[Milton-L] text questions

HANNIBAL HAMLIN hamlin.22 at osu.edu
Tue Feb 5 14:45:11 EST 2008


My apologies.  I'm afraid I'm entering this discussion belatedly and hadn't read the earlier exchanges carefully enough.

We're drifting out into the biblical sea, far from any Miltonic shores, but
if the issue is whether "perfect" in the KJV means "perfect" or "complete," this seems a circular argument, since "complete" (acc. to OED and normal usage) can also mean "perfect."  It's possible the Greek might help pin down what is meant, but it may be that this (Matt. 5:48) is simply a passage that can be interpreted differently according to the reader's presuppositions about human nature.  As I wrote earlier, a similar issue arises in Job, where the Hebrew does (I think) support the use of the English "perfect" but where interpreters have still not been deterred from substituting language more in keeping with their theological premises.  Surely this sort of hermeneutic puzzle is precisely the reason Milton writes PL (and so much else).  If the Bible already unambiguously justified the ways of God to men, much of the history of commentary and midrash would be redundant!

Hannibal


Hannibal Hamlin
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The Ohio State University
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Incidentally, the Greek word in Mt. 5:48 is teleioi, which can be translated as either "complete" or "perfect" in contemporary English and thus has the same ambiguity that the word "perfect" still had for the KJV translators.
   
  A possible word in Hebrew would be shalom, which can mean "completeness, soundness, welfare, peace."
   
  Jesus, of course, would likely have been speaking Aramaic, so the question as to what word he actually used would be close to Hebrew. I cannot, however, recall a Tanakh passage calling upon Israelites to be "shalom" as God is. I do recall that Israelites are called to be holy, even as God is holy, and I wonder if the idea of holiness stands behind Mt. 5:48.
   
  The word for "holy" is kadosh, which has the sense of being set apart. That might fit the context of Matthew, for Jesus is there calling upon those who follow him to strive to meet ethical standards higher than the ethics practiced by Gentiles -- in effect, to set themselves apart.
   
  But I've taken us rather far from the contemporary reader's difficulty in reading Paradise Lost...
   
  Jeffery Hodges
  

Carol Barton <cbartonphd1 at verizon.net> wrote:
          True, but that wasn't the point: "Hebrew" for "Greek" could have been a slip--but she confirmed when I spoke to her privately that she hadn't known that "perfect" could mean "complete"--
   
   
    ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Horace Jeffery Hodges 
  To: John Milton Discussion List 
  Sent: Sunday, February 03, 2008 2:32 PM
  Subject: Re: [Milton-L] text questions
  

  Concerning the New Testament verse Matthew 5:48:
   
  "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48),
   
  Carol wrote:
  
"I recently heard a priest telling her congregation that the KJV authors had 'misinterpreted' the Hebrew word for which they substituted 'perfect.' Rather, it was she who hadn't known
that the word had other meanings when the KJV was being prepared."

If this priest thought that the KJV authors were translating a Hebrew word in Matthew 5:48, then she was ignorant about more than 17th-century English.
   
  Jeffery Hodges


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

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<div>Incidentally, the Greek word in Mt. 5:48 is <EM>teleioi</EM>, which can be translated as either "complete" or "perfect" in contemporary English and thus has the same ambiguity that the word "perfect" still had for the <EM>KJV</EM> translators.</div>  <div>&nbsp;</div>  <div>A possible word in Hebrew would be <EM>shalom</EM>, which can mean "completeness, soundness, welfare, peace."</div>  <div>&nbsp;</div>  <div>Jesus, of course, would likely have been speaking Aramaic, so the question as to what word he actually used would be close to Hebrew. I cannot, however, recall a Tanakh passage calling upon Israelites to be "shalom" as God is. I do recall that Israelites are called to be <EM>holy</EM>, even as God is holy, and I wonder if the idea of holiness stands behind Mt. 5:48.</div>  <div>&nbsp;</div>  <div>The word for "holy" is <EM>kadosh</EM>, which has the sense of being set apart. That might fit the context of Matthew, for Jesus is there&nbsp;calling upon those who
 follow him to&nbsp;strive&nbsp;to meet ethical standards higher&nbsp;than the ethics&nbsp;practiced by Gentiles -- in effect, to set themselves apart.</div>  <div>&nbsp;</div>  <div>But I've taken us rather far from the contemporary reader's difficulty in reading <EM>Paradise Lost</EM>...</div>  <div>&nbsp;</div>  <div>Jeffery Hodges</div>  <div><BR><BR><B><I>Carol Barton &lt;cbartonphd1 at verizon.net&gt;</I></B> wrote:</div>  <BLOCKQUOTE class=replbq style="PADDING-LEFT: 5px; MARGIN-LEFT: 5px; BORDER-LEFT: #1010ff 2px solid">  <META content="MSHTML 6.00.6000.16587" name=GENERATOR>  <STYLE></STYLE>    <DIV><FONT face="Comic Sans MS" color=#0000ff size=2>True, but that wasn't the point: "Hebrew" for "Greek"&nbsp;could have been a slip--but she confirmed when I spoke to her privately that she hadn't known that "perfect" could mean "complete"--</FONT></DIV>  <DIV><FONT face="Comic Sans MS" color=#0000ff size=2></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV>  <DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>  <BLOCKQUOTE
 style="PADDING-RIGHT: 0px; PADDING-LEFT: 5px; MARGIN-LEFT: 5px; BORDER-LEFT: #0000ff 2px solid; MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px">  <DIV style="FONT: 10pt arial">----- Original Message ----- </DIV>  <DIV style="BACKGROUND: #e4e4e4; FONT: 10pt arial; font-color: black"><B>From:</B> <A title=jefferyhodges at yahoo.com href="mailto:jefferyhodges at yahoo.com">Horace Jeffery Hodges</A> </DIV>  <DIV style="FONT: 10pt arial"><B>To:</B> <A title=milton-l at lists.richmond.edu href="mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu">John Milton Discussion List</A> </DIV>  <DIV style="FONT: 10pt arial"><B>Sent:</B> Sunday, February 03, 2008 2:32 PM</DIV>  <DIV style="FONT: 10pt arial"><B>Subject:</B> Re: [Milton-L] text questions</DIV>  <DIV><BR></DIV>  <DIV>Concerning the New Testament verse Matthew 5:48:</DIV>  <DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>  <DIV>"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is&nbsp;in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48),</DIV>  <DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>  <DIV>Carol wrote:</DIV>  <DIV><BR>"I recently heard a priest
 telling&nbsp;her congregation that the KJV authors had 'misinterpreted' the Hebrew word&nbsp;for which they substituted 'perfect.' Rather, it was she who hadn't known<BR>that the word had other meanings when the KJV was being prepared."<BR><BR>If this priest&nbsp;thought that the <EM>KJV</EM> authors were translating a <EM>Hebrew</EM> word in Matthew 5:48, then she was ignorant&nbsp;about more than 17th-century English.</DIV>  <DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>  <DIV>Jeffery Hodges</DIV><BR><BR>University Degrees:<BR><BR>Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley<BR>(Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts")<BR>M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley<BR>B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University<BR><BR>Email Address:<BR><BR>jefferyhodges at yahoo.com<BR><BR>Blog:<BR><BR>http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/<BR><BR>Office Address:<BR><BR>Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges<BR>School of English, Kyung Hee University<BR>1 Hoegi-dong, Dongdaemun-gu<BR>Seoul,
 130-701<BR>South Korea<BR><BR>Home Address:<BR><BR>Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges<BR>Gunyoung Apt. 102-204<BR>Sangbong-dong 1<BR>Jungnang-gu<BR>Seoul 131-771<BR>South Korea   <div>  <HR>    <div></div>_______________________________________________<BR>Milton-L mailing list<BR>Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu<BR>Manage your list membership and access list archives at http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l</BLOCKQUOTE>_______________________________________________<BR>Milton-L mailing list<BR>Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu<BR>Manage your list membership and access list archives at http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l</BLOCKQUOTE><BR><BR><BR>University Degrees:<br><br>Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley<br>(Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts")<br>M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley<br>B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University<br><br>Email
 Address:<br><br>jefferyhodges at yahoo.com<br><br>Blog:<br><br>http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/<br><br>Office Address:<br><br>Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges<br>School of English, Kyung Hee University<br>1 Hoegi-dong, Dongdaemun-gu<br>Seoul, 130-701<br>South Korea<br><br>Home Address:<br><br>Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges<br>Gunyoung Apt. 102-204<br>Sangbong-dong 1<br>Jungnang-gu<br>Seoul 131-771<br>South Korea

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