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[textualcriticism] fasting in Acts 10:30 - Chrysostom and Bede

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  • schmuel
    Hi, Jonathan Borland :
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 27, 2012
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      Jonathan Borland :
      << First, what's the linguistic justification for translating the APO ... MECRI ... construction in Acts 10:30 as anything other than a *duration* of four days in time (see BDAG)? Anything like "four days ago" seems to me to represent merely unsubstantiated linguistic gymnastics. >>
      > David Robert Palmer
      > But this is why I originally said that the whole phrase is unclear,
      and that is why scribes and translators have fiddled with it.  You say that rendering it "four days ago" is gymnastics, but we have to do SOMETHING with it to make sense.

      The learned John Gill (1797-1771) had noted the unusual phrasing way back, making a distinction between the literal and the contextual idiomatic.

      Acts 10:30  (AV)
      And Cornelius said,
      Four days ago I was fasting until this hour;
      and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house,
      and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,

      John Gill
      And Cornelius said
      The Syriac version adds, "to him", to the apostle; the following he said, in a very submissive and humble manner:

      four days ago I was fasting unto this hour;
      in the Greek text it is, "from the fourth day unto this hour I was fasting": which looks as if he had been fasting four days, and was still fasting at that hour; though the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions leave out the phrase "I was fasting": but the sense which our version and others give is the truest; that four days ago, or reckoning four days back, Cornelius was fasting on that day, until such time in that day as now it was in this present day; and which perhaps might be the ninth hour, or three o'clock in the afternoon: the account of days exactly agrees; as soon as Cornelius had had the vision, he sends men to Joppa, which was one day; on the morrow they came to Joppa, which makes two days; Peter lodged them all night there, and the next day set out on the journey with them, so you have three days; and the day after that, which was the fourth, he entered into Caesarea, and came to Cornelius's house, where he now was:

      and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house;
      which was one of the stated times of prayer; (See Gill on Acts 3:1).

      And behold a man stood before me in bright clothing;
      or "in a white garment", as the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions read: which was an emblem of the excellency, glory, and purity of the angel, and of the divine majesty in him: he calls him a man, because he appeared in the form of one, as angels used to do.

      Acts 3:1
      Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer,
      being the ninth hour.

      John Gill
      at the hour of prayer; being the ninth hour,
      or three o'clock in the afternoon. This was one of their hours of prayer; it was customary with the Jews to pray three times a day, ( Daniel 6:10 ) which, according to the Psalmist in ( Psalms 55:17 ) were evening, morning, and at noon; to which seems to answer the three times that are taken notice of by Luke in this history: that in the morning was at the third hour, as in ( Acts 2:15 ) or nine o'clock in the morning; that at noon was at the sixth hour, as in ( Acts 10:9 ) or twelve o'clock at noon; and that in the evening at the ninth hour, as here, or three o'clock in the afternoon (continues)


      Earlier, John Calvin had discussed the textual and translational and interpretation matters.

      Acts 10:30
      30. Many Greek books have
      hmhn Emacs!, I sat. The old interpreter omitteth the word fasting, which I think was done through error or negligence, because it is expressed in all the Greek books. Furthermore, he maketh express mention of fasting, partly that we may know that he prayed not coldly, or overfields (perfunctorily) at that time; secondly, that the vision may be the less suspected. For doubtless the brain of a man that is fasting (where there is moderate sobriety) doth not easily admit any strong imaginations, wherein appear images and strange forms, whereby men are deceived. Therefore Cornelius' meaning is, that he was earnestly bent to pray, at such time as the angel appeared to him, and that his mind was free from all such lets which use to make men subject to fantasies and imaginations. And to the same end tendeth the circumstance of time, that this was done when it was now fair daylight, three hours before the going down of the sun.


      The venerable Bede at around 720 AD notes some Greek and Latin fiddling with the verse and supports the fasting inclusion.

      Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (2006)
      Francis Martin, Thomas C. Oden
      He Preserved in Prayer.
      In the Greek, and in some Latin manuscripts, it is written thus: "Three days ago at this very hour I was fasting and worshiping from the sixth hour to the ninth, and behold, a man" and so forth.  And it was very fitting that his prayer was heard since he persevered in the earnestness of his prayer for three hours, extending it from the sixth hour to all for faith in Christ. - Catena on the Acts of the Apostles 10.28


      Here are the Chrysostom (c. 400 AD) references, and he went with a questionable fourth day of the week idea, as discussed in the note on the page. Chrysostom also does clearly support the fasting text.

      Homily VIII.
      ACTS III. 1.-"Now Peter and John went up together into the temple, at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour."
      Thus also did Cornelius: he prayed and fasted

      Homily XXII.
      “At the ninth hour,” when he was released from his cares and was at quiet, when he was engaged in prayers and compunction. “And when he looked on him, he was afraid.”

      Homily XXIII.
      ACTS X. 23, 24.-"Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. Andthe morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends."
      Already Peter had heard the whole matter from the soldiers also, but he wishes them first to confess, and to make them amenable to the Faith. What then does Cornelius? He does not say, Why, did not the soldiers tell thee? but observe again, how humbly he speaks. For he says, "From the fourth day I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And at the ninth hour," he says, "I was praying." (v. 30, 31.) It seems to me, that this man had also fixed for himself set times of a life under stricter rule, and on certain days). For this is why he says, "From the fourth day." See how great a thing prayer is! When he advanced in piety, then the Angel appears to him. "From the fourth day:" i.e. of the week; not "four days ago." For, "on the morrow Peter went away with them, and on the morrow after they entered into Caesarea:" this is one day: and the day on which the persons sent came (to Joppa) one day: and on the third (the Angel) appeared: so that there are two days after that on which (Cornelius) had been praying. "And, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing:" he does not say, an Angel, so unassuming is he: "and said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter: he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the seaside: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God." (v. 31-33.) See what faith, what piety! He knew that it was no word of man that Peter spake, when he said, "God hath shown me."


      As for the omission question:

      David Robert Palmer
      > Can anyone demonstrate by sound TC theory how or whether
      "fasting" was excised from or added to Acts 10:30?

      where UBS-4 gives the omission version a "D" based on the usual suspects, that is best discussed in the context of all the prayer and fasting verses, and scribal tendencies.  However, we can note a bit here.


      (pic of apparatus section)

      Some more techie apparatus stuff:
      Note that the earliest papyrus with the verse, P50, 4th or 5th century, housed in Vienna, testifies for fasting.
      Filogia Neotestamentaria - Vol XVII - 2004 pp. 45-88
      The Variant Readings of the Western Text of the Acts of the Apostles (XVI) (Acts 9:31-11:18)
      Josep Rius-Camps and Jenny Read-Heimerdinger
      (from p. 68 .. #24 on the PDF count)

      Steven Avery
      Queens, NY
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