[Synoptic-L] Re: Papias and LOGIA/EPILOGIA v. LOGOI/Smith
- shalom Randall,
>There may have been some miscommunication here. We may be quite<SNIP>
>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".
>For clarity, this only showsThanks for that clarification. That puts a different slant on the evidence
>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
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
>That is fair. We may never know whether Papias is reflecting in-houseAs an intellectual historian I think the Semitisms in Greek NT texts can be
>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.
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 ;-)
Mahlon H. Smith
Department of Religion
New Brunswick NJ 08901
Synoptic Gospels Primer
Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
----- 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
Thank you for your email and more aspects to the questions.
>>As for synonyms, RHMATA and LOGIA share alot
>Where do you find evidence that ancient Greek speakers regarded
>LOGION as a synonym of hRHMA? Liddell-Scott gives no evidence
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
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
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
>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
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)
>>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
>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
>>2. If such a document existed, it would not be surprising
>>to find it referred to as TA LOGIA in Greek.
>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.
>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
>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.
Randall Buth, PhD
Director, Biblical Language Center
and Lecturer, Biblical Hebrew
Rothberg International School
Synoptic-L Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/synoptic-l
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