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Matthew's & Jesus's descriptions of the woman's actions


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#1 jkgayle

jkgayle

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Posted 19 March 2018 - 05:59 AM

Matthew has her over him, either his head reclined or perhaps his entire torso, and she dumps the expensive liquid down on his head:

καὶ κατέχεεν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ ἀνακειμένου

Matthew's Jesus rebukes the rebuke of his disciples, when they're annoyed with what she does, and Jesus in that rebuke makes her gesture a bigger deal with different Greek; she is showering his body:

βαλοῦσα γὰρ αὕτη ... τοῦτο ἐπὶ τοῦ σώματός μου

 

How are we readers to take this?
Is Matthew's description a real one, a more restrained one, while Jesus's is hyperbolic, more typically so?
Is this a case of two different depictions of exactly the same thing happening, with the latter giving us a bigger visual field to consider?

Since the person acting upon Jesus here is not named, is not male, I'm also curious about the choice of language for her. There's Matthew's Greek pun (intentional or not) for what's going on inside Jesus's head. He, Matthew, had a number of different Greek verbs to choose from, and yet he has this epistemological verb that rhymes with the Greek noun for woman, and he has Jesus blurt out his rhetorical question:

γνοὺς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· Τί κόπους παρέχετε τῇ γυναικί; 

 

Then that adjective that Matthew has Jesus use for her action is one that Gorgias, the sophist, uses in his famous Encomium of Helen of Troy:

καλὸν

In most other contexts, English translators choose to render this adjective "good." Here, and is it because it's the action of a woman?, most English translators make it "beautiful." Does it have to be one or the other? Why not both beautiful and also good? Pouring down over his head and also spilling it lavishly across his body?






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