Jump to content


Photo

Greek politics & rhetoric in Mt 9.1-8


  • Please log in to reply
8 replies to this topic

#1 jkgayle

jkgayle

    Bronze

  • Active Members
  • PipPip
  • 83 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Accordance Version:10.x
  • Platforms:Windows

Posted 22 January 2018 - 07:41 AM

Others elsewhere have noted how the writer of the Greek gospel at various times employs techniques of Greek rhetoric, such as the "enthymeme," which is what Aristotle called the body of belief or of proof and noted its structure as a rhetorical syllogism.

 

Here, as chapter 9 begins, the Greek writer himself uses Greek phrases that come into play in ways that Aristotle and that his teacher Plato (putting words in the mouth of his teacher Socrates) would use the phrases. 

Let me paste in the KJV for its familiarity and add in these Greek phrases to illustrate:
 

And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city [πόλιν].

And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith [πίστιν] said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth [βλασφημεῖ].

And Jesus knowing their thoughts [ἐνθυμήσεις]
said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts [ἐνθυμεῖσθε]?

For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? [περιπάτει]

But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.

And he arose, and departed to his house.

But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.

πόλιν - city, but for the civilized actually a political state
βλασφημεῖ - what Socrates outlaws explicitly in Plato's Laws and in Plato's Republic, men hurling verbal abuse against men or men doing the same against gods. Civilized Greeks, especially male human beings, just do not misbehave in this barbaric lowly way.

πίστιν - what Aristotle starts The Rhetoric with. The question is how human beings speaking in public can persuade with "proofs." (We reading the New Testament today, and perhaps even the LXX, tend to take the use of the phrase to indicate something more like "plausibilities" or "mental assents" or "belief" that can be volitionally adopted upon hearing an evangelist preach a sermon.)
ἐνθυμήσεις - what Aristotle starts The Rhetoric with. It's the body of proofs. The structure of the argument that is persuasive when presented.
ἐνθυμεῖσθε - what Aristotle starts The Rhetoric with. (Rhetoric scholars today, such as George A. Kennedy, make a big deal out of trying to define how Aristotle defined it. For example, here.)
περιπάτει - how Aristotle would teach. Notice how Matthew in verses following this set of verses has a man named Matthew following Jesus. In this earlier set, Jesus is inviting the unnamed man with palsy to get up and to "walk around." When Aristotle taught his male elite Greek disciples they would "walk about" following him. In fact, he famously taught in the Peripatos, where they'd walk around and walk about the Lyceum (instead sitting a listening). 

--
Now I'm not insisting that Matthew's Greek is to be read as necessarily participating in the culture wars of the Greeks (which was famously fought between Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Alexander against the alleged sophists such as Protagoras, Isocrates, Gorgias, who were more Homeric and poetics perhaps more like the woman SapPho). What I'm doing is suggesting that we human beings tend to define our terms in sets. Even strict definitions of scientists and engineers can vary today in somewhat of a crisis of meaning, as illustrated in this example not many months ago:  "
You say vector, I say…vector."

So I confess I'm reading this little pericope of this major canonical gospel in light of the old Greek culture wars. If Matthew's other readers did this, then it sounds a little like this:

Jesus comes into a civilized republic, his very own city state.
The very civilized folk in this political area are also persuasive. They have internalized belief in Jesus's authority to the point it's compelling proof of it.
Jesus, likewise, like them, engages in rhetoric. He goes along with the available means of persuasion. This is profound. It takes advantage of what we might say is unconscious bias or deep conviction. The sick man who can't move his limbs can, in fact, hear the words of Jesus. As one of his audience members, he gets how Jesus is being indirect. In other words, he's not directing his public speech against the disease per se. Rather he's addressing perhaps deeper, more profound things, things that all hearing understand enthymematically. They're sharing common assumptions.

But then there's conflict.

His jealous opponents accuse him of behaving in an uncivilized manner. He's slandering, men perhaps, and God certainly. And that's an indirect accusation. Because he hasn't really directly assumed authority, as a god has, as the One God has. But he's acted as if he's God. So, there's the compelling proof, and an enthememe.

So Jesus accuses them back, exposing this enthememe, the construct of their argument.

He also has to talk indirectly about teaching. It's not effective just to sit, to listen so passively. Get up. Walk around as you've listened. Go deep and embody this stuff of incarnation, of rhetoric moving bodies.

And all the people said, Amen, but really they were moved and were persuaded and were delighted with what they saw. And with the persuasive rhetoric that they heard. And they couldn't keep it to themselves. Instead of blasphemy, they gave glory. This was the effect of Jesus's rhetoric on them.



 


  • Abram K-J and Solly like this

#2 jkgayle

jkgayle

    Bronze

  • Active Members
  • PipPip
  • 83 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Accordance Version:10.x
  • Platforms:Windows

Posted 22 January 2018 - 10:53 AM

Dear Admin - I have a typo I'd like to edit in the above post. Is there a way for me to do it?



#3 Helen Brown

Helen Brown

    Emerald

  • Admin
  • 11,171 posts
  • Twitter:accordancebible
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:heart in Israel
  • Accordance Version:12.x
  • Platforms:Mac OS X, Windows, iOS, Android

Posted 22 January 2018 - 01:25 PM

Not if it won't let you in any more, but post it here and we will edit for you.


Helen Brown
OakTree Software

#4 jkgayle

jkgayle

    Bronze

  • Active Members
  • PipPip
  • 83 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Accordance Version:10.x
  • Platforms:Windows

Posted 22 January 2018 - 02:28 PM

Thank you, Ms. Brown.

This:
 

For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?

But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed [περιπάτει], and go unto thine house.

Should be corrected to this:
 

For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk [περιπάτει]?

But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.

Much obliged,
J. K. Gayle



#5 Helen Brown

Helen Brown

    Emerald

  • Admin
  • 11,171 posts
  • Twitter:accordancebible
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:heart in Israel
  • Accordance Version:12.x
  • Platforms:Mac OS X, Windows, iOS, Android

Posted 22 January 2018 - 02:53 PM

Done.


  • jkgayle likes this
Helen Brown
OakTree Software

#6 Abram K-J

Abram K-J

    Mithril

  • Super Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,761 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Greater Boston, MA
  • Accordance Version:12.x
  • Platforms:Mac OS X, iOS

Posted 22 January 2018 - 09:30 PM

 Instead of blasphemy, they gave glory. This was the effect of Jesus's rhetoric on them.

 

And the God to whom they give glory (τὸν θεὸν) is explicitly identified as the one who "had given such authority to humans" (τὸν δόντα ἐξουσίαν τοιαύτην τοῖς ἀνθρώποις).

 

ἐξουσίαν/authority harkens back to verse 6, doesn't it? The one who has authority there is "the Son of Man/ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου."

 

It's one of the first times Matthew has used "Son of Man," so at first I read verse 8 as a comment (from Matthew himself) on the humanity of Christ. (But why "humans/men" in the plural?)

 

However, other "Son of Man" uses in Matthew (chapter 16, for example) talk about the Son of Man with angels at his disposal, so at least there Matthew means it to be a title emphasizing the divinity of Jesus.

 

Did the crowd misread Jesus, still seeing him as only human? (The reading I most favor at the moment.) Is Matthew just making a pun? Is it "all of the above" and Matthew intentionally is hinting at both the divinity (verse 6) and humanity (verse 8) of Jesus? Or is this an allusion, as some have suggested, to the authority that Jesus will give to humans (plural, as in verse 8) in the Great Commission at the end of the book when he confers his "given" authority to the disciples?

 

Any of the above could be reading more into it than intended, but it certainly was an unexpected ending to the passage!


  • jkgayle likes this
Abram K-J
Pastor, Writer, Editor, Blogger
Web: Words on the Word

#7 jkgayle

jkgayle

    Bronze

  • Active Members
  • PipPip
  • 83 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Accordance Version:10.x
  • Platforms:Windows

Posted 23 January 2018 - 06:43 AM

ἐξουσίαν/authority harkens back to verse 6, doesn't it? The one who has authority there is "the Son of Man/ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου."

 

 

It's one of the first times Matthew has used "Son of Man," so at first I read verse 8 as a comment (from Matthew himself) on the humanity of Christ. (But why "humans/men" in the plural?)

 

Did the crowd misread Jesus, still seeing him as only human? (The reading I most favor at the moment.) Is Matthew just making a pun? Is it "all of the above" and Matthew intentionally is hinting at both the divinity (verse 6) and humanity (verse 8) of Jesus? Or is this an allusion, as some have suggested, to the authority that Jesus will give to humans (plural, as in verse 8) in the Great Commission at the end of the book when he confers his "given" authority to the disciples?

 

Yes, I agree and wonder if Matthew isn't getting us readers in on what he's been doing from the get go:

 

γενέσεως Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ υἱοῦ Δαυὶδ υἱοῦ Ἀβραάμ.... Ἰακὼβ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰωσὴφ τὸν ἄνδρα Μαρίας, ἐξ ἧς ἐγεννήθη Ἰησοῦς ὁ λεγόμενος χριστός.... Ἰωσὴφ υἱὸς Δαυίδ, μὴ φοβηθῇς παραλαβεῖν Μαρίαν τὴν γυναῖκά σου, τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐκ πνεύματός ἐστιν ἁγίου· τέξεται δὲ υἱὸν καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν, αὐτὸς γὰρ σώσει τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν....  Ἰδοὺ ἡ παρθένος ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει καὶ τέξεται υἱόν, καὶ καλέσουσιν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἐμμανουήλ· ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Μεθ’ ἡμῶν ὁ θεός.... ἕως οὗ ἔτεκεν υἱόν· καὶ ἐκάλεσεν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν.

 

There is the lineage, the humanity, the humans, the humanness. The only real human whom Jesus is born of, nonetheless, is his Jewish human mother Miriam (aka Mary). At any rate, it's not been many paragraphs and pages since Matthew starts us off this way. In chapter 8, then, when he's letting Jesus publicly call himself "the son" of "human beings" we get that he's a special human being. A Jew of the famous Jews. A boy born of a Jewish woman. A human who's very "seed" is rucha, ruach hakodesh.

So in a sense it's acknowledgement of the authority and the authorization of humans from whom this J'Oshua is born, and it starts to blur the lines between humanity and divinity, between father and mother, between father and spirit. All pretty troubling stuff for the traditionalists, the experts in the Hebrew scriptures, who knew better ostensibly than this young Rabbi, this rhetorical healer of other humans. (Later he heals a human described explicitly as so: ἄνθρωπον κωφὸν δαιμονιζόμενον).

But back on the Greek side of things, a humans' son is pretty unremarkable (as opposed to the Son of the Gods). So I wonder if Matthew's Jesus (with Hebraic Hellene in his mouth) isn't being a little snarky and ironic.

      


Edited by jkgayle, 23 January 2018 - 06:49 AM.

  • Abram K-J likes this

#8 Abram K-J

Abram K-J

    Mithril

  • Super Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,761 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Greater Boston, MA
  • Accordance Version:12.x
  • Platforms:Mac OS X, iOS

Posted 23 January 2018 - 09:37 AM

Reading this story in light of the genealogy really helps! Thanks for the great connection.


  • jkgayle likes this
Abram K-J
Pastor, Writer, Editor, Blogger
Web: Words on the Word

#9 Abram K-J

Abram K-J

    Mithril

  • Super Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,761 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Greater Boston, MA
  • Accordance Version:12.x
  • Platforms:Mac OS X, iOS

Posted 24 January 2018 - 10:09 AM

And here's Matthew 10:1, speaking of "authority" of humans:

 

Καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τοὺς δώδεκα μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν πνευμάτων ἀκαθάρτων ὥστε ἐκβάλλειν αὐτὰ καὶ θεραπεύειν πᾶσαν νόσον καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν.

 

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. (NRSV)


  • jkgayle likes this
Abram K-J
Pastor, Writer, Editor, Blogger
Web: Words on the Word




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users