March 12, 2011
It seems that Matthew 27:29 is badly in need of better translation.
1. For one thing, the Greek text prints the verb “mocked” in the aorist. A major textual variant on this passage, however, reads the verb “mocked” in the imperfect, which likely gives it a continuing, ongoing sense. Thus, the soldiers’ mocking was a drawn out, lengthy event. John 19:3 describes the soldiers actions as “They kept marching up to him.”
2. Why do translations use the word “Hail”? This is outdated, ancient English. The only times “hail” is used in this sense in modern English is when we speak of “hailing a taxi” or the Nazi’s who used to “Hail Hitler”. If the soldiers are paying Jesus mock reverence, “Hail” is not the way to translate this word. Think about it, if you and I were standing in the presence of a mighty dignitary or King, we would not cry out “Hail!” We might say something like “Your Majesty!” with a tone of awe.
3. I almost wonder if the soldiers’ words carry a completely different sense. The words they use to address Jesus were commonly used as greetings between individuals. One lexicon describes the words as “a spoken address often used when meeting people . . . ‘Good day’, ‘Hail (to you)’, ‘I am glad to see you.’ ” In fact, this very usage of the word is seen in Matthew 28:9 where Jesus, having just risen from the dead, greets his disciples with a big grin and says, “Hey fella’s!” This is also the typical greeting at the beginning of a letter. Could it be, then, that the soldiers are mocking Jesus by addressing him as one would address an acquaintance? For example, I might say, “Hey, how are you buddy?” to a casual friend, but to a King I would never dream of speaking so casually. So perhaps, and this is a big perhaps, the soldiers words to Jesus could be translated, “Hey Jesus, buddy ol’ pal (slap on the back) King of the Jews.”
December 1, 2010
I just stumbled upon an interview with Dan Wallace at the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog. He was asked about some of the funny things he’s encountered in his journeying for manuscripts, and said,
I could go on for several pages on this one! But I won’t bore you with all the details. As for funny moments, eating lunch with the priests and monks at St. Catherine’s comes to mind. Every day, a monk would have to stand and read out of Chrysostom while the rest of us ate. If he mispronounced a word, the Archbishop would clink his glass with a spoon and the monk would repeat the words. I thought, ‘Hey! I can use that in my Greek classes!’
November 21, 2010
Scot McKnight said, “Those who use the Nestle-Aland text should also favor Markan priority; if they don’t, then they ought to abandon the Nestle-Aland text” (McKnight, 84 in Rethinking the Synoptic Problem). This is a bold statement. He also says, “The foundational argument for Markan priority is the linguistic argument; it is the only argument with probative and decisive force . . . . The Griesbach proponents have yet to come up with a counterargument to the linguistic argument” (p. 83).
This really got me thinking. You see, this semester I have been taking a class in New Testament textual criticism. In my spare time, I have been doing some study on the Synoptic problem. What I find interesting is the way these two disciplines virtually ignore each other. In fact, in textual criticism last week, our teacher informed us that text critics have no interest in the Synoptic problem. I think it would be very interesting to write an essay applying the criteria of textual criticism to the study of the Synoptics, examining the issue particularly from the external evidence by looking at:
-the oldest and best evidence for the Synoptic ordering
-the geographic distribution of the evidence
I think one would be able to conclude by asking, “If I were a textual critic, which Synoptic Gospel would I conclude was first?” Furthermore, I think what would be discovered is that textual critics have been inconsistent in applying their principles to the study of the Synoptic problem. Why would the criteria apply with one discipline and not the other?
October 19, 2010
“The resting is going well because I can rest and write.”
-Maurice Robinson, when asked by his class how he was handling his prescribed rest.
October 15, 2010
I came across some advice in some reading this week offered by K. Aland on doing textual criticism (text criticism deals with evaluating which variant reading in an ancient manuscript is most likely to be the original reading). Aland said:
A constantly maintained familiarity with New Testament manuscripts themselves is the best training for textual criticism. Anyone interested in contributing seriously to textual criticism should have experience of making a complete collation of at least one of the great early papyri, a major uncial, and one of the significant miniscule manuscripts. In textual criticism the pure theoretician has often done more harm than good.
I think his advice applies to more areas than just textual criticism. Whatever we’re dealing with, it seems the best thing is thorough familiarity with primary sources.