[Milton-L] text questions

HANNIBAL HAMLIN hamlin.22 at osu.edu
Tue Feb 5 11:10:32 EST 2008


I'm not competent to add to the discussion on Hebrew and Greek texts, but it might be worth noting that any discussion of perfection in the Reformation would be theologically charged because of Calvinist assumptions about inherent human corruption, i.e., original sin.  I've been reading around on this in the context of Job, rather than Noah, but similar issues may be involved.  In the Bishops' Bible, Job is described (1:1) as "perfect and just," and in the KJV "perfect and upright."  "Perfect" does accord, as I understand it, with the sense of the Hebrew "tam."  From a Calvinist perspective, however, human perfection is impossible.  Hence Calvin, in his Sermons on Job, takes great pains to assert Job's imperfection.  This is probably also the thinking behind the Geneva Bible's rendering of Job 1:1 as "upright and just."  The same kind of theologically-motivated translation seems to apply to the passage on Noah (Gen. 6:9), where once again the Geneva hedges on (Noah's) perfect
ion, preferring the less absolute "upright."  That Milton follows the KJV -- perhaps with the Hebrew in mind -- in describing him as "perfect" seems interesting.  Is this a turning away from Calvin/Calvinism on the matter of human perfectability?

Hannibal


Hannibal Hamlin
Associate Professor of English
The Ohio State University
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----- Original Message -----
From: Matthew Stallard <ms493101 at ohio.edu>
Date: Tuesday, February 5, 2008 10:47 am
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] text questions

> Dear List,
> 
> Trying to track down bits from the Septuagint in the Gospel of 
> Matthew is a 
> dead end. Matthew's quotations from the Old Testament are not from 
> the 
> _Septuagint_, as is often the case with Mark, Luke, and John, but 
> come 
> directly from the Hebrew text. This is not surprising because the 
> gospel 
> was probably originally written in Hebrew and later translated 
> into koine 
> Greek.
> In Chapter III of _De viris inlustribus_ Jerome writes: "Matthew, 
> who is 
> also Levi, and who from a publican came to be an apostle, first of 
> all 
> composed a Gospel of Christ in Judaea in the Hebrew language and 
> characters 
> for the benefit of those of the circumcision who had believed." 
> Jerome also 
> indicates that the Hebrew text of this Gospel was still around in 
> during 
> the fourth and fifth centuries in the library that Pamphilus had 
> collected 
> in Caesarea.
> Early in the third century, Origen, in discussing the Gospels, is 
> quoted by 
> Eusebius as saying that the "first was written [. . .] according 
> to Matthew 
> [. . .] who published it for those who from Judaism came to 
> believe, 
> composed as it was in the Hebrew language." That it was written 
> primarily 
> with the Jews in mind is indicated by its genealogy, which shows 
> Jesus' 
> descent starting from Abraham, and by its many references to the 
> Hebrew 
> Scriptures, showing that they pointed forward to the coming 
> Messiah. 
> Compare with the universal implications of Luke's genealogy from 
> Adam and 
> God; Luke's explicitly targeted audience was Greek speaking non-Jews.
> 
> When Eusebias quotes Papias and Irenaeus in _Historia 
> Ecclesiastica_, all 
> of whom claim that the Gospel was originally penned in Hebrew, was 
> this 
> really Aramaic? There is no longer any reason to believe this. For 
> example, 
> George Howard,Professor of Religion at the University of Georgia 
> writes: 
> "This supposition was due primarily to the belief that Hebrew in 
> the days 
> of Jesus was no longer in use in Palestine but had been replaced 
> by 
> Aramaic. The subsequent discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, many of 
> which 
> are Hebrew compositions, as well as of other Hebrew documents from 
> Palestine from the general time period of Jesus, now show Hebrew 
> to have 
> been alive and well in the first century."
> 
> The context of Matthew 5:48 makes it clear that Jesus is not 
> addressing 
> perfection in the absolute sense. As Carol Barton indicates, his 
> reference 
> is to love and generosity. That is to say, if you "love only those 
> loving 
> you," then your love is incomplete and defective. To "complete" 
> that love 
> just as the Father is perfect, one must also "love his enemies" 
> and thus 
> follow the example of God. Other Bible writers use "perfect" in a 
> similar 
> way. At 1John 2:5 and 4:11-18, perfection is applied to the area 
> of 
> "freeness of speech."
> 
> _Paradise Lost_ 11.876 refers to Noah as: "For one man found so 
> perfect, 
> and so just." The
> Bishop's Bible, describes Noah in this way: "These are the 
> generations of 
> Noah: Noah [was] a just man, and perfect in his generations: And 
> Noah 
> walked with God" (Genesis 6.9). The Authorized Version and Douay-
> Rheims 
> likewise use "perfection" in this instance. The Geneva Bible 
> renders it as 
> "Noah was a just and upright man in his time."
> 
> All the best,
> Matthew
> 
> 
> --On Monday, February 04, 2008 12:13 PM -0800 Horace Jeffery 
> Hodges 
> <jefferyhodges at yahoo.com> wrote:
> 
> >
> > 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_______________________________________________
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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
> 
> 
> 
> __________________________________
> Matthew Stallard
> Ohio University
> Department of English
> 347 Ellis Hall
> Athens, OH 45701
> matthew.s.stallard.1 at ohio.edu
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