[Milton-L] text questions

Jeffrey Shoulson jshoulson at miami.edu
Tue Feb 5 15:40:05 EST 2008


Like Jeffery, I am unaware of any convincing evidence that suggests  
Matthew was written in Hebrew (or Aramaic, for that matter).  The  
Jewish community to whom the Matthew writer addressed himself (and  
that intended audience is, indeed, pretty clear) would likely to have  
been Greek-speakers whose familiarity with the Hebrew Bible would  
have been mediated through the Septuagint.
There are plenty of ways to demonstrate this, but the one that comes  
to mind most immediately is Matthew's citation (in 1.23) of Isaiah, "  
Behold, a virgin shall be with child..."   The Matthew writer is  
relying on the Greek parthenos.  The verse in Isaiah (7.14) in Hebrew  
uses the word almah, which means everywhere else in the Hebrew Bible  
a young woman (there's a different Hebrew word for virgin: bethulah).
One can show other examples, too, where the Septuagint's version  
differs from the Hebrew version and the Matthew writer clearly  
conforms to the Septuagint.


Jeffrey S. Shoulson, Ph. D.
Associate Professor of English and Judaic Studies
University of Miami
PO Box 248145
Coral Gables, FL 33124-4632

(o) 305-284-5596
(f) 305-284-5635

jshoulson at miami.edu
www.as.miami.edu/english/faculty.htm#shoulson


On Feb 5, 2008, at 2:01 PM, Horace Jeffery Hodges wrote:

> I'm no expert on this point, but nearly all biblical scholars  
> reject the claim that Matthew wrote in Hebrew despite Eusebius's  
> quote from Papias. Matthew's gospel may have been later translated  
> into Hebrew, but no textual evidence has ever been found that I  
> know of.
>
> It's accepted that Matthew was probably writing for a Jewish  
> audience, but that doesn't establish that he wrote in Hebrew, for  
> there were many Jews who knew only Greek.
>
> Both Matthew and Luke appear to be using Mark's Gospel, for some of  
> their material overlaps in their quotes from Mark. Nobody argues  
> that Mark was written in Hebrew, and it's unlikely that Matthew  
> would have written a gospel in Hebrew with passages from Mark  
> quoted in Greek.
>
> One could argue that Matthew wrote first in Hebrew, that his gospel  
> was then translated into Greek, and that Mark and Luke both used  
> this Greek text, but the Papias quote seems to imply that Mark was  
> written first and that Matthew wrote to 'correct' Mark.
>
> But even if Matthew did write in Hebrew, what we have is a Greek  
> text of Matthew's Gospel, and we may find the Septuagint (or some  
> other Greek translation) used by the one who translated Matthew  
> into Greek. We may, therefore, still find bits of the Septuagint  
> (or other Greek text) in Matthew even if they got there through the  
> translator's work. So, I don't see that it's a dead end.
>
> This would, however, complicate our efforts to track down Matthew's  
> allusions to the Tanakh.
>
> Jeffery Hodges
>
>
> Matthew Stallard <ms493101 at ohio.edu> wrote:
> 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
> 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 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 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
> Office: 740-597-2926
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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 http:// 
> lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l

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