[Milton-L] Be ye perfect

ALAN RUDRUM rudrum at shaw.ca
Mon Feb 4 17:56:47 EST 2008


I have been interested in this discussion, not least because it repeats a question I raised a long time ago.  I suggested that the Greek behind Be ye perfect seemed less alarming than the English of AV (KJV), and wondered what the Aramaic behind the Greek might suggest. My memory, maybe faulty, is that no answer came at that time to the question.  If so, surprising, given the range of expertise on Milton-l.  I am glad to see the subject given a wider discussion here, and think it must have relevance to Milton.

----- Original Message -----
From: Horace Jeffery Hodges <jefferyhodges at yahoo.com>
Date: Monday, February 4, 2008 12:29 pm
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] text questions
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>

> Sorry to bother and bore the Milton List scholars with this 
> topic, but Professor Skulsky's suggestion of Genesis 17:1 has 
> motivated me to look a bit deeper into the biblical texts, about 
> which I've blogged this morning 
> (http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/2008/02/matthew-548-
> perfect.html), the relevant material being as follows:
>     I've done some more page-flipping through my 
> Greek and Hebrew bibles and have decided that the reference is 
> not so directly to Genesis 17:1, for if the reference were 
> directly to that verse, then we'd likely find the word 
> "amemptos" (Greek for "blameless") in Matthew 5:48, for the 
> Septuagint uses "amemptos" in Genesis 17:1. 
> 
> A more likely reference in Matthew 5:48 would be Deuteronomy 
> 18:13, for the Hebrew "tamim" is translated to the Greek 
> "teleios"," which we also find in Matthew 5:48 and which can 
> mean "perfect," as already noted, such that we could read 
> Deuteronomy 18:13 as follows: 
>   Be perfect before the Lord your God.  Moreover, the 
> context to this verse clarifies that the intent here is to 
> distinguish Israelites from the practices of the neighboring 
> gentile nations, so there exists a structural and thematic 
> parallel between Matthew 5:48 and Deuteronomy 18:13. 
> 
> Nevertheless, I am still struck by Leviticus 11:44 and 45 ("Be 
> holy for I am holy"), which reminds me in structure of Matthew 
> 5:48 ("Be ye perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is 
> perfect"), so I now wonder if it is possible that both Genesis 
> 17:1 and Deuteronomy 18:13 are being alluded to. 
>   Responses are welcomed, and again, I hope that I haven't 
> bored anyone even though this is merely tangential to Milton.
>    
>   Jeffery Hodges
>   
> Horace Jeffery Hodges <jefferyhodges at yahoo.com> wrote:
>     Thanks to Professor Skulsky for the 
> correction (shalom --> shalem) and additional information (Gen. 
> 17:1 - tamim). My Hebrew is not very good, unfortunately.
>    
>   Is either tamim or shalem ever used to describe God?
>    
>   The structure of Mt. 5:48 reminds me of Lev. 11:44 and 
> 45: "be holy for I am holy." Is it possible that both Gen. 17:1 
> and Lev. 11:44-45 are being alluded to?
>    
>   Apologies for getting rather far from Milton.
>    
>   Jeffery Hodges
> 
> Harold Skulsky <hskulsky at email.smith.edu> wrote:
>   
> "I cannot, however, recall a Tanakh passage calling upon 
> Israelites to be 'shalom' as God is."
> 
> Matt. 5:48 is an allusion to Gen. 17:1 (God's injunction to 
> Abraham): "I am the Lord thy God; walk before me, and be thou 
> perfect." The Hebrew answering to "perfect" is *tamim* (Aramaic 
> *t'mim*). The Heb. adjective *shalem* (Aramaic *sh'lim* ) is a 
> rough equivalent. (*Shalom* is not an adjective and rarely if 
> ever means moral perfection in BH, though it sometimes means 
> health, or bodily soundness.)
> 
> 
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> 
> University Degrees:
> 
> Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
> (Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and 
> Gnostic Texts")
> M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
> B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University
> 
> Email Address:
> 
> jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
> 
> Blog:
> 
> http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/
> 
> Office Address:
> 
> Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
> School of English, Kyung Hee University
> 1 Hoegi-dong, Dongdaemun-gu
> Seoul, 130-701
> South Korea
> 
> Home Address:
> 
> Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
> Gunyoung Apt. 102-204
> Sangbong-dong 1
> Jungnang-gu
> Seoul 131-771
> South Korea_______________________________________________
> Milton-L mailing list
> Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
> Manage your list membership and access list archives at 
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> 
> 
> University Degrees:
> 
> Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
> (Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and 
> Gnostic Texts")
> M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
> B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University
> 
> Email Address:
> 
> jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
> 
> Blog:
> 
> http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/
> 
> Office Address:
> 
> Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
> School of English, Kyung Hee University
> 1 Hoegi-dong, Dongdaemun-gu
> Seoul, 130-701
> South Korea
> 
> Home Address:
> 
> Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
> Gunyoung Apt. 102-204
> Sangbong-dong 1
> Jungnang-gu
> Seoul 131-771
> South Korea
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