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[Synoptic-L] Hebrew parables

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  • John C. Poirier
    ... we? ... Randall, I wonder: Is there a first-century Jewish source that preserves Jewish parables in Hebrew, or are they not all from the rabbinic era?
    Message 1 of 11 , Feb 9, 2004
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      Randall Buth wrote:

      > It sort of made us chuckle over here,
      > when they could have had Greek and Hebrew,
      > they chose Latin and Aramaic.
      > not overly in touch with 1st century Jewish sources . . .
      > --remember last month's challenge? not a single story parable except in
      > Hebrew, but then we don't have many parables in the last 24 hours, do
      we?
      > still there is some of the best midrashic repartee ever recorded in the
      > high
      > priestly trial--
      > I would nevertheless be interested in both the Latin and the Aramaic.


      Randall,

      I wonder: Is there a "first-century Jewish source" that preserves Jewish
      parables in Hebrew, or are they not all from the rabbinic era?

      Your inference that the parables must have all been spoken in Hebrew
      because they were preserved that way reminds me of the inference, only
      recently challenged, that all the halakhic traditions of the Pharisees
      must have been originally formulated in Hebrew because that's how they
      made it into the Mishnah.


      John C. Poirier
      Middletown, Ohio



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    • R. Steven Notley
      Nice try Jack, but as you are well aware, there are no first century documents for story parables. One could just as easily ask you for evidence from first
      Message 2 of 11 , Feb 9, 2004
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        Nice try Jack, but as you are well aware, there are no first century documents for story parables.  One could just as easily ask you for evidence from first century Jewish sources that Jesus taught parables in Aramaic.

        I would be interested in knowing your understanding of what motivated the Jewish community en bloc to translate every single one of these early "Aramaic" parables to Hebrew (even in otherwise Aramaic contexts), when the development of the language after the Bar Kokhba revolt clearly points us in the direction of transition to Aramaic (and away from Hebrew), not the reverse.  Again, what (cultural, religious, social) motive was there to make sure that not one single Aramaic parable (as you suggest they were originally uttered) was preserved?

        Rather than assume a massive (uniform) translation process carried out by widely dispersed Jewish communities, Randy's reading of the data seems more reasonable (and avoids inexplicable speculation).

        Early Jewish practice was to tell story parables of the type that Jesus spoke in Hebrew.  These parables were preserved, as they were told--in Hebrew.

        shalom
        R. Steven Notley
        Professor of Biblical Studies
        Nyack College NYC
         
         

      • R. Steven Notley
        One point of clarification before I am inundated with comments. In the opening line in my post I stated, there are no first century documents for story
        Message 3 of 11 , Feb 9, 2004
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          One point of clarification before I am inundated with comments.  In the opening line in my post I stated, "there are no first century documents for story parables."  I should have written more precisely, "there are no first century Jewish sources (Aramaic or Hebrew) for story parables."  The Gospels, of course, are "first century documents" that preserve story parables.

          R. Steven Notley
          Nyack College NYC

        • John C. Poirier
          ... the Jewish ... Aramaic parables to ... the language ... transition to Aramaic ... Steve, First, I would debate your contention that the development of
          Message 4 of 11 , Feb 9, 2004
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            Steven Notley wrote:

            > I would be interested in knowing your understanding of what motivated
            the Jewish
            > community en bloc to translate every single one of these early
            "Aramaic" parables to
            > Hebrew (even in otherwise Aramaic contexts), when the development of
            the language
            > after the Bar Kokhba revolt clearly points us in the direction of
            transition to Aramaic
            > (and away from Hebrew), not the reverse.

            Steve,

            First, I would debate your contention that "the development of the
            language after the Bar Kokhba revolt clearly points us in the direction
            of transition to Aramaic (and away from Hebrew)." Scholarship is
            sharply divided on what effect the Bar Kokhba revolt had on the
            vernacular of Jewish Palestine: Segal, Rabin, and Gafni all think that
            Aramaic came more into prominence after the revolt, but Yadin and Rosén
            have argued the opposite view: that the Bar Kokhba revolt brought about
            a shift from Aramaic to Hebrew. I personally don't think the revolt had
            much effect at all: I think that there was a shift from Aramaic to
            Hebrew, but that it actually occurred much later.

            As for what motivated the "Jewish community en bloc to translate" all
            the parables, I would first point out that we aren't dealing with the
            "Jewish community en bloc" but only with a very small portion of it: the
            leaders of the fledgeling rabbinic movement. Their motivation, of
            course, was the ideologically freighted contention that all matters
            connected to the Torah must be formulated in the holy language. That
            the Mishnah, which is representative of the linguistic ideology of
            second-, third-, and fourth-century Palestinian rabbinic leadership, was
            compiled in a language that sometimes differed from the native language
            of its component traditions has been argued by Catherine Hezser: e.g.,
            "If informal and private written notes existed, the language of these
            notes may have been Aramaic rather than Hebrew. This phenomenon may be
            indicated by Y. Kil. 1:1, 27a, where an Aramaic list of various kinds of
            produce allegedly written 'on the wall' (of the house or study room?) of
            Hillel b. Alem is quoted, which appears in Hebrew in M. Kil. 1:1" ("The
            Mishnah and Ancient Book Production," in *The Mishnah in Contemporary
            Perspective*, eds. Alan J. Avery-Peck and Jacob Neusner (Handbook of
            Oriental Studies: Near and Middle East 65; Leiden: Brill, 2002) 167-92,
            esp. 179).

            It is not my contention that the translation process was "carried out by
            widely dispersed Jewish communities," but only by the handful of editors
            responsible for the passage of rabbinic tradition through the centuries
            in question, most of them located in Tiberias.


            John C. Poirier
            Middletown, Ohio




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          • R. Steven Notley
            Jack First, I find it extraordinary that you can suggest that a small handful of editors in Tiberias were able to exert such control over the language of
            Message 5 of 11 , Feb 9, 2004
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              Jack

              First, I find it extraordinary that you can suggest that a small handful of editors in Tiberias were able to exert such control over the language of Jewish parables as preserved by Jewish communities both inside and outside of the Land of Israel.  Were they able to exert such control over the Jewish community also in the east?  According to your suggestion, this "handful of editors" sitting in Tiberias were so successful that we have not one Aramaic parable.  Even Stalin was not able to maintain such censorship.  When has the Jewish community ever been so monolithic?

              Your reasoning is likewise questionable regarding their desire to assure that "all matters
              connected to the Torah must be formulated in the holy language."  As you are well aware, Mishnaic Hebrew is not Biblical Hebrew.  If the language of the parables has been artificially fabricated to imitate the "holy language" of the Torah, why not something more akin to Qumranic Hebrew which is closer to biblical Hebrew?  Why not purge it of non-biblicisms (e.g. Aramaisms) that suggest a living, colloquial language and obtain something that more closely reflects the Torah.

              Further, Hebrew parables sometimes occur within (Aramaic) halakhic (legal) contexts were "matters connected to the Torah" are being discussed.  Why this editorial committee in Tiberias chose to translate some "matters connected to the Torah" to Hebrew (i.e. parables), while leaving other "matters connected to the Torah" in their original Aramaic is inconsistent with your explanation of a desire to forumlate matters connected to the Torah  "in the holy language".

              In the end, NT scholarship has little choice but to acknowledge that we have no evidentiary basis to suggest Jesus taught his parables in Aramaic.  All the story parables that we possess are in Hebrew.

              The more interesting question for those on this list is why there is always such strong objections to the acknowledgement that first century Judaea was a (truly!) tri-lingual environment (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek).  In our scholarly circles one is permitted to assume Jesus knew and spoke Greek and Aramaic, but the mere suggestion that he likewise taught in Hebrew raises strong opposition.  Why?

              shalom
              R. Steven Notley
              Nyack College NYC

            • John C. Poirier
              Thank you, Steve and Marc, for your responses. I would like to address a few points. Steve, you keep speaking of the Jewish community when the community in
              Message 6 of 11 , Feb 9, 2004
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                Thank you, Steve and Marc, for your responses. I would like to address
                a few points.

                Steve, you keep speaking of the "Jewish community" when the community in
                question is the tiny minority known as the tannaim and early amoraim.
                Of course the "Jewish community" was never so "monolithic", but the
                early *rabbinic movement* was fairly monolithic, and what it lacked in
                cohesion is probably lost to history due to the ascendancy of the
                Tiberian academy. It is not unlikely that most of what the Babylonian
                rabbinic movement learned from the Palestinian community came from R.
                Yochanan and his students. Lee Levine explains the increase in
                Babylonian sages living in Palestine as due to R. Yochanan's influence,
                and suggests that his "longevity and stature attracted students to his
                academy in Tiberias, swell[ing] the ranks of the subsequent generation
                of Palestinian sages" (*The Rabbinic Class of Roman Palestine in Late
                Antiquity*, p. 67).

                Steve, you wrote, "If the language of the parables has been artificially
                fabricated to imitate the 'holy language' of the Torah, why not
                something more akin to Qumranic Hebrew which is closer to biblical
                Hebrew? Why not purge it of non-biblicisms (e.g. Aramaisms) that
                suggest a living, colloquial language and obtain something that more
                closely reflects the Torah." There are in fact two very different types
                of ideological commitments to holy languages. One is borne of sectarian
                social dynamics ("We're in and you're out"), and involves a
                "righteous-remnant" mentality calling forth an antiquarianizing or
                scripturalizing approach to language. We find this at Qumran, and later
                in the Quaker community. (Cf. Schniedewind's comparison of Qumran
                Hebrew with Quaker English.) The other type of commitment is simply
                motivated by a sort of "Scripture principle", and has nothing to do with
                sectarian versus non-sectarian dynamics: it involves a simple acceptance
                of the holy language as the language of religion, without any
                pretensions about antiquarian forms of that language.

                The Qumran approach represents a combination of both paradigms: the
                sectarian aspect of Qumranic self-definition endears the former paradigm
                to them, while the priestly aspect of Qumranic self-definition endears
                the latter paradigm. In this connection, I think that a great deal of
                confusion has resulted from Chaim Rabin's writings concerning the
                languages of Jewish Palestine. Rabin suggested that Qumranic references
                to the "halting language" (1QH 12.16 [was 4.16]), "uncircumcised
                language" (1QH 10.18 [was 2.18]), and "blasphemous tongue" of their
                opponents (CD 5.11-12) were aimed at the Pharisees, who (Rabin believed)
                used mishnaic Hebrew as their language of instruction. More likely,
                these potshots were aimed at the Pharisees' use of Aramaic. At any
                rate, the Qumran model is a poor example for what we should expect from
                groups affirming a "holy language" ideology *per se*, especially from
                groups that are socially expansionist.

                So you see, it is by no means clear that the rabbis would have adopted a
                scripturalizing dialect of Hebrew for their tradition, free of Aramaisms
                and Graecisms. This is to say nothing, of course, of the
                power-brokering aspect of the rabbinic "control" of Hebrew resources
                (which was probably not unlike the thinking of Innocent III on Latin
                resources).

                As for why "the mere suggestion that [Jesus] likewise taught in Hebrew
                raises strong opposition", I would simply suggest that it is a matter of
                where the evidence leads. I personally don't care what language Jesus
                spoke. What I care about is sound scholarship. I have looked at both
                sides of the argument, and have concluded (against the leanings of my
                earlier teachers) that the argument for an Aramaic vernacular is stronger.

                Marc, you wrote that the "linguistic development moving from Hebrew akin
                to late-biblical Hebrew into a clearly distinct 'Mishnaic' Hebrew . . .
                would hardly seem possibly or likely if a select group of scholars sat
                down to unify the language of the sages teachings." The tacit
                assumption seems to be that only vernacular languages develop (an
                assumption that M. H. Segal and Elisha Qimron both use as operating
                principles). But as Joshua Blau has demonstrated, "even dead languages,
                only used in literature, change" ("A Conservative View of the Language
                of the Dead Sea Scrolls," in *Diggers at the Well: Proceedings of a
                Third International Symposium on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls and
                Ben Sira*, eds. T. Muraoka and J. F. Elwolde [STDJ 36; Leiden: Brill,
                2000] 20-25, esp. 20 [emphasis removed]). (I am not saying that Hebrew
                was all *that* dead, anyway: only that it was elitist.)

                Since you mention Paul's use of "the Hebrew dialect" in Acts, may I
                refer to Paul's care in mentioning that Jesus spoke "Hebrew" at the
                Damascus Road christophany? Champions of a Hebrew-speaking Jesus seem
                to think that this evidence supports their case, but doesn't it really
                support the opposing view? Why would Paul have to mention that Jesus
                spoke Hebrew unless that was *not* the language that Jesus was normally
                expected to speak? (The rhetorical pay-off is that Jesus' speaking
                Hebrew identifies him as a heavenly being.)


                All best wishes,

                John C. Poirier
                Middletown, Ohio




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              • Ron Price
                ... John, Surely there is a simpler explanation: the mention of the language spoken by Jews was because Acts was written in Greek. According to the two
                Message 7 of 11 , Feb 10, 2004
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                  John Poirier wrote:

                  > Since you mention Paul's use of "the Hebrew dialect" in Acts, may I
                  > refer to Paul's care in mentioning that Jesus spoke "Hebrew" at the
                  > Damascus Road christophany? Champions of a Hebrew-speaking Jesus seem
                  > to think that this evidence supports their case, but doesn't it really
                  > support the opposing view? Why would Paul have to mention that Jesus
                  > spoke Hebrew unless that was *not* the language that Jesus was normally
                  > expected to speak? (The rhetorical pay-off is that Jesus' speaking
                  > Hebrew identifies him as a heavenly being.)

                  John,

                  Surely there is a simpler explanation: the mention of the language spoken
                  by Jews was because Acts was written in Greek.

                  According to the two commentaries on Acts to which I have ready access, TH
                  hEBRAIDI DIALEKTW must have referred to Aramaic, because the form SAOUL is
                  Aramaic. Presumably the footnote on Acts 26:14 in the NRSV is based on the
                  same reasoning.

                  Ron Price

                  Derbyshire, UK


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                • John C. Poirier
                  ... I don t get it: that still doesn t explain why the language of Paul s christophany is relevant. ... I am aware that this view dominates the commentaries,
                  Message 8 of 11 , Feb 10, 2004
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                    Ron Price wrote:

                    > Surely there is a simpler explanation: the mention of the language
                    > spoken by Jews was because Acts was written in Greek.

                    I don't get it: that still doesn't explain why the language of Paul's
                    christophany is relevant.

                    > According to the two commentaries on Acts to which I have ready
                    > access, TH hEBRAIDI DIALEKTW must have referred to Aramaic, because
                    > the form SAOUL is Aramaic. Presumably the footnote on Acts 26:14 in
                    > the NRSV is based on the same reasoning.

                    I am aware that this view dominates the commentaries, but it has less
                    going for it philologically. (Comparisons with Eusebius' use of similar
                    constructions were discussed a few years ago on this list.)


                    John C. Poirier
                    Middletown, Ohio



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                  • Randall Buth
                    TOIS PASI XAIREIN It is nice to see a discussion on an important topic. Several rounds have transpired and I will need to refer to pieces of all of them in
                    Message 9 of 11 , Feb 10, 2004
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                      TOIS PASI
                      XAIREIN

                      It is nice to see a discussion on an important topic. Several rounds have
                      transpired and I will need to refer to pieces of all of them in order to
                      keep a
                      perspective.

                      I'll start with the latest:
                      John Poirier quoted Price:
                      > According to the two commentaries on Acts to which I have ready
                      > access, TH hEBRAIDI DIALEKTW must have referred to Aramaic, because
                      > the form SAOUL is Aramaic. Presumably the footnote on Acts 26:14 in
                      > the NRSV is based on the same reasoning.
                      and Poirier responded.
                      >I am aware that this view dominates the commentaries, but it has less
                      going for it philologically. <

                      Yes, Jack is more than correct here and the quotation shows some of the
                      problems in the literature: "must have referred". that is rather strong
                      language
                      for what is probably a commentator's mistake. syristi is Aramaic. Also,
                      "Saoul is Aramaic" is silly. It is a grecization of Hebrew.

                      going back a post, Poirier wrote:
                      >Why would Paul have to mention that Jesus
                      spoke Hebrew unless that was *not* the language that Jesus was normally
                      expected to speak? (The rhetorical pay-off is that Jesus' speaking
                      Hebrew identifies him as a heavenly being.)<

                      Why mention Hebrew? I suppose the champion of the gentile/Greek gospel
                      was recalling his roots, which happened to be Hebrew, among other
                      languages. (by the way, rabbinic literature records Aramaic 'bat qol'
                      heavenly voices. A heavenly Jesus was not required to speak in Hebrew.)
                      More interesting, though, is the logic of Jack's question. When the
                      same logic is applied to the gospels people say 'foul'. I'm referring to
                      Mark's
                      three Aramaic sentences, none of which are in a teaching context, and I
                      would
                      argue, non of which were presented for 20th century antiquarian interests
                      but
                      for rhetorical effect of foreignness and other-worldliness. Aramaic worked
                      fine. Yet they become the bottom-line for many as to what language Jesus
                      taught in or in what language the gospel traditions were first recorded in.
                      But
                      of course, they are actually irrelevant to these questions and if pressed
                      would
                      point to the opposite conclusion: they were not Jesus' teaching language
                      and
                      were not the Semitic language of recording the life and sayings. So thank
                      you,
                      Jack.

                      The question of the thread is parables and there are some major points that

                      need evaluation. Rabbinic story parables are all in Hebrew. That needs an
                      explanation within NT circles, where most are taught that Jesus' parables
                      would have been in Aramaic (following Dalman, Black, Jeremias, et al.).

                      Poirier has tried to deal with the problem by positing the opposite of the
                      data
                      as the norm. His attempt to deal with the issue is to be applauded. Few do.

                      He suggested that parables were taught in Aramaic but then
                      scrupulously translated into Mishnaic Hebrew. Well, if such a theory were
                      true, it would allow someone to assume that Jesus taught his parables in
                      Aramaic and that those scholars who have built on this foundation may be
                      going in the right direction. Of course, such a theory is a bit of a
                      conspiracy
                      theory, not unlike Geiger's attempts from 1845, refuted by Segal in 1908-
                      1909.

                      Within scholarship it is often helpful to see whose ideas are supported
                      by further discoveries. In this case, the Dead Sea discoveries have
                      confirmed Segal as the one on the right track. More below on the
                      colloquial nature, too.

                      The opposite of Poirier's suggestion needs to be spelled out, as well. What

                      if there was no translation conspiracy? Story parables are all in Hebrew,
                      and
                      presumably because they were all composed in Hebrew. In that case, it
                      would be reasonable to assume that Jesus' parables, too, were cast in
                      Hebrew. This would be true even in a multi-lingual environment, where
                      language use may switch several times in conversation or meeting. (NB:
                      the claim is that the first century land of Israel was tri-lingual, not
                      mono-
                      lingual or bi-lingual.)

                      Well, are Hebrew parables in rabbinic literature part of a conspiracy or
                      simply the plain recording of a genre?
                      We have "rabbi stories" told in both Hebrew and Aramaic. These are
                      stories, often with a halakic point being remembered, yet they were not
                      translated 100% into Hebrew. This would argue against the conspiracy
                      theory. Not water-tight proof, but definite evidence against. It would be
                      strong enough, in my opinion, to sway decisions, but there is more.
                      More importantly, we have aphorisms that are preserved in Hebrew and
                      in Aramaic. The Aramaic ones are called "matla", (=mashal, that's
                      "parable" to the Greek audience), yet they are preserved in Aramaic and
                      not translated into Hebrew. Thus, some Aramaic parables are preserved,
                      but there are no Aramaic story parables! That is a strange inconsistency
                      for
                      a translation conspiracy.
                      Possible? anything is possible. Probable? No. The evidence points to
                      the thousands of Hebrew parables scattered in Babylonian and
                      Palestinian literature being preserved in their form of composition. That
                      is
                      real evidence, and it is incredulous to suspect that "they" were able to
                      track
                      down all of the parables and insure all of the Aramaic story parables [sic]
                      got translated. Steve is right, that is too many generations, from too many

                      rabbis, from too many locales, and going through mythical censors that
                      themselves weren't consistent. (Why the genre? good question for another
                      thread.)

                      Names were floated in earlier parts of this thread. I missed seeing the
                      giant,
                      Kutscher, and the following generation, that Bar Asher and Sokoloff
                      represent.
                      A lesser known is Abba Bendavid. He has written a lucid description of 2nd
                      temple and Mishnaic Hebrew:
                      leshon miqra ulshon Haxamim, 2 vol. 1967. He not only controls the
                      data first hand and has produced a wonderful handbook on stylistic
                      phenomena
                      of the period, but he shows large doses of common sense in skirting around
                      dead ends that some have gone down. I suppose I am waiting for the day
                      when NT folk will be reading Bendavid. In the meantime they do have
                      Kutscher,
                      Qimron, Sokoloff and Bar Asher. Hezser is not a Mishnaic linguist and
                      cannot
                      be posited next to Kutscher. Rosen is a story, below.

                      Specialists in Mishnaic Hebrew are not sharply divided, and
                      a person needs to be careful whom they are citing. For example, Haiim Rosen
                      came out with an iconoclastic book in French about twenty years ago.
                      Rosen was a structural linguist, classicist and semitist, he produced
                      a critical edition of Herodotus if my memory of names is not failing me. He

                      also wrote about the syntax of Aramaic verbs in Daniel and Ezra that
                      was clever and a "tour de force" (with the negative implication). what he
                      forgot to do was explain how Aramaic verbs got themselves into the system
                      he described for Daniel, and then how they got themselves out of that for
                      the
                      Qumran and later Jewish Aramaic system. I've known a few dozen Aramaicists
                      in my day, but I have yet to find someone who embraces Rosen's "system".
                      Of course, just because Rosen was off base on Aramaic verbs doesn't mean
                      he is wrong on 2nd temple languages. But he was. (OK, I had a benefit of
                      reading Kutscher and Bendavid [and the data!] between the time of reading
                      Matthew Black [before] and Rosen [after].) By the way, Rosen was a
                      first-rate
                      scholar, but his judgment was not sound on the language question and he is
                      not followed by Mishnaic linguists.

                      Some data that does not replace what Segal already argued but confirms
                      his approach:
                      A perspective not often covered is the period between the wars, 70 CE to
                      130
                      CE. There is not an archaeological peep of Hebrew. Did everyone forget it?
                      No way. but it may be compared to German in the US right after World War I.

                      Post-70 Hebrew was politically incorrect, with a vengeance.
                      Who wanted to wave a red flag in front of a Roman administrator?
                      What is more amazing is that after a 60
                      year tunnel of suppression, common people still knew the language.
                      Bar Kochba's man did not learn his Hebrew in school or from the Bible.
                      Even first-year Hebrew students in the northamerica today would not dare
                      to write "ani me`id TAshamayim". But Bar Kochba's not-too-educated folk
                      did. What is interesting and fun, is that that is exactly the way people
                      talk today: hizmanta TA-kafe o ha-te? "did you order the coffee or the
                      tea?"
                      or as Eyal Golan sings, "amart she-ha-geshem yishtof TA-dema`ot"
                      "You said the rain would wash away the tears." (Don't laugh, it's a nice
                      song. sort of Israel's internal answer to American country.) It is
                      obviously
                      the way they talked back then, too. It's a natural language process.

                      Perhaps the problem stems from thinking that all of the 2nd temple
                      prophets and writers were "blowing smoke" when they used Hebrew. A large
                      segment of Biblical literature was written during this period, and
                      certainly not
                      for a few rabbis (excuse the anachronism). I like to think they were
                      speaking
                      to the people. (There is evidence that they were, of course. Please consult
                      Bendavid, et al. Bendavid has close to a hundred pages on these issues, if
                      I remember right.)

                      Back to the gospels, one must ask about historical probability. Is it
                      possible
                      that everything was done in Aramaic, but 99% of Pharisaic stuff was
                      translated
                      into un-holy holy Hebrew (for holy Hebrew, try Qumran), that all parables
                      were done
                      in Aramaic, but they were all translated into un-holy Hebrew, (unless they
                      were
                      aphoristic and then they could be left in Aramaic, or unless they were just
                      'rabbi'
                      stories and then they could be left in Aramaic)? Yes, that is
                      theoretically possible. It is just not probable.
                      Responsibility requires us to say that the "Jewish story parable" was a
                      genre
                      that was enjoyed in Hebrew, uniquely. Burden of proof is on the conspiracy

                      theory.

                      What does that say about the gospels and Jesus' teaching of parables.
                      Simply, one may assume that Jesus' parables were in Hebrew, even though
                      our records are in Greek. While it is "possible" that other languages were
                      used, there is no evidence to support it. Conspiracy theories are possible,
                      and sometimes they are true (remember 2Kings11 "qesher qasher!"?).
                      The scary thing
                      is to realize that alot of scholarship has been built on a
                      conspiracy theory, Dalman, Black, Jeremias all have Jesus teaching
                      Aramaic parables. (Geiger was the conspiracy theory originator, to what
                      degree the others were aware of that, I wouldn't know, but Geiger is
                      mufrax.)

                      My spin on the above moves toward the next generation. Given that we
                      have this mammoth amount of data to be using, from Qumran to rabbinic
                      literature, isn't it time we raised the bar and required our NT students
                      to control Hebrew to a level of reading Bendavid without paging through
                      a dictionary? (and apparently few ever do even that). the Hebrew parables
                      alone would suggest such training.
                      I can't see much movement taking place if people can't control the data.

                      ERRWSQE
                      Randall Buth
                      Jerusalem
                      www.biblicalulpan.org

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                    • John C. Poirier
                      Thanks, Randall, for your long and thoughtful post. Please understand: I do indeed think that the fact that all of thousands of rabbinic story parables are in
                      Message 10 of 11 , Feb 10, 2004
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                        Thanks, Randall, for your long and thoughtful post.

                        Please understand: I do indeed think that the fact that all of thousands
                        of rabbinic story parables are in Hebrew is an impressive fact. I don't
                        think that every one of them was originally said in Aramaic: certainly
                        many of them are late enough that their provenance is the rabbinic
                        academy, where, in most cases, Hebrew would have been the language of
                        instruction. The ones that need explaining (on my theory) are the ones
                        that belong more to a pharisaic than a truly rabbinic provenance.
                        Perhaps that still leaves hundreds for my "conspiracy theory"--I don't
                        know and I don't have my books with me at the moment.

                        But for the sake of argument, let's say that my "conspiracy theory" is
                        wrong and even the earliest of the story parables were originally said
                        in Hebrew. The question then is "Why?" Since you and Steve both admit
                        that these parables are often imbedded in Aramaic material, and seem to
                        imply that that material is also early, and that many early aphorisms
                        make it through in Aramaic, then it follows that the hebraicity of these
                        parables cannot be used as a simple index of the linguistic situation of
                        the time, but requires a special explanation. What is that explanation?
                        Assuming that a plausible explanation can be had, we can perhaps then
                        posit that Jesus' parables would also have been said in Hebrew, but the
                        fact that a special explanation was needed implies that we cannot then
                        extrapolate from the (reconstructed) language of Jesus' parables to the
                        language of Jesus' general teaching.


                        John C. Poirier
                        Middletown, Ohio



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                      • Ron Price
                        ... Randall, If I have understood your distinction correctly, it is very similar to the distinction which I have made (based on the 3ST) between aphorisms in
                        Message 11 of 11 , Feb 10, 2004
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                          Randall Buth wrote:

                          > More importantly, we have aphorisms that are preserved in Hebrew and
                          > in Aramaic. The Aramaic ones are called "matla", (=mashal, that's
                          > "parable" to the Greek audience), yet they are preserved in Aramaic and
                          > not translated into Hebrew. Thus, some Aramaic parables are preserved,
                          > but there are no Aramaic story parables!

                          Randall,

                          If I have understood your distinction correctly, it is very similar to the
                          distinction which I have made (based on the 3ST) between aphorisms in the
                          early sayings source, many of which go back to Jesus, and long parables not
                          in the early sayings source which in my opinion do not go back to Jesus. If
                          Jesus taught in aphorism/parables and not in "story parables", then this
                          would appear to remove a major objection to the idea that Jesus taught in
                          Aramaic. Perhaps the earliest evidence for this idea comes in the Greek
                          words GEENNA, MAMWNAS and SATON, which apparently derive from Aramaic (or is
                          this also silly?) and which occur within aphorism/parables that probably go
                          back to Jesus.

                          Ron Price

                          Derbyshire, UK


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