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[Synoptic-L] Re: Papias and LOGIA/EPILOGIA v. LOGOI/Smith

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  • Mahlon H. Smith
    shalom Randall, ... ... Thanks for that clarification. That puts a different slant on the evidence than the usual citations of Papias by Matthean
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 8, 2002
      shalom Randall,

      You wrote:

      >There may have been some miscommunication here. We may be quite
      >a bit closer than appears. I do not think that an ultimate Hebrew text
      >behind Papias statement would have anything directly to do with our
      >Gospel of Matthew. The GMatt, in my opinion, has heavily worked
      >together our Greek gospel of Mark and a Greek narrative source that
      >included much additional sayings material. That source could have gone
      >back to the "Papias text".
      <SNIP>
      >For clarity, this only shows
      >that our gospel of Matthew had access to an excellent "Hebraic" Greek
      >source, in addition to Mark, and this is not proposing any kind of
      >equation between our synoptic Gospel of Matthew and a hypothesized
      >Papian document.

      Thanks for that clarification. That puts a different slant on the evidence
      than the usual citations of Papias by Matthean priorists. Having jumped
      into this debate in mid-stream, I wasn't quite clear on the fine points of
      your view of the interrelationship of sources. Now you've got my ear, though
      I remain a methodological skeptic when it comes to Papias' hearsay
      testimony.

      >That is fair. We may never know whether Papias is reflecting in-house
      >speculation or a more solid, in-house tradition.
      >What remains is for Steve Notley and I to make some
      >progress on the book outlining the Hebraisms in Luke and nature of
      >somebody's Hebraic Greek source of a Hebrew document that looms
      >behind our gospels.

      As an intellectual historian I think the Semitisms in Greek NT texts can be
      adequately accounted for as the residue of oral Jewish Xn tradition without
      having to postulate an Ur-Hebrew (or Ur-Aramaic) Xn document that was used
      by various translators, as Papias alleges. Retro-Semitic translations of the
      Greek gospels are admittedly a lot of intellectual fun (witness the work of
      Burney, Matthew Black, Maurice Casey & George Howard) & can be especially
      helpful in clarifying awkward constructions in the Greek texts. But I've
      yet to see convincing evidence that any Semitic language *document* served
      as a textual source for any of our gospels (including "Q" & the Johannine
      "Signs" source). Nevertheless, *if* you can produce salient arguments that
      the gospels' "Hebraisms" are derived from a source *written* in Hebrew
      rather than from the residue of oral tradition &/or the characteristic style
      of this or that Hellenized evangelist, I still have ears to hear ;-)

      Shalom!

      Mahlon

      Mahlon H. Smith
      Department of Religion
      Rutgers University
      New Brunswick NJ 08901

      http://religion.rutgers.edu/profiles/mh_smith.html

      Synoptic Gospels Primer
      http://religion.rutgers.edu/nt/primer/

      Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
      http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Randall Buth" <ButhFam@...>
      To: "Mahlon H. Smith" <mahlonh.smith@...>
      Cc: "Randall Buth" <ButhFam@...>
      Sent: Monday, April 08, 2002 5:59 AM
      Subject: re: Papias and LOGIA/EPILOGIA v. LOGOI/Smith


      shalom Mahlon,

      Thank you for your email and more aspects to the questions.

      >>As for synonyms, RHMATA and LOGIA share alot
      >>in common.
      >
      >Where do you find evidence that ancient Greek speakers regarded
      >LOGION as a synonym of hRHMA? Liddell-Scott gives no evidence
      >of this.

      An excellent starting point for understanding our fields of study.
      The evidence needs to be gathered from the language and the texts,
      as you started to list them.
      For example, Hb 5.12 has Christians being taught the "beginning of
      the LOGIWN TOU QEOU". These are "God's sayings", "God's message"
      and for Jewish culture these are inseparable from the Hebrew scriptures
      and their translations and commentaries. The book of Deuteronomy is
      called "These are the words that Moses spoke". Oral, divine, and finally
      a book. More importantly for the cultural phenomenon is the extension of
      this whole semantic field as exemplified in a word like TORA 'teaching'.
      At first oral and frequently moral and religious, sometimes even oracular
      pronouncements of a priest. THEN the first five books of the Bible, and
      already so viewed during the second temple period. (cf. Lk 24.44).
      The above may be compared and repeated for RHMA. Notice
      Mt. 4.4 "by every RHMATI coming out of the Mouth of God". Again,
      we have an oral context with sayings of God that has become
      enscriptured.
      Personally, I would say it is fair to say that Mt 4.4 RHMA and Hb 5.12
      LOGIA "share a lot in common".
      The other side of your comment says more about our fields of
      study than the potential synonymic equation of RHMATA~=~LOGIA.
      LSJM may not have listed these as synonyms. This is almost irrelevant,
      since the dictionary does not claim to give full representation of semantic

      fields of the words involved. A dictionary that does claim to begin such a
      grouping, Louw-Nida, actually lists theses words together 33.97 and
      33.98, though that is a recording accident. Louw-Nida itself is terribly
      insufficient for 1st-2nd century semantic fields since it limits itself to
      the
      relatively small vocabulary of the NT. (e.g. QEIWDHS "sulphurous
      color" is the closest thing to 'yellow' in Louw-Nida, while any little kid
      would have said XANQOS for 'yellow'. But L-N don't mention xanthos.)

      >>Certainly, they share enough in common for one to
      >>be used for another as referring to a (divine) scripture within a
      >>Greek context.
      >
      >Perhaps, providing the hRHMATA were understood specifically as
      >oracular pronouncements in which the speaker was viewed as
      >mouthpiece for the Deity. In any case the term TA LOGIA would
      >probably be understood to refer to the divine origin of
      >pronouncements recorded in that text (much as later Xns referred
      >to scripture as a whole as the Word of God) rather than as a title
      >of that particular text in distinction from other sacred scriptures.

      We are actually agreed here on RHMATA/LOGIA. I've gone one step
      further and assumed a written text with such a title. It is a fair comment
      to
      question whether the phrase was used as a title. We only have this Papias
      comment. In terms of realia we have both kinds of texts to link this with,
      the Thomas' type "sayings" document, [[a document that I think to be
      secondary to our narrative gospel sources, e.g. the scripture and vineyard
      parable in Thomas 65-66 seem to reflect an older narrative composition
      where the wordplays between the scripture and parable were a natural part
      of the text]] and the many surviving gospels with
      any narrative sources behind them. I've chosen the narrative gospel source
      type as my working hypothesis because of the linguistic data that I've seen

      in the canonical gospels. (see below)

      snip

      >>1. Divre-Yeshua`, as a Hebrew title, would include "sayings"
      >>IN HEBREW, but in addition would certainly fit sayings
      >>that were in a narrative Hebrew framework, and it would do so
      >>very naturally.
      >
      >Granted. *If* such a Hebrew text existed & *providing* it had been
      >given a title. Both conditions are highly problematic & not at all
      >historically certain, however.

      We are agreed on the uncertainty though we value it differently.
      I do not find it "highly problematic" to envision a Hebrew text after
      the hundreds that have been found at Qumran, surviving snippets of
      literary Hebrew in rabbinic literature like Qiddushin 66a, colloquial
      "rabbi" stories and parables, and the Hebraisms that turn up in the
      gospels, especially Luke as against "2Acts". As for a way of referring
      to a written work about Jesus and his teaching, divre-Yeshua` would
      have a nice ring in Hebrew. We are working in a cavernous dark hole:
      all we have are accounts like Luke 1.1-4 and statements like Papias.
      Plus the philological work that we can extract from the surviving
      gospels themselves.

      >>2. If such a document existed, it would not be surprising
      >>to find it referred to as TA LOGIA in Greek.

      snip
      >A text like GMatt that begins with several chapters of narrative
      >before recording a single pronouncement by Jesus, would have
      >provided more than enough reason for a Greek-speaking Xn
      >*not* to indentify that work as TA LOGIA TOU KURIOU
      >("the Oracles of the Lord").

      There may have been some miscommunication here. We may be quite
      a bit closer than appears. I do not think that an ultimate Hebrew text
      behind Papias statement would have anything directly to do with our
      Gospel of Matthew. The GMatt, in my opinion, has heavily worked
      together our Greek gospel of Mark and a Greek narrative source that
      included much additional sayings material. That source could have gone
      back to the "Papias text".

      >>3. If, in addition, the person making the citation adds that the
      >>source was once "in Hebrew", then the hypothesis moves from
      >>being weakly possible (speculatively possible) to strongly (credibly)
      >>possible, a credible working hypothesis.

      snip
      >extensive linguistic evidence from the
      >Greek version that the text had been originally composed in Hebrew).
      >I find more Semitisms in the composition of GMark than GMatt.

      And I find even more in Luke, despite Luke's personal penchant to
      smooth out Semitisms. Actually, all three synoptists are very
      much a "mixed bag" when it comes to Semtisms and all three show
      evidence of having had access to Semitized Greek sources outside of
      the other synoptic writers. These come both in the words of Jesus
      and in the narrative. Recently on the list I mentioned Matthew's OR
      leYOM RISHON (28.1) which probably comes from a non-Marcan
      source, despite Matthew's strong use of Mark. The rabbinic Hebrew
      "what be commandment big" (Mt 22.36) MA-HU KELAL GADOL
      BA-TORA is a triple tradition "sayings" cum narrative
      example that would not have come from Mark. (NB: again the idiom
      is NOT in the words of Jesus.) For clarity, this only shows
      that our gospel of Matthew had access to an excellent "Hebraic" Greek
      source, in addition to Mark, and this is not proposing any kind of
      equation between our synoptic Gospel of Matthew and a hypothesized
      Papian document.

      >That, coupled with the vagueness of Papias' citation & the inexact
      >correspondence of Greek TA LOGIA to Hebrew DiBRei, leaves
      >me unconvinced that an original Hebrew text compiled by Matthew
      >is anything more than pious ancient speculation.

      That is fair. We may never know whether Papias is reflecting in-house
      speculation or a more solid, in-house tradition.
      What remains is for Steve Notley and I to make some
      progress on the book outlining the Hebraisms in Luke and nature of
      somebody's Hebraic Greek source of a Hebrew document that looms
      behind our gospels.

      >Shalom!
      Amen

      Randall Buth

      Randall Buth, PhD
      Director, Biblical Language Center
      www.biblicalulpan.org
      and Lecturer, Biblical Hebrew
      Rothberg International School
      Hebrew University


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