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Sunday, April 01, 2012

sacrifice, slaughter and feasting - a scenario for σφάζω, αὐτοσφᾰγής

While working on Ajax’s final speech I paused to ponder John Tipton’s recent translation: “let their families feed on them” John Tipton (Ajax lines 841-842 page 58, Flood Editions 2008). There is no verb for eating in the text. Here is the context from Jebb’s translation:

[835] And I call for help to the eternal maidens who eternally attend to all sufferings among mortals, the dread, far-striding Erinyes, asking them to learn how my miserable life is destroyed by the Atreidae. [840] And may they seize those wicked men with most wicked destruction, just as they see me [fall slain by my own hand, so slain by their own kin may they perish at the hand of their best-loved offspring]. Come, you swift and punishing Erinyes, devour all the assembled army and spare nothing!
καλῶ δ᾽ ἀρωγοὺς τὰς ἀεί τε παρθένους
ἀεί θ᾽ ὁρώσας πάντα τἀν βροτοῖς πάθη,
σεμνὰς Ἐρινῦς τανύποδας, μαθεῖν ἐμὲ
πρὸς τῶν Ἀτρειδῶν ὡς διόλλυμαι τάλας,
καί σφας κακοὺς κάκιστα καὶ πανωλέθρους
ξυναρπάσειαν, ὥσπερ εἰσορῶσ᾽ ἐμὲ        
αὐτοσφαγῆ πίπτοντα, τὼς αὐτοσφαγεῖς    
πρὸς τῶν φιλίστων ἐκγόνων ὀλοίατο.
ἴτ᾽, ὦ ταχεῖαι ποίνιμοί τ᾽ Ἐρινύες,
γεύεσθε, μὴ φείδεσθε πανδήμου στρατοῦ:

The lines which have given pause to scholars are presented in Jebb between brackets which indicate that some scholars consider them not an original part of the play.

Ajax 841-842
[fall slain by my own hand, so slain by their own kin may they perish at the hand of their best-loved offspring]

αὐτοσφαγῆ πίπτοντα, τὼς αὐτοσφαγεῖς    
πρὸς τῶν φιλίστων ἐκγόνων ὀλοίατο.

The word αὐτοσφαγῆ and αὐτοσφαγεῖς is rare, the standard classical lexicon has the following entry:

LSJ — αὐτο-σφᾰγής [autosphages], ές, slain by oneself or by kinsmen, both in S.Aj.841 (prob. spurious), cf. E.Ph.1316.

The word looks like a semantically transparent compound from the verb form σφάζω  sphazo “slaughter” and αὐτο a reflexive pronoun “self.”   A similar construction ἔσφαξεν ἑαυτόν “killed himself” is found in Thuc. 2.92.3:

 [3] ἐπὶ δὲ τῆς Λευκαδίας νεώς, ἣ περὶ τὴν ὁλκάδα κατέδυ, Τιμοκράτης ὁ Λακεδαιμόνιος πλέων, ὡς ἡ ναῦς διεφθείρετο, ἔσφαξεν ἑαυτόν, καὶ ἐξέπεσεν ἐς τὸν Ναυπακτίων λιμένα.

[3] On board the Leucadian which went down off the merchantman, was the Lacedaemonian Timocrates, who killed himself when the ship was sunk, and was cast up in the harbor of Naupactus. — Richard Crawley?
The word σφάζω  sphazo “slaughter” is used of killing with a knife. In sacrifice it involved  slashing the throat of the victim and letting the blood pour out into a bowl. In Homer the verb σφάζω sphazo is used in contexts where eating the animals was a part of the scenario. In Homer’s Iliad Book 1:459 a scene is depicted where the animals are sacrificed and then the meat is roasted and eaten. The act of eating and drinking is a part of the scenario. Other places in Homer (Od. 1:92, 9:46, 23:305) the slaughter σφάζω sphazo of livestock is mentioned and the consumption, feasting on the meat with wine is assumed without any explicit mention of eating. In these contexts the slaughter σφάζω sphazo of livestock invokes the feasting scenario, there is no need to specifically spell out that eating took place.

But this alone doesn’t explain John Tipton’s  “let their families feed on them”  Ajax lines 841-842.  Tipton’s rendering is a clear allusion to the foundational myth: the curse on the house of Atreus who fed the children of Thyestes to him in a stew. So Tipton is playing on the feasting scenario invoked by the word σφάζω sphazo when livestock are involved and also conjuring up a reference to the well known (to the ancient audience) mythological framework for Ajax, Electra and others.  

Assuming we retain and translate the dubious text, one might find fault with Tipton’s move on the grounds that σφάζω sphazo when it is used for killing humans does not invoke an eating scenario. Generally speaking the Greeks didn’t eat the people they slaughtered. So when Ajax uses the term αὐτοσφᾰγής autosphages for suicide and the killing of the Atreidae it would not invoke an eating scenario.

In later greek  σφάζω sphazo is found in a warfare scenario, New Testament Revelation 6:4:

Rev. 6:4 And out came another horse, bright red; its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that men should slay one another; and he was given a great sword. RSV

Rev. 6:4 καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἄλλος ἵππος πυρρός, καὶ τῷ καθημένῳ ἐπ᾿ αὐτὸν ἐδόθη αὐτῷ λαβεῖν τὴν εἰρήνην ἐκ τῆς γῆς καὶ ἵνα ἀλλήλους σφάξουσιν καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ μάχαιρα μεγάλη.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Jude 5, Ιησους and the incarnation

There is an old saying passed down from the early years of "modern  textual criticism" and recently reiterated by a popular apologist[1]  "Even the most unwarranted of [textual] variants do not adversely affect essential Christian doctrine." This mantra is never absent from the discourse among those who feel strongly compelled to shore up confidence in the essential reliability of the New Testament text. In popular apologetic discourse we rarely see significant evidence put forth to support this claim. In place of evidence some famous scholar from the past (e.g. B. B. Warfield) is cited and that settles it. After hearing this repeated for forty years it is tempting to wonder if changes in the intellectual landscape over the last several decades might have altered the way we look at this question. In this post we will look at one textual variant in Jude 5 which may have theological implications and consider if theology might have had a part in producing the textual variations.  

The text of Jude 5 is uncertain, with multiple overlapping variation units. I would like to focus on just one of these:  [ὁ] κύριος/Ἰησοῦς/θεός. The evidence is complicated but as early as Karl Lachmann (d.1850) there have been modern textual critics who prefer [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς to [ὁ] κύριος. Decades after Lachmann, Henry Alford having a lot more evidence to work with than than Lachmann (Tischendorf's 8th edition) read Ἰησοῦς. For the third edition of UBSGNT, the committee was split. B. Metzger and A. Wickgren in favor of Ἰησοῦς. In the current scene, Michael Holmes SBLGNT, Robert Gundry (annotated NT, 2010), Philip Comfort, Klaus Watchel, Philipp Bartholomä, ESV, NET, Editio Critica Maior, all favor Ἰησοῦς. A very fine up to date post on the textual evidence can be found here.

 Jude 5
[ὁ] κύριος ἅπαξ λαὸν ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου σώσας 
[the] Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt
 Ιησους λαον εκ γης Αιγυπτου σωσας
Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt
Ἰησοῦς is a difficult reading. So difficult that a number of textual scholars rule it out as impossible. The difficulty is christological in nature. The scholars who find it unacceptable assume that the referent of Ἰησοῦς must be Jesus the man, rather than the eternal Son/Word. The Apostle Paul[2] asserts that ἡ πέτρα δὲ ἦν ὁ Χριστός "the Rock was Christ" but not ἡ πέτρα δὲ ἦν ὁ Ἰησοῦς "the Rock was Jesus" and there in is the major christological obstacle, affirmation of Jesus the man as per-existent.   

Simon Gathercole[3] suggests that the referent of Ἰησοῦς (with or without article) in Jude 5 could be to the [total] person of Jesus Christ who is included in the "divine identity" [4]. Gathercole suggests that the readings κύριος/θεός in Jude 5 might be unorthodox corruption introduced by scribes who didn't support the full deity and pre-existence of Christ. On the other hand, the use of Ἰησοῦς alone with Jesus of Nazareth as a referent in a context which is historically prior to the birth of Jesus is not found elsewhere in the New Testament. Placing Jesus of Nazareth in an old testament context sounds strange to modern NT scholars[5]. There is some evidence that Origen supported Ἰησοῦς in Jude 5. A marginal note in miniscule ms. 1739 attributes the reading to Origen (c.185–c.254). The other patristic evidence for Ἰησοῦς includes the Vulgate, Coptic (Sa, Bo), Ethiopic, Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444), Jerome (d. 420),  Didymus (d. 395). I have yet to find a patristic discussion of the christological significance of Ἰησοῦς in Jude 5. Someone who knows of such a reference might post a comment.

[1] Hank Hanegraaff (Has God Spoken, 2011, p. 50)

[2]1Cor. 10:4 καὶ πάντες τὸ αὐτὸ πνευματικὸν ἔπιον πόμα· ἔπινον γὰρ ἐκ πνευματικῆς ἀκολουθούσης πέτρας, ἡ πέτρα δὲ ἦν ὁ Χριστός. I Cor. 10:4  and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 

 [3] Gathercole, Simon. The Pre-Existent Son: Recovering the Christologies of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006.

[4] The inclusion of Jesus Christ in the "divine identity" of is a theme developed in several works by Richard Bauckham.  

[5] Even more strange is the unique reading o θεος χριστος in papyrus P72.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Expansion of the Divine Name in Old Greek Isaiah

Yesterday we looked at the simplification of divine name אדני יהוה “Lord HaShem” in  Isaiah 61:1 MT to  κύριος “Lord” in Isaiah LXX which which is the form we see in Jesus reading of Isaiah in Luke 4:18. I noted that the LXX/Luke 4:18 reading appears to be supported by the Great Isaiah Scroll 1QIsa-a. But after looking at a lot of evidence, I was skeptical about attributing this to a difference in the Hebrew manuscript (vorlage) used by the translator(s) of Isaiah. Today I followed up by looking at places where Hebrew Masoretic Text (MT) reads יהוה “HaShem” alone but Isaiah LXX expands the divine name to read κύριος ὁ θεὸς [1] “The Lord God.” I checked the notes in E. Tov’s MT/LXX to see if any of these readings were supported by Great Isaiah Scroll 1QIsa-a. The results were negative. Not a single one of them was supported by the 1QIsa-a.

I found an old critical text, translation and commentary on Isaiah LXX [2] available on the web. Looking through the notes and introduction I found only one reference to this variation, where R. Ottley simply stated that  Isaiah LXX added ὁ θεὸς. In the introduction R. Ottley made a general reference to naming variations which he considered too common and too self-evident to warrant special mention:

LXX. often present proper names in different forms from the Hebrew, and with wide variations among the MSS. These differences are passed by without comment, unless required for some special reason, e.g. where it seems probable that a different name altogether from the Hebrew is intended.
— R. Ottley Vol. 2 Page 136.          

The lack of support in 1QIsa-a for the LXX expansion of יהוה “HaShem” in the Masoretic Text to κύριος ὁ θεὸς  “The Lord God” increases my previous skepticism about a different Hebrew vorlage being responsible for differences in divine names. It seems more likely that the variations in the divine names are nothing more the peculiar habits of the translator.

[1] Is. 26:12, Is. 28:13, Is. 38:22, Is. 41:17, Is. 41:21, Is. 42:6, Is. 42:8, Is. 42:13, Is. 42:21, Is. 43:1, Is. 43:10, Is. 43:12, Is. 43:14, Is. 43:15, Is. 44:2, Is. 45:1, Is. 45:3, Is. 45:5, Is. 45:6, Is. 45:7, Is. 45:11, Is. 52:12, Is. 57:21.

[2] Ottley, Richard R. The Book of Isaiah according to the Septuagint (Codex Alexandrinus). 2 vols. Cambridge: University Press, 1904–1906. Note: This .pdf is almost 60meg.

Full title from title page:


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me ...”

Luke 4:18 πνεῦμα κυρίου ἐπ᾿ ἐμὲ ...
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me ...”
Isaiah 61:1a MT רוח אדני יהוה עלי
“The Spirit of the Lord HaShem is upon me”

When Jesus stands up to read in synagogue in his home town of Nazareth, his opening words (Luke 4:18a) from Isaiah 61:1 do not match the reading found in the Masoretic Text (MT). Jesus’ opening words match the Greek (LXX) version of Isaiah. In Isaiah we see a pattern, where the MT reads אדני יהוה “Lord HaShem” the LXX reads κύριος (alone) with one exception Isa. 25:8 which reads ὁ θεὸς (alone). Elsewhere in the Greek versions of the hebrew prophets we find אדני יהוה translated with two words, e.g. Jeremiah 4:10 δέσποτα κύριε “Master HaShem” or κύριος κύριος in Jeremiah 44:26(51:26 LXX) but also κύριος (alone) in Jer. 7:20. Isaiah LXX is more consistent than Jeremiah.   

Isaiah 61:1a MT רוח אדני יהוה עלי
“The Spirit of the Lord HaShem is upon me”
Isaiah 61:1a 1QIsa-a  רוח יהוה עלי
“The Spirit of the HaShem is upon me ...”

In Isaiah 61:1, the Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsa-a) supports the Greek version of Isaiah in regard to the omission of אדני “Lord” from אדני יהוה “Lord HaShem.” In other words, where the LXX reads κυρίου (alone) 1QIsa-a reads  יהוה (alone). A close look at the sources[1] indicates that 1QIsa-a only supports Isaiah LXX in about seven out of seventeen readings[2]. This qualified support from 1QIsa-a for Isaiah LXX is complicated by a number of factors. The most obvious factor is the pattern in Isaiah LXX of never using a double formula like we find in Jeremiah δέσποτα κύριε “Master HaShem” or κύριος κύριος. In other divine name patterns e.g. Is. 7:11 יהוה אלהיך “HaShem your God” Isaiah LXX uses κυρίου θεοῦ σου “HaShem your God.” A massive study of the translation habits demonstrated in Isaiah LXX[3] would be required before one could say anything substantive about habits. However, speculating on what I have observed, I would guess that there is more going on with Isaiah LXX reading κύριος (alone) for  אדני יהוה than simply a different hebrew manuscript.    

[1] I compiled these from three sources, a transcription of 1QIsa-a, photo images of 1QIsa-a and E. Tov’s MT/LXX The Parallel Aligned Text of the Greek and Hebrew Bible which includes notes about readings in 1QIsa-a. This was a difficult project, the transcription and images are indexed primarily by column numbers, locating a chapter and verse takes a little time particularly with images. The style of Hebrew script used by the scribe of 1QIsa-a takes some getting used two. I wanted to cross check the notes in E. Tov’s MT/LXX since my experience with critical texts has taught me that looking at the raw data is much more enlightening than reading an apparatus.

[2]  1QIsa-a reads יהוה “HaShem” (alone) in support of  the LXX in Isa. 28:16(?), 28:22, 30:15, 49:22, 52:4, 61:1, 65:13. 1QIsa-a reads אדני יהוה “Lord HaShem” where the LXX reads κυρίου (alone) in Isa. 10:24, 22:5, 40:10, 48:16, 50:4,7,9, 56:8, 61:11, 65:15.  The question mark after 28:16(?) doubtful a doubtful reading where there appears in the image of 1QIsa-a a word above the line but the transcription and E. Tov’s note indicate support for the LXX reading .  

[3] Almost certainly this “massive study” has been done. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Genealogy of Mary? — the syntax of Luke 3:23b

One occasionally hears a argument that the syntax of Luke 3:23b lends support to a claim that Luke’s genealogy traces Mary’s lineage and not Joseph’s. On the general question of Genealogy of Christ in Matthew and Luke see the article in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
Luke 3:23 Και αυτος ⸀ην Ιησους ⸂αρχομενος ωσει ετων τριακοντα⸃, ων ⸂υιος, ως ενομιζετο⸃, Ιωσηφ του Ηλι 24  του Μαθθατ του Λευι του Μελχι του Ιανναι του Ιωσηφ  —SBLGNT

Luke 3:23  και αυτος ην ο ιησους ωσει ετων τριακοντα αρχομενος ων ως ενομιζετο υιος ιωσηφ του ηλι 24  του ματθατ του λευι του μελχι του ιαννα του ιωσηφ — Byz Textform Robinson-Pierpont

Luke 3:23  και αυτος ην ιησους αρχομενος ωσει ετων τριακοντα ων υιος ως ενομιζετο ιωσηφ του ηλει 24  του μαθθαθ του λευει του μελχει του ιανναι του ιωσηφ — Tischendorf

I spent more than two days looking through mountains of secondary literature to find a serious discussion of the syntax, particularly the lack of an article with Joseph. What I found was some apologetics websites claiming that the syntax lent support to the Genealogy of Mary hypothesis  but no real analysis of the syntax other than the lack of an article before Joseph.  The Greek text exegetical commentaries very rarely suggest that the lack an article supports anything what so ever. I found one note by  Matthew B. Riddle the American Editor of H. A. W. Meyers Exegetical Handbook on Luke. Riddle disagreed with both Meyer and Henry Alford (!!) by supporting the Genealogy of Mary hypothesis. Riddle’s mentions both the lack of the article before Joseph and also the word order found in the Alexandrian text (SBLGNT, UBS3/4 NA27, Tisch., Westcott-Hort):

... ων ⸂υιος, ως ενομιζετο⸃, Ιωσηφ του Ηλι — Alex. Text
... ων ως ενομιζετο υιος ιωσηφ του ηλι — Byz Text 

Riddle claimed that Alexandrian syntax makes it appear as if Joseph is bracketed out of the genealogy, which supposedly leads to the implication that this is a genealogy of Mary. Beyond that, there is no real substantive argumentation about the syntax. No real case is made. On the other hand, the other Greek exegetical commentators don’t really make a case against this hypothesis either, the just reject it out of hand. 

The standard reference grammars are not much better. They talk about the article with proper names and some of them cite Luke 3:23 but none of them see it as evidence for any particular view of the genealogy problem. J.H. Moulton in his Prolegomena (v1 Moulton-Turner pps. 83, 263 bottom) talks about Classical, Koine and New Testament patterns of articles with proper names but leaves the impression that the presence or absence of the article is really not well understood (c.a. 1902). The other grammars include H. W. Smyth, #1142.a, BDF 162.2, A. T. Robertson page 761. These are all old-school grammars, reflecting the way Greek syntax was handled from the Reformation up through the early 20th century.

Fast forward to the third millennium, Richard A. Hoyle [2] has written what I would call the NT Greek monograph of the decade. He specifically deals with the lack of the article before Joseph in Luke 3:23b. R. Hoyle’s claims that any discourse old or hearer old personal name without the article is marked as salient. This fits into his general theory about salience marking and anarthrous nouns.

In Luke’s genealogy, 3:23–38, only two names occur without the article, Jesus and Joseph (3:23). These are marked as salient, since they have no article even though both are Discourse-old (3:21, 1:27). Here Jesus and Joseph are salient at PARAGRAPH level, i.e. throughout the whole genealogy, strongly suggesting that this is Joseph’s lineage being listed.

This is paragraph is a small portion of the best treatment I have read so far on the Ancient Greek article. The whole monograph is available for downloading from SIL. I would not expect any light to come on by simply  reading the above paragraph out of context. Hoyle's framework will be new to a lot of greek students. It takes some time and several readings to get comfortable with his overall approach to analysis. The good news is R.  Hoyle is far more understandable than some of the other authors writing on these topics.  

[1]H. A. W. Meyer Handbook Mark-Luke, page 303 note by  Matthew B. Riddle, DD, Professor of New Testament Greek Exegesis in Hartford Theological Seminary (ca. 1884).

[2]Richard A. Hoyle, Scenarios, discourse and translation.  SIL 2008, page 157.

Friday, February 17, 2012

"a steaming cup of coffee"

I was too tired after dinner to read anything challenging so i picked up a ancient paperback of a best seller that has been hanging around in the family for over fifty years and decided to read it again. I wasn't more the ten pages into it when I ran into the expression "a steaming cup of coffee" which I have seen numerous times in stories published in the last decade.  Why is "a steaming cup of coffee" a standard prop in English fiction that has survived for half a century or more. I seem to recall that Hemingway had better way of saying it. He could make you experience the steam, the taste and the aroma without telling you about it. The secret of good writing is what you leave out.        

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Benedict XVI on Secular Biblical Studies

The following paragraphs are taken from an APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION VERBUM DOMINI[1] by Benedict XVI. This citation is taken directly from page 35 "The danger of dualism and a secularized hermeneutic" which can be found on the Vatican website under the heading" The Interpretation Of Sacred Scripture In The Church.

The danger of dualism and a secularized hermeneutic

In this regard we should mention the serious risk nowadays of a dualistic approach to sacred Scripture. To distinguish two levels of approach to the Bible does not in any way mean to separate or oppose them, nor simply to juxtapose them. They exist only in reciprocity. Unfortunately, a sterile separation sometimes creates a barrier between exegesis and theology, and this “occurs even at the highest academic levels”.[109] Here I would mention the most troubling consequences, which are to be avoided.

•    First and foremost, if the work of exegesis is restricted to the first level alone, Scripture ends up being a text belonging only to the past: “One can draw moral consequences from it, one can learn history, but the Book as such speaks only of the past, and exegesis is no longer truly theological, but becomes pure historiography, history of literature”.[110] Clearly, such a reductive approach can never make it possible to comprehend the event of God’s revelation through his word, which is handed down to us in the living Tradition and in Scripture.  
   •    The lack of a hermeneutic of faith with regard to Scripture entails more than a simple absence; in its place there inevitably enters another hermeneutic, a positivistic and secularized hermeneutic ultimately based on the conviction that the Divine does not intervene in human history. According to this hermeneutic, whenever a divine element seems present, it has to be explained in some other way, reducing everything to the human element. This leads to interpretations that deny the historicity of the divine elements.[111]    
•    Such a position can only prove harmful to the life of the Church, casting doubt over fundamental mysteries of Christianity and their historicity – as, for example, the institution of the Eucharist and the resurrection of Christ. A philosophical hermeneutic is thus imposed, one which denies the possibility that the Divine can enter and be present within history. The adoption of this hermeneutic within theological studies inevitably introduces a sharp dichotomy between an exegesis limited solely to the first level and a theology tending towards a spiritualization of the meaning of the Scriptures, one which would fail to respect the historical character of revelation.
All this is also bound to have a negative impact on the spiritual life and on pastoral activity; “as a consequence of the absence of the second methodological level, a profound gulf is opened up between scientific exegesis and lectio divina. This can give rise to a lack of clarity in the preparation of homilies”.[112] It must also be said that this dichotomy can create confusion and a lack of stability in the intellectual formation of candidates for ecclesial ministries.[113] In a word, “where exegesis is not theology, Scripture cannot be the soul of theology, and conversely, where theology is not essentially the interpretation of the Church’s Scripture, such a theology no longer has a foundation”.[114] Hence we need to take a more careful look at the indications provided by the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum in this regard.

:end of citation

Pope Benedict XVI has delivered a wise word to those persons of faith and members of the Church of Jesus Christ who would make it their calling to do biblical studies and participate in the secular academic domain where a hermeneutic of skepticism dominates the field of biblical studies.