
diagnosis and copied it. Even if Lk is not a
physician there is a tendency for him to relish in
medical details. Yet, none of this appealing material
is found in Lk which suggests he never saw it.
Further, Mt's description of the slave-boy's illness
is one that would have been long-term and he must have
had this condition for some time, not so in Lk. As we
have seen Jesus and the disciples were in the
immediate area all along Mt 4:13-8:5// Lk 4:31-7:1.
So, if this powerful commanding centurion could
dispatch servants why did he not do so, and sooner?
Instead he comes himself when convenient upon Jesus'
reentering the city. Hence, the logic to the story
becomes strained due to changes Mt gives to Lk's
narrative. Moreover, Jesus is prevented from going to
the slave-boy by the centurion who nearly quotes Lk
"I am not worthy that you should come under my roof .
. .But only speak the word, and let my servant be
healed." Now the foible in Mt that shows him up with
fatigue changing Lk is what follows in Mt 8:9 which
makes far less sense here than in Lk. In Mt the
centurion's protestations seem somewhat ingenuine
since he does not exemplify the power to give commands
as the centurion in Lk who sent 2 delegations, that
do. Further, the ill person in Mt is a slave-boy
(PAIS) suggesting a pederastic relationship. The
awkwardness here is the reader's wonderment of (1) the
centurion's intentions. Is he upset that he can no
longer have sex with the boy because he is ill
preventing it? (2) He shamelessly comes to Jesus
face-to-face speaking about his unworthiness also
suggested by the pederastic relationship, but instead
of sending delegations as would seem appropriate here
more so than in Lk, who has no pederastic relationship
suggested, the centurion goes himself to be
embarrassed and humiliated, hardly the behavior we
would expect of a powerful commanding centurion.
Finally, Jesus' amazement is followed by Mt 8:11 that
brings to mind Mt 28:19 and clearly shows a late
John N. Lupia
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