The Semitic background of Matthew 23.26 = Luke 11.41.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: The Semitic background of Matthew 23.26 = Luke 11.41.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:13 pm

Ken Olson wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:35 am
Ben Smith wrote:
What I wonder is whether your explanation adequately covers the wording of Luke's admonition: "But give the things within as alms" (πλὴν τὰ ἐνόντα δότε ἐλεημοσύνην). What does that mean, to give "the things within" as alms? The motif of inside and outside works fairly well in Matthew's version: "First cleanse the inside of the cup."
Well, I was writing on the theory of mistranslated words and not a commentary on this pericope in Luke.
Sure, but not explaining the meaning of "giving what is inside as alms" leaves me in the position of regarding the phrase as somewhat garbled. And, if it is garbled, then surely the translation hypothesis would be the better explanation. Spanish is my second language, and if someone tells me that he or she "has twenty years," I know either (A) that the person is a native Spanish speaker still thinking in his or her own language, in which "tengo veinte años" (= "I have twenty years") is the correct Spanish way of expressing age, or (B) that the person is a native English speaker translating something from Spanish too literally.

In other words, with the translational hypothesis, everything is explained: both the garbling and the difference between Matthew and Luke, conveniently dependent upon a common word in Aramaic. With the editing hypothesis, however (Luke editing Matthew), one is left wondering why Luke, who apparently made so many other changes to his Matthean source, did not make this otherwise simple sentence come out better. "The things within," if this phrase is in fact a bit garbly, are more easily understood as a translator making do with what he has in another language than as a writer slavishly and unnecessarily retaining a confusing phrase from the same language when he has already decided to rework it pretty thoroughly.

I am not sure whether you saw my attempt to understand this phrase rather differently, as "the things within" your cup, the contents of your dish: the meaning being that to give alms from the very things you would otherwise have eaten or kept for yourself is what purifies.

Luke has already balanced inside versus outside rather neatly:

Luke 11.39-40: 39 But the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees clean the outside [ἔξωθεν] of the cup and of the platter; but inside [ἔσωθεν] of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. 40 You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside [ἔξωθεν] make the inside [ἔσωθεν] also?"

At this point his text is as balanced and comprehensible as Matthew's is. But now, with a different word, he continues:

Luke 11.41: 41 But give the things within [τὰ ἐνόντα] as alms, and then all things are clean for you.

I did give a nod to Johnson's theory that, "How a man disposes of his possessions ... can stand as a symbol of the state of a man’s heart before God."

....

I think Luke is riffing off the suggestion that the outside is determined by the inside. Internal goodness will manifest itself in external goodness, such as almsgiving.

....

The logical corollary of Mark's statement that "evil things come from within" is that good things (like almsgiving) also come from within.
Almsgiving as a charitable practice coming from within is not the same thing as giving the things within as alms. Much of this strikes me as a tacit admission that the phrase comes off as at least a bit garbled.

But I wonder what you make of my suggestion that τὰ ἐνόντα are the contents of one's dish.
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Re: The Semitic background of Matthew 23.26 = Luke 11.41.

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:30 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:34 pm
It was Julius Wellhausen who either first proposed or at least subsequently popularized the hypothesis that behind these Greek phrases lies a common Aramaic term, as explained here by Burney:

Charles Fox Burney, The Aramaic Origin of the Fourth Gospel, page 9: Here it can hardly be doubted that the remarkable variant between Mt. καθάρισον πρῶτον τὸ ἐντὸς κτλ. and Lk. πλὴν τὰ ἐνόντα δότε ἐλεημοσύνην is to be explained by the fact that New Heb. and Aram. זַכֵּי means both 'to purify' (occurring in Aram, as well as normal דַּכֵּי) and also 'to give alms' (cf. Wellhausen, Einleitung, p. 27). For the latter sense cf. the numerous occurrences in Midrash Rabba on Exodus, par. xxxiv; e.g. sect. 5 (New Heb.), 'If misfortune has befallen thy companion, consider how to give him alms (לזכות בו) and provide for him'; sect. 11 (Aram.), 'The Rabbis Yohanan and Resh Lakish were going down to bathe in the hot baths of Tiberias. A poor man met them. He said to them, "Give me alms" (זכון בי). They said to him, "When we come out we will give thee alms " (זכיין בך). When they came out, they found him dead.' The inference is that our Lord used some such expression as דִּבְגַוָּא זַכּוֹן 'That which is within purify'; this has been rightly rendered in Mt. and made more explicit by the addition of τοῦ ποτηρίου κτλ., while in Lk. it has been wrongly rendered, 'That which is within give as alms'. Ἡρμήνευσε δ' αὐτὰ, ὡς ἦν δυνατὸς, ἕκαστος.

Does Burney's and Wellhausen's view work with the specific Greek word "ἐλεημοσύνη" (root: pity, mercy) or rather with the meaning as "alms"?

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Re: The Semitic background of Matthew 23.26 = Luke 11.41.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:49 pm

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:30 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:34 pm
It was Julius Wellhausen who either first proposed or at least subsequently popularized the hypothesis that behind these Greek phrases lies a common Aramaic term, as explained here by Burney:

Charles Fox Burney, The Aramaic Origin of the Fourth Gospel, page 9: Here it can hardly be doubted that the remarkable variant between Mt. καθάρισον πρῶτον τὸ ἐντὸς κτλ. and Lk. πλὴν τὰ ἐνόντα δότε ἐλεημοσύνην is to be explained by the fact that New Heb. and Aram. זַכֵּי means both 'to purify' (occurring in Aram, as well as normal דַּכֵּי) and also 'to give alms' (cf. Wellhausen, Einleitung, p. 27). For the latter sense cf. the numerous occurrences in Midrash Rabba on Exodus, par. xxxiv; e.g. sect. 5 (New Heb.), 'If misfortune has befallen thy companion, consider how to give him alms (לזכות בו) and provide for him'; sect. 11 (Aram.), 'The Rabbis Yohanan and Resh Lakish were going down to bathe in the hot baths of Tiberias. A poor man met them. He said to them, "Give me alms" (זכון בי). They said to him, "When we come out we will give thee alms " (זכיין בך). When they came out, they found him dead.' The inference is that our Lord used some such expression as דִּבְגַוָּא זַכּוֹן 'That which is within purify'; this has been rightly rendered in Mt. and made more explicit by the addition of τοῦ ποτηρίου κτλ., while in Lk. it has been wrongly rendered, 'That which is within give as alms'. Ἡρμήνευσε δ' αὐτὰ, ὡς ἦν δυνατὸς, ἕκαστος.

Does Burney's and Wellhausen's view work with the specific Greek word "ἐλεημοσύνη" (root: pity, mercy) or rather with the meaning as "alms"?
I think it has to be alms in particular, not just mercy in general.
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Re: The Semitic background of Matthew 23.26 = Luke 11.41.

Post by Ken Olson » Wed Mar 14, 2018 8:48 am

Ben Smith wrote:
In other words, with the translational hypothesis, everything is explained: both the garbling and the difference between Matthew and Luke, conveniently dependent upon a common word in Aramaic. With the editing hypothesis, however (Luke editing Matthew), one is left wondering why Luke, who apparently made so many other changes to his Matthean source, did not make this otherwise simple sentence come out better.
Luke 11:41 is admittedly difficult. L.T. Johnson writes: "No fully satisfactory translation is possible for this crux" (Luke, 189). But my biggest problem with the translation hypothesis is that it doesn't really explain it. It simply says Luke made a mistake and wrote something nonsensical because he was a poor translator. Did Luke write something he knew to be nonsensical as opposed to something of which the meaning is not clear to us? The problem isn't that there's a formal error in the Greek syntax, it's that we have trouble figuring out what it means. To judge from the rest of his gospel, Luke is not a wooden translator or slavish copyist and he frequently uses language in surprising ways. For one example, using an unjust judge as a metaphor for God in Luke 18.1-8 is surprising and maybe even shocking to its original audience. I'll suggest that Luke has another surprising use of language in 11.42 below.
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:13 pm
But I wonder what you make of my suggestion that τὰ ἐνόντα are the contents of one's dish.
I think you're right that it comes off a bit too clever. Luke wouldn't merely have changed the meaning of inside from that used by Matthew, he would seem have to have changed metaphors in the course the saying. The Pharisees are full of greed (or rapacity or robbery or plunder) and wickedness on the inside, but then the things inside become the physical good things that people have in their cups.
11.37 While he was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. 38 The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash (literally: "baptize"] before dinner. 39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you. 42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others.
The other issue is that I think Luke is tacitly dealing with the presence of the holy spirit in Christians here.

(1) The fact that Luke uses the word baptize for what the Pharisees do before dinner in v. 38 suggests to me that Luke wants to contrast the repeated ritual washings of the Pharisees (and other Jewish sects) with the single once-for-all baptism with the holy spirit practiced by Christians. Again, I think Luke is foreshadowing issues of table fellowship that arise after the inclusion of Gentiles in Christianity in Acts 10.

(2) Luke is also dealing with another issue relevant to the holy spirit here and elsewhere in Luke 11. Christians didn't stop sinning when they received the holy spirit in baptism. (This is a/the major issue Paul is dealing with in 1 Corinthians as well). I think this is the reason for the pericope on The Return of the Unclean Spirit in 11.24-26 (even Christians who have received the holy spirit might let evil spirits back in) and The Light of the Body ("consider whether the light in you is not darkness") in 11.33-36. I would explain Luke's answer to the problem in terms of E.P. Sanders concept of getting in and staying in. Christians enter the People of God though baptism with the holy spirit, but then have to maintain their status through actions that are emissions of the spirit (like almsgiving).

(3) The pericope on the Light of the Body, which immediately precedes Luke 11.37-41 seems to me to be an extended metaphor on the holy spirit. I am assuming that Luke, like most ancients, holds the emission theory of vision - light emanated from the eye (as opposed to the eye being a passive receptor for light). If someone has the light inside them, they ought to emanate it. Again, Paul in 1 Cor. is repeatedly admonishing Christians to act consistently with the holy spirit inside them. In Gal. 5.22-23 Paul defines the fruits of the spirit as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These can are internal states that can be externally manifested

Returning to "give for alms those things that are within" in Luke 11.41, one could possibly argue that the thing within is the holy spirit and one should give it by getting others to receive baptism. I'm not satisfied with that answer because the things within are plural and I think Luke is advocating actual, not metaphorical, almsgiving. I suspect that he means the fruits of the spirit, as Paul did.

I will suggest instead that Luke 11.29-42 is carefully constructed. Luke has changed both the order of the verses and the items mentioned in them from that found in Matthew in order to contrast the things that the Pharisees have inside them (plunder and wickedness) with what they don't practice (justice and the love of God). I think justice and the love of God are the things within Christians that ought to be given as alms. Further, I think Luke means God's justice and God's love as opposed to just any justice and love for God. This is surprising and bold, because Luke says these are the things that the Pharisees ought to have practiced, which suggests that they can be done by human beings (i.e., God's love is something humans can do). But I think Luke is saying that Christians can practice God's love by virtue of having the Spirit of God dwelling within them.

I could, of course, be wrong about what Luke means. But I hope that at least I have addressed what it might mean to give the things inside as alms. It seems to me that to give God's love (which is inside you) as alms makes sense in the same way that the modern expressions "give me some love" "or show me some love" do; they are requests for a physical manifestation of an internal state.

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Re: The Semitic background of Matthew 23.26 = Luke 11.41.

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:01 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:49 pm
Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:30 pm
Does Burney's and Wellhausen's view work with the specific Greek word "ἐλεημοσύνη" (root: pity, mercy) or rather with the meaning as "alms"?
I think it has to be alms in particular, not just mercy in general.
Thanks Ben.

Ken Olson wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:35 am
I agree that Matthew's version (which I misquoted slightly) is fairly straightforward and the more primitive version (and, in my opinion, Luke's source).
Matt 23.25: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.
Mmh. Does Matthew 23:26 not sound a bit too literally? Mark 7 gives a contrast between the things from outside and the things from inside. But the inside and the outside of a cup?

For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate ... First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.

I would not be surprised if Matthews "τὸ ἐντὸς (τοῦ ποτηρίου)" inspired Luke's "τὰ ἐνόντα".

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Re: The Semitic background of Matthew 23.26 = Luke 11.41.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:29 pm

Ken Olson wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 8:48 am
Ben Smith wrote:
In other words, with the translational hypothesis, everything is explained: both the garbling and the difference between Matthew and Luke, conveniently dependent upon a common word in Aramaic. With the editing hypothesis, however (Luke editing Matthew), one is left wondering why Luke, who apparently made so many other changes to his Matthean source, did not make this otherwise simple sentence come out better.
Luke 11:41 is admittedly difficult. L.T. Johnson writes: "No fully satisfactory translation is possible for this crux" (Luke, 189). But my biggest problem with the translation hypothesis is that it doesn't really explain it. It simply says Luke made a mistake and wrote something nonsensical because he was a poor translator.
Well, to my mind, not necessarily that "Luke" did. It could have been somebody before him, and Luke repeated the saying because it had to do with alms.
Did Luke write something he knew to be nonsensical as opposed to something of which the meaning is not clear to us? The problem isn't that there's a formal error in the Greek syntax, it's that we have trouble figuring out what it means.
I agree that there is no formal error in grammar or syntax, but I also think that the issue is more severe than your description lets on. If Luke is merely being vague, then my own provisional solution to the problem is possible: "inside" means "inside the cup." But, as you are insisting that Luke retained the same metaphor throughout, that vagueness disappears: "inside" must mean "inside the person." Now the problem intensifies, since (once we remove literal blood and guts from the list of possibilities) there is no way to give what is inside a person as alms. It does not matter what we imagine the things to be (virtues, vices, the spirit, whatever), those intangible things do not work like hard commodities of the sort that one could give as alms. In other words, I highly doubt that we would be fully satisfied with the answer to our question here even if Luke himself were to rise from the dead and tell us exactly what he meant; there would be no moment when it all clicked into place naturally; the meaning is always going to be a bit strained. I think, if "inside" means "inside the person," that this phrase is simply overloaded, garbled, flubbed, or what have you.

So far as reasons for the phrase being overloaded, garbled, or flubbed are concerned, I think that the translational hypothesis explains all. It does not get rid of the problem, because nothing can. But it explains how the problem came to exist. If Luke inherited this mistranslation in a cohesive saying like what we find in 11.39-41, he could easily have noticed that the concept of "what is inside" is the warp of the saying itself ("what is outside" being the weft); it belongs there, whatever it may mean, and he could have mentally imbued it with all of the layers of meaning the human mind may imagine just so as to justify passing it on as a distinct saying.
To judge from the rest of his gospel, Luke is not a wooden translator or slavish copyist and he frequently uses language in surprising ways.
Luke is also not always quite clear with what he means, either. It is not immediately obvious how to treat πᾶς εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται in 16.16 or ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ ἐντὸς ὑμῶν ἐστιν in 17.21, for example.
The other issue is that I think Luke is tacitly dealing with the presence of the holy spirit in Christians here.

....

I could, of course, be wrong about what Luke means. But I hope that at least I have addressed what it might mean to give the things inside as alms. It seems to me that to give God's love (which is inside you) as alms makes sense in the same way that the modern expressions "give me some love" "or show me some love" do; they are requests for a physical manifestation of an internal state.
Your analysis of what Luke may have meant is comprehensive and thorough (both where I agree and where I disagree, and also where I am undecided); but to my eye it does not salvage the saying itself from being garbled (if "inside" must mean "inside the person"). However we interpret the saying, it was a clumsy way to express that thought.

I have a possibly impertinent question for you. I know you espouse the Farrer theory of synoptic relationships. Do you let that theory guide your interpretation of individual passages in the gospel texts? In other words, when faced with a conundrum like Luke 11.41, is your mind already ruling out certain options (maybe Matthew was copying from Luke; maybe Luke and Matthew were both copying from Q; maybe Matthew and Luke were both copying from some other source, which was in Aramaic), or at least already rendering them unlikely, before the analysis even gets going? Or is it a clean slate for you every time?
Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:01 pm
Ken Olson wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:35 am
I agree that Matthew's version (which I misquoted slightly) is fairly straightforward and the more primitive version (and, in my opinion, Luke's source).
Matt 23.25: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.
Mmh. Does Matthew 23:26 not sound a bit too literally? Mark 7 gives a contrast between the things from outside and the things from inside. But the inside and the outside of a cup?

For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate ... First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.

I would not be surprised if Matthews "τὸ ἐντὸς (τοῦ ποτηρίου)" inspired Luke's "τὰ ἐνόντα".
That is how it seems to me. But, to be frank, "within the cup" took a rather long time to spring to mind as a possible interpretation. When it did, it was an "aha" moment; but, if it takes that long to spring to mind, then I do tend to wonder whether it was the intended meaning. What do you think?

Ben.
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Re: The Semitic background of Matthew 23.26 = Luke 11.41.

Post by Ethan » Tue Apr 03, 2018 2:51 pm

In Hebrew, רָחַם [racham] means "Mercy" and "Bowels" , similar too σπλάγχνον [ splagchnon] with the same duel meaning, since they believed the Stomach was the seat of mercy.

Splagchnon > Chnon [חָנַן] " Mercy" .

Stomach - stomachari , resentful, pride or anger"
Gut - seat of emotions , gut feeling or bowels as the seat of the spirit
Spleen - " seat of morose feelings and bad temper"
Bowels "inner parts as the seat of pity or kindness
Liver " seat of happiness and glory
Lungs " seat of wisdom and knowledge

The ancients linked digestion with emotions ,

Jeremiah 16:7 - Cup of consolation
Jeremiah 25:15 - Cup of fury
Ezekiel 23:33 - Cup of astonishment
Rev 14:10 - drink of the wine of the wrath of God
Exodus 13:1 - filled (the lungs) with the spirit (gas)
Acts 2:4 -filled (the lungs) with the Holy Ghost (Gas)

Matthew 23.26 = Luke 11.41 .
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Re: The Semitic background of Matthew 23.26 = Luke 11.41.

Post by Ken Olson » Wed May 23, 2018 4:20 am

I'm sorry I'm way behind in my responses. Looks like I'm never going to have time to write a thorough response to this, so I'll give a brief one.

Way back on March 14, Ben Smith wrote:
I have a possibly impertinent question for you. I know you espouse the Farrer theory of synoptic relationships. Do you let that theory guide your interpretation of individual passages in the gospel texts? In other words, when faced with a conundrum like Luke 11.41, is your mind already ruling out certain options (maybe Matthew was copying from Luke; maybe Luke and Matthew were both copying from Q; maybe Matthew and Luke were both copying from some other source, which was in Aramaic), or at least already rendering them unlikely, before the analysis even gets going? Or is it a clean slate for you every time?
I am deeply offended by the insinuation you make about my character. However, since our emotional states have no relevance to the validity or invalidity of the arguments we make, and a person's state of offendedness does not in any way imbue that person with any moral or other type of authority over others, I will skip being a special snowflake and go ahead and answer your impertinent question ;)

I definitely do not start with a clean slate each time [that I evaluate the relative primitivity of a pericope]. I don't think anyone really does, or should.

There are scholars who think they can look at any two forms of a pericope and tell which is earlier/later. Helmut Koester, for instance, gives lip service to the 2DH, but in practice he doesn't need it, because he can always invoke ongoing oral tradition. The 2DH doesn't seem to do much work for him. Even Francis Watson, with whom I agree on a lot of issues, argues that the fragment of Egerton 2 is earlier than the the version in John 5.37-47 (Gospel Writing 286-324). He could be right. Methodologically, my problem with his argument is that its based on a small sample size. We would need the whole, or at least a large part, of Egerton 2 to compare it to John. Any decent exegete comparing just two pericopes could come up with several reasons to go one way or the other on which is more primitive. I try to make source critical judgments on a redaction-critical basis. What I mean by that is that I look for broad patterns of the sort of changes each evangelist would be making to the document we hypothesize to be his source, such as the way Matthew treats Mark. (Parenthetically, I can't really make sense of the may Mark would be treating his sources on Griesbach. One can describe the data and the procedures the evangelist would have to have used, but it's hard to understand the why of it). So I'm not starting with a clean slate every time I compare the Matthean and Lukan forms of a pericope in the double tradition (no more than I am starting with a clean slate every time I look at a pericope Matthew or Luke shares with Mark). I'm evaluating it in terms of larger patterns of the way an evangelist treats his sources.

While the particular saying under discussion is not a parable (though it is a longish metaphor), I would apply an insight I gained from studying the parables here. When Matthew rewrites Mark's parables, he tends to beat his audience over the head with his message. He narrows the range of possible interpretations available. Luke on the other hand, likes to be enigmatic and thought provoking. Many of his parables have jarring images or ambiguities (God as an unjust judge, the Prodigal Son who "repents" because he gets hungry, the steward who cheats his master and is praised for it). Luke is much more likely to leave interpretations open. Matthew is more heavy handed and more apt to make every element in his parables correspond to something in the world outside the parable that his readers should be able to grasp (what Goulder called a high allegory count), though sometimes he slips up and the difference between the allegory and the thing it stands for disappears entirely (the king who has the power to throw the improperly attired guest into the outer darkness in Matt 22.13 would seem to be God, not a cipher for God).

Hmm. That was longer than I expected.

Best,

Ken

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Re: The Semitic background of Matthew 23.26 = Luke 11.41.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed May 23, 2018 5:58 am

Thanks, Ken. As usual, our respective approaches bear both similarities and differences. I will mull your approach over. :cheers:
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