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'men' or 'mhn' in Luke 23:56?

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  • Daniel Buck
    It is Good Friday for most of us, a time for many scholars to revisit the timing of the Crucifixion. Crucial to this discussion is Luke 23:56, and part of the
    Message 1 of 8 , Apr 6, 2007
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      It is Good Friday for most of us, a time for many scholars to revisit
      the timing of the Crucifixion. Crucial to this discussion is Luke
      23:56, and part of the argument hinges on one phrase, "kai to men
      sabbaton hsuxasan" or "and on the 'men' Sabbath they rested."

      What is 'men' supposed to mean in this context?

      Now admittedly, the use of 'men' here is problematic. It's
      untranslated in most English versions; those that include it
      generally follow the 'quidem' of the Vulgate with 'indeed', which
      doesn't really tell us anything. Indeed, 'men', which Luke seems to
      use more than any other NT author, almost always occurs with some
      other particle such as 'de', 'palin', 'alla', etc.

      Even when 'men' stands alone, it usually still carries the
      connotation of "one the one hand" or "for his part"; so 'indeed'
      without something else in contrast contextually just doesn't seem to
      belong. Interestingly enough, 'mhn' is an alternate spelling for this
      meaning in classical usage.

      So, someone with a chronological axe to grind has suggested a textual
      solution to this awkwardness, which is to replace 'men' with 'mhn'
      and then to translate it as "and on the lunar Sabbath they rested,"
      hypothesizing that the text was corrupted in connexion with the
      Quartodecimanian Controversy.

      This raises a few textual questions:
      1) Is there any evidence for this reading?
      2) If not, is 'to men sabbaton' a grammatically meaningful
      construction?
      3) If not, is there any evidence of such a phrase in ancient Greek,
      however constructed?


      The first two should be fairly easy for the well-equipped scholars
      among us to answer. The last would probably require quite a bit more
      digging. Any conclusive answers would be welcome.

      DB
    • Jim West
      ... it s just part of the men ... de clause, or in this case, the de ... men clause and indicates sequence. First, they returned to prepare the spices...
      Message 2 of 8 , Apr 6, 2007
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        Daniel Buck wrote:

        > What is 'men' supposed to mean in this context?

        it's just part of the 'men ... de' clause, or in this case, the 'de ...
        men' clause and indicates sequence. "First, they returned to prepare
        the spices... then on the Sabbath they rested".

        >
        > Now admittedly, the use of 'men' here is problematic. It's
        > untranslated in most English versions; those that include it
        > generally follow the 'quidem' of the Vulgate with 'indeed', which
        > doesn't really tell us anything. Indeed, 'men', which Luke seems to
        > use more than any other NT author, almost always occurs with some
        > other particle such as 'de', 'palin', 'alla', etc.


        as it occurs here with de. It isn't problematic at all.

        >
        > So, someone with a chronological axe to grind has suggested a textual
        > solution to this awkwardness, which is to replace 'men' with 'mhn'
        > and then to translate it as "and on the lunar Sabbath they rested,"
        > hypothesizing that the text was corrupted in connexion with the
        > Quartodecimanian Controversy.


        Rubbish. They are just reading something complicated into something
        simple. Occam's razor...

        >
        > This raises a few textual questions:
        > 1) Is there any evidence for this reading?

        Nope.

        > 2) If not, is 'to men sabbaton' a grammatically meaningful
        > construction?

        Yup.

        > 3) If not, is there any evidence of such a phrase in ancient Greek,
        > however constructed?

        I think that 'men ... de' clauses work in either order and I think it a
        tad perilous to be "washed in the blood of word order" as though there
        were, in the period when Luke was written, some sort of hard and fast
        rule about word order in sentence structure.

        best,

        Jim


        --
        Jim West, ThD

        http://drjewest.googlepages.com/ -- Biblical Studies Resources
        http://drjimwest.wordpress.com -- Weblog
      • George F Somsel
        I think this problem is quite easily solved by simple attention to Greek syntax and by the realization that the versification and the chapter divisions did
        Message 3 of 8 , Apr 6, 2007
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          I think this "problem" is quite easily solved by simple attention to Greek syntax and by the realization that the versification and the chapter divisions did not exist in the original.  What we have is
           
           
          καὶ τὸ μὲν σάββατον ἡσύχασαν κατὰ τὴν ἐντολήν τῇ δὲ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων ὄρθρου βαθέως ἐπὶ τὸ μνῆμα ἦλθον φέρουσαι ἃ ἡτοίμασαν ἀρώματα.
           
          KAI TO MEN SABBATON hHSUXASAN KATA THN ENTOLHN THi DE MIAi TWN SABBATWN ORQROU BAQEWS EPI TO MNHMA HLQON FEROUSAI hA hHTOIMASAN ARWMATA
           
          Thus we have the pair MEN … DE.
           
          george
          gfsomsel
          _________


          ----- Original Message ----
          From: Daniel Buck <bucksburg@...>
          To: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Friday, April 6, 2007 1:00:29 PM
          Subject: [textualcriticism] 'men' or 'mhn' in Luke 23:56?

          It is Good Friday for most of us, a time for many scholars to revisit
          the timing of the Crucifixion. Crucial to this discussion is Luke
          23:56, and part of the argument hinges on one phrase, "kai to men
          sabbaton hsuxasan" or "and on the 'men' Sabbath they rested."

          What is 'men' supposed to mean in this context?

          Now admittedly, the use of 'men' here is problematic. It's
          untranslated in most English versions; those that include it
          generally follow the 'quidem' of the Vulgate with 'indeed', which
          doesn't really tell us anything. Indeed, 'men', which Luke seems to
          use more than any other NT author, almost always occurs with some
          other particle such as 'de', 'palin', 'alla', etc.

          Even when 'men' stands alone, it usually still carries the
          connotation of "one the one hand" or "for his part"; so 'indeed'
          without something else in contrast contextually just doesn't seem to
          belong. Interestingly enough, 'mhn' is an alternate spelling for this
          meaning in classical usage.

          So, someone with a chronological axe to grind has suggested a textual
          solution to this awkwardness, which is to replace 'men' with 'mhn'
          and then to translate it as "and on the lunar Sabbath they rested,"
          hypothesizing that the text was corrupted in connexion with the
          Quartodecimanian Controversy.

          This raises a few textual questions:
          1) Is there any evidence for this reading?
          2) If not, is 'to men sabbaton' a grammatically meaningful
          construction?
          3) If not, is there any evidence of such a phrase in ancient Greek,
          however constructed?

          The first two should be fairly easy for the well-equipped scholars
          among us to answer. The last would probably require quite a bit more
          digging. Any conclusive answers would be welcome.

          DB




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        • David Robert Palmer
          Luke does intend a contrast with MEN and DE. Compare MEN - DE in Luke 23:41: And we indeed justly; for we have gotten back what was fitting to how we have
          Message 4 of 8 , Apr 6, 2007
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            Luke does intend a contrast with MEN and DE.  Compare  MEN - DE in Luke 23:41: "And we indeed justly; for we have gotten back what was fitting to how we have lived.  But this man, he has done nothing wrong."
             
            The contrast in Luke ch. 23 going into ch. 24 is one of strictly observing the Sabbath, versus immediately laboring at the soonest legal and practical opportunity- "at the crack of dawn."  (ORQROU BAQEWS, Literally, "the dark of dawn", ie., at the very beginning of dawn.)
             
            Thus:
             
            23:56 "Then when they returned home, they prepared spices and perfumes.  And for the Sabbath though, they did rest, in keeping with the commandment; 24:1 but at the crack of dawn on the first day of the week, they went to the tomb, carrying the spices they had prepared.
             
            David Robert Palmer
          • Eric Rowe
            ... I won t go overboard and say there s no such thing as a de...men clause--I m sure if I did, people would start posting examples of one. But I think you
            Message 5 of 8 , Apr 7, 2007
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              > I think that 'men ... de' clauses work in either order and I think it a
              > tad perilous to be "washed in the blood of word order" as though there
              > were, in the period when Luke was written, some sort of hard and fast
              > rule about word order in sentence structure.

              I won't go overboard and say there's no such thing as a de...men
              clause--I'm sure if I did, people would start posting examples of one.
              But I think you have to admit that it isn't the norm. The order of
              men...de is the rule. As some others have noted, we have an acceptable
              men...de clause here that extends into 24:1. And I wouldn't call
              giving preference to this option over the de...men option "being
              washed in the blood of word order."

              But, besides having a good men...de construction, even if we exclude
              that and just look at this as a case of a men without de, as Daniel
              suggested, there's no real problem. I think that translating a men
              anacolouthon as "indeed," is fine. Men and mhn are alternate spellings
              of the same word (the mhn that means "indeed", not the mhn that means
              "moon"). So even if some mss spelled it that way, it wouldn't be a
              problem, and I wouldn't expect to see it listed in NA. In order for
              Luke to have said "lunar sabbath", he would have had to use the
              adjective mhnion; or even if he wanted to use the noun adjectivally,
              it would still have to be declined, so mhnon I guess.
            • Jovial
              I don t think this is de...men, but men...de. 023:056 upostreyasai DE htoimasan arwmata KAI mura KAI to MEN sabbaton hsucasan kata thn entolhn 024:001 th DE
              Message 6 of 8 , Apr 8, 2007
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                I don't think this is de...men, but men...de.  
                 
                023:056  upostreyasai DE htoimasan arwmata KAI mura KAI to MEN sabbaton hsucasan kata thn entolhn 
                024:001  th DE mia twn sabbatwn orqrou baqewV epi to mnhma hlqon ferousai a htoimasan arwmata 
                In both Hebrew as well as NT Greek, "Sabbath" can mean either the 7th day of the week, or a week ending on the 7th day.  The MEN...DE draws a clear contrast so that the "sabbaton" of 24:1 is not confused with the "sabbaton" of 23:56.  Perhaps it is clearer if I add parenthesis....
                 
                023:056  (upostreyasai DE htoimasan (arwmata KAI mura)) KAI (to MEN sabbaton hsucasan kata thn entolhn 
                024:001  th DE mia twn sabbatwn orqrou baqewV epi to mnhma hlqon ferousai a htoimasan arwmata) 

                Clearer now? 
                 
                Joe
                 
                 
                ----- Original Message -----
                From: Eric Rowe
                Sent: Saturday, April 07, 2007 12:35 PM
                Subject: [textualcriticism] Re: 'men' or 'mhn' in Luke 23:56?

                > I think that 'men ... de' clauses work in either order and I think it a
                > tad perilous to be "washed in the blood of word order" as though there
                > were, in the period when Luke was written, some sort of hard and fast
                > rule about word order in sentence structure.

                I won't go overboard and say there's no such thing as a de...men
                clause--I'm sure if I did, people would start posting examples of one.
                But I think you have to admit that it isn't the norm. The order of
                men...de is the rule. As some others have noted, we have an acceptable
                men...de clause here that extends into 24:1. And I wouldn't call
                giving preference to this option over the de...men option "being
                washed in the blood of word order."

                But, besides having a good men...de construction, even if we exclude
                that and just look at this as a case of a men without de, as Daniel
                suggested, there's no real problem. I think that translating a men
                anacolouthon as "indeed," is fine. Men and mhn are alternate spellings
                of the same word (the mhn that means "indeed", not the mhn that means
                "moon"). So even if some mss spelled it that way, it wouldn't be a
                problem, and I wouldn't expect to see it listed in NA. In order for
                Luke to have said "lunar sabbath", he would have had to use the
                adjective mhnion; or even if he wanted to use the noun adjectivally,
                it would still have to be declined, so mhnon I guess.

              • Daniel Buck
                ... observing the Sabbath, versus immediately laboring at the soonest legal and practical opportunity- at the crack of dawn. (ORQROU BAQEWS, Literally, the
                Message 7 of 8 , Apr 9, 2007
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                  "David Robert Palmer" wrote:
                  >> The contrast in Luke ch. 23 going into ch. 24 is one of strictly
                  observing the Sabbath, versus immediately laboring at the soonest
                  legal and practical opportunity- "at the crack of dawn." (ORQROU
                  BAQEWS, Literally, "the dark of dawn", ie., at the very beginning of
                  dawn.)
                  Thus:
                  23:56 "Then when they returned home, they prepared spices and
                  perfumes. And for the Sabbath though, they did rest, in keeping with
                  the commandment; 24:1 but at the crack of dawn on the first day of
                  the week, they went to the tomb, carrying the spices they had
                  prepared.
                  David Robert Palmer>>

                  Excellent answers; I got more than I asked for. I especially like the
                  above translation. The grammatical information was also very helpful--
                  I'll use it in my blog article.
                  http://whitemail.blogspot.com/2007/04/new-post-for-passion-week.html

                  Thanks, everyone who contributed.

                  DB
                • David Robert Palmer
                  You are welcome to use it. The translation is downloadable in Word 97: http://www.bibletranslation.ws/trans/lukewgrk.zip David Robert Palmer ... From: Daniel
                  Message 8 of 8 , Apr 10, 2007
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                    You are welcome to use it.  The translation is downloadable in Word 97:
                     
                    David Robert Palmer
                     
                    ----- Original Message -----
                    Sent: Monday, April 09, 2007 12:38 PM
                    Subject: [textualcriticism] Re: 'men' or 'mhn' in Luke 23:56?

                    >> Thus:
                    23:56 "Then when they returned home, they prepared spices and
                    perfumes. And for the Sabbath though, they did rest, in keeping with
                    the commandment; 24:1 but at the crack of dawn on the first day of
                    the week, they went to the tomb, carrying the spices they had
                    prepared.
                    David Robert Palmer>>

                    Excellent answers; I got more than I asked for. I especially like the
                    above translation. The grammatical information was also very helpful--
                    I'll use it in my blog article.
                    http://whitemail. blogspot. com/2007/ 04/new-post- for-passion- week.html

                    Thanks, everyone who contributed.

                    DB

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