Ben C. Smith wrote: ↑Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:49 pmWhy settle on mere puns when there is an easy, obvious derivation from a known town name? Joseph of Arimathea is Ἰωσὴφ ὁ ἀπὸ Ἁριμαθαίας in Mark 15.43; this is simple to interpret as a town called Ramah (height) or Ramoth (heights), of which there were apparently several in the region. This name gets rendered as Ramathaim-Zophim (הָרָמָתַ֛יִם צוֹפִ֖ים) in 1 Samuel 1.1 (1 Kingdoms 1.1 LXX: Αρμαθαιμ Σιφα), or as just plain Αρμαθαιμ in 1 Kingdoms 1.3, 19 LXX. In Joshua 20.8 LXX it comes out as Αρημωθ. Joshua 19.36 in Vaticanus has Αρμαιθ where in Alexandrinus we find Ραμα. Also possibly related is the epistle of Demetrius to Lasthenes (1 Maccabees 11.32-37 = Josephus, Antiquities 13.4.9 §127-129a), which mentions the taking possession of the three districts of Aphairema, Lydda, and Rathamin/Ramathain (Ραθαμιν in 1 Maccabees 11.34, but Ραμαθαιν in Antiquities 13.4.9 §127).
(The names with an initial R are simply anarthrous, whereas those with an initial A are including the Hebrew definite article in the name.)
This seems a straightforward derivation, so far as names go from Hebrew into Greek. Arimathea is simply a Greek rendering of one of the towns called Ramah or Ramoth. This obviously does not rule out the pun as a reason for selecting this town, but to start with the pun seems unnecessary.
Also, if it is a pun, why ἄρι[στος] μαθη[τής]? Why not ἀρί[στη] μάθη? That is a closer fit, right? No pesky disappearing tau to worry about.
Stuart wrote: ↑Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:08 pmGiuseppe is playing on the symbolism. And in this respect I sort of agree with him, as most of the names are double meaning, as you'd expect from characters in a play or literature. Thus the actual town is irrelevant, an invention to fit the moment. So pick a town that is also a pun. "A disciple from (being) 'the best disciple'"
It's a rather tangential point. What I tried to show is how one can see the development from one small element and then snowballing into a full story line. He is named Joe --> Joe is rich, a disciple from Arimathea (best disciple) --> Joe of Arimathea, as he was rich, was a member of the council, and he was looking for God's kingdom --> Joe from the Jewish town of Arimathea (lost the pun) may have been on the council, but he was a good guy not one of those who consented to killing the lord, as he was looking for God's kingdom. This is simply classic case of filling in the back story.
Taking Stuart's advice and starting a new thread for this, I mull over the question, "Why does it need to?" Why, in other words, should Bethphage be expected to follow the pattern laid out for Arimathea above, whereby means "best disciple" (in a punning way) before it ever gets attached to "the Jewish town" of Arimathea? And the answer, of course, is because I was responding to this statement:
Naturally, if we are to expect place names in Mark to bear a double meaning, then of course that is why I was expecting the same principles to apply to Bethphage as apply to Arimathea. The name Bethphage means something like "house of unripe figs," so I can think of lots of potential for a double meaning here (figs being symbolic of the land of Israel, its inhabitants, and its peace in the scriptures), and if that were all that had been claimed, I would be content to speculate along with someone that perhaps the name Bethphage made its way into Mark because of its etymology. But more is being claimed here than that the name of a locale was chosen for its name value. In the case of Arimathea:Stuart wrote:And in this respect I sort of agree with [Giuseppe], as most of the names are double meaning, as you'd expect from characters in a play or literature.
In this scenario, the name Arimathea precedes its recognition as a Jewish town. In other words, the name was an invented pun which later got attached to a real Jewish locale, presumably based on phonetic similarity, as part of "filling in the back story" for Joseph. But I think this is profoundly wrong, and it does not work for Bethphage (which is why I brought it up as an example) or other place names in Mark (the Jordan river, Jerusalem, Capernaum, and so on), so why should we expect it to work for Arimathea? In other words, Mark rarely if ever invents place names (there are a couple of puzzles, like Dalmanutha, but the overwhelming majority of place names in Mark are easy to identify with real and known locations). He may well choose existing place names for their symbolic value or their capacity as puns (an argument which would have to be mounted separately in each and every case), but he does not tend to invent them. Yet for some reason a lot of people seem to lapse extremely easily into thinking that Arimathea was just a made up place. In reality, its derivation from Ramoth is just as easy as the derivation of the names of other locales (like Jerusalem and Bethphage) in Mark from Hebrew place names. Is it perhaps the initial A in Arimathea that throws people off? Not sure. At any rate, to suggest that the connection of Arimathea with a real place name in Palestine is completely artificial is misguided. There is no reason to treat Arimathea differently than we treat, say, Jericho, whom nobody thinks Mark invented as a place name.He is named Joe --> Joe is rich, a disciple from Arimathea (best disciple) --> Joe of Arimathea, as he was rich, was a member of the council, and he was looking for God's kingdom --> Joe from the Jewish town of Arimathea (lost the pun) may have been on the council, but he was a good guy not one of those who consented to killing the lord, as he was looking for God's kingdom. This is simply classic case of filling in the back story.
I intend to aim for getting a double value out of Bethphage here, while I am on the topic. It is interesting that Bethphage does not seem to be mentioned outside the New Testament until Eusebius lists it in his Onomasticon and the Talmud speaks of it a few times as a place which existed before the fall of Jerusalem. I have noticed a tendency among some people to reject the Talmudic evidence (not to mention Eusebius) for New Testament people, places, and events because it postdates the New Testament by so much. If a text (like Mark) was written in century I or II, and the Talmud was completed in century V or so, then it is often assumed that the contents of Mark must predate the contents of the Talmud, as well. That is, the Talmud can be of no use in deciphering customs or whatnot in Mark, because Mark could not have known the Talmud. The latter supposition (that Mark could not have known the Talmud) is completely true; but the former (that the Talmud can be of no use in deciphering Mark) I hold to be false. Great care must be taken, of course; when the internal indicators, however, point in the direction of Talmud -> Mark, I think it is perfectly valid to use the Talmud to help interpret Mark. And such is the case with Bethphage. The internal indicators are unidirectional, Talmud -> Mark, by which I mean that it is highly unlikely that Mark invented this place name, located it on or near the Mount of Olives, and then later a locale by that name sprang up on that spot, in time for Eusebius and the Talmud to know about it. The more obvious chain of events here is that Bethphage actually did exist when Mark wrote (century I or II), and nobody besides Mark and those dependent upon him happened to mention it (in texts which are still extant) for two or three hundred years. But this means that the silence of Jewish texts before the Talmud on a topic does not necessarily mean that the topic was not a "thing" for the Jews before the Talmud was completed.
Just my two cents.